Thursday, September 24, 2015

Beginner SEO tips for pet bloggers: What's a keyword?

Liam is ready to write down some SEO tips for pet bloggers

Are you guys ready to take some notes? Liam is, and that's a good thing, as I'm starting a new educational series on this blog. Once a week, I'll detail a few beginner SEO tips for pet bloggers. This week, we're starting with the basics: Keywords.

A keyword is nothing more than a label. Think of it as the filing system of the internet. Things with the same keyword get grouped together, as they tend to be about the very same topic. A keyword helps a search engine like Google to know what your page is about, so it knows where to file your page. (Disclaimer: Google is the largest and most widely used search engine out there, so from now on, I'll use "Google" to mean "search engine." That'll save me a few keystrokes.)

Anything a person types into a search engine box could be a keyword, too. And Google will try to match the keyword the person is typing with the pages that have the very same keyword.

Sounds easy, right? But here's where it gets a little complicated.

Sinead the Boston terrier is ready to take notes
Get ready, Sinead! More tips coming!

In the days of ye olde internet, you could make your pages visible to searchers by using the same keyword over and over and over again. Google used simple math to figure out how relevant a specific page was. The more often a term was mentioned, the more relevant the page was thought to be.

All of that has changed.

Google's algorithm has grown so sophisticated that it no longer relies on counting. Instead, it uses more of a word-cloud model. So Google looks for specific keywords, but it also looks for words that are related to that keyword, too.

A page about pugs, for example, would need the "pug" keyword. But Google might look for related words, too, just to make sure that page was really about the furry canine creatures we know and love. So my pug page might also need to mention:
  • Dogs 
  • Pets
  • Animals
  • Fur

Get the idea?

Pages that also have these keywords tend to be a little more robust and thick. These are pages with a lot to say about pugs, so they're pages that would probably have high appeal for someone looking for pug information. If a page just had the word "pug" and no other terms, it is probably keyword stuffed spam. And which page do you think Google will serve? Yup, the thick page.

That's what makes Google's searches valuable--the ability to deliver great content--and that robust algorithm makes it happen.

So what does that mean for you? It means SEO just got a little bit easier.

Whenever you're thinking about your pet blog and coming up with your topic of the day, you should do a little research and settle on one or two top keywords. You can use this tool to do that (and I'll tell you more about how to use that tool next Thursday).

But after that? Just write naturally. Don't worry about cramming your page with 10 zillion references to that keyword. You'll bore your readers (and Google will call you a spammer and won't put your page at the top of search results).

And rest easy: In 2 weeks, I'll tell you where to put your keywords for maximum impact.

So that's your bite-sized (byte-sized?) SEO lesson for the day! Enjoy! And if you have a specific SEO tip you'd like to see me discuss in a future column, just drop me a comment. Love to help!


  1. Thanks for this! I've been blogging for a couple years now, but I'd have to say that SEO is not something that I've delved into much. I've got my basics covered I think and know not to spam with the same keyword, but other than that I'm pretty clueless. I'll be looking forward to your series!

    1. Yay! I hope the lessons help. And if you want to see anything special in the series, just lemme know.

  2. Thanks for the lesson! SEO remains an elusive character for me, but I am trying.

  3. That's a great summary. For me, the challenge is writing enough. Some of my posts are short because they need to be, and the Google has a hard time finding them. So I make up for it in the longer posts. I think it's working.
    --Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

    1. Length is a tricky subject. Even SEO experts argue about how long a post should be! I'll add it to the list of topics to consider. Good idea!