After seeing the interest steemians have around SEO, I decided to continue with another post, maybe sooner than I initially planned for. You can read SEO Tips #1 post here:
On-page (also referred to as page-level) optimizations are a big set of search engine optimizations. Certainly the most important type of SEO authors can make for their posts on Steem.
But before we continue, we need to make something clear.
In the early days, when Google search engine was in its infancy, it was pretty easy to rank high if you knew the rules.
Now, many rules have changed and will continue to do so, some are blurry, and Google's algorithm is smarter. So, I see many who got an easy ride in the past remember with nostalgia about the good ol' days of organic traffic.
Nowadays, even if its important to know and be aware of the rules of SEO, and use them where necessary, the best thing you must remember is to write for the people, not for Googlebot.
If for no other reason, then because Google's algorithm now follows the people to a greater degree, and not the other way around. Or at least that seems to be the trend...
As you will see, many of the rules that impact the on-page SEO reflect this change in paradigm: the easier and more useful and relevant a page is for the reader, the higher it ranks.
Sure, many factors matter, as we have talked in the previous post too, like where the post is written from, duplicate content, bad or good associations, history of the website and yes, of the owner, and more.
But that makes sense from a person's perspective, right? Just because someone puts together a great sales page, it doesn't mean we shouldn't look at who they are, their track record, if we trust them or not, and so on...
Anyway, let's return to on-page optimizations for Steem.
As authors on Steem, we have the ability to... write content, mainly. And also to set a few meta tags on SEO-mindful interfaces for advanced users, like SteemPeak, as we have talked in SEO Tips #1.
What SteemPeak doesn't have, for example, is an updated HTML editor. I've talked with @asgarth about it, and maybe that will change.
A lot about the success of SEO techniques rely on Dapp developers and their cooperation in this area. It is in their best interest, since their website will rank higher in search engines!
We also talked about in the first post about researching the long tail keywords (meaning specific search phrases).
Once you identify them, there are certain places you can / should use them to improve SEO:
1. Choose the Right Primary Tag to Improve SEO
I'll started in a way in the wrong order, with the primary tag, but you'll understand immediately why.
Most interfaces on Steem (but not all!), include the primary tag in the URL of your post. While you can't change the domain name, because that's the domain name of the interface, this is the first point where you can intervene to add a keyword to the URL, and that has a small SEO benefit.
2. Optimize the Permalink of Your Post
As also discussed in SEO Tips #1, on SteemPeak you can change the permalink of your post. That's another way you can make it meaningful to both the human reader and Google. Pay attention! Just like the primary tag, the permalink can only be set once! You cannot (and if possible in the future, should not) edit it once set, and the post published.
3. Work on Your Titles If You Want Better Google Rankings
The title of your post is very important! Both for the people reading your post and for Google bot. The title and the right image will make your post pop to the readers skimming through their feeds.
If you optimize for search engines, include the relevant keywords there, without making the title look awkward to a person.
Moreover, if the title begins with the keyword / key phrase, you get a ranking bonus. Again, the title needs to be well written for people, first. You can immediately spot a title which uses the wrong order of words attempting to boost their ranking. But that comes at a price, because people won't like the unnatural language.
Titles (and content) should look differently, depending on its type and your target audience.
Because a robot doesn't (yet) understand humor, irony, purposely using a word to hint at something else, etc. While a person does, and may be even more inclined to relate to such content. Sometimes, not always. Other times, one would prefer informative articles, and for that, SEO improves your chances to have the content discovered through organic traffic.
However, for example, Google algorithm started to understand context much better than in the past. I'll tell you more about that when we talk about the post content, in the next section.
4. Use Key Phrases in Your Post Content
It's a lot to talk here.
With the attention span people have these days, it can be decisive the way you start your post, if they will continue reading (or watching, or listening).
For written content, the first paragraph usually makes a big difference. So it should be well-crafted, and hint at what you'll talk about, or at least stir enough curiosity in people's mind to keep reading.
For the search engines (and shares on other platforms) this is the same, with one distinction. The description meta tag, which can be set through SteemPeak is even more important.
Let's have a look at other relevant on-page SEO techniques for the content of the post.
4.1. Write Longer In-Depth Posts to Rank Higher in Google
Now maybe you understand when someone calls a post with little text or no consistency - shitpost. Sure, that works fine in Instagram-like mediums, but for ranking purposes -- except for the image itself -- not so much. These are just two different perspectives to look at things, and I believe each has its purpose.
Yes, the length of a post, the in-depth cover of the subject matters to receive a higher ranking in Google search results. Even though people do tend to consume shorter span content now. That is until they need to learn more about something, when a short post won't do anymore.
4.2. Use Keywords in Sections to Improve Ranking
Let's take it one by one.
Firstly, using sections should be on your radar if you want to optimize your post for search engines. That goes hand in hand with writing longer posts, as sections help organize and break up the text.
Secondly, choosing the title of sections is important for SEO purposes, and you should remember your keywords and key phrases when you write them.
Again, same rules apply like for the title of the post: keyword or key phrase at the beginning of the section title has a little more influence than inside the section title.
A smaller influence for on-page optimizations have the keywords used in the titles of subsections and below, but you get a bonus for making content in-depth.
A very relevant detail: The title of the post is written by most interfaces on Steem with a
<h1> tag (what in markdown corresponds to
#). Sections should therefore use a lower heading, meaning
## in markdown). Subsections should use
### in markdown), and so on.
4.3. How Often Do You Use Your Keywords in Your Post?
That's referred to as keyword density. In theory, the higher it is, the better.
