Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Guest Post // SEO Tips - Beginners Guide

The Beginner's Guide to SEO for Parenting Bloggers

Getting your blog noticed is one of the biggest challenges for any parenting blogger. As much as you tell yourself, and others, that you're doing it for fun - if you're reading this, you know readers are the lifeblood of what you do and you need to use a mix of strategies to lure them in... Great content is number one. Social media, also vital.  And now SEO is crucial too.

As my day job is an online content writer (I write sales pages, product descriptions and blog posts for online retailers) I've become pretty accustomed to the term SEO and what it means for business websites, but it can definitely be put to use for blogs as well.

The problem is, SEO practices can be pretty complex (although some, like correctly naming your images, are easy-peasy) and even the official term 'search engine optimisation' is likely to make the admittedly less web-savvy of you feel queasy! So... I'm going to try and guide you through exactly what SEO is, where it can be used, and how it can benefit you as a Mummy blogger - without scaring you off the whole topic.

What is SEO and why should I use it?

SEO stands for 'Search Engine Optimisation'. It is the process of writing or rewriting web content (in this case your blog content) so that it stands the highest chance of being picked up by the search engines and, hopefully, placed at the top of their rankings - the ultimate SEO goal!

Say you wanted to write an article about 'family days out', you would use SEO techniques in the hope of getting your article at the top of 'Google' should anyone search 'family days out' - the 'keyphrase'. This is because the higher your article is listed on Google, the more likely it is that people will click on and view your page. I don't know about you but I rarely click onto the second page of Google results - I just try another search term!

By using SEO techniques, you are basically giving your blog content an increased chance of being seen. It does take time, but if you really do want more readers, it's worthwhile doing. If you use SEO correctly, it also helps bring you RELEVANT readers, these are people who are searching for the sort of content you are writing, so they are more likely to spend longer reading your article.

How do search engines produce their listings? 

This is where it gets confusing and, to be honest, unless you are feeling really nerdy, I wouldn't bother trying to understand it completely.... Search engines, like Google, are constantly changing how they produce their search listings and releasing new 'algorithms'.

Fortunately, there are some pieces of information that the search engines will always look at to decide what your content is about and whether it should be on page 1 or 101 of Google for the search term you are targeting.

Haven't lost you yet?! Let’s look at some examples of SEO in action:

Where should SEO be used?

Here are the places Google looks for the 'keyphrase' around your site, or on an individual article. These are places you should use the 'keyphrase' that you would like to list highly for (let's go back to that 'family days out' example):

Blog Post/Site Title

Bad: Places To Visit With Your Family
Good: The Guide to Family Days Out

Body of Page/Post Text

You should use your keyphrase throughout our blog content - but in a natural, reader friendly way. You don't want to just enter it willy-nilly or hide it in your sidebars (that's called 'Black Hat' and can negatively impact on your efforts). If you can start your first paragraph with it, that's an added bonus.
Search engines will look at the URL of your blog post to see if there are any relevant keywords there. Using your post title is a good way to make your URL but if it's too long and needs to be shortened just be sure to keep the keyphrase in there somehow:
 Meta Data
This is all the information that search engines take into account but cannot usually been seen from the front end by your readers. This data needs to be unique for each post in order to give you the best chances of ranking well.
Meta Description - This is the description of your post. If you don't write it yourself, using an SEO plugin for example, then Google will take the first few lines of your blog and use that. Producing a description yourself allows you to target your 'keyphrase' more effectively.
Alt tag of images - This is the alternative test that will display if your images do not show (due to a loading error or similar). Using your keyphrase here also boosts your SEO.
Image name - To further boost your SEO chances, use your keyphrase in the name of your images rather than just 'DSC-072-22' etc. I do realise that I am yet to practice what I preach on my site! All my images have gobbledigook names... FAIL.

How am I going to remember all that?

Like I said, I produce SEO content for my job... and yet I’m a little overwhelmed by the idea of using it effectively on my blog, mostly due to the time it takes. I would highly recommend using plug-ins to make the whole process faster and more straightforward. You can then use at least use a plug-in to check your most important articles are optimised as best they can be. As a wordpress user I rate the Wordpress SEO by Yoast plug-in as it checks your content as you go along and gives you an indicator of how well the content is holding up in SEO terms; you don’t have to remember all the aspects yourself.

How quickly will I see results?

Once you understand exactly where you can optimise your content most effectively, don’t worry too much about the content you have already published - get cracking on using these techniques going forward (yes, I’ll get on it myself soon too... promise). Unfortunately, after all this effort Google can still take weeks to rank posts based on your SEO efforts, so you can’t make any changes to old content ranking fast. You can make sure your new content helps you move forward though.

So, that’s all there is to know about SEO?

Afraid not. All this is only really touching the surface of SEO and there are many other elements that can also be used to increase your Google rankings - including social media and link building. If this post has been any help and you’d like another article looking at these aspects, please leave a comment and let me know.

Also, if you have liked this guide, it would be awesome if you could head over to my Bloglovin and give me a like, follow me on Twitter or just say ‘hi’ over on my blog - Songs, Silliness and Such. You're welcome to come and enjoy the less stressful side of my writing or just visit to coo at my cutie boy :)

Saskia x


  1. Great post, I think I am doing all of these except I've not been giving my images a name, only the alt tag. It is all mind boggling lol. Id definitely be interested in another post going into more tips etc.. :-)

    1. Thank you :) I'll try and think of what else might be handy!

  2. Great post, thanks :) SEO is so complex but this makes the important bits really clear. I'm guilty of skipping over a lot of the SEO basics but am trying to think about it more now. Great tip to use yoast plugin - does that work on .com?

    1. Thanks! I know that Yoast works on self-hosted wordpress blogs but I'm not too sure about the .com ones, sorry. I tried to find out but didn't have much luck x

  3. Thanks so much for this great post. I must admit that SEO confuses me. And I wonder if the ethos of my blog and the content I want to write will suffer if I become focused on SEO. Having said all that I'd love to read another post about SEO. Thanks again for a really helpful post. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

    1. Hi, I totally agree with you, focussing on SEO for certain blogs just wouldn't work. I know using these tips wouldn't work for a lot of my posts x

  4. Blimey it's all gobbledygook to me but I want to learn more about it. Will save your post and read it again a few more times and will definitely look at getting the wordpress plugin. Thanks for sharing x


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