With so much talk of what doesn’t work on Google anymore, how can we plan for search engine optimising going forward in 2021? As bloggers, we need to know how to optimise our content to rank highly in Google as much as ever. Yet so many bloggers don’t pay attention to SEO often due to ignorance, fear or disinterest.
Let’s cut through the fluff, and the nostalgic hankering after the good old days when ‘it was so much easier to rank,’ and carve out a somewhat smoother path for the year ahead.
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO for short) has become a different animal since the mobile revolution. Not too long ago bloggers could get away with a substandard mobile version of their site, or worse relying on a clunky slow Desktop version for their mobile readers. These days most people are browsing on their mobile so it’s top priority for you to make sure that your platform has a speedy and up to date mobile version, and that the AMP feature is turned on or if necessary an app or plugin is added to your blog. And yes, the speed with which your blog loads is a contributing rank factor in the search engines. Not to mention maintaining the attention of would-be readers. Studies show if your blog takes more than two seconds to load you’ve already lost your reader.
Dwell Time or Bounce Rate
The amount of time people spend on your site is one of a handful of crucial ranking factors for your website. The All-Seeing eye of Google is looking at your ‘bounce rate,’ as in how quickly people come out of your blog and return to their search results. This is good news for us bloggers though because we thrive on appealing to people who actually want to read a long article. We should in theory have readers engaged for longer provided our content is good. More on this later.
So if your blog looks like a wet newspaper a Jack Russell just played with, it’s time to rethink or you just won’t rank as high as you otherwise could.
CTR (Click Through Rate)
Another important ranking factor that Google uses to place your blog is your CTR. This is obvious when you think about it because Google wants to provide the most relevant results to a search query, and sites that people aren’t clicking through are sites that don’t provide enough relevance for searchers. If your blog ranks No.10 on Page 1 but more people are clicking through your site than whoever is at No.1, sooner or later Google will move your blog higher. You can see how this works hand in hand with dwell time and overall providing a better user experience.
Backlinks are just as important as ever to help optimise your blog. Domains that refer back to you, especially if they have high Page and Domain Authority are like money in the bank. Again we bloggers need to think about the importance of this for us. We need to reach out to reputable sites (dodgy backlinks could get you into trouble with Google) and try to get them to link back to us. In some cases that could definitely be a blogger or influencer within your own niche who has a similar audience. Why not include them in your blog and then contact them to let them know about the mention?
That way you will be giving them something before you begin a relationship. They will probably be flattered and then you might go about politely asking for a link or a mention on their site. Maybe you will get ignored but if you don’t ask you don’t get. All of us bloggers had to start somewhere and some of us don’t mind helping each other out. This is where guest posting comes in. This involves writing a guest post for a blogger in your niche or a similar one, and earning backlinks, authority and new traffic as a result. One easy way to get started is to use this simple formula as a search term in Google: “keyword + guest post by” or “keyword + guest blogger.” If you write in the marketing niche then your keyword could be marketing blogs, and at the time of writing if you use the above formula the first result in Google is “35 Digital Marketing Blogs that Accept Guest Posts.”
Another way to reach out is to find an actual journalist who wants to write an article about a topic that you happen to be an expert in. How cool would it be if they mentioned you and your blog in their article? This can really bring quality traffic to your site and boost your rankings. The best way to do this is to head over to HARO or Help A Reporter Out and become a source for articles that reporters want to write. If you are really fortunate you could end up being featured in ‘The New York Times’ or ‘Time,’ Magazine!
Consider the Priority of Video
Have you noticed that when you search in Google video results come up first? That’s because video is considered by Google to be priority content. Would you rather watch a 5 minute video ‘how to’ where you can see it all in front of you or read 1000s of words which may or may not be relevant?
Bloggers need to be aware of the value of videos despite how much we like our words. Remember, Youtube is the second biggest search engine in the world. I know what you are going to say – you blog because you would rather write than take centre stage.
