Friday, 22 February 2013

SEO Basics for your Blog

**** LAST UPDATED 26th APRIL 2014 ****
I don't proclaim to be an SEO expert or anything like that, but SEO is my day job, and I've been doing it for about two years - and in that time, I've picked up a few tips and tricks of best practice, or as we like to call it in the biz, being 'white hat' :)  This is part of a series of SEO type posts that I've been doing, the first two of which were 'Setting up a Google Analytics account' and 'Understanding Google Analytics'.

First off, a bit of an explanation of what SEO is.  SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and to put it as simple as possible, it's about getting high up on that first page of a Google search without paying for it (or as high as possible at least!).  Ok, with me so far?  Great, I'll crack on!  I'll get to how to optimise your blog in a sec, first off a bit more about what 'White Hat' etc is.

Do tell me, what is White Hat?

In the industry there are three terms floated about, White Hat, Grey Hat and Black Hat - its fair to say, they're pretty much what they sound like.
  • White Hat is being squeaky clean, not paying for links etc and doing everything Google dictates suggests.
  • Grey Hat is a bit of a middle ground, you're doing most things right, with the odd sneaky trick.
  • Black Hat is basically the dark side - using any means possible to get that top Google position whether that's buy buying all your links, spamming, whatever it takes goddam it!
I think most bloggers fall into White Hat/Grey Hat, it's the Black hats you want to be wary of! :)  Ok, now I'm going to give you some pointers on how to optimise your blog and blog posts.

The Rules! (they're more like guidelines really)

The first rule of SEO is... you don't tell anyone about it... kidding! I know, I know, this isn't fight club! Seriously though, there are some simple rules to bear in mind when you're writing a post.
  • Content is King! Sounds cheesy and basically is - but good quality content will be like catnip for Google, make sure your content is relevant, good quality and not spammy.  So... I don't know, if a PR approaches your beauty blog with a guest post that's filled with hyperlinks to an oil refinery - it's not very relevant to your blog, or the site that it's being linked to.
  • Relevancy - as I said above, keeping your posts relevant and pretty much key.  If all you blog about is cleansers, and suddenly you're blogging about cars, boats, drain covers and next door's cat every once in a while, Google may wonder what's going on.
  • Post regularly - it's fine not to post every day, post as often as you like, but try to keep it regular, whether that's once a month or three times a week, keeping momentum is like tickling Google's belly, purrrrrr.

How to Optimise your posts (the bit you've been waiting for!)

After suffering through all that I'm sure you're keen to look at all the pictures and see some real ways to help your blog rank better with Google, so here we go.

Post Titles
This is kind of important.  Try to put the name of the product in the title, it helps Google work out what it's about and if it's relevant to what the customer/user/person has searched for.  So, here if I'd put 'some purple stuff you put on your cheeks' as the title, it may not rank as well ;)

Where and how to add a relevant title

Hook me up!
Linking relevant 'anchor text' (the words that you're linking off your site) with a relevant/appropriate link also helps Google work out who and what your post is for, just remember to mix things up a bit and vary the anchor text you use - keeps things looking natural :)

Here (the pic below), the first arrow (on the left) is pointing to the anchor text, which in this case is 'Flash Plum', the arrow underneath it is pointing to the checkbox for opening the post in a new window - this is good for keeping your readers on the article they're interested in, and allows them to continue reading another post in a new window, and the arrow on the right is where you need to paste the URL of where you want to take your reader.  So here, if they click on 'Flash Plum' they would expect to be taken to a place where they can buy it - hence the link to superdrug, which is where I bought this.

If this product was gifted to me to review, or if this post was sponsored, you should also hit the checkbox for 'Add 'rel=nofollow' attribute' which is right under the 'open in a new window' checkbox - this tells Google to ignore the link and that it's not a paid SEO link (which is against their guidelines).

linking some anchor text

Images, Images, Images!
Now, this is pretty important.  After you've added your image, left click on it so you get this little tool bar up, then click on properties.  (look at next image below!)

An image of editing properties of an image

When you do that, you'll get this box up.  You should really fill in both these fields, although, the Title Text is optional but the ALT text is important.  The title text gives your picture a tooltip that will display over it, whereas the ALT text should be a meaningful description of the image, and will be read out by screen readers (pieces of software that read web pages for the blind).  So keeping ALT text as a good description of the picture is really important.
A picture of adding ALT text to an image

Content and Keywords
The first arrows are pointing to 'my thoughts' and the 'normal' field.  I always put paragraph headings as 'Minor Heading' from the 'normal' drop down - this is the equilivant to an <h2> tag, telling Google etc that it's a small heading - you generally only have 1 <h1> tag on a post/page which will be the main post heading, which will automatically be there by blogger.

Next up - making words bold!  This is useful mostly for emphasising relevant keywords that you want the reader to be drawn to, these don't need to be links or anything, just keywords relating to the post.

Keywords - it's good SEO practice to have the product/topic's keyword appear a good few times in a post (this is called keyword density).  Not too much that it looks unnatural, but you also want to get the point across of what you're talking about.  I've put circles around relevant keywords (blush and with the brand term 'maybelline).  This will help your SEO rank on Google too :)

(It's worth noting (I'm blowing my own trumpet here!) I rank on page 1, 5th position for the post this is based on (and at time of checking (August 2013), this SEO post ranks #1 for 'beauty blog SEO') :)  So proof that all this works :)

An image of how to optimise your copy

Meta Descriptions
This is the sentence you see under the URL when you do a google search - see the square below?  Well, that's my meta description.  You can amend yours by going into Settings > Search Preferences and edit the Description.  It should be about 155 characters (not dramatically less and definitely no more).  Include keywords that are relevant for your blog, but don't just spam keywords.  You'll see in mine I've included British beauty, Makeup blog, Makeup reviews - all keywords that people may type in to find my blog.  Again, make sure this is relevant.

EDIT 01/09/13: Note, that when you update your meta description, it can take a few days to show up on Google, just in case you're wondering why it hasn't updated yet :)

An image of how to add a meta description

So there you have it, my tips and tricks for optimising your blog, there's literally masses and masses more detail that I could go into about this but we'd be here all day, and I'd have written war and peace! I hope it's been easy to follow and understand.  If you'd like to see any other posts on topics like this just leave a comment below and I'd be happy to put a post together :)

Page Speed (this section added 7th October 2013)
This can be a fairly significant ranking factor too, but the faster your blog loads, the more likely it is that your reader will stay and read more content (who wants to wait for 2 mins for a page to load?), and the better Google will rank your blog.  One of the biggest issues with blogs and page load times, and the easiest one to fix is around images.  I was guilty of this myself, letting blogger do the resizing for me.

If you're taking high quality photo's and uploading them straight to your blog, then Blogger is going to have to resize the images every time the page loads, and if you're a beauty blogger/fashion blogger, the chances are you'll have a photo-heavy blog.  So, do yourself a favour and edit your pics in image editing software first like PicMonkey and reduce the size to the size it needs to be on screen, there's no point in having it any bigger, it'll only slow your page down.

Useful Sites & Tools
SEOmoz - veritable guru's of SEO with useful guides and tools
Google Keyword tool - use it to search for local monthly search terms relating to a keyword such as 'beauty blog'
Google linking guidelines - are you white hat or black hat!?
Google SEO tips - their official tips!
Jayne from Jayne's Kitschen has also written a great post on it, from a broader angle :)

SEO - Search Engine Optimisation
SERPs - Search engine results page
RSS - really simple syndication
DA - Domain Authority
PA - Page Authority
PR - PageRank
There's not many more that would be relevant to blogging :)

This months big pixi3 advertisers are the lovely Laura from A Scottish Lass, Tasha from Belleza Kisses, Gem from Miss Makeup Magpie, Luchessa from Luchessa, Sally from The Human Mannequin - be sure to head over to check out their beautiful blogs <3



  1. This was SO helpful! I've struggled to understand SEO for quite a while now but I think I finally get it :)

    Thanks for such an informative and helpful post! x

  2. What a brilliant post, so many things that I wouldn't ever think to do! Thankyou so much!xxxx

  3. Such a useful blog post, thank you!

    That image thing was completely new to me, wish I had read this before posting my latest post haha. Thanks again, this was great.

  4. Brilliant post Georgina thanks. Found it really useful - I know next to nothing about all this malarky. Going to read it all through again to make sure it sinks in (eventually)! Thanks again! xx

  5. Useful post xx

    mac lippy giveaway ::

  6. This was very helpful indeed! I shall be bookmarking this page and using it to help optimise my seo, I would never have thought to do some of the steps xx

  7. the post is emmense! i didnt even know that image properties existed ! i am gunna use these tips to great use

  8. Thank you for this! I really enjoy your posts like these.. they're so helpful and I always learn something new!
    Loving your blog!

