We’re on to round 2 of our blogging series! Blogging is something most of us know we should be doing, but struggle to stay on top of. There are so many questions such as “what platform should I use?” and “how often do I need to blog?”. We are going to address these questions throughout our series, but join us in our Facebook group www.growwithusmastermind.com to start the conversation now. It’s also a great place to get support and advice when you are struggling to build your Teacher Pay Teachers businesses.
I think there is one thing that more bloggers new and old seem to have questions about over anything else—SEO! We know it’s important, but it seems so overwhelming to figure out what we need to do. Just in case you aren’t familiar with the acronym yet, it stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it’s what gets your website, webpage, or blog post to show up in the search engine results.
A little of what we discussed on the podcast could apply to your TpT store, but what we’re really focused on is your blog/website.
Introducing our guest
We were super excited to have Noelle Pickering from Maneuvering the Middle on the podcast to share SEO tips and strategy. Noelle started her first blog years ago when it seemed everyone was being pushed into starting one. However, she only had a few posts up.
She didn’t start to take it seriously until she spent time checking out what other industries and niches were doing. She thinks, and April and I agree, that the education niche can tend to be behind the times a little. In 2015 once she followed other blogs, like food blogs, she got the inspiration she needed to fully commit and make a long-term investment into it. She committed to writing regular blog posts, spending the money she needed to on design, and really making it work.
Noelle mentioned something I think is worth focusing on for a minute. Any time you are investing, with your time or money, into something to grow your TpT business it’s worth giving it your all. This applies to building your email list, creating a newsletter, switching to WordPress, and everything else. If you are investing in it then you need to really commit to doing it well.
Best SEO tips and strategies
1. Create high-quality content
This has been brought up before on our podcast but it comes in to play once again. You need to post quality content on your site. If you are just throwing up blog posts for the sake of it then it’s going to end up hurting your SEO because it’s not going to be valuable to your reader. Before you worry about any other SEO strategies make sure you are focused on this.
Noelle found that this is the #1 thing that you can do in the eyes of Google. The search engine wants to deliver the most valuable answers as fast and as accurately as possible. If your site meets the needs of what readers are looking for and they stay on your site reading then it lets Google know that your page is a high-quality page. It also helps build your authority with your reader.
2. Choose the right topics and keywords
Keywords are always something that comes up when talking about SEO. Keywords are simply the words that you are focusing on in your blog post or on your webpage that your target audience is going to be looking for. They are the words that you are trying to rank for on your page or post. We are going to go further into keywords later in this post.
3. Keep readers on your site
This goes along with creating high-quality content. Google and other search engines are looking at things like your bounce rate and how long readers are staying on your site to determine if it should be showing up in the search engines. The longer readers are on your site and the more pages they visit and read while there, the better your SEO is going to be. You want to make it easy for your readers to use your sight and continue to dive further into the information you are providing.
April – We use a lot of recipes from food bloggers and send links to my husband and sometimes when he goes to load the link it gets to the point where we don’t want to use the website. You want to make sure your website is easy to navigate and you can find the content really easy
4. It’s about quality, not quantity
“How often should I be posting?” is a popular question from bloggers. The truth is there isn’t a certain number of posts that you need to put publish each month. Don’t focus on the number of posts that you are writing. Instead, focus on making every post high-quality. And, don’t focus on what you want to write about, think about what information your target market is going to be looking for on search engines.
Things that hurt your SEO
1. Distracting ads
A lot of professional bloggers will recommend that you place ads on your blog as a way to diversify your income streams. And, they can help you do that, but they can also distract your readers from your content and your products.
Having too many ads on your site can also slow the load time for your site. What do you think people do when your site takes a long time to load? Find another site.
April shared in the podcast that she doesn’t run any paid ads on her site. She wants to keep the focus on her own products. She also tests her site out from multiple devices and if she finds that an ad, popup, or anything else is distracting to her she removes it from the site.
2. Not being able to navigate the site
Noelle has done an awesome job at making her website super easy to navigate. When you get to her homepage it’s really user-friendly. You can quickly see what the main components are which makes it easy for teachers to get right into it and find what they are looking for. The easier it is for them to find what they are looking for the longer they will be on your site browsing through all your valuable content and resources.
How to choose SEO keywords?
There are a few things that you need to consider when choosing your SEO keywords.
