The more serious you get with your blogging, the more you want to figure out all the ins and outs of web-based content creation. And one of the main things many a blogger would love more resources on is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, you’d remember my Wednesday Wisdom series around content marketing tips specifically for bloggers. Some of you personally mentioned that you had my SEO for Book Bloggers post bookmarked (this never gets less surprising to say, omg).
Anywho, back then I was a baby marketer with an SEO team at my disposal so my post, no matter how helpful y’all found it, it still had just the information I myself knew at the time.
Fast forward to now, I’m still very much a noob, thank you, but I’ve also been in marketing (and book blogging, heh) for 5 years now.
Even when I hadn’t yet discovered the advantages of going self-hosted and was using paid WordPress.com, organic search was my biggest source of traffic. And that’s where SEO comes in.
That’s why today, I’ve fleshed out my old article a whole lot more to explain everything about SEO. And it’s going to get pretty detailed this time around. If you already know the basics, feel free to skip the first couple of sections and jump right to the meat of it.
Also, fun fact: I want to give you as much information to set you up for success as possible which is why I also got this post vetted by a good friend who’s also a Senior SEO and CRO Manager.
Let’s get started!
SEO for book bloggers.
- What is SEO?
- How does Google rank sites?
- How can I use keywords to optimise my content?
- How can I perform keyword research?
- URLs, meta descriptions, and other SEO-friendly jazz.
- Add alt text to be accessible and optimised.
- Your heading tags matter too.
- Internal linking is mandatory.
- And external linking helps even more.
What is SEO?
The goal of every website owner is to get more eyeballs on their content, yeah? One of the ways to do that is to get your articles to appear on the first page of search results.
Because do you know who goes to Page 2?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what helps you do that easily. To put it very simply, let me use this very article as an example. I know I want to write about SEO, I know there are bloggers out there without marketing know-how who want to understand it better, and I know they’re going to be googling it.
What terms will they use?
Probably “SEO for bloggers” or “SEO for book bloggers” or “what in the name of Satan’s sweet behind is Es C Oh” (jkjk).
So why not name my blog post something along those lines? It matches the query readers will mostly type into search engines which increases my chance of landing on Page 1, right?
Of course nothing in life is ever that easy. There’s still three-quarters of an article to get through but we will make an SEO expert out of you yet.
How does Google rank sites?
In the simplest possible explanation, the little elves in Google’s algorithm crawl through every website’s content to see if it has relevant information that a searcher will need. One way through which it does this is through an algorithm that looks for keywords in your content. There are also other factors such as site speed, links, and more, but let’s focus on keywords alone now.
How can I use keywords to optimize my content?
Circling back to using this article as an example, the focus keyword for this post would be SEO. But that’s not all. The Internet is a crowded place and there’s probably actual SEO experts out there writing in-depth articles about optimization.
I, on the other hand, am no expert but I do know enough for a book blogger which is why this post is specifically only for book bloggers.
So think of the content of your article, who it’s catered towards, and what kind of words they’d use to find an article similar to yours on Google.
Also, just keywords aren’t enough, you need key phrases. They’re called long tail keywords and those are the phrases your readers will be keying into Google. In my case, it would be variations of “SEO for book bloggers”, “SEO on WordPress”, and such.
Once you have a list, make sure to sprinkle them meaningfully into your article. Stuffing keywords just for the sake of ranking higher only does more harm than good.
How can I perform keyword research?
I’m not going to get all technical on you — stay with me. You don’t always have to guess at what key phrases people would use to find articles similar to what you’re writing. There are tools that tell you that!
Say you want to write a list of recommendations of diverse romance books. Wouldn’t it help to know how people do find their diverse romance recs so you can use similar keywords in your title and content?
Fret not, because there are tools that tell you that!
Obviously the best keyword research tools charge a monthly fee but for the rest of us personal bloggers with tight pursestrings, there are a bunch of free tools such as:
Also, Paid WordPress.com and self-hosted readers, I highly recommend verifying your site with Google Search Console. It shows you which keywords your blog is already ranking for which sometimes gives you ideas for future posts as well!
For instance, here are some of my own keywords that I’m ranked quite high for.
