SEO – what is it exactly and why does it matter? Top marketing tips for bloggers


Today, Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, can feel a bit five years ago or retro. But, actually, it remains a really, albeit slightly cumbersome, part of having a successful history blog.

If you don’t know what SEO is (no judgement), then Search Engine Optimisation is the practice of increasing the traffic or visits to your history blog organically and by that I mean in an unpaid way.

Now, to some the science and detail behind SEO is uber fascinating but to many compared with IG stories and researching amazing blog posts, it’s a dull as anything. But, don’t skip it for the shiny stuff because hey you want your stuff to be found right?

Still on the fence? Here’s a little more about how SEO works…

Think back to the last time you Google searched or open a tab and do it right now. You type in a word or couple of words and a list of possibilities to click on came up. That happens because Google, a search engine, is an index site listing everything under those words; and that’s the SE part.

The O, as in optimisation, is maximising certain things and opportunities within your blog. When the clever systems send Google spiders out there, we want them to find your content and list it in that index when someone searches for what you blog about.

SEO Marketing Techniques for Bloggers

So, what are the techniques to get you listed on search engines and found by visitors? I’m going to base my advice around a fictional blog about The Battle of Hastings:

– Make sure you have an SEO friendly domain name and blog name (if different) like ‘All About The Battle of Hastings Blog’
– Select some keywords, Battle of Hastings + 1066 + King William the Conqueror. Write your blogs with these keywords in strategic places; the title, the url, sub-headings and the first paragraph
– My main advice is don’t try to be all things to all men on each post. Be specific. If your blog post is just about William the Conqueror, that phrase should dominate at every point it can without looking like keyword stuffing.
– Use internal links to send people to other pages in your blog – this helps the spiders crawl around your blog and list your pages
– When you use images give them a file name, alt text and caption with your keyword in it.

And here are some marketing techniques to improve your SEO…

– Add the ability for people to easily share your blog page and spread it around the web. Sometimes we focus too much on ‘contact me’ rather than ‘share this’ I use WordPress Ultimate Social Media Icons Plugins, it’s free and does both. Also, share to your social media accounts directly from your blog.
– Make sure your blog loads quickly, is to read and navigate.
– Get yourself mentioned elsewhere on the internet – social media, Pinterest or guest blog backlinks. These all prick up the ears of the web spiders (do spiders have ears? ) so generate some noise about your posts and blogs!
– Increase the amount of traffic you are getting. I know it’s a bit mean this one but the more visitors to your blog from whatever platform or email campaign the better.

Don’t worry, SEO will start to come naturally…

The more you apply these principles to regular blog tasks such as generating your post titles, writing your paragraphs, uploading your images and growing traffic the more you will naturally create SEO friendly content.

There’s no magic formula to get you onto page one at the click of a button but please don’t dismiss the basic principles of SEO as it can be one of the building blocks you use to grow a bigger audience for your amazing blog.

If you would like more tips on how SEO can help you grow and market your blogs just type ‘Yes’ in the comments below. There are also lots of ways to get in touch with me and I love to hear from you.

Until next time.

Catch-up soon


Need a Professional Looking Headshot for your Blog? – A Few Tips to Get you Started

A good photo on your blog or social media can make all the difference. However, when you’re working with a budget, or even just starting out, getting those quality images done by a professional might not yet be an option.

But don’t selfie and don’t be tempted to crop down a wedding photo! Clear your photo library of the 800 pictures of your cat that you don’t need (we get it she’s cute) set aside a couple of hours, iron your best shirt and use this handy guide to taking some of those professional-looking headshots you’ve seen online.

And grab someone to help you if you can. It will make things a whole lot easier. But if you have to shoot alone then pick up a cheap tripod, it’s always handy to have one at home in today’s visual world.

Cameras on phones have come a long way so don’t be afraid to use one for your headshot. Although they don’t replace the quality or versatility of a DSLR they’re a cost-effective way to get those much needed social media and blog shots.

Working With Light

So here’s some really quick photography jargon that will benefit you:

Light is measured in Kelvins. This in short means how cool or warm the light is. The lower the number the warmer the light and the higher the number the cooler the light.

Sunlight is blue, cool light.
The light inside is often tungsten. Orange, warm light.

Indoor lighting is an option if you have a couple of directional lamps around the house that you could use for your shoot. You can pick up some light bulbs that have the right temperature (kelvin) of light. If the bulb has a warm glow it will cast orange, if it’s too blue the resulting image will look like you’re sat in a hospital waiting room. The packaging will tell you where on the scale it is, and a rule of thumb is to aim for the mid-range of 4000K or 5000K. It’s better to use two light sources; one for either side of you. But if you only have the one aim it slightly above and back from you about two feet.

However, a way of countering what could be a confusing search for bulbs is to pick up some cheap modelling lamps on Amazon. Again having these handy might be useful when it comes to getting some extra photos for your blog or social media, so you could look at them as an investment. They can be as little as £30 and often come with a softbox (which is simply a diffuser for more flattering light). If the budget doesn’t stretch for these though place yourself across from a window to maximise indoor light.

Everyone’s home is different, you might have a big, brightly lit open kitchen to take photos in. But you might be in a flat in a rainier part of the world. We’re looking at you Manchester. If you can make the natural light or some lamps inside your home work for you that’s great, but in case you’re struggling head outside. Natural light, although sometimes tricky to work with, is far better than fighting indoor shadows and the orange cast from bulbs. However, the light outside is of course changeable. So search for opportunities to shoot in what’s called open shade. Direct light, as with using flash on your camera is too harsh. Plus you’ll be squinting. Too much shade and the photos will be dark and gloomy. A happy medium is to find some shade, most likely under a tree, and face the direction of the light in the shade.


How to Style it?

The best backdrop for a headshot is plain and uncluttered. Pale, single coloured walls without a pattern is a good start. Preferably in a contrasting colour to what you’re wearing. These images are sometimes shrunk down quite small so to stop them appearing cluttered plain is best. As a rule, remember that darker walls absorb the light where lighter walls reflect it. If you’re struggling for the extra light head to a room with lighter walls.
A plain coloured sheet works fine too. Iron it! I’m one of those “life is too short for ironing” people but in this case, you’ll thank yourself for it later.

You should position the camera to take an image from the chest up, your focus should be directly at the camera and you should always avoid flash. Unless you have a diffuser the light produced from your camera flash is too harsh and not at all flattering. Also always shoot these types of photos in portrait, not landscape. As for your pose don’t sit face on, angle yourself slightly at about 30 degrees. Clasping your hands in front of you or folding them will help you ease into the photos and will also help you relax. Treat your first few photos as tester photos while you get the balance right.

Take your time. It might take two hours out of your day but it will be worth it.

Look presentable. Wear something simple and neutral. Black and white is a good go-to for simplicity, but it can also be a bit boring. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of accent colour just don’t go overboard with overly bright hues or crazy patterns. You can wear those comfy pyjama pants with pandas if you want (they won’t be in frame after all) but make sure your top half is presentable. Try out different looks too. Maybe some more formal ones mixed with some fun ones, have a couple of outfits to choose from. Add a jacket, put on your reading glasses, tie up long hair. Experiment with the style and find which one you feel represents the image you want to portray or ones that best showcase your personality. Even if you don’t use them now you should save them for future use.

My Perfect Photo is a Bit Dark?

Congrats you’ve found the perfect photo! Trouble is it looks a bit dark. Don’t delete it, it might yet be salvageable with the settings on your phone. Try boosting the contrast a little to brighten the image. Be careful not to overexpose or blow out the white parts of the image though. And although it might be tempting don’t go too crazy with the filters. That super smooth skin and green eyes you just gave yourself might look appealing but it’s not a good representation of you.

There’s a whole host of apps out there with extra features and settings to help you adjust and tweak an image. A lot of them are free so have a look on your app store and test some out. One of the more popular ones at the moment is VSCO. There’s no right way to edit an image as every image is different and requires different adjustments. The best way to learn in this instance is by doing. You’ll soon come to grips with how the settings affect your photos. If you’re worried about messing up save an extra copy of your image that you can go back to.

Sometimes getting an image right can be tricky. So don’t be disheartened if you struggle to get it absolutely perfect at first. The most important thing is that it represents you and your brand and that you’re happy with the outcome. Whether you were wearing panda pyjama pants or not.

Lauren Morley – guest blogger from Indigo Orange Studios.

What are Lead Magnets and How Will They Benefit Your History Blog: Tips and Examples for Bloggers

Desk scene

I know you put a lot of effort and heart into your history blog posts. If you want to grow your readership and blog as a whole think seriously about creating a lead magnet.

Here, I’ll take you through what a lead magnet is, how they can be beneficial to your history blog and eight examples (at the bottom if you want to scroll) you could create right now for your amazing history blog.

What is a Lead Magnet?

Lead magnets, also referred to as freebies, content upgrades, opt-in incentives and freemiums, are all created to do the same thing. They enable a transaction between you and people who visit your blog by giving something of value in return for their email address.

The Unwritten Principles of Lead Magnets

I prefer the term content upgrade to lead magnet – it may be a British politeness thing but pulling someone into your email list like a magnet isn’t very me! But, it’s a common term. What you’re really offering is an upgrade, and it should feel like one. So, think about this…

  • What would be useful to them?
  • What would you have found useful?
  • What would solve a problem for them?
  • What would save them searching (like perhaps you did)?
  • What would be motivational?
  • What would they enjoy?

It’s crucial to build trust with your visitors. You want them to come back to your blog, don’t you. So, here are some sure-fire ways to kill trust with your readers:

  • What you offer them is not remotely relevant to your blog content
  • What you give them does not match what you offered them in the sign-up
  • You add things after sign-up you never told them about. There are country rules about taking personal information like GDPR plus if you’re spammy people won’t come back, like or share your content. For example, if you’re going to give people general updates too then tell them!
  • You don’t give them a clear way to contact you and unsubscribe.

But, why would I want a Lead Magnet on my History Blog?

Because even if you just want to increase readership it’s very powerful now and can help the future growth of your blog:

  • You can talk directly to like-minded people really into your content. Giving your email address is much more personal than a ‘like’ or even follow. It’s saying “I want to hear more from you please”
  • You can bounce ideas off people. What do they want next? What did they like?
  • You can create permanency. Don’t get me wrong, social media is great especially the wonderful history community but Facebook could decide to change or even scrap Instagram- (remember MySpace) If you’ve amassed followers not subscribers you may lose your base. Plus email is more permanent for most people. I’ve had one of my email addresses for 22 years. Nuff said!
  • You’re giving yourself a list of people to communicate with if you decide to scale and monetise your blog. For example, you may create a Facebook group, start affiliate marketing or produce a physical product or course.

What are examples of Lead Magnets for my History Blog?

You can just have a ‘sign-up to get my weekly blogs’ but think how much more powerful it would be to say something like ‘Get your free guide to 17th Century Armour and my weekly expert blog tips’ followed by a clickable box saying ‘Yes Please, I’m In

I believe a history blogger has two main audiences. First, the reader who enjoys your historical subject and wants more. Second, the aspiring or established history blogger who wants tips on how to do things. People can of course be both.

As mentioned, your lead magnet has to be relevant to your readers and history as we know is gigantic but here are some suggestions to get you thinking:

  • Easy to follow timelines
  • Best YouTube Channels to follow
  • Best History Bloggers and/or hashtags to follow
  • Cheatsheet for carrying out research
  • 10 best resources and apps for history bloggers
  • 20 quirky facts you may not know about ……(base it on your subject)
  • The top twenty historical scandals (e-book)
  • 15 podcasts I can’t live without

I hope this has helped you think about how collecting contacts through a lead magnet could help your history blog.

Creating, designing, publishing and marketing lead magnets are huge but really vital topics for an aspiring history blogger. I also haven’t even touched on developing email ‘nurture sequences’ to really get to know the people who sign-up.

So, if you’d like future blogs on lead magnets and email marketing let me know. Drop me a comment below or there’s lots of ways to get in touch.

Catch-up soon


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5 Best Ways to Use Instagram Hashtags

Instagram User

Instagram hashtags are like the index of a book. You know that bit at the back where hundreds of pages have been categorised so if you only want to read about Mary Queen of Scots you can find it quickly. Well, hashtags on Instagram work the same way. They tell Instagram users what your content is about and are a mechanism to help them find it.

So, what are the five best ways to use hashtags in Instagram right now?

Go niche and be real

Your hashtags needs to really reflect your post’s content rather than what’s popular. Don’t force your post into the popular #throwbackthursday if you’re writing about the present but it happens to be Thursday. It looks fake and a bit desperate. If based on your content, your niche is #englishcivilwararmour – then it just is. Work with that. Just do a quick bit of research to make sure your niche hashtag is what you think it is. I have lost count how many times a history-related hashtag is actually for a TV program.

Balance big and small

It’s always changing but current thinking is to aim for 15 hashtags per post. When you are choosing which ones to use balance the big with the small. Always have 1-2 big hashtags like #history but half of your hashtags should be in the 500-5000 posts category with the rest between 5000 -100,000 posts. If you start to pick up momentum in the smaller hashtags, the Instagram algorithm will notice. If you just use the big ones you’ll get lost amongst the millions.

Get known in a hashtag

It’s good to mingle amongst your followers. But, you also want to try to become the top performer in a hashtag. Start using the same hashtags for a while and actively interact with people there. Because these are your people. They’re looking at and using the same hashtags as you. You’re more likely to find new followers and people to chat too.

Search and check out similar accounts

A hashtag search will inevitably bring up accounts similar to your topic. In one handy place, you can go into these posts, especially those at the top, and see which hashtags they’re using. What seems to be performing? People, with a large following, have probably been at it for a while and blazed the trail on hashtags as it were.

Create and monitor a list

Hashtags can be confusing and time-consuming if you’re thinking of them for every post and trying to remember if #tudors or #thetudors or #thetudordynasty was the best performer last time : (

Create a list in a notebook of large, medium and small hashtags related to your topic down the left side. On the other side, leave enough room to make notes about your performance in it over time, whether it needs to be deleted? Whether it’s grown etc? To complement this, you can also create a note on your phone with blocks of hashtags ready to copy, paste and where necessary edit, into your Instagram post.

And a bonus…

You know I’ll always leave you with a bonus tip! : ) If you’re using Instagram Stories. Add your hashtags first. Not too many. Then create a graphic, like a love-heart, and widen it to sit over the top. That way, you get a cleaner image but still the hashtag.

I know to some this all sounds a bit overly detailed. But, the way I see it, you’ve spent ages curating the perfect image and caption so getting down in the weeds with hashtags is a way to maximise the chances of more people seeing and interacting with your fabulous posts.

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below or you can find me on Instagram @elizabeth_britpolitics or on Twitter @_Britpolitcs.

Catch-up soon.


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