Optimizing your blog for search engines, should be one of your primary efforts in your blogging process. You want to make sure people searching for your keywords, will actually find them on your site. But nobody knows what kind of devious tactic is required to master SEO, with Google pushing out new updates for its algorithm all the time.
You want to come as close to understanding it as possible, don’t you? Well, here we’ll show you exactly what matters to your blog’s SEO and how you can optimize each of your posts to ensure it gets maximum traction.
We want to help and we’ll share a massive load of useful tips and practices, to ensure you get the best out of your blog’s SEO. Though keep in mind that this won’t cover all of the best SEO practices. In fact, the stuff we’re going to share here are mostly basic SEO. They are useful and powerful, nevertheless.
But search engine optimization is an incredibly complex field that’s constantly changing. There’s a lot of learning to do for someone who wants to make the most of it. Here, you’ll be able to provide a solid foundation for that learning process and understand the elementary and even some of the advanced practices in SEO. So, without further ado, let’s help you reach those 100,000 monthly visitors you want from Google!
A Simplistic Explanation To How SEO Works
Google’s aim is to provide it’s users with the best content, according to their search. To do that, it sends out spiders and crawlers that look through your website. They “crawl” everything on it and check for more than 100 indicators that help them understand whether you have on there is good or not.
These indicators are the ranking factors that help it determine whether your site performs better than other’s focusing on the same keyword. These indicators include, text quality, domain age, average traffic, content freshness, images, backlinks, social media signals and many other ranking factors.
Nobody knows all of them. If they did, it would be too easy to win the game. Your job with SEO is to make sure that Google and its spiders are happy with the stuff they find on your website.
Optimizing Your Blog’s Foundations
First things first, if your website is crappy, Google won’t like it and neither will your readers. So you want to make sure that your website’s design, layout, speed and the rest of the technical factors.
Hosting and Domain
Let’s make it clear right off the bat, free blogs or free hosting won’t cut it if you’re taking SEO seriously. You have to have your own hosting environment and your own domain name from the start. It’s one of the foundations of running a healthy website. But you also have to picky with the hosting plan you choose. So if you don’t have one yet, please do some thorough research. Because you might end up paying cash for something that doesn’t offer the high quality that you can get for a few dollars.
You have to keep an eye out for two of the most important things when it comes to hosting, which is Uptime and Speed. Uptime is the amount of time a website is available throughout the year. Naturally, you’ll want your website to be available every second of the year, and so does Google. Also, speed is incredibly important in today’s internet environment. That is firstly, because if your website takes more than 2 seconds to load, most of your visitors will lose interest in it. They’ll just click away and not spend any time on your site. And secondly, because speed is an independent ranking factor, so even Google wants to be sure that your site loads as quickly as possible and the users will have a fluid experience.
To ensure that you do well here, research the best performing hosting providers, such as InMotion or HostGator’s Cloud hosting. I recommend these because they have the highest loading speeds (500 milliseconds) for the lowest prices (around 3$ – 6$).
Be Sure That You Use An Optimized Theme
When it comes to your blog’s looks, the choice depends solely on your taste. Even though I recommend choosing a theme that is simple and as visually engaging as possible. There are also a lot of things to consider and to look through when you’re choosing a theme for your site. These will also influence your SEO by a great deal, so you want to make sure that you check all of them.
Your theme should have clean and transparent coding, so that Google’s spiders can run through them with absolute ease. Even though it looks good, you should definitely look into the code. If you can’t determine whether it’s clean or not (even I can’t), then ask a developer to help or find one online. You can also read reviews about the specific theme you’re looking for.
As you probably noticed, more and more people use smartphones and browse the internet with them every day. About 50% of traffic on the web is done with smartphones, and you want to get a slice of the cake as well. Which is why your chosen theme should be mobile responsive right off the bat.
Fast Loading Times
Nobody likes a sloppy website and even though your hosting servers are fast, the way a theme is built, matters. If it is too heavy, has too large images or it’s just badly coded, it will slow down the loading process. So it’s important that you always check how fast all the elements of a theme loads. You can check out its overall loading speed here.
It’s Unique and Speaks Your Language
If you can, do a minor design tweaks to your theme or ask a developer to do it for you. It’s important that you stand out as much as possible and that your website’s design reflects what your blog is about. You might not have that out of the box. In that case, customize your theme to fit you perfectly.
Write a Better Permalink
The permalink is the link that Google will index and use to reach your content when users search for it. This means that you should use permalinks like my-new-blog-post, instead of wishy-washy, non-specific names. The more the posts permalink says about its contents, the better. But if you have already published a post with a permalink, do not change it! Like I said, that’s what’s Google using to find your post, so if you change it, it won’t be able to find it.
To change your permalinks and anything SEO related within your post, just download the Yoast SEO plugin if you’re using WordPress. It is incredibly valuable for optimizing blog posts and for learning more about SEO as well.
Optimizing Your Blog’s Content
Now, on to the stuff that your blog is all about! Here, you’ll find how to write your blog posts in a completely SEO friendly matter. We’ll also talk about what you should think through before starting to write a fresh post. So, in this part, we’ll share a simple process you can use to write posts that will succeed. Though keep in mind, that no matter how good you are in SEO and writing, getting your blog to the point of repeated success takes time. By using this process, you’ll have a steady guide as you keep creating highly valuable and optimized content for your blog.
Inventing a New Post
First things first, you have to establish a few things either in your mind or right within your fresh blog posts. Once you have figured out what your topic will be, determine your post’s goals. Will it be to:
- Gain more visitors.
- Promote a product.
- Share news.
- Share your point of view and encourage others to see things the same way.
- Share Information about an event that took place.
- Share information collected in a study.
This is what will drive your writing and the “why” of your post. Once you have established this in your head, figure out a metric, with which you can measure whether you succeeded or didn’t. This can be either the raw traffic that came to your site, the amount of social media shares or the amount of affiliate sales you made. Whatever it is, write it down and use it to measure the success of your post.
Your Target Audience
Once you know what the purpose of your post is, the next step is figuring out who you will be writing your post for. Will it be for your active fans, sports fans, marketers, business men, influencers or you just want to attract new readers? Figure out who the posts will be written for and let it guide your way of speech as well. Talk to them in a friendly voice and seek to answer any questions they might have.
Who You’re Competing With
Though you’re writing a completely unique content piece, you’re bound to have someone else out there who wrote a post, discussing the same topic as you’re about to. So, the first thing is opening up your keyword research tool and checking who else is ranking for your keyword.
Did someone else produce widely shared content in this niche? It doesn’t have to be someone with a high rank, just someone who produced content that got shared plenty of times on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and any other platform.
What Unique value can your post provide that no one else has provided yet? Do you have some research data you want to share? Or do you have unique opinions that people can learn from? Is your take on the topic different from everyone else’s? If you produce a unique blog post, its contents have to produce unique value to give people a reason to share it and read it through.
For a lot of people, doing keyword research is the first step, but how would you even come up with a good post without the first two? Now, it’s time to find the keywords that best relate to your topic and that have the lowest competition. Find three-to-five keywords that you will target. You want to catch all the people who search with the same intent but use different keywords to do it.
You’ll want keywords that have a high search rate on a monthly basis, but have low difficulty and a high click-through rate opportunity. This way, plenty of people search for it and you won’t have a hard time ranking for it. You can either use Google Ads Keywords Planner or MOZ’s Keyword Explorer.
Use Long-Tail Keywords
You want to use keywords that are longer and have less competition. For example, optimizing for a term like “healthy food”, will be quite hard, because a lot of people have already did it and there’s a lot of competition involved. So optimizing for a keyword like “healthy vegan food” is much more reasonable. This way, you’ll be more qualified and you will also bring the right kind of traffic to your website.
Where And How To Include Keywords
Now that you know exactly which keywords you’re going to use, it’s time to include them in your posts. But where do you put them to get the best results? There are a number of key places where you have to add your keywords to optimize your posts.
- The Headline – If you want to read something about birds, then you’ll be looking for the word “birds” in the title, right? Search engines and readers function the same way, and they will first use your page’s title to determine your post’s relevancy. This is why it’