I’m constantly searching for the holy grail that is SEO… the new buzz term of the digital age where optimizing every syllable is the only way to confirm your content’s social media status has cracked Google analytic stats.
As Staffordshire University lecturer Sue Greenwood explained in journalism.co.uk, securing a headline that resonates with the public is just the beginning. She teaches journalism students “about picking the right name and explains about site names versus URLs; placing of keywords; SEO tricks; design as signal; design for readability” and she “always brings them back to thinking about how their audience will use their blog and what they’ll want to get from it”.
‘That’s what effective bloggers do’, Sue Greenwood
on Why all would-be journalists need to blog
I ate up the contents of this post because the holly grail of search engine optimization, or SEO, that I’ve managed to uncover seems simple: “integration”. Read on.
I’ve poured over webinars, releases and online content on the subject for longer than I’d care to admit, each so-called expert revealing ways to optimize but never really explaining a blow-by-blow how-to. So it was refreshing to stumble across Greenwood’s article … it made me ask, where do I sign up! She needs to package it online via Udemy.com because it is difficult to go from 02Geek. I tried it. Geek’s optimization freebie revealed one or two gems but I’m not interested in pursuing ongoing programming, so I opted out!
So how can the average Joe master the ins-and-out of SEO? Good question, glad you asked so here’s my take, I hope it resonates!
To become an effective blogger, be it to push a message out, pull customers in, or engage with an audience, what you say needs to be integrated simultaneously across as many social media channels as possible for the content to be optimized fully.
What does that mean? Put simply, before even getting started, THINK BIG. No, you’re not a rock star and may never want to be, but you do want people to read your words of wisdom so you’ll need to build an audience, and that can take time. To fast-track that process when setting up a personal blog, or website, also set up and link it to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, uTube … and especially LinkedIn. Why? When you’re ready to get started, you’ll have all your social media connections in play.
I’d suggest even paying for likes, followers, sign-ups and website hits! Set a modest budget and post your request on job sites like Elance to get people around the world talking about you, or your product. Many individuals and firms do this. Mainstream journalists have news agencies that do it for them so that’s why bloggers, external to news rooms, who want to be heard, need to put in the hard yards upfront.
There’s no real tricks except for being able to grasp that integrating content with social media advertising and PR machines equal good SEO!
TIP: Hyperlink early in your content to your own sites, as well as other’s to back up, confirm facts, as this optimizes integration of your search prospects.
Next, those “magic” SEO words need to appear in content.
- Think like a journalist: write your story with an upside down pyramid in mind.
- The key is to use key “primary and secondary” phrases throughout your article.
- Primary phrases [general or broad key words] need to appear no more than five times*: once in your headline, once in the intro paragraph, twice in the body and one last time at the end: the closing paragraph/bio.
- Next, optimize a further two to three secondary phrases [targeted words or sentences] throughout your copy.
*”Overstocking your story with key words is akin to spamming and won’t help in the long run. Just a few targeted key words can significantly bolster search engine confidence in your message and help your blog rise to the top. Always use natural variations on your key words. Search engines are partial to content that is written well and that would read naturally to an end-user.” Source PRWeb
Next, the type of search engine optimization. Many SEO strategists say there are three considerations: Quality, Quantity and Real-time.
- Quality is being authoritative. Research your message, say it with confidence and back up your facts with links.
- Quantity is about the content, and links. You can repurpose/rebrand the same message/content multiple times in numerous ways via social media that link. Always include shared buttons and hyperlinks.
- Real-time relates to content updates that appear in real-time across social media channels.
TIP: Research the best key words to get to the top of search rankings and increase customer traffic. Do this by testing your key words and phrases in Google and see what pages hit first page spot, or pay a firm to do it.
30MinutePR editor Marc Harty, in a webinar for PRWeb, offered these gems on writing effective press releases, which apply to any form of writing. He calls it the 3Cs test.
- Be consistent Ensure your message is the same across all social media channels.
- Connected Understand the power of synergy.
- Content-driven Make your release [blog] about a story or persona, not just an announcement.
Which segues nicely back to Greenwood who reckons bloggers need to understand what is important both in signaling intent to the human audience and to search bots. “They have to pick the right subject for their blog, align their passion with expertise, usefulness, or humour, then combine content with key words and phrases while keeping top of mind how their audience will use their blog and what they’ll want to get from it”. After that, she says, “it’s a hop and a skip to branding, marketing and how the concepts they’re practising on their blog could earn them six-figure salaries!”
So you see, using SEO to build your brand has never been so easy! Not convinced. My final piece of advice: write from the heart, you’ll always connect with someone.
Judy Wilkinson is a freelance journalist who, during the setting up of a business website and app, has had to delve into the world of SEO, integration and mastering social media. It has been a steep learning curve and there’s still much to learn!