Guest blogger Mallory Richardson is originally from Mandeville, La., Mallory graduated from Louisiana State University in May 2014, earning a bachelor’s degree in mass communication with a concentration in public relations. After graduating, she moved to her birthplace of Chicago to begin her career in social media marketing, serving as an account manager at Blueye. While Mallory loved her time in the Windy City, she knew Louisiana was too special of a place to leave for long. She moved back home to work as an account associate for Search Influence in New Orleans. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing soccer and planning trips to faraway places.
I’ll admit it – I knew nothing about search engine optimization (SEO) in college. Yes, I knew what keywords, headings, and hyperlinks were, but I had no idea how important these content elements were for SEO success. During my 6 months as an account associate at Search Influence, I have learned the importance of these elements and can now share some of my knowledge with you, fellow bloggers. Read on:
Including keywords relevant to the content of your blog topic is absolutely necessary if you want to have any chance of potentially ranking in the search results. However, you want to avoid “keyword stuffing,” a.k.a. including exact match keywords throughout your blog post. This is an old practice that Google has phased out with the launch of its Panda algorithm update. According to SearchEngineLand, Panda was “meant to stop sites with poor quality content from working their way into Google’s top search results.” Prior to Panda, your site or blog would rank if your keywords were placed through the post–even if the content itself didn’t make sense or was not relevant to the intended topic. Now, “keyword stuffing” is considered a spammy practice and websites can even get penalized by Google for doing this because they realize you’re trying to trick the system. Google has moved toward favoring “natural content,” which is content that makes sense and is relevant to both human users and Google bots. Natural content flows and does not seem forced.
Let’s say, for example, that you own a snowball delivery service. If you wanted your website to rank in the search engine results for “snowballs new orleans,” you would want the content on your website to that contain those words occasionally versus throwing in the exact match keyword every paragraph. Your content might include the following: “Snowballs are a New Orleans staple, and we’re here to serve them up the best way we know how–right to your doorstep!”
Oh the irony of this heading! In the SEO world, headings and subheadings are also called H1s and H2s, respectively. Google places a lot of weight to H1s and H2s on a page of content. An optimized H1 on the homepage of your snowball delivery service’s website might be: “New Orleans’ First Snowball Delivery Service.” The H1 is usually the first thing a user see when scanning a web page, so it is important that this H1 is relevant and gets to the point quickly.
Optimized H2s for your homepage might be “About Us,” “Our Mission,” “Flavors Offered” or “Areas Served.” Then, underneath each H2 should be 100+ words that give human users and Google bots more information about that H2. It’s easier for readers to follow along when a blog post is organized into chunks, so it’s only natural to lay out your content this way.
I think this blog excerpt from Kelley Thomas Mango of OpenVine sums up best practices for using hyperlinks in blog posts (see what I did there?):
“Reference others with links. When you mention another blogger or article in your blog post, include a link to the information you are referencing. Not only is it good blogging etiquette, but you may also get lucky and receive a link back. Quality links are a valuable commodity for any site looking to rank higher in search engine results pages.”
Additionally, it is important to hyperlink internally to other pages within your site. Internal linking helps to establish site architecture, as it encourages users to stay on your site longer so they can learn more about your business and what you can offer them.
I hope that with these tips, you can turn your blog from an “SE-Oh No” to an “SE-Oh Yes!” And yes, I had to end this blog with a corny joke.