As many of you may know, I have my /buzzquake blog posts set to automatically post on my LinkedIn page. This greatly expands my following and improves Buzzquake’s SEO.
Anyway, a LinkedIn reader contacted me and asked for clarification on my June 7 post on the Google Keyword Planner. She asked two very good questions:
- How, exactly, does the Keyword Planner work and what should I do with the results?
- What about images? Should I be doing something SEO-wise with the images I post?
Writing with keywords
Applying keywords matters because they help Google help people find websites.
In terms of SEO (search engine optimization), keywords ARE NOT as important as good writing. The best thing you can do to promote your site is write good content (interesting, informative, compelling). By the way, Google penalizes sites that plagiarize, so you should never steal other people’s work. Also, posting good content is more important than posting often. If you have to choose, choose quality over quantity.
The key to success is writing well AND incorporating good keywords into your copy. The logical way to do this is to start with a list of keywords and refer to it as you write.
You don’t have to guess about the keywords to include. Fortunately, Google will tell you which keywords to use through a tool named Google Keyword Planner.
You might be wondering how Google determines which keywords are best. Google tracks the words that people use in searches and which search results they click on after searches are rendered. By doing this, Google can tell us what terms people who are looking for your site and others like it really type into Google to search for those sites. Pretty cool, huh? Google provides this information hoping to entice you to spend money on advertising, but it’s also useful to us writers.
I use Keyword Planner for all sites that I write for. I begin by entering the site’s URL and typing a few keywords of my own into the tool. Based on that, Google suggests a list of keywords ranked by how many people click through in a month’s time to sites like the one I’m working on.
I am almost always surprised a little by some of the keywords Google suggests.
I usually download the results of my “research” and save it as an Excel spreadsheet. I then use the list as I’m writing, editing and optimizing pages and posts via the WordPress SEO plugin.
Some SEO pointers
Make sure to include a keyword or two in your post and page titles. And strive to include at least one “heading” (H1, H2, H3…) with a keyword or two in each piece you write. At the same time, try to vary your titles and headings so that your followers remain engaged. Keyword soup can turn people off.
One final word on keywords. Common keywords, like “college,” always get more clicks than less common ones like “Bowdoin.” I suggest you write the common keywords with high traffic stats, like “college,” and the ones that are very specific to your niche, like “Bowdoin,” into your content. By including both popular and highly focused keywords you will be covering all of your bases and will have a much higher chance of ranking high in Google searches. College will attract more eyeballs and Bowdoin will attract more of “your” people.
SEO for Images
Applying keywords to images is similar to using them in writing, but a tad less complicated. There are two opportunities to use images to improve your SEO.
The first is the image’s title (or name). When you add an image to your media library, take the time to name it well. Be descriptive (concerning the image’s subject matter) and include a keyword or two. “Students enjoy a warm spring day at Bowdoin, a nationally renowned college of liberal arts and science in Maine” would be a great title. Can you explain why?
The second opportunity is the “alt text.” The primary reason for alt (alternative) text is for screen readers (devices that assist visually impaired people). It also is what appears if an image fails to load in a web browser. Images don’t load for myriad reasons. If you enter alt text, it will appear in place of the image.
I often write a good title for an image and then use it again for the alt text. It’s perfectly fine to use it for both.
I hope this has helped. Feel free to write or call with more questions. Good luck and keep writing!