You don’t have to feature yourself in the video. Why not consider scrolling through a new article or part of your blog and playing music behind it? You can use the screen recording app on your phone or desktop and stop at key pictures or headings in your blog to show what it’s really about. If your blog is a lifestyle one grab your phone and take videos related to your niche, not necessarily involving you. You knows you might find yourself itching to feature on the screen.
You can also link back to your blog from Youtube, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and so on, and so on. The list is long and goes on and on. And on.
Where to Share Your Blog to Increase Your SEO Reach
We have all experienced something a little like this. You pen the best article known to humankind. Your hands shake in anticipation but somehow you bravely hit the publish button poised for total takeover and conquest of cyberspace. You hear an angelic fanfare in your head as you sit back, fold your arms and wait for the views to surge like the tides.
And nothing whatsoever happens. Not even a like from that nice fellow with an embarrassing ton of followers who always likes your post.
You need to spend around 50% of your blog-time writing great blogs and 50% of your blog-time promoting them.
Here are some of the best places we have found to promote a blog, it isn’t meant to be exhaustive – like many things in life you just need to sign up and find out for yourself. Obviously some of these are niche-dependent and you need to treat them on a best fit basis.
1 Ello is a great place to share your content if you are blogging about the artistic community and related subjects. This is a site for artists and fans of art to share posts and the engagement is very high. Art, Photography, Design, Architecture, Fashion, Lifestyle and many other categories are represented so there is a fairly high range.
2 Twitter is uniquely set up to facilitate blogs as it allows for short precise posts about specific topics.
3 Instagram is more useful than you might think, especially if you create videos for your blog and focus on images. You can add your link to your blog in your bio.
4 Facebook is good because you can join various niche groups on almost any topic and share links to your blog from time to time. (don’t spam too much though!)
5 Reddit is known as the front page of the Internet and you can join specific subreddits on almost any topic. Depending on the rules of each subreddit you can share links to your blogposts but be warned there are some very rude/committed people on there who react badly if they perceive you as spamming them!
6 Mix is the new version of StumbleUpon and and well set up to share blogposts on.
7 Medium is a site that curates content from the Internet and another blog friendly zone to freely enter. You can share your posts and they do have a lot of traffic.
8 Digg is also a site that curates content from around the Net. It’s useful because you can share your articles directly with them, meaning that you have a chance of being featured if they consider it newsworthy enough.
9 Pinterest is an option you simply can’t ignore. It’s a visual search engine that you can use to pique your audience’s attention, say with a picture or video from from your blog and an intriguing title. Pins can include a direct link to your blog so all you have to is making your pin interesting enough to click through. Make sure you create plenty of boards which are similar to your niche to increase your reach. Pinterest pins last longer than any other Social Media posts – far longer than Instagram or Facebook which can get lost in the feed because they can be re-pinned over and over. You can often see Pinterest boards ranking in Google searches for years bringing in a steady supply of traffic for that board.
The thing to emphasise here is that you need to follow others, like, comment, share, and read other blogs to grow your following. Some people like to choose just one or two to focus on to give themselves a chance, rather than trying to post sporadically all over the Social Media Show. If we had to narrow it down to two as a blog about Art our money is on Pinterest and Ello.
The Last Word Is CONTENT
The huge thing to take away from this article is that the best SEO Tip we can give is to write great content. The very successful writer Neil Gaiman once gave a speech which was later turned in to a book, called “Make Great Art.” The gist of it is that no matter what happens you must make great art. If your dog dies, make great art. If your wife leaves you make great art. You get the picture. This applies as much to blogging as anything. No matter what, write great content. Don’t spam people and try to cut corners. Don’t try to overstuff keywords into things. Write great content. Create value. Don’t try to hoodwink people. Write great content. Don’t try to create dodgy backlinks. Don’t try to duplicate your content. Write great content.
In the end the Almighty Google will reward you with rankings.
One of the best and comprehensive SEO books is worth a look here: