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SEO for authors: 10 tips to boost your website rankings

Simple SEO for authors can help you improve your website rankings. SEO (search engine optimization) is a set of techniques to help search engines find your site more easily. Many of them are about writing. Here are 10 tips to help Google love your page. Use them for every blog post. See also: SEO copywriting

SEO is a complex topic, so don’t try to do everything at once. Choose one tip and learn how it works, before moving onto another. Overall, the aim is to help search engines get a clear handle on your page.

1. Decide a keyword focus for each blog

Of all the SEO tips for authors, this is the most important. Blogs with a specific focus are more likely to be ranked by search engines. If you have a tight focus that includes your site theme, images and links, even better.

So, decide on a keyword focus for each blog. Ideally, this will be two or three words that encapsulate the theme. Use these in your title, intro para, and in the body text.

If you have a WordPress site, install an SEO plugin (try Yoast plugin). This will show you the SEO rating for each page, and where you can improve it.

These combined steps will help search engines to understand your web page content.

How to choose a keyword? If you’re starting out, use your intuition. What do you think your readers might be searching for?

For inspiration, try typing phrases into Google. Google’s predictive search shows the most common searches other people are making. Hit ‘return’ and see how many searches there are for this phrase, and which pages come up. Note that your own recent searches influence what turns up. So it’s best to use the ‘private’ or ‘incognito’ browser when researching keywords.

This will give you plenty to go on. If you want to get really into keywords, try the free Google keyword planner.

2. Introduction paragraph

People searching the web are often using mobiles, and want to save time. Help them to decide whether to read your blog post with a short introduction. Explain what they’ll get from reading the full blog. Set it apart from the body text, using italics, bold, or a different size of font.

Every image in your site can help your search results, if it’s named effectively. Rather than using generic names such as 1234-pic, use relevant keywords. For example, I might use audiobook-headphones-method-writing. Over time, this will also help you to find images more easily, once you have a large media library in your website.

4. Insert image ALT tags and descriptions

‘ALT’ tags can be seen if you hover over an image on the web. As well as boosting SEO, they also help visually impaired people to understand what the image shows. Add ALT tags and descriptions for each image. You can do this by editing the image fields in your website media library. Again, ALT tags should reflect your focus keywords. I usually use the image file name, but you can use a more detailed one, if you like. As long as there’s something in there to reinforce the focus for search engines.

5. Use sub-headings

Sub-headings help to break up the text visually. They also help with SEO. Break up long sections of text with sub-headings, using relevant keywords where possible.

6. Use short paragraphs

More and more people are using mobile phones to read websites. Check how your site looks on a mobile – you may be surprised. Long paragraphs may not fit into a single screen. Once you’ve added in your sub headings, check your paragraphs for length and legibility by using a mobile phone. Break up and tighten any that seem too long.

7. Insert metadescriptions

Metadescriptions or “snippets” are the two or three-liners that appear under the search results when you do a web search. They’re a kind of advertising space, and should be written separately. To see yours, search for your page on Google, and see what appears under the URL. To update your metadescriptions, look for the metadescription or snippet area in your blog editing app.

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8. WordPress users – use Yoast plugin

If your site is on Wordpress, use the Yoast plugin. This is an SEO plugin with a traffic light system showing whether your page is search-friendly. Use it as a guide for tweaking your blog posts.

Include links in your body text. Inbound links (to other pages in your website) help readers to find related information and improve flow. They also help with SEO.

When choosing which words to use as a link, use words that flow naturally and describe what the link contains.

So, rather than linking to a generic phrase such as “read more”, create a descriptive link, such as “copywriting blueprint”.

10. Improve your SEO titles

People often think that SEO titles are the same as your blog header – your h1 that appears at the top of each blog. However, SEO titles live behind the scenes. They appear on web searches, as the top headline that appears in search rankings.

Most websites fill in this area automatically, so you don’t need to do anything. They populate the title area by pull in the blog title, and often the site title, too.

So for this page, for example, you’ll get something like:

SEO for authors | 10 tips to boost your website rankings | METHOD WRITING

However, sometimes blog titles are too long. Shorter titles look better in search engine results.

So ideally, these titles should be written separately.

If you have a wordpress site and Yoast plugin, this is easy. Open the blog and find the SEO title editing area by clicking on “edit snippet”.

If not, ask your web developer how to do this. They may need to install a plugin for you.

SEO – is it worth it for authors?

Pros: If you get comfortable with SEO as an author, you’ll see a rise in your search engine rankings. Once you’ve mastered the techniques, they’ll become second nature. This will help not only with your own site, but also with any sites you write for others. Some SEO strategies are straightforward writing techniques, so you don’t need to go into the back end of your site.

Cons: With some SEO strategies, you need to be comfortable with website editing. Once you understand the principles, it’s straightforward. While you’re learning, don’t make any changes you don’t understand! And always keep a site backup. Some developers use a practice site for trying out experiments – a great idea!

If in doubt, ask your web developer before getting started with SEO.

Follow some of these tips, and you’ll soon start seeing results.

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