What You Don’t Know About SEO Could Be Hurting You

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SEO is the ban of a blogger’s or small business owner’s existence, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as some make it out to be. Search Engine Optimization is the science behind making search engines like Google or Bing find your article relevant enough to push it to the top of search requests.

Think of it as a dating service. The reader puts in keywords looking for information on a certain topic and Google or other search engine matches it with a list of pieces of content that come closest in keywords matches. Then from that Google compares how many of those links are current and how many of those links are used throughout your site. It’s comparing your expertise within your niche to give their reader the best content.

Is it’s considered “Cornerstone Content”? Cornerstone Content is described in the great blog post by SEO by Yoast.:

Cornerstone content is the core of your website. It consists of the best, most important articles on your site; the pages or posts you want to rank highest in the search engines. Cornerstone articles are usually relatively long, informative articles, combining insights from different blog posts and covering everything that’s important about a certain topic.

There is no one answer, but I’ve created a system that works for me and today I’m going to share it with you. There are a few steps to make this work properly, but just like any recipe the proof ingredients.

When you create a blog post SEO should be involved in every single aspect.

  • Title
  • keywords
  • headlines
  • image titles
  • image descriptions
  • categories
  • tags
  • Cornerstone Content
  • social media posts

For example, we’re going to write a piece of content for our food blog:

The Title

You’re creating a post all about potato salad. (I love me some good potato salad!) So we’ll use the list above and start with the title. I like to use CoSchedule’s free headline analyzer when I’m creating my titles, but let me tell sometimes I think that we “overthink” it. I like to come up with 3 different headlines and see which one scores the most, maybe tweak it a little bit. So a potato salad title:

  1. This Is The World’s Best Potato Salad & You Won’t Believe What’s In It!
  2. The Potato Salad Everyone Will Be Begging You To Make Over & Over.
  3. Summer Isn’t Summer Without This Potato Salad Recipe.

Below are each of the headlines analyzed:

 

Keywords

Keywords are important not only in search engines but also in social media platforms use it as well. I like to keep my post keywords to between 3-5.

  1. Potato salad
  2. potato
  3. salad
  4. recipes
  5. summer salads

Those keywords should be in your title, description, excerpt, social media posts, categories, tags, and even in the title and description of the images. Now you can’t just go in there packing in keywords like you’re trying to shove a weeks’ worth of clothes in a carryon bag. It needs to be natural. Think of ways that you can use longtail keywords within the post such as:

  • This potato salad was my mother’s and it is always at the top of my summer salad recipes.
  • I make potato salad every year and we always use mustard in our recipe.
  • Potato salad recipes are everywhere and each one has it’s own variations.

Then we come to images. This is where for most people SEO goes right out the window. I see it all of the time. Naked images. There are a few places that keywords can be used.

  1. The image itself should be relevant to the post. Don’t put a picture of an elephant in the potato salad post.
  2. When you upload your image into WordPress there is a box for the description. Now, this is a description of the post, not the image itself. Something like: “This is my favorite potato salad recipe. and I’m showing you step-by-step how you make it”.
  3. The “alt text”. GOOGLE WILL PENALIZE YOU FOR NOT FILLING THIS OUT. This section is imperative so that visually disabled people can still enjoy the internet. If you’re using relevant images this is another place where you can build SEO. Is the image of your recipe? So for the alt text, you could use, “an image of my summer potato salad”. Which is “exactly” what it is and also included a few keywords.
  4. The link to your current post, of course.

Each little piece of this puzzle makes up the whole. A complete strategy also uses “categories” and “tags”. Using these two things consistently does a lot for your SEO. Don’t give them cute names use keywords:

  • Summer Salads – category   –    Potato Salad recipes – tag
  • Salad Recipes – category    –    Potato salad, Summer salads – tags

Social media is also a great place to use keywords. Pinterest especially because it is a visual search engine, not a social media, but I’m grouping it with them because people share their content with the platform. When people go to Pinterest they’re looking for something. So they search…just like Google. This again is where that image SEO kicks in.

