If you've been blogging any amount of time, you've undoubtedly heard of this thing called “SEO.” But what is exactly is it and how do you do it? SEO is the foundation of how your Christian blog posts get found in search results. Learning how SEO works is so important for getting your faith-filled content in front of people who need it most. One of the first steps in implementing SEO for a blog post is first picking the right keywords.
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Understanding SEO as a Christian Blogger
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. This means that you are optimizing your content to make it easier for search engine crawlers to “crawl” your content, index it (file it away), and retrieve it for displaying in search results when someone does a Google search. SEO encompasses a spectrum of things both on the blog (on-page SEO) and away from your site (off-page SEO).
SEO is not a black and white process. That means that there is no exact thing to do that will “guarantee” your post will make it to Page One. There are, however, a checklist of things you can do on your blog/blog posts to give it a much better chance of getting there.
Picking the Right Keywords for Your Christian Blog Posts
The first step in optimizing a blog post for SEO is to find the best keyword phrase to try to rank the post for. To do this, you'll want to think in terms of “If I were looking for this type of content on Google, what would I type into the search box?” This question is fundamental in understanding which keywords to use in your post. If people aren't searching for the term you are trying to rank for then it won't be provided in search results (because there are no searches happening!).
To help you figure out whether others are searching for a particular keyword, the easiest tool to use is the Keywords Everywhere browser extension. Unfortunately, this only works on a desktop computer (they haven't created an app for it yet). You may have heard of many other keyword search tools, but this one is completely free and much more convenient than the others. This is the only search tool I use for writing my posts here on Kingdom Bloggers. Once you download and install it to your computer, you will see search volume for every single search query you type into Google. (See below)
Updated: As of October 2, 2019, Keywords Everywhere is no longer a free tool. It is, however, still much cheaper than many of the other tools available. Be sure to turn the browser extension OFF when you are not actually doing keyword research so you don't spend your credits when doing personal searches!
You can also use other free tools such as:
- Google Keyword Planner
So instead of having to open up a new website to do your keyword research, you can do it all right there in Google. This makes it so much easier than some of the other sites that have a lot of other data showing in their keyword search process.
Key Terms to Understand
You may have heard of terms like search volume, competition, and CPC.
- Search volume – this is the average number of monthly searches for that term.
- Competition – This metric refers to the competition for paid ads using that keyword. You always want to use keywords with a low competition because you don't want to compete with paid ads.
- CPC – This is short for “cost per click” and refers to the amount paid per click for ads using this keyword.
** I don't recommend paying for ads to promote your content! You can get your Christian content ranking on page one without ever paying for ads.
There is one metric that isn't reflected anywhere and that is the competition among other content creators/bloggers. This is the one you want to consider most when choosing the best keyword for a post. Basically, consider how many other bloggers are writing about the same topic at that particular time. For example, during the months of March/April, topics about Easter or the Resurrection of Jesus are common posts for many Christian bloggers. That means, even if the search volume is high and the ad competition is low, you are competing with all those other bloggers for that Page One spot.
Common Questions About SEO and Picking the Right Keyword
I know some of this SEO stuff can be a bit confusing so I tried to answer some of the most common questions that I get asked. It is important that you know what is fact and what is fiction and how all the parts work together for the overall optimization of your site.
What is the best search volume for a keyword?
Just like everything else with keyword research, search volume is also a gray area. Generally speaking, you don't want to choose one that is super high (1000+). This isn't to say you should never use those, but instead, start with lower search volume terms. Even a term with a SV as low as 10 can still get you significant organic traffic. I always recommend to those just starting to work on SEO to start low. Choose the search terms with the lower SV. The more of these you can get ranking on Page One, the better chances you have at the higher SV terms.
What is a longtail keyword?
While search volume is important, it is equally important that you are choosing longtail keywords vs base keywords.
- Base keyword: having faith
- Longtail keyword: having faith in God
- Better longtail keyword: having faith in God during hard times
Your base keyword is part of the longer versions using that keyword. More often, the content you write is written from a specific perspective. When people are searching for something on Google, they are also searching for things in a particular context or perspective. You will be better able to rank using the longer, more specific versions of a keyword. You will also be able to reach those looking for the specific perspective you are writing about.
How many times do I need to use the keyword?
While there are some key places that your keyword needs to be, the number of times you should use it kind of depends on the length of the post. Obviously, the longer the post, the more times it should be mentioned. But there really isn't an exact number of times you need to reach. To get the green light on Yoast, you need to use it between .5% and 3% of the total word count. But this is just a base guideline. What is more important is that you are using it in the key places as your format your post. Also, make sure that the keyword is being used naturally. Don't use it so often that a reader is like “I think they are trying to stress this post is about…” because it seems like the keyword is all over the place!
Does the green light on Yoast mean my SEO is great?
While Yoast is an important tool for helping with your keyword optimization, most bloggers don't fully understand exactly how it works. Getting the green light is something you should strive for, however, what you put into it (the chosen keyword) is more important. You can put a term in it that no one is searching for and still get a green light. You read more on the truth about the Yoast plugin here.
SEO Matters for Christian Bloggers
SEO is such a crucial step in sharing your faith-inspired content with the world. While it may seem a bit overwhelming at first, taking the time to learn keyword research so you are picking the right keywords to rank for will really pay off for your long-term blog reach. Be sure to check out SEO for Christian Bloggers which will walk you through the steps of implementing backend SEO, followed by detailed instruction on doing keyword research and formatting your posts for SEO.
Be sure to also read:
- The Benefits of SEO for Christian Bloggers
- Implementing Backend SEO for Christian Bloggers
- How to Correctly Use Categories and Tags on Your Christian Blog