SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and this is a topic that I rarely talk about on this site, A Little Adrift, but it’s something I speak about at conferences (TBEX Europe) and within the travel community (Travel Blog Success, Art of Travel Blogging, GBN Global Bloggers Network) quite frequently. For that reason, I pulled together a resource page with some of my major SEO tips, best-practices, as well as other places, sites, and communities for those bloggers looking to learn more about SEO.
SEO Best Practices and the Basics
Use an SEO Plugin
Every blog needs an SEO plugin installed unless their site comes with a built-in SEO structure. The bottom line for these plugins is to allow bloggers to alter their meta data for each post–you want to do this. Create unique and specific titles for every post, and then use the description box as a way to “pitch” that blog post. Concisely describe what that post is about, much like an “elevator” pitch for why the story is interesting, relevant, or useful. I recommend WordPress SEO by Yoast, though you can check the Resources section below for others that are strong plugin options as well.
Create Strong Content
Great SEO comes from telling the search engines what keywords you talk about on your site, and one of the best ways to do this is with cornerstone content. When people are searching online, they are looking for information, not usually narrative stories, which is a shame because it’s what many of our blogs do best. With that in mind though, think of cornerstone content as the most useful topic and specialized knowledge you have, then create a page on your site that collates that information and shares it with your community (and the search engines). Killer Flagship Content by Chris Garrett is the best place to start, then read my guest post on Travel Writers Exchange for a few more thoughts on cornerstone content.
If you’re looking for examples in our industry, here are a few bloggers with some great niche resource pages:
- Long-term travel resources and one on Food travel on Legal Nomads
- Y Travel blog does a great job on their planning page.
- Nomadic Matt has tons of static resource pages. This is a good one, and then many of the links from here are static information pages.
- This page starts as a best of, then goes on to list resources, reading list, really a great compilation of things his audience would find of value. It’s an excellent example of a simple compilation of resources that provides a lot of value for his specific audience.
Strong content pages now center on the idea of keyword families. Massive Google algorithm changes in 2013 have changed the way we think about incoming keywords. Rather than creating a content page around a single keyword, create it around a topic your readers will find useful. Moz gets into a discussion on the hows of this here.
Build Incoming Links
I would be remiss if I did not mention that incoming links are one of the largest factors in strong SEO and building traffic to your site. The reason, though, that I don’t mention it first is because there is a trap and new bloggers who undertake spammy backlinking strategies can risk all of the trust in their domain. Backlinking is important, but building links naturally is equally important. One of the best ways for new bloggers to build incoming links to their blog is with guest posts (and I wrote a post about how this helps your site on Travel Blog Advice). My chief recommendation for new bloggers is to build up a strong voice, learn to write, blog, and market yourself effectively and you will get links naturally. And once you have a site with decent content, then do a round of guest posting and find ways to build incoming links.
Great SEO Resources
- SEO Plugins: Use either WordPress SEO by Yoast or All in One SEO Pack for WordPress powered blogs unless you use a theme that has built-in SEO fields.
- Moz: This site is a fantastic place to learn more about SEO, and I love thier monthly emails that have just 10 links to the most important SEO news that week/month. (And Rand does great whiteboard discussions on any new developments in the SEO industry). Rand even did a very specific SEO 101 for Travel Bloggers post on the site with useful tips and information.
- Search Engine Land: Also a useful site with a range of SEO topics, it’s good if you are looking for specific knowledge or trouble-shooting an issue.
My Related Guest Posts and Content Around the Web
- How to Maximize SEO and Use Cornerstone Content: A PDF version of the speech I co-presented with Matt Kepnes at TBEX Europe in September 2012.
- How Guest Posts Actually Help SEO: Great if you’re interested in more tips for building anchor text and relevant incoming links.
- Using SEO to Promote Your Best Content: This is where I talk about how to use SEO once you build your Flagship Content.