You know what this tells me? I’m ranking for the right keywords. The first two books are also upcoming releases with fat representation. Since I’m already ranking high for just the book title, I already know that my review posts will also do well. Well, for Starfish at least because I’ve already been rejected for an ARC of Eat Your Heart Out. It is what it is.
URLs, meta descriptions, and other SEO-friendly jazz.
There are more ways you can optimise your blog posts to rank higher on Google. These have to do with things we don’t usually think of much but can be edited if your blog is self-hosted or on a higher tier of WordPress.com subscription. They are:
- URL slug: The last part of the URL.
- SEO title: The title that appears on the tab for your article.
- Meta description: A description for the post that shows up on search engines and when you share on social.
Here’s a visual representation of these terms from my post, Which romance novel trope are you based on your Zodiac sign.
Like I already mentioned, some of this can be edited only if you’re on a higher tier of WordPress.com or are self-hosted. But there’s still some things you can do.
- Set meta descriptions for your entire blog as a whole. Go into Tools > Marketing > Traffic > Website Meta to edit your website description.
- While free WordPress doesn’t allow adding meta descriptions, it is already “search-friendly by default”. You can still add manual post excerpts under Post settings before publishing a new blog post. While Google automatically pulls meta descriptions from the content of your post, it does sometimes take the excerpt instead.
Add alt text to be accessible and optimised.
Using alt text should be a must just for accessibility, period. If you’re somehow not using it anyway (shame *rings bell*), can I also interest you in the SEO aspect of it? I’m not saying you should stuff all your keywords in there — you are doing this to be more accessible after all. Just give a natural description of the images like you would to someone who doesn’t have the media in front of them.
And speaking of accessibility…
Your heading tags matter too.
…instead of formatting subheads as bold and leaving it at that. Heading tags (H2 to H6) are really important for not just for SEO (which I will get to in a bit) but also for accessibility and readability.
If heading tags separate the different sections of your post, people who use screen readers can jump between the headings easily. If you had bolded and increased the font size instead, screen readers wouldn’t be able to make this important distinction. So always make sure to put those H2s to good use and be accessible!
Coming to readability, no one likes reading a big chunk of text. Also, did you know that the average person spends just 37 seconds reading a blog post? That’s 37 seconds in which you need to give them the information they need before they bounce. Using headings helps hook people more.
And finally, the SEO side of things.
Heading tags are a big godsend when it comes to featured snippets on Google. They’re the little box you sometimes see with snippets from the first search result. It has more real estate than the smol meta description and Google mostly pulls up the content that is in heading tags for this snippet.
I’ve lost all the great authority I had built in 4.5 years when I moved to self-hosted and started over with an empty blog, but my comeback post is also the first search result on Google.
And that’s the power of SEO.
Also, LOL, look at Google thinking I’d give a rat’s fart about CAT prep. Or any kind of B-school exam oops. It gives me war flashbacks to my younger self hunched over Kaplan 800, crying, and I am not here for it.
Internal linking is mandatory.
Linking between pages on your own site is not only important for navigation but also for SEO. These internal links essentially provide a map to Google while it’s crawling your site. Instead of reading your posts individually, it crawls a single post and then moves on to the posts linked in that first post, and so on. This article from Moz explains it more in detail if you’re interested.
Internal links are also good to get readers to stay on your site longer. Sure, the related posts section at the bottom helps, but it’s also good to sprinkle in some related posts in the middle of your content as well.
And external linking helps even more.
External links, especially from websites with more authority than yours, helps not just with amplifying your content but also for, you got it, SEO. Obviously, this is not much in our control — unless you bully someone to share your post LOL. Instead, create share-worthy content because it’s those that get linked the most, especially in monthly wrap-ups.
The more people linking to our blogs, the higher the chance of ranking, well, higher.
That’s all from me. This is by no means exhaustive but I hope this was enough in getting you started on your SEO journey.
One of the biggest things to remember is that we’re all here to write about the things we love. Think of SEO as that little extra push in getting the content you create in front of the very same people you want in your little corner of le interwebs.
- How much of this was new information to you?
- What other SEO tip would you like to give to newbie bloggers?
- Do you have any SEO-related questions you’d like me and my SEO expert friend to answer?
Chat away in the comments!