Are you wondering how to get more traffic to your website and reach more people? These three techniques, that anyone can do, will make a huge impact on your search ranking and get you more visibility.
ONE: Optimize Your Images
The number one mistake bloggers make is also the easiest to remedy. Do this before you upload an image to the media library of your blog. The size and name of your image matter.
Part 1: Sizing Images for Better SEO (search engine optimization)
Large images slow down the loading time of your site, which Google doesn’t like so much and this can negatively affect your overall ranking. Easy-peasy fix: Optimize your images for web. Don’t have photo editing software? I gotcha covered:
The best size for online images is 72 ppi with a width of no more than say 1,250 pixels. Honestly, the pixel width of your image doesn’t really matter as long as it’s not huge. It doesn’t need to be any bigger than the display area of your blog. Let’s say your blog area is 700 pixels wide (which is the width of the above image and this text you’re reading now), and your image is 1,200 pixels wide. In this case, your blog will automatically size it to visually fit in the 700 pixels of space, but your image will still be 1,200 pixels wide.
I recommend that you choose a uniform pixel width and use that for all of your images. Most blog themes these days will automatically size your images to fit a specific area anyway, which is more visually appealing to your reader.
Part 2: Image Naming Conventions for Improved SEO
Have you ever wondered how an image makes it into a search results page? How does Google know what you look like? You tell them by providing details about that image. There are a few steps to optimizing an image, it just takes a little more time.
Step One: Name Your Image.
Literally. Your image is probably a .jpg and you can choose what to call it. Just like you name your Word document (so that you can identify it later), you can also name your images. Images taken with a camera or your iPhone are assigned a name automatically. Like DSC7787-X3.jpg or IMG_8091-1.jpg.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that this is a photo of blueberry cheesecake. Google won’t know that unless you tell them. Rename your image following the below naming conventions of all lowercase letters and the words separated by hyphens, not spaces:
If you don’t know how to rename a .jpg, please Google it.
Step Two: Adding Meta Data
When you upload your image into the media library of your blog, you are given an opportunity to add a caption, Alt text, and a description, which is another means for Google to know what that image is. The alt tag and the description tag for your image are the most critical for our purposes. I personally don’t like the way captions look on my blog, so I choose not to use them.
TWO: Internal Links as Anchor Text
An anchor tag is the text that actively links someone to related information (hypertext). When used on your website as internal links, you help people learn more about a particular topic (think Wikipedia), and you help Google index your important content. Let’s say that you reference a topic that could use more clarification, like “Search Engine Optimization,” for example. Anything that might get your audience asking themselves: “What the heck is that?” Link the phrase (like I’ve done above) to a landing page dedicated to that topic.
Anchor text is also more visually appealing than a long URL, takes up less space, and encourages readers to click through. If you’re not sure how to add links, please Google it.
To further illustrate this, take a look at these link options to see why the anchor text is more effective.
Although “Click here” might be helpful to your audience, it doesn’t give Google the helpful information it needs to understand the importance of the link and then properly index your content.
THREE: Categories and Tags
Last but not least, I want to talk about the value of blog categories and tags.
Categories help readers navigate your content and also give them a quick visual of the topics you write on. I recommend creating between five and ten categories, more than that becomes overwhelming to your reader.
Blogs use this category structure to organize and archive your content, while Google uses it as a mechanism to determine the hierarchy and relevance of your content.
When I place my post “What is Fair Use,” into my “Author Marketing” category, the URL of my post contains valuable information to help Google index the post relevance:
Every blog must be assigned to at least one category. The default WordPress category is called “Uncategorized,” so if I had not chosen a category, the above URL (permalink structure) would have been:
Now, it’s worth noting that WordPress blogs must have their permalink structure defined. And, you can rename your “Uncategorized” category to something else, like your name or your area of expertise, for example. This way, if you forget to choose a category, your default is at least something of value to your readers, and to Google.
Tags further define the content of a blog post by going deeper into the minutia of that post’s content. Think hash tag. Tag clouds used to be popular because they give readers a clear visual of your most common topics, and a way to link to those posts, but most people don’t display tag clouds these days. If you’re not sure what tags to use in your posts, think of it like this: What is your post about? This paragraph you are reading could benefit from the following tags: image optimization, resize images, SEO, blogging tips, blog categories, tag cloud, blogging, … you get the picture. WordPress has great information if you want to know more about categories and tags.