Starting Out

SEO, Plugins, and Slugs, oh my!

February 3, 2017

So I’ve started a blog… now what?

I am so grateful for the internet. It opens whole new worlds. But wow is this a terrifying place! I feel as if I’m learning a new language and while I’m so pumped to show this blog who’s boss, I’m also staring at the screen like one of those cartoon characters with dinner plates for eyes. (Yep, all about the metaphors over here!) This new language wants me to understand things like an SEO or finding the right plug-ins. It even has the nerve to tell me my slug is incorrect… I’m still googling “what is a slug” and finding very strange pictures to confuse me further.

I decided, let’s all learn more about this new language together, shall we?

SEO

What is SEO? It stands for: Search Engine Optimization. Even the “SEO for beginner’s” explanations seem overly complicated. So here’s my basic take on what these are for anyone else scratching their heads. SEO is used to help the major search engines find your content. The search engines – Google, Yahoo, Bing – all try their hardest to find us something relevant. That’s where SEO comes into play! It’s a marketing tool that focuses on gathering search results from organic (non-paid) sources. Hopefully it’s done this way so there is an even playing field for both experts and beginners (read: this person).

In diving into SEO, it really is astonishing that search results are found so quickly. The little “spiders” or “crawlers” are sorting through billions of bits of information just to find us that one answer to “where was that one restaurant again?!” Granted, these little search spiders are smart, once they find that answer on “how many different types of orchids are there?”, they store that information away for use to help someone later.

To get better traction with your blog, it’s recommended to use helpful keywords relevant to your blog’s mission throughout your post so those spiders are able to promote you. It helps your posts become more relevant in the search process. Honestly, there is so much more to this, that I found a helpful guide that go into even more detail. People dedicate careers to SEO and after all my research, I can understand why. It’s definitely worth looking into further because Google (and the twins Yahoo & Bing) really do want to help us succeed. And I’m sure a post later on will follow.

Plugins

When I was 16 and feeling all angsty, I tried to start a journal on a blogging site (not telling). That fell apart within days because I moved on and lost interest. Nowadays, starting a blog has become such an art form and WordPress makes it so easy! With that accessibility comes more responsibility IMHO. While you’re browsing all the cool themes and widgets (another fun new word, seriously I’m a blog alien), you then have a choice of plugins!

These fancy little creatures let you spice up your blog so to speak. They allow you to enhance your security, help track page views (analytics), make coding easier with shortcuts, honestly the list is endless. It’s weeding through them that’s the more challenging bit. Too many plugins, your site slows down, too little and your missing something important! It’s a balance for sure and luckily I’ve found some helpful lists that suggested the best ones to use. But, rest assured, you definitely want to take advantage of them. Here’s the ones I have started out with so far:

Now it remains to be seen if they help me forge ahead!

Slugs

Slugs… not your garden variety either! I think a direct quote from me was something along the lines of “wtf do you mean my slug has a stopword?” This brings to mind a naughty cartoon slug. Anyway. A slug is the part of your blog’s url that comes after your main domain handle.

Example: piningfortravel.com/this-is-the-slug/

Who would have thought, amiright? But I definitely spent the better part of 15 minutes cursing the internet, trying to figure it out.

Stopword. Oh, right. The “stopword” further complicates things. Using a stopword (in your slug) makes Google devalue your post in priority of search. Seriously, land mines everywhere! Thankfully I have a handy plugin warning me of some of these pitfalls.

Stopwords include: the, with, your, and, into…there’s quite a few so here’s an actual list!

Basically, the goal is to eliminate those words to the best of your ability so Google doesn’t judge you.

Now we’re all just a little more fluent in blog-ese. Ideally I’d love to learn how to embed a photo. (a project for another night…) Time for what you all came for – a travel post! …next time!

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