So in conclusion, no one thing will work to help you build your SEO successfully. Each little piece goes together much like the ingredients of the potato salad. You can’t just throw a couple of potatoes in a bowl and call it potato salad. It’s the combination of all of those things that will make you consistently ranking.

Of course, you know that I’ve done it for you.

Get Your Own Blog Post SEO Checklist

Fill one out for each blog post and remember SEO is created by:

  1.  Great content.
  2. Good structure.
  3. keywords
  4. relevant images
  5. time

P.S. Bonus points if you use keywords
in your free incentive pieces!

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Have You Audited Your Website’s Mobile View? Here’s What You Could Be Missing!

 

I read A LOT of blog posts and like most people, I use a variety of devices to do it. At this time I have, a laptop (2), an iPad, and my iPhone, and what I find most often really surprises me.

80% of the blog posts I read are not totally mobile responsive AND you are being penalized by

  • a lower ranking,
  • a lower domain authority, and whether not your website is showing up in Google searches.
  • no matter how good of an SEO strategy you have if your site isn’t mobile responsive it’s all for naught.

To see this many websites who just aren’t getting it really concerns me. This can mean lower readership, lower sales, and a user experience that leaves a lot to be desired.

Answer this honestly: When was the last time you looked at your website on your mobile device? That doesn’t mean getting on and taking care of something like approving a comment, but really looking at what your readers and clients see when they visit your website on mobile view.

Have you?

  • Read a blog post & attempted to comment?
  • Tried to opt-in on your phone?
  • Tried to fill out your contact form?
  • Clicked on your social media buttons?
  • Tried to share a blog post on social media?

These are all tests that you should use to check your website for mobile responsiveness. I say at least every 6 months or anytime you make changes to your website.

As I was reading just this morning alone I saw:

  • images that wouldn’t load or were not the right size
  • no sharing buttons anywhere. I saw several foods and/or tech blogs that didn’t have Pinterest buttons or Pinterest-sized images on your site. Did you know that most community boards won’t allow you to pin unless your image size is 1000 x 1500?
  • no commenting section
& that was only after an hour of testing out different sites!

I know this isn’t something new, I mean Google started putting the word out in 2015 so why aren’t people listening? I’m not sure but I’m going to hope that you just don’t know what you don’t know. When I was researching this issue I found lots of articles on “mobile-friendliness”. Here’s a great one I found on Search Engine Journal or this one on Business News Daily.

Here are a few facts:

  1. More than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices.
  2. Google prioritizes mobile pages load speed as a key metric.
  3. They offer all sorts of free tools to help you achieve complete mobile responsiveness.

Are you tired of trying to find these answers by yourself or you just need a little help knowing what to do and how to do it?

Check out my maintenance plans that cover just that!

 

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How To Use That Stock Image Legally, & Where To Find The Really Good Ones!

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The first thing you have to decide is whether you want images or photography?

These are two totally different things.

Do you need a stock photo of a landscape or a girl on a beach?

Or are you working on branding as a whole or maybe you want a uniformed, polished look.

There’s a big spectrum between free and paid and so many choices. I can get lost for days at some of the sites below. I use both free and paid.

I’ve fallen in love with the photography of Styled Stock Society and now I use them exclusively on this site and most social media posts.

That’s where all of these gorgeous new images came from. It’s a subscription and I paid $45 for six months. That’s like $7 and some change a month.

I don’t mind paying that for this much pretty! It makes me smile every time I look at it.

The new theme is by Divi and I use it and Genesis exclusively depending on the website and client. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Divi by Elegant Themes it’s not a theme it’s more of a working relationship.

I’ve used several of their layouts and they are so customizable! This one, though, is by far my favorite. It’ll be around for a long time.

I’m addicted to photography. I only want to look at other people’s work, though, my photography skills are nada, zilch, nonexistent.

I’m the one who ends up with 16 pictures of the ceiling and only one blurry picture of half a grandkid. (true story!)

 

So let’s get right to it!

 

There are four basic types of photography licensing and you should be aware of which one the image you are using requires. I cannot stress enough Read The License Terms Before You Use The Image!

