Something I never really talk about in depth on my blog is the fact that my day to day job involves working in SEO. I began my career in 2012 and was working for a start-up SEO agency shortly after graduating. Whilst I was there I worked on a wide range of client accounts from beauty businesses to insurance companies! I started out link building whilst eventually graduating to become an SEO consultant working on site migrations and log file analysis projects.
Eventually I moved away from agency life and started work as an in-house SEO for fashion e-commerce company Farfetch. At work I often get involved with running training sessions for other members of the team. I really enjoy talking about what I do and trying to get other people excited about it too! So today I’m going to be starting a new SEO series on my blog to help other bloggers and anyone who is looking to learn a little bit more.
My blog CMS is WordPress, it’s a powerful CMS. In my opinion its the best option for a blogger wanting to work on improving their SEO. All CMS based tips I give in my post will be using WordPress as an example! Lets Go!
1. Install An SEO Plugin
One of the first things you can do to kick start your journey on the road to SEO perfection is install a WordPress plug-in. There are many but the one I’d mainly recommend is Yoast SEO.
The tool has a range of features that help deal with SEO basics. Like the page analysis tool. It checks:
- If images in your post contain an alt tag that references the focus keyword you have chosen for that post.
- To see if your post is long enough.
- If your meta description is long enough and contains your focus keyword.
To more advanced SEO features like
- Managing Sitemaps
- Setting Up Breadcrumbs
- Making Changes To Your Robots.txt File
2. Have A Good Permalink Structure
A permalink is defined as “a permanent static hyperlink to a particular web page or entry in a blog.”
But why are they important? The purpose of a permalink is so that visitors can find your blog and all of its pages. They are made up of two parts, the root domain (e.g abeautifulride.co.uk) and the extension (e.g /2017/10/seo-tips-and-tricks-for-optimising-your-blog)
By default, WordPress uses ‘?p=[id]’ permalinks for blog posts.
I migrated my blog from Blogger to WordPress about a year ago. When I migrated I had to make sure that my new permalink structure on WordPress matched what I was migrating from on my old domain. My blogpost URLs drive my visits so its important I’m sending my users to the right new pages.
The link above was the permalink structure on my Blogger domain, and I needed my new URL structure on WordPress to match this.
As a result I have a custom permalink structure on my website using structure tags which looks like this
Resulting in the new links on my blog looking like this
Anyway I digress!
In an ideal world I recommend using the “post name” permalink. Post name is very popular as it will generate you a nice short, memorable URL. This type of URL will also probably give you a better click through rate in the search engine result pages. This is due to the fact that sometimes people might be a bit put off clicking through if a post has an outdated year hanging about in its URL.
*Note to self* Make some time to migrate my custom permalink structure
3. Nofollowing Links
A “no followed” link is a link that contains an HTML attribute value. This value will inform bots that the link should not pass value to it’s target and therefore not influence its targets ranking in the search engine results pages.
It looks like this:
<a href=”http://www.example.com” rel=”nofollow”>
Every website out there has an amount of “link equity”. When you link to a site from your website without a nofollow tag you are essentially telling Google that you give that website a vote of authority. Ultimately passing link equity and boosting the visibility of the site.
Back in the day there was a massive amount of comment spamming on blogs. People have always tried to game search engines, they knew that Google uses links as a ranking signal. What easier way to get a nice link back to your site that passes value than to go around spamming blog comment sections?!
This meant that search engines like Google had to come up with a solution, enter the “no follow” attribute. Now you will notice that most blog comment sections automatically no follow any links that are added in to them.
But What About Nofollowing Paid Links?
We all know that webmasters and brands alike have sold and bought links. Google has now stated that any links that are intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google may be considered part of a link scheme. Ultimately a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Buying or selling links that pass pagerank or link equity is an example of a link scheme. Including exchanging money for links or posts that contain links and exchanging goods or services for links. Even sending someone a “free” product in exchange for a review and a link is included!
So When Should I use A Nofollow Attribute?
As a general rule of thumb I will always use a nofollow attribute on a link when:
- Writing a review about a product that I have been gifted.
- Writing a review or post that has been in exchange for a sum of money.
- The links are social related – I don’t want to pass any of the link equity from my site to places like Twitter and Facebook!
It’s super easy to add a “nofollow” tag to a link, just go into the “text” editor on your wordpress post, and paste the tag after the link in question.
<a href=”http://www.example.com”>Visit Example.com</a>
<a href=”http://www.example.com” rel=”nofollow”>Visit Example.com</a>
4. Internal Linking Your Old Posts
This might seem like common sense, but it’s often something I definitely forget to do.
Internally linking your blogposts helps to:
- Define the architecture of your website
- Aid navigation
- Make your site easily crawlable for Googlebot
The flatter your site architecture i.e the easier that all of the links are to Googlebot, the more likely it will be crawled and indexed. If there are blog posts on my site that are 15 pages deep, and can only be found by clicking 15 times until I reach said page the likelihood is Googlebot will not be crawling them as they are simply too deep.
Take a look at your old blogposts and see how you could work them into new blogposts you write by way of an internal link. For example if you have previously written about a brand you love, and are now revisiting the brand as it has new products, why not internally link to your old blogpost?
5. Fix broken links on your blog
Broken links are those that after clicking present you with a “404 error” page. The causes of broken links can be:
- Changing the URL of a page on your site and forgetting to update any internal links.
- Linking to external content which has been deleted or moved.
Every broken link you have on your site is like a dead end for crawlers like Googlebot. Googlebot has a “crawl budget” which is the maximum number of pages it will crawl on your website. When Googlebot runs into a broken link it stops crawling the page. Hence making it an in-efficient waste of your crawl budget. If it wasn’t for that broken link maybe another more valuable piece of your site would have been crawled and indexed!
Broken Link Checker is a WordPress plugin that scans your site for broken links and alerts you to any problems.
6. Set Up Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free of charge tool produced by Google. Made for webmasters, it allows you to do all sorts of handy things!
- The “search traffic” section allows you to explore and export links to your site.
- The “google index” section allows you to see how many of the pages on your site are indexed, as well as how many have been blocked and so on.
- The “HTML improvements” section will allow you to see if there are things like duplicate title tags and meta descriptions on your site.
It really is a great free tool and I’d recommend everyone to set up an account.
7. Add ALT Attributes
An alt attribute is a small piece of HTML code that will describe an image on a web page. This is so that the person visiting the site still knows what the image should be if it does not display correctly. It is also useful for visually impaired people.
In addition to this, it’s great for SEO. It provides a nice description of an image for a search engine like Google. In turn you can gain additional traffic as your images are more likely to show up in Google image search if you use the attribute.
When you upload an image into your WordPress blog you can set an alt attribute, “alt text”. See my screenshot above.
My main tips for writing an alt tag are
- Keep it short and to the point
- Give a description of what the page is about
If you have any questions about SEO in general or a specific query related to your site feel free to tweet me. Or you can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org