Sometimes blogging feels like a roller coaster. Some days it may make you feel like a dog chasing it’s own tail. Blogging can be so incredibly rewarding in ways that don’t show up in numbers. But there’s also something substantial, something tangible, something to go by when we have the numbers in front of us.
For me, numbers and stats are just one measurement of my success as a blogger.
Google analytics is the industry standard as far as measuring stats.
But there’s so much more that you can use it for than just figuring out your stats. It really does beyond that if you take the time to just poke around and explore. Really, Google analytics can help you devise a long-term blogging strategy.
just what is google analytics and why should bloggers care?
Now, you may think that Google analytics is confusing. Even with all of the tutorials that are available, including those from the gurus at Google.
I’ve been there before, trying to make heads and tails of what was in front of me.
And then getting even more confused when I tried to look further.
That was before I took a class from Kelli and Crystal of Learn to Blog Hangouts. I still use some of the methods that they taught in that class and I will also say that the class is single-highhandedly responsible for my obsession with SEO. Yes, social media is nice and it’s a great way to get traffic. But in the long term; SEO matters more. Or at least it does to me.
That’s not to say that I want to neglect my social media completely… especially when Pinterest is usually one of my top traffic referrals.
But I also don’t want to build my blog traffic strategy on rented ground. Any number of things could change with social media and my traffic from there could tank.
With SEO, however, it’s different. Yes, search engines also make changes but I feel that SEO is a far more reliable search of long term traffic.
It all begins with understanding how to use it and with understanding just how useful Google Analytics is.
How to optimize your blog posts for seo with google analytics
First, this post assumes two things:
- That you’re using WordPress.org as your blogging platform. Certainly, these techniques could be applied to non-Wordpress blogs but, since that’s the platform I use; I write for that.
- That you’re using the Genesis framework from StudioPress. Certainly there are other frameworks out there, but Genesis has some handy built-in SEO features that I’m going to briefly cover.
So, with that out of the way let’s get to the how and then we’ll talk about the why… because it doesn’t make much sense to talk to you about how to do this without explaining why it’s important.
To begin, I want to talk briefly about keyword research because yes- that is important when it comes to search engine optimization. A keyword is a word or group of words that you use in your posts. Sounds simple… and it is. When you’re doing keyword research, you’re looking for a phrase or keyword that you want to rank for in the search engines.
Meaning this is what you want to become an authority on, according to Google and other search engines, when people are looking for a topic. So it could be something like “how to hatch emus” and ultimately, you’ll want to be on the first page of the search.. and on a side note, I will laugh if I start ranking for that term because this post isn’t about that at all.
Now, where to begin with keyword research?
Really that’s another post in itself, but to keep it brief there are two online tools that I use for finding keywords. For this example, we’ll use the search term “search engine optimization” … which, in reality, is probably something I’ll never rank on the front page of Google for and I’m okay with that.
Now, in the Genesis framework there are built in SEO settings. And really this is more than enough (I’ll explain about this too) when it comes to figuring out what to do. The two parts that you want to pay attention to are: Document Title and Meta Description. Meta keywords really don’t play as much of a role as they used to in search engine optimization.
You can also look at the canonical URL and well, if you’re wanting to rank for something then completely leave the noindex, nofollow, and noarchive options alone.
In the Document Title area, you can specify a title that will be different from what’s displayed on your blog. For example, going back to that keyword for “how to hatch emus” your blog post could be titled something along the lines of: Farmer McDonald’s Guide to Hatching Emus.
But, in the Document Title, you could use: The Ultimate Guide on How to Hatch Emus. The titles are similar but serve two different purposes. The first title of your post is for your readers and the second title is for the search engines. Plus, adding in something like “Ultimate Guide” really makes it sound like you’re an authority on this topic.
Next, we’ll move on to the meta description. This is what appears underneath your title and URL in the search engine results. Generally speaking, the meta description is 140 words (give or take) and is a brief, but compelling snippet of what your post is about. You’ll want to use your keyword in here as well, so for Farmer McDonald and his emus, we’ll say something along the lines of:
Itching to start your own mob of emus, but don’t know where to start? Come read the ultimate guide on how to hatch emus for all of the tips and tricks you’ll ever need.
Of course, this could be much catchier but I’m not sure how to jazz up a description on how to hatch emus.
So that’s the starting point for how to optimize two parts of your post with just the Genesis framework alone.
is seo still that important for blogging?
In a nutshell? Yes.
But why should you care about search engine optimization? And is SEO really that important for bloggers? Well, that also depends on your goals. If you’re in this for fun- great, then SEO really might not mean much to you and that’s fine. But if you’re in this for business or to monetize, than SEO should be on your mind and it should be something that you should care about.
SEO Is a Critical Part of Your Marketing Plan
Creating a highly optimized website or blog can go far in helping you get visitors to your site before you even start creating content. Ensure that you have a plan from the beginning, and that plan will pay off. The entire set-up of your site can be based on good SEO practices. Proper keyword-rich domain name (not quite as important as it used to be), strong keyword page names, well-crafted blog post titles with included keywords and tags are all important to your marketing plan.
SEO Gets Your Blog Noticed
The way SEO works is that when someone goes to a search engine to look for information on your topic or niche they type in a few words (called a keyword phrase). Then the search engine returns results for the search terms that the search engine hopes is high quality, accurate information as close to possible to what the searcher wanted.
SEO Rules Make Content Look Great
Using SEO rules, for both on-page and off-page content, can help your content look great with accurate titles, headers, subtitles and well-formed content that your audience wants to read. Understanding how your audience reads as well as what they want to see, then delivering that in an optimized way, not only delivers but looks great too.
SEO Rules Make Websites Work Better
Having a standard way that websites are set up, with clean code, search terms, alt tags and so forth simply makes your website work faster and better. The entire point of your blog or website is to deliver the right information to the right audience in the best possible way. SEO can help you accomplish that.
SEO Provides a Massive Return on Investment
The great thing about using SEO is that the payoff is large. If you do it correctly, what you do today in terms of SEO will continue to pay off in the future, years down the road.
SEO Identifies a Standard to Meet
Marketing your business truly is as simple as following plan of action that SEO provides. The most important part about SEO is the content, not the code. Yes, your site needs to load quickly, include search terms, alt tags, headers, sub headers, SEO right titles and so forth, but the content in your site is the most important.
SEO Can Assist with Content Creation
Since SEO is all about content; it should be pretty obvious that SEO can also help with creating great content. If you follow SEO rules while creating the content for your audience, the content is more likely to be found, and more likely to be enjoyed by your audience.
SEO Is All about Content and Content Is King
When you hear rumors that SEO is dead, it’s only dead for business owners who have not focused on the importance of providing their audience with good information, content, products and services. Instead, they focused on tricks and then did not deliver awesome content once their audience clicked through to their site.
It’s true that algorithms change, as do SEO practices. The important point to remember is that SEO is not there to trick people into finding your website, blog, products or services. SEO is there to help you serve your audience and provide value to them. If the right audience can’t find you, you won’t be able to do that. If you focus first on providing value, then on using SEO to help you deliver that value, you can’t go wrong.
So does SEO matter? Yes, I believe it does. While you don’t have to optimize every single one of your posts, and you probably shouldn’t if you’re posting every single day or multiple times a day; it’s certainly not something that you should overlook. Taking the time to optimize your posts for search engines will pay off in the long run.