1. Think about what your audience is searching for
You want to choose the words and phrases that your target teacher is going to be searching. Think about the different ways to word it and then make sure you can work the different options into your post. Google is really smart so you don’t have to use the exact phrase over and over again in your post, but you do need to make it obvious what your post is about. Make sure you write in a conversational manner.
Don’t forget that a lot of people enter questions into the search engines.
2. Be more specific
It can be hard to rank for really general keywords that most teachers have already written about. That’s why you need to get more specific. For example, instead of using”classroom management” as your keyword phrase try “classroom management for kindergarten teachers”. You might be more likely to rank for this because there will be less competition.
3. Look at who else is already ranking for that keyword
If it’s a well known popular site, it may be hard for you to rank above them. April has spent time searching words that she has written on to see what she ranks for and found that she doesn’t rank for the topics that she talks about very often. The ones that she does rank for are the ones that she is frequently writing about.
A few more things to consider to boost your SEO
The importance of being mobile friendly
Google places a lot of importance on how mobile friendly your website is. And, it makes sense because so many people are using their mobile devices now instead of getting on a PC. Noelle and April have both found through their analytics that 50% of their readers are coming from mobile devices. That’s half their traffic!
Make sure you know what your site looks like on different devices. One of the most important areas to check is the menu. If your menu isn’t mobile friendly you may lose a lot of potential readers on your site.
Test the speed of your site
As I said above, if your site loads slowly you will lose readers. One of the main reasons that sites load slowly is because of the images. But, since we sell products images are also really important for our businesses.
If you are using WordPress there are apps that help you compress your images so they don’t take up as much space. Noelle recommends WP Smush. This plugin has the ability to help you easily compress your old images as well. There are also other plugins that you can use from.
Sliders on your homepage can also cause slow loading times. And, if your slider isn’t optimized for mobile you can run into additional problems.
Testing the speed of your site is really simple. Go to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ and enter your website address. It will tell you your speed and recommendations on how to improve it.
The structure of your URL
Noelle shared with us that another way to improve your SEO is to pay attention to what comes after the backslash in your URL. Some sites are automatically set to include things like the date or other random numbers. This isn’t ideal. The simpler your URL is the easier it is for Google to understand what your page is about.
IMPORTANT: Do not hurry over to your site and start manually updating your URLs. If you do this it will break any links that you have already used. That means if you have pins on Pinterest out there that link to your website and you update the URL your link is going to be broken. If you want to change your old URLs then you are going to need to set up redirects of your old links.
Yoast is a popular plugin that bloggers use on WordPress. There is a paid version, but the free version does pretty much everything you need it to. Noelle, April, and I are on using the free version.
Yoast allows you to enter the keyword or phrase that you want to rank for in the search engines and then it grades you on how strong your post is for SEO. It gives you a checklist of places to include your keyword to help it rank better.
Using the plugin doesn’t automatically help your post rank higher, but it shows you what you need to do in order to make that happen. It’s incredibly helpful.
Google Analytics data tips
Google Analytics is quick and easy to set up with your website. Once you have it set up it will provide details for you on things like the number of page views, what pages readers are looking at, and where your traffic is coming from. The information is valuable, but the platform can be overwhelming to use. Noelle shared a few tips to help:
- In the sidebar, you can create customizations. If there is a report that you like to see you can save it. Then you don’t have to dig into all the menus every time you want to view the report. To do this simply go to the screen and click the save button.
- You can add annotations. When you get to a report with a date you can add an annotation to mark a change to help you track what’s making the differences in your numbers. For example, you could note, “this is when my site was redesigned” or “this is when I started compressing images”. It helps to mark the timeline so you can see the changes you made and how it impacted your analytics.
- You can compare traffic on the same screen. When you are looking at a report there is a date on the top right and if you open that little menu there is a “compare date to” option. This allows you to compare certain pages or traffic data for different dates. For example, you could compare your pageviews today to your page views on the same date last year.
Even if you don’t plan on using Google Analytics right now I still recommend that you get your site setup with it. As soon as you do it will start tracking your analytics so they will be there in the future when you are ready to look at them. If you don’t set it up then it’s not going to store that data for you.
What it all boils down to
As you can see, there are a lot of things that you can do to optimize your site and blog posts. But, the most important thing to do is provide your readers with high-quality content. If you are providing content that your readers love and benefit from then Google is going to see that because they are going to be hanging out on your site.