Some recent things I have learned about SEO

I’m signed up to Google Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools) which gives web site owners an indication at how good they are at SEO, or search engine optimisation. And last weekend, Google emailed me to congratulate me on 900 click-throughs in 28 days. That means that about 60 people find something from this blog in a Google search, and click through to see it.

Of course, I mainly blog for myself. It’s a chronicle of things that I have done, or things I’ve found useful or want to share. But I also want people to be able to read it; as the saying goes, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? So I feel it’s important to incorporate some degree of SEO.

As this is a WordPress blog, I use the Yoast SEO plugin (the free version). It works okay, and gives each post a traffic light symbol for SEO and readability. Readability is important to me; it discourages me from using overly long sentences, and avoiding passive voice. But the SEO suggestions are helpful too. For example, making sure that any images have relevant alt text, and that I include both internal and external links. Not every blog post needs to be optimised, but I try to optimise most of them.

Some blog posts have done better than others, and seeing as the whole idea behind this post is that I share what I’ve learned, here are some examples:

Comparing things

People will often search for ‘[thing 1] vs [thing 2]‘, which I found out when my blog post about the films Wonka and Wish did well back in January. It just so happened that I had seen both, and I could have reviewed them in separate posts. But putting them together meant that my little blog appeared on the first page of results for a while. Alas, apart from watching Butterfly Tale last month, I haven’t been to the cinema since.

I put this into practice when comparing Readly and Pressreader. My original plan was just to review Pressreader on its own, but having seen how well my Wonka and Wish post did, I tried comparing the two. That blog post is typically in the top 5 results for the search term ‘readly vs pressreader‘.

How-to guides

The most clicked-on link from Google is my guide to installing Home Assistant Supervised on a Raspberry Pi. About a third of all clicks to my blog are to that post alone. But other how-to guides score highly too, including Mounting a USB hard drive on startup on Ubuntu Core and How to join a preferred Thread network in Home Assistant. Generally, I’ve written these guides because I haven’t found a simple answer myself, and these are usually an amalgamation of advice taken from various forums or StackExhange threads.

Whilst having a dedicated SEO plugin probably helps, there are some things that you can do yourself that can help:

  • Ensure you have a machine readable site map, and point Google at it.
  • Make sure your site loads quickly; one of the reasons why I changed to GeneratePress as my theme is that it’s a lightweight theme.
  • Post regularly – Google likes sites which often post new content. I’ve found every other day to be manageable.

As I said before, the number one person that this blog is written for is me. But I also want it to be useful and for people to find it. I hope I get the balance right.

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