So you have your website set up and started blogging.  What else can you do to improve your posts?  How do you promote your blog without being too spammy?  A good way to do that is to optimize your blog for search engines like Google — afterall, the majority of your traffic will come from organic search.  After you’ve implemented the basics of SEO for search engine rankings, you can use these tips to further optimize your articles.

These aren’t just hacks I learned through trial and error but as a former Front End Developer that worked on for the better part of 8 years, I’ve learned a few things about how to optimize a site for search engines (shout out to the Digital Marketing team there 🙂 ).

1. Pretend you’re searching for your own post

Who is your target audience, and what are they searching for? Make sure those search terms are in your post by working backwards: start with a goal (the goal here is to get traffic to your blog) and think about what the user would search for to land on your blog. If you’re not sure what your users would search for to find your site, take a key phrase from your article and then do a Google search for it.  Go to the bottom of the page under Searches related to your key phrase and keep clicking through the results until you feel confident you covered most of the relevant words in your post.

Related Google search terms

Find long tail keywords for free

What not to do

Do not keyword stuff your post or hide all the words in your meta tags because search engines will penalize sites that implement these kinds of black hat SEO practices.  Also, don’t delete posts willy nilly or rename your post’s URL. I won’t go into all the details here but if you do it frequently on posts that were popular, it will create a lot of 404s for your site, which could potentially drive down the ranking of your website in search engine results pages (SERP).

2. Check what your post looks like in Social Media sites

You can check how your post will look like on Twitter with Twitter’s Card Validator. Your post needs to be public (or be accessible via direct link without authentication) to use this feature. Certain meta tags specifically for Twitter can make your tweets look nicer.

What your post will look like in Twitter

Check out what your post will look like in Twitter and Facebook

If you’re using WordPress, you can get plugins like Add Meta Tags to automatically add metadata to your posts.  As an example, you can view the source of this post and search for “BEGIN Metadata added by the Add-Meta-Tags WordPress plugin” to see what kind of meta tags this plugin adds.  Furthermore, adding OpenGraph meta tags to your posts will also allow you to pin those posts as Rich Pins on Pinterest.  Verify if your posts need more metadata in order to be eligible for Rich Pins with Pinterest’s Rich Pins Validator. These same OpenGraph tags are also read by Facebook and a lot of other sites to format your data in a nice way when you share your post on those sites.

Article Rich Pins on Pinterest

An example of a Rich Pin on Pinterest

What not to do

If you’re troubleshooting the way your post looks on a social media platform, make sure you check your site to ensure you don’t have multiple different definitions for the same tag on any given page.

3. Make your images appear in Google’s Image search

If you search for “bdo alfredo’s revenge” in Google (which is a common search phrase for people playing Black Desert Online), several of my images show up in Google’s Image search results.

Google results display images

If someone clicks on the image from this web search result, or is using Google’s Image search they will see this:

An example of Google image search result

The information provided here could compel users to click through the image to read more about it on your site.  How did I add my image to Google’s Image search, and get it to appear first?

Google uses context around the image as well as the filename to understand what it is.  Therefore, you should provide non-decorative images with a useful caption and name them with an appropriate filename.  If you’ve implemented OpenGraph tags mentioned earlier, that will also indirectly help boost your images in search.

I normally don’t add a title attribute unless I specifically want a tooltip to be displayed when a user hovers over the image with their mouse.  And since one of the purposes of an alt attribute is for screen readers to help people with accessibility issues, I try to make them succinctly describe what the image actually is and try not duplicate the text I have as the caption.  If you’re unsure if you should add an alt attribute to your images, take a look at this handy alt decision tree.

I’d also recommend watermarking your images, especially the ones you spent a lot of time editing yourself because you’ll never know where they’ll end up!

What not to do

Speaking of watermarking your own images, don’t steal other people’s images and do give credit to the source.  Also to reiterate, do not keyword stuff your alt text and title attributes.

Extra Tip: Mobile-optimize your site

screenshot of from mobile

MMO Champion, 🙏

Google prioritizes mobile-optimized sites over non mobile-friendly sites for their search results.  They used to only prioritize mobile-friendly sites for searches from mobile devices, but now search results are device agnostic.  It also helps to proofread your post in a mobile browser because it may look perfect on desktop but then look a bit off in mobile because you decided to float:right; all your images (this has happened to me!).  Because a majority of people use mobile devices (and it’s 2018), you should definitely invest in making your site mobile-friendly.

Am I missing anything?

Do you have anything that I can use to improve my own blog? Is there more you want to share? Let me know in the comments below or “Like” this post if you learned something new! If you want to get updates about my Work Life-related topics, subscribe specifically for that via email or RSS feed.