For those of us with a heart for ministry, these changes are an opportunity and a challenge.
The world has changed.
Statistics vary, but most experts agree that between sixty and seventy percent of the world’s population is digitally savvy and connected online.
However, the way information is accessed has also changed. No longer are we able to thumb through physical media to find information. Now everything is quantified and categorized through mathematical algorithms. That means we all need to know the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Keywords.
The first term we need to become familiar with is Keywords. A keyword is like a label. It’s a short way — although almost always more than one word in length — to state the purpose of your article. Articles can have several keyword groups or only one. I only have one main keyword group like “Blogging Basics for a Post-Pandemic World.” Some related keywords to this topic could be “SEO Basics for Blogging” or “How to Use Keywords Effectively.”
I use groups of words because the point of the keywords is to direct the searcher to your website. You want your keywords to match, as closely as possible, what someone types — or speaks — into a search engine. People rarely type or speak just one word because it gives too many options.
Here are the guidelines for using keywords effectively:
• Always use the keywords in the title.
• Repeat the keywords at least once in the first 50 words of your article.
• Spread the use of the keywords naturally and evenly throughout the rest of the article. (In a 400-word article, that would mean using the keywords a minimum of three more times.)
Remember, this acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s basically where, in the list of millions, your content will show up when searched by a reader through a search engine. This is determined by a closely guarded, mathematical equation called an algorithm.
When you use different search engines — Google, Yahoo, Siri, Alexa, etc. — you’ll notice each will give slightly different results from any given search, because they each have a proprietary calculation. But there are things we can do as writers to move our content up in the rankings. To accomplish this we have to have a basic understanding of how SEO algorithms work.
Early on, these algorithms were less complex and depended heavily on keyword usage. Website writers would just use pages of keywords to raise their ranking. The search engines caught on and the equations got more complex. These algorithms will continue to evolve, with the goal being to give the searcher the most valuable sites first in the rankings.
Even with the evolution of algorithms, one thing hasn’t changed. They are still mathematical equations and as such, Search Engine Algorithms take words literally — and that can be good or bad.
This means that they don’t always understand double meanings or the clever usage of words. For example, a recipe for vegetarian chili cleverly titled, “Too Hot to Handle Chili” will rank far lower than one titled, “Homemade Vegetarian Chili” if someone is searching for a vegetarian chili recipe.
This is because an algorithm uses the literal meaning of words, and the first title doesn’t even have the word “vegetarian’’ in it. Oftentimes a clever title will result in fewer clicks.
For those of us with a heart for ministry, these changes are an opportunity and a challenge. Now, going and telling may mean something very different from what we ever imagined. That means blogging — and doing it effectively — is more important than ever.