    Bump to Baby

  9. This post has been so helpful! Doing anything technical that is out of your depth is sometimes daunting, but after reading this, I think I will get the hang of it! :)


  10. Amazing post hun! Made it so much easier for me!!! :) xxx

  11. A really informative post..! Thank you I will definitely be using these tips as I've not blogged for long and have difficulty blogging via the iPad..! Thanks..!

  12. I love these kind of posts as im so rubbish at things like this, this has helped me soo soo much, I always forget to name my photos and should really start doing it more


  13. This is such a great post! Thanks so much for putting that together, I didn't realise you could use meta tags in Blogger haha fail. Thanks again!
    Vicki x x

  14. Really helpful. I'd love to see more posts like this, they're great for people like myself who don't have a clue about all this stuff.

  15. Thank you! This is such a useful post...a lot to take in but I will be sure to try all of this out. x

  16. this is so helpful! Had no idea about SEO until about 5 mins ago! thanks


  17. This is fab! You're a babe, THANKS :) x

  18. This is an AWESOME post, thank you so much for sharing with us such great ideas.

    Lyndsay ♡
    Fizzy Peaches

  19. The most helpful post ever!

  20. Thank you so much for the amazing posts about blogging! I pretty much started my blog based on your recommendations :-) I am hopeless when it comes to stuff like this but I love writing so I am hoping my blog improves over time. I just wanted to come by and say thank you for the inspiration!

  21. The authority of your site will also determine where google ranks it. 1000 websites all following exactly the same on-site SEO will have to be ranked in some kind of order and it's done on either your Google Page Rank and/or how many sites of similar relevance point links to you. This is why people buy in links as the link "juice" so to speak is what gives it authority to google.

    So get sharing links guys - link to each other or buy a wee paid advertising spot as that is what will help you rise in googles eyes.

    1. Very true, I didn't really go into domain authority in the post as I didn't think it would be a metric most bloggers would check or be aware of - I was trying to keep this one nice and simple :)

  22. I had no idea about SEO or black hats so this post has been so useful!

  23. My blog is a month old, and I am NOT a techie. Did lots of research, and decided to self-host on WordPress. Can you say over my head? I am learning a lot, and just started researching SEO. Thank you so much for your great post! I have been doing what you recommend THIS WEEK and corrected previous posts. Would like to see more info on the previous comment about sharing links/buying advertising space, as I have NO clue about that. Thank you again :)

    1. Hi :) Buying advertising space on other bloggers blogs is a great way to get more traffic to your blog. More traffic = better Google position, it shows Google that your site is relevant, plus it's lovely to get more traffic :) As for buying links, that's not something we'd do as bloggers, that's more of a brand thing. But a good way of having links on other blogs sites is to guest post for them :)

  24. This was so helpful, thanks,
    Bea x

  25. Really helpful post! Have bookmarked so I can go bak to it when I'm writing.

    Liz xx

  26. Thanks so much for this post! I have literally no idea with anything technical like this, it was really helpful x

  27. The most helpful post I have found so far :) thank u for helpibg me out dear x (twitter helper;)

  28. The most helpful post I have found so far :) thank u for helpibg me out dear x (twitter helper;)

  29. Such a helpful post, thanks!! x

  30. Really simple way of putting this. People have tried to explain so many times to me but this is the first time I seen it explained point by point and telling me exactly where I need to put each bit of info. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

    1. Thanks :) I'm so glad it helped :) Feel free to tweet me @twinklinpixi3 if you ever have any questions :)

  31. Fantastic post. Thanks so much for this and your 'understanding google Analytics' post. Both so helpful and easy to understand xxx

  32. This is fab, now in my bookmarked pages for future reference. Thank you so much! :-) xx

  33. Oh my, this is the most helpful SEO blog post that I have read in a LONG time! Well done girl, some brilliant tips!

    Emma | The Fashion Six

  34. I myself struggling with getting a better position in Google. My content is good, relevant and the references are fine but somehow it's still not strong enough to put me closer to the first page. For me this is important not only because of blogging but because my site is my personal portfolio for makeup jobs as well.

    Your article was very useful, however I'm using wordpress so the surface is quite different but I'll definitely benefit from reading it! Thanks very much



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