Do’s and Dont’s of SEO for Your Blog

Writing a blog post is an awesome first step in getting your name, ideas, and expertise out there, so definitely pat yourself on the back when you hit “publish” on each and every blog post you write. (I do!)

However, to get your website on the radar of search engines, you need to embrace step 2, which is all about SEO for your blog. Namely, how to use categories, tags, and keywords to your advantage.

Now, I’m going to assume that your website is built on WordPress and uses the Yoast SEO plug-in. If you’re not familiar with Yoast, it’s basically the gold standard for SEO, at least on WordPress. If your website is not built on WordPress, you should still have some way to optimize your blog post for SEO that is familiar to Yoast (if you don’t, you might want to rethink the platform your website runs on – without proper SEO, your blog posts and website are likely invisible).

This is what it looks like:

Yoast SEO for your blog

OK, with that little aside out of the way, here are the do’s and don’ts of SEO for your blog:

Do understand the difference between categories and tags

Categories and tags are two totally different things. They are not interchangeable.

A category is the broad topic you are writing about – think of it as a file.

A tag is much more specific and drills down into what you are writing about – think of it as a sub-file in your larger file.

True story: I nearly had a heart attack when my eyes settled on the “categories” that had been added willy-nilly by a client to their blog. There were nearly 2,000 categories. For reals. Who writes about 2,000 different topics on their blog? NO ONE, that’s who.

Don’t go crazy with categories

You only need a small handful of categories for your blog (five at the very most). Remember, categories are broad topics you are writing about; write about more than five topics, and you are diluting your efforts.

Say you’re a photographer; you could have two categories:

  • Photography tips
  • Photography equipment

Those two categories could have their own sub-categories:

Photography tips

  • Beginner
  • Advanced

Or the subcategories could be:

  • Babies
  • Kids
  • Family portraits
  • Pets
  • Sports
  • Travel

Do use enough tags so your blog posts are findable

Tags will help your audience find blog posts on specific subjects.

Let’s go back to my photography blog example. Let’s say you write a blog post under the photography equipment category. You might use the following tags:

  • Lenses
  • SLR lenses
  • Brand names mentioned in the post

Don’t ignore the power of images

People LOVE images. Love, love, love ’em. Because we love them so much, search engines love them, too – and they reward blog posts that contain images.

You know what I’m about to say, don’t you? All together now: “Always include images in your blog posts!” Excellent.

Do optimize your images

Once you add an image, give it an alternative text title (in case your image doesn’t load properly) and description that includes the main keyword you use in your blog post title. Search engines cannot “see” an image, but they can “read” the text you include with it and understand it is relevant and related to the topic you are writing about.

Don’t leave keywords out of your title

When I write a blog post title, it is never permanent til I test the keywords in Yoast to see what pops up. If you don’t have Yoast, just run a regular search on Google. The auto-complete engine will work to your advantage, as you’ll see the top combinations of keywords pop up as choices.

Do write a meta description that is enticing

Speaking of Yoast, you will be asked to include a meta description with your blog post. The meta descriptions come in handy when you’re running a search – they are the words that pop up under a search result listing. Make sure your blog post’s meta description includes the keyword AND is enticing enough that people will want to read your entire blog post.

Don’t forget to look at Page Analysis

Yoast’s SEO plug-in includes 4 tabs: General, Page Analysis, Advanced, and Social. If you click on Page Analysis, Yoast will tell you exactly what is missing in your blog post from an SEO perspective. Make the fixes, boost your SEO.

Do play with the “Focus Keyword”

Remember I said that I don’t finalize my blog post title til I find the right keyword? Yoast’s “Focus Keyword” will run a search for you and either find an exact match or suggested match to your keyword. Take advantage of this great feature, and then change your blog post title to suit the keyword that Yoast (and search engines) like best.

Don’t leave your blog post’s permalink as is

Underneath your blog post title, you’ll see what’s called a permalink. This is what search engines look at when determining what your blog post is about. It absolutely MUST include your title keyword, but all other words (especially “the,” “in,” “of,” etc.) can be stripped out.

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