I have some reservations about this, especially when used in excess. A too high keyword density hurts SEO just as much as a too low one, in my opinion, and I'm not alone in this believe.
Again, remember, content should be great for the person who reads it, not for Google. Annoying repetitions can drive someone away (and Google bot will pick up on it as well).
Although Google's algorithm for its search engine is still a limited bot, compared to a human's capacity to interpret language, it is not strange to identifying context.
For example, it will pick up from context if you talk about Apple, the company, or apple, the fruit. It will use the outbound links you included in your post to understand the topic of your post and rank for the appropriate theme.
4.4. Use Images in Your Posts!
This might come strange coming from me, since I don't often use images in my posts.
In fact, I only use them if I think adding an image is relevant to the post.
But for SEO benefits and for the visibility of your post for people as well, having at least one image in your post is very important!
Google search engine places a great emphasis on images and videos. To such a degree it has the possibility to search only for one of these type of results.
Above I searched only for images matching the keyword "SEO". Just for exemplifying purpose.
Now, here's the best part.
How does Google know what images to return to you?
Well, it takes into consideration the name of the image. We can't use that, unless we link to images stored on our own websites, outside Steem. As authors on Steem, if you upload an image here, with any interface, the filename of the image has no relation to what the image depicts.
Then, it takes into consideration the URL of the image as well. Again, nothing we can do as authors.
What we can do, but not easily as far as I know, is set the alt parameter for the image. This parameter is used to display a text instead of the image while it loads on slow or unstable connections, but also to tell Google bot what is the image about.
I don't know if on an interface such as Appics, which is image-oriented, one can easily set the 'alt' parameter, to provide more information about the uploaded image.
On most other interfaces I know it's not possible unless you change the code.
The easiest way I found so far is if you post using markdown, as many steemians do.
Let's say you have uploaded an image on Steem using SteemPeak interface and the code looks like this:
To add the alt parameter you'd have to translate this markdown code into its HTML code counterpart and add to it the alt parameter. Like this:
<img src="https://steemitimages.com/0x0/https://files.steempeak.com/file/steempeak/gadrian/y8k4KU1N-image.png" alt="Here's where you describe your image for both people and Google bot" />
Notice that all you keep from the markdown code is the image URL, which you add to the src parameter of the
Now, if you inspect the image linked above in this post, you will notice something like that:
Using the above mentioned method In added an alt parameter to the image. This image has an alt parameter as well. A different one.
Adding many keywords in the 'alt' parameter is bad for SEO (known as keyword stuffing).
Can you imagine how, with the right keywords, images on Steem (and we have a strong photography community) can have boosted ranks on Google? Not the posts necessarily. The images. But there should be a way to link them back to Steem or specific dApps on Steem. Same with videos.
4.5. Links Help, But Too Many of Them Hurt Also!
There are two, maybe three types of links (if we consider interlinks as a separate type) you can and should use:
- internal links to your own posts or posts by other authors on Steem, using the same interface to share them
The link I used at the top, to my previous SEO Tips #1, is an internal link.
By using the same interface to share the link, you boost the relevance of the interface.
- interlinks to posts by other authors on Steem, using a different interface to share them, than the one you post on
This should hopefully help both interfaces gain more visibility on Google rankings, but we have a drawback.
Content, even if it's unique on Steem, seen from different interfaces can be interpreted as duplicate content by Googlebot, and penalize one or both websites. That's why the canonical links introduced by steemit.com make sense, but @paulag's was right too, when she said that enforcing such a relationship did hurt blog owners who used SteemPress to also post on Steem. And that issue was resolved.
- outbound links to content relevant to the topic of your post or references you have used
Links toward relevant content, maybe ranked higher, usually help.
"Nofollow" links (this is an indication - not an order! - to Google bot to not follow that link, but humans might) are much better for your post, but I've also read a combination of "nofollow" and "dofollow" can be even better.
Also check your links! Broken links hurt SEO!
4.6. Use Lists, Where Applicable!
Google, and I believe most people too, prefer content which uses lists, ordered or not, to ease the understanding of a material, and the fact this is another way to break up big chunks of text into bite-size elements.
5. New or Updated Content?
If you already have a post that has performed well attracting organic traffic, and what you want to write about would mean an update of that material, do that!
You will benefit of the history this post has, the interactions, the shares on social media, the backlinks and so on.
Google appreciates that. It also looks at the history of updates on a post and the type of edits. More often, extensive updates are better in "its eyes", than changing a few words, or updating after 3 years.
If the above doesn't apply, a new post will always perform better in terms of ranking.
6. Non-Primary Tags Still Matter For SEO
While not as much as the primary tag, the other ones still matter for SEO, because they are represented as links on most interfaces. Links Google bot may want to follow to discover more related content.
7. Share on Social Media!
While sharing on social media is by itself a way to receive more organic traffic, it also backlinks to the Steem website from which the post was shared. And the backlink usually comes from a domain with a higher authority than the one you post on, which should offer some boost to our own rankings.
I hope these SEO tips or guide for Steem help you. Let me know what you think and how it can be improved or if you have questions. I may not answer right away, as I have to go somewhere in a few minutes.
You can find more about influence on SEO of engagement, leveraging steemit.com domain authority and duplicate content in the next post of our SEO Tips series: