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Learning SEO – A Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Today’s post is part two of learning SEO. We’ll focus on implementing SEO practices into your posts and website. If you haven’t already read A Beginners Guide to SEO, it would be helpful to do that first!

learning SEO

I still fully believe that SEO is something that takes a very long time to master, and I am only just now in the beginner’s category. Even though I don’t know everything there is to know (or even 1/100th of it), I know enough to make improvements on my site and hopefully help you with your own. My friend Kendra, who runs Fueled Marketing, has been a great resource for me while I’ve been learning the ropes. She recommended many of the guides I have read and has been wonderful to bounce ideas off of from time to time. Learning SEO has been super time-consuming for me, so my hope is that these posts allow you to make positive changes for your own site, without all the late night legwork.

Site Identity
Please go to Google and type in your blog/website address. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Underneath the search results for your page, you’ll see a little snippet about your blog.

Underneath the search results for your page, you’ll see a little snippet about your blog.

learning SEO

For the longest time, I assumed Google was just making up the snippet for my site. Yes, naivety is a wonderful thing. Turns out you can customize that. Mine used to say “a champagne life on a sparkling cider budget”. Let’s say you’re searching for a frugal blog or maybe a food blog to read, and you see “a champagne life on a sparkling cider budget” as the tagline. Doesn’t tell you much about that site, right? The point of that snippet is to draw potential readers in and make them want to click on your site. So today, you’re going to change that!

Sit down and think about what readers should know about your site in 160ish characters. What do you want to tell them? What image do you want to project? To accomplish this task, I sat down and wrote a mission statement about my site. A mission statement should influence and direct the vast majority of what you write, share, and publish. All the key words and ideas I have about my own site boiled down to this mission statement:learning SEO

After creating my mission statement, I had to go about changing it internally on my site so that Google would show it instead of “a champagne life on a sparkling cider budget”. It is so important to note this next part that I am going to remind you about again in a bit. Just by changing your tagline, does not mean Google will change things on their end quickly. Google scans websites for updates about once a day, so it may not pick up your changes immediately. I believe for me it took a full two days before I saw my new tagline reflected on Google. And what is weird in the image of the Google results above, is that is not even what I have entered in my site identity field for my blog. You’ll see the term “crunchy momma has been added it”. It is information I sent as part of a campaign I am trying to work on that is more family-focused. So, Google is pretty much all up in my business and somehow changed it as they saw fit. Creepy.

So here’s how you’re going to do it. Please note, these instructions are for WordPress only. I couldn’t find reliable instructions for Blogger or other platforms.

  1. Go to your dashboard and find “Appearance”: learning SEO
  2. Click “Customize”:learning SEO
  3. Click the little arrow next to “Site Identity”:learning SEO
  4. Type your mission statement into the little “Tagline” field:learning SEO

Then hit “Save”.

Hey, remember my promise to remind you again that it won’t change instantly on Google? Guess what? That tagline will not change instantly on Google.

Yoast SEO Plugin
If you installed the Yoast SEO Plugin that I recommended on A Beginners Guide to SEO, we’re going to look through the aspects of it in this section.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I want to share a tip that has really helped me get my head around the whole “writing for SEO” mentality. When implementing SEO, I did not want to change how I wrote simply to please a search engine. I didn’t want to lose my voice and become a cookie cutter of every other blog out there. So, I didn’t!

Now, I write my post exactly how I want it, and then add in elements of SEO. I then review the content to come up with my Focus Keyword. Then, I create an SEO title, post title, and meta description based on what I already wrote. Don’t worry, I’m going to tell you what all those bolded words mean soon.

Google Adwords
When creating my post title, SEO title, and meta description, I use Google Adwords. It is intended for companies/brands to created targeted online ads. It is a free service, and you don’t actually have to make internet ads to be able to use it. I think about my topic and then type in a few different ideas of what I think people might enter when searching for what I am writing about. The higher the number next to each set of search terms, reflects which are most sought after.

learning seo

As you can see, “learning SEO” was the clear winner, and thus will be implemented into my SEO terms.

Focus Keyword/SEO Title/Slug/Meta Description
The focus keyword is the drilled down phrase highlighting what your post is really about. If you have the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, all of the SEO input fields are at the very bottom of your post.

When I am done writing my post, I first start filling in the SEO data with the focus keyword (blue arrow). Then I go up to the SEO Title (green arrow) and create a title until the little line under that box turns green. The SEO title is what will show up in the search on Google and other search engines. It isn’t necessarily the title of your post. After that, I type in what I want the “slug” to be (yellow arrow). The slug will be the part of the post’s URL after your site’s name (www.beingfrugalbychoice.com/learning-seo). And then enter in the meta description (purple arrow), which is a quick snippet from the post that will aid show in search engines results. This one takes the longest, as you have to wordsmith a bit until the line under the box turns green. The meta description is the “hook” that gets readers interested in reading your post. If you don’t fill in then meta description, it simply pulls the first few lines of your post for search engines. I have so many old posts where this has occurred, and frankly, the idea of updating them all makes me nauseated.

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Once you fill in all the required/suggested SEO fields, scroll down and bit and see what your SEO score is.

learning SEO

Here, you’ll see that I forgot two key elements – including the focus keywords in the meta description (duh), and barely saying the focus keywords in the actual post (double duh). The focus keywords will bold in the meta description when included, further grabbing searcher’s attention, so this is so important to include!

After looking at the two red dots, I added the focus keywords to my meta description, and came back up and added a few more instances of learning SEO to my post. <—– Even that counts. 🙂 The number of times the focus keyword should be used depends on the overall length of the post. Once I hit five mentions of it, I felt that was enough and stopped trying to get my light to turn green.

To recap, by writing the essence of the post on my own terms before implementing SEO techniques, I feel like I am able to stay true to my voice and not sound robotic. The little SEO scorecard within each post is super helpful to guide my final review of each post, but there are sometimes when I don’t get all green dots and still post. Especially in shorter posts, or posts that are more personal, stuffing in keyword mentions just seems foreign and forced.

There is still so much to learn (for you and me!), so I hope you come back next week when we talk about structured data, link building, image attributes, and broken links. Damn, I write about the sexiest things ever.

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2 comments on “Learning SEO – A Beginner’s Guide to SEO”

  1. I love that you are doing this! It is so helpful. My blog is a baby blog. Such a mess! I don’t really do much with it but some day in the future I am going to utilize all this that you are doing! In my spare time now is when I can sleep, or check email, or sew! Haha!

  2. You’re awesome, Sarah! Thanks for the shout-out!

    Your guide is perfect for people starting out with SEO. It becomes complicated very quickly, but it is incredibly important.

    Also, this is way more articulate than I was over our marketing geeky texts. Happy I could help!