 

Creative Commons – There are 7 Creative Common licenses.

 

Attribution – means that the owner allows you to distribute, remix, tweak and build upon their work, even commercially as long as you credit them for the original work.

 

Attribution  (Noncommercial) – Same as attribution, but you can’t use them commercially. You can use them in a blog post, but nothing that you could sell.

 

Attribution No Derivatives – same as Attribution, except you can’t make any changes to the original work. You can use the image in a blog post or product, but you won’t be able to crop, rotate or change colors on a photograph with this license.

 

Attribution-ShareAlike licenses – This licenses let you remix, tweak and build upon the original work for commercial or non-commercial purposes as long as you credit it AND license your new creation under the same terms. This means that if you wish to share your new work, like say a free ebook, it must carry the same license.

 

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs – The most restrictive CC license, meaning you can use the creative work with attribution, but you can’t use it commercially and you can’t alter it in any way.

 

Zero – The least restrictive CC license. It means that the owner of the work has waived all rights and you are free to use the image as often and however you wish, however you like, with no attribution.

 

What this means for you as a blogger: Creative Commons images are great for bloggers because they are monetarily free and you can use most of them in blog posts, ebooks, and products. Just be sure to give attribution each time you use one and be careful about where you use a noncommercial image. You won’t need to attribute images with a CC Zero license.

 

Public domain – Images or works in the Public Domain mean that their intellectual property rights have actually expired, been forfeited or are inapplicable. Images are free to use whenever and wherever you’d like.

 

Rights Managed – You pay for an image based on how many times and how many places it’s being used and/or viewed. Because of these restrictions and the high cost, it is not feasible for a blog or website.

 

Royalty Free – Means that you don’t pay a royalty for each instance that you use the image like you might do with Rights Managed images. Once you’ve purchased a royalty-free license, you can use the image multiple times with no time limit. There are some restrictions, however: you can’t use it in a template and resell it, for example.

What this means for you as a blogger: Royalty Free images can be inexpensive and are great for blog posts, web ads, videos, ebooks and digital products without attribution.

How Do You Know If Images You’ve Already Used Are In Violation?

Tineye to search for it. Tineye allows you to upload an image or enter the image URL (right-click the image and select “Copy Image URL”). A list of websites, including stock image sites using the image, is returned.

 

Sites for images

Free images

 

Pixabay – All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required.

Unsplash – Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos. Subscribe to their newsletter and get a photo pack delivered right to your inbox.

Picjumbo – Free stock photo site created by designer & photographer Viktor Hanacek in 2013. It all started when any regular stock photo site didn‘t want his photos due to lack of quality. Two years later people downloaded more than two and half millions images from this site.

Gratisography – Free high-resolution pictures you can use on your personal and commercial projects.

Flickr – Not every photo on Flickr is available for you to use, even with attribution, so it’s best to find images using Flickr’s Advanced Search.

Stockphotos.io – A high-quality site for public domain and Creative Commons photos.

Tineye – A simple shortcut to finding photos in a specific color palette. When you choose the color(s) you’d like to have in your image, TinEye will gather images straight from the Creative Commons images on Flickr. Choose up to 5 colors and even adjust the percentage of each color.

Stockpholio – It doesn’t take you to Flickr to download the images, you can download them directly from the site AND get the HTML code with the credits. It makes downloading images much faster.

30 Stunning HDR Photos w/ Creative common license. There are only 30 images, but there are some stunning cityscapes and other landscape types of images.

Photopin – Free photos for bloggers & creatives. You can download the images in several sizes without having to go to Flickr and there is HTML code available to cut and paste for attribution.

Wikimedia – Media file repository that makes media content (images, sound and video clips) in both the public domain and Creative Commons freely available. Because it’s a Wiki site, anyone can copy, use and modify any files as long as the terms of each is followed.

Libreshot – A project that contains free stock photos for private and commercial use. All photos and the whole website are created by Martin Vorel.

Europeana – An online collection of digitized items from European museums, libraries, archives and multi-media collections. There are many items here that are also in the Public Domain.

Photogen – Photos for commercial and non-commercial use. Categories range from business, agriculture, technology and arts to nature, travel and food and drink (plus more).

Freephotobank – FreePhotoBank is a free stock photo site. Feel free to download pictures (up to 2048 pixels, Creative Commons licence) but don’t forget to link back to FreePhotoBank !

Freefoto – Images in many different categories can be used for non-commercial purposes under the Creative Commons license for non-commercial, no derivatives, attribution license. For a fee, images can be made available for commercial use and in high resolution.

Freestockphotos – Owned and copyrighted by Daniel Speck. Mostly nature and travel images.

Photoseverywhere – A free stock photo site specializing in travel-related stock photos.

Burst.Shopify – A new free stock photo site that covers just about anything.

Pixwizard – There are nearly 100,000 images on the site that are completely free to use (without attribution), about 20,000 of which are exclusive to us and can’t be found anywhere else.

Free Templates – Looking for free templates for your next project? Find everything from brochures to tickets are available on this site.

 

Crowdsourced Stock –

 

Fotopedia – Many photos here are available under the Creative Commons license, but you have to read the caption on each photo very carefully. If the caption says “Photo: ” and then shows the little CC in a circle icon, then click on that to read the license for that one photo.

Photober – Photos are all available for both commercial and personal use.

Patternpictures – A free photo site that provides mostly photographic backgrounds and textures, but also a lot of travel-style photographs.

The Open Photo Project – The Open Photo Project is a photo sharing platform created in 1998 by Michael Jastremski. Contributors have offered their images free of charge under terms of Creative Commons licensing.

Dotspin – A social sharing website for where you can upload and either sell or share your Instagram and Twitter photos under a Creative Commons license.

Morguefile – Photographs that have been freely contributed by many photographers for use in creative projects. You may use them for personal or commercial use.

Stockvault – This site has free images just be sure to read the terms of use before using any of them.

 

Photographer Owned Stock

 

Lime Lane Photography – Kellie is the photographer/blogger behind Lime Lane and although she sells many photographs, she also shares a few for free. All photos are meant for blog posts.

Picjumbo – Viktor Hanácek adds free photos to PicJumbo every day.

Splitshire – Free stock photos for personal & commercial use.” Daniel Nanescu is an Italian Web & Graphic Designer and Photographer that shares his own photographs to use free for both personal and commercial use.

Superfamous – Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter shares his incredible biological, aerial and geological photography on this site.

Imagebase – Imagebase.net is a collection of vectors and photos of people, objects, urban, nature and travel, mostly taken by David Niblack. Images can be freely used for personal, commercial, non-profit, artistic, or creative purposes.

Function Design Blog – Liam McKay has offered to share 4 volumes of his hi-res photos. You have full permission to use them however you see fit.

 

Subscription-Based Services

 

Stockunlimited – I paid $49 for lifetime access through SumoApp. I use it constantly and it has a wide range of photos available to use.

Styled Stock Society – This subscription runs about $10 a month or you can save more by paying for several months upfront. Amazing feminine styled photography that you can use anywhere. Receive free images for signing up for her newsletter.

Haute Chocolate – Another subscription-based photography site that has stunning feminine styled photography. Runs about $75 for three months. Receive free images by signing up for her newsletter.

Shay Cochrane – Beautiful photography bought in bundles or individually. Great for branding. Sign up for her newsletter and get your first image free.

Canva – Canva provides tons of free images. Some require purchase, but they are always $1.

Adobe Stock Photos – Tons of images. Subscription costs $29.99 a month with your first month free.

Stocksy – A pay-as-you-go subscription site.

Stock Free Images – The largest web collection of free images. 1,607,385 images royalty-free stock photos and illustrations.  

Death By Stock Photos – Subscriptions start at $15 and go all the way up to $180 per year. Get free images by signing up for their newsletter.

Graphicstock – Enjoy unlimited downloads of royalty-free photos, vectors, and illustrations. $49 a month or $99 for a whole year.

 

There is no way that I could include every single photo website, but these are the main ones. If you have more please feel free to add them in the comments below.

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