5 Simple Explanations to Help You Better Understand SEO

| | Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO isn't easy to understand, but we'll try and help you.

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Does your idea of a good time include keyword research? No? Ours either.

Nevertheless, search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of your success as a blogger. It may be confusing, frustrating, or even seem magical – but it’s still a requirement. Too often, SEO guides are bogged down in the technicalities of how search algorithm and page rank work. Let’s keep it simple, shall we?

Your Domain Matters – But Not as Much as it Used To

Choosing a keyword-rich domain name is like winning the SEO lottery. Domain names are brands. If you want to build your brand quickly, it should be representative of the topics featured on your blog.

That said, in the past few years, search engines like Google are capable of ranking your page for a topic which isn’t in your domain name. For example, you don’t need to own “backpackingincolumbia.com” to rank for articles about backpacking in Colombia.

As the travel blog world has been saturated by more bloggers joining the industry, this has worked to our advantage – you don’t need to own the single domain about a topic you want to be an expert in. You can still write great content and rank for it on an “unrelated” domain. Google’s thankfully quite smart about that!

Let’s Talk About Permalink Structures, Baby

If the domain name is the foundation for your travel blog, permalinks allow you to build the first and second floors. They present a valuable opportunity to make up for keywords you weren’t able to include in the domain name.

“What is a permalink?,” you ask. A permalink is the stuff in the URL (link) that comes after your domain. In the case of this post “/understand-seo” is the permalink after our domain, “travelblogsuccess.com.” They’re called “perma” links because they’re intended to be a permanent link to that page or post on your blog.

When you start your blog, establish a smart permalink format from your very first post.  An important part of SEO is getting links back to your website – those links will break if you change your permalink structure later. In short: set your permalink format, and then never change it.

You may notice some bloggers have the date in their permalink. Google used to recommend including the date in your permalink to help show the age of your post. This isn’t the case anymore, so if your website defaults to including the date when you set up your blog, consider changing it. Instead, opt for your post name, or a shortened version of it.

Post Titles: The First Thing A Crawler Reads

Not to get too technical, but in order for a website to show up in search results like Google, the search engine sends what they call a ‘bot’ (robot) to ‘crawl’ the site. Each time you post a new blog post, the search engines will crawl your site and rank it accordingly for different search terms/keywords.

Search engine bots have gotten a lot smarter in the last few years, but they’re still like humans in that they read the post title first. If you want to rank for a keyword, it really helps to have that keyword in your post title. The bot will read this first, and determine it’s an important concept in your article – thus helping you rank for that term.

That said, don’t “stuff keywords” into your titles or posts. Aim to include 1-2 keywords in your post title, and make them have a nice flow. You can use a tool like Yoast SEO to check how well the keyword is represented in your post title and post, or the CoSchedule headline analyzer to see how good your title is at capturing your reader’s attention.

Build Links to Build Authority

Along with keyword research, building links to you blog is necessary for good SEO. Search engines, and Google in particular, equate links to authority. The more links coming into your site, the more authority it has.

There are many ways to build links to your site – some less ethical than others. We recommend techniques like collaborative posts, guest posts, and interviews to start building back links. If these links come from reputable domains (like other travel bloggers), search engines will consider your blog a better authority in certain topics, and help you rank for them.

Higher Rank = More Traffic

We’ve mentioned it a few times now: you want your pages to rank. That’s the whole point of SEO! Why does your page rank matter?

The higher your blog posts rank in a search engine, the more traffic you’ll get. In fact, some studies have shown this to be an exponential relationship. If you’re ranked first on Google, you may get 100 clicks – the person ranked second may only get 10 clicks, and the person in third only gets one click. The better your page rank, the more clicks and traffic you’ll receive.

Traffic is an important part of your success as a blogger, which is why so many highly successful bloggers work so hard at SEO. Hopefully, this has helped you understand the basics a bit better.

Launch Your Travel Blog

Our Fundamentals of Travel Blogging course is included in Travel Blog Success membership. In it, you’ll learn more technical SEO plus how to set up your blog to master SEO more easily.

Recent Comments

  • So glad to read this, especially the part about Permalinks. I was using the date in mine. Fortunately, I’ve only done about 30 posts and it was easy to go back and do redirects on them when I changed the structure.

    Thanks for this, Valerie!

  • Very informative and straight to the point! Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Valerie. I wish I had this a few months ago when I migrated from blogger to WordPress and unknowingly edited almost ALL of my permalinks without knowing they reset my SEO. Live and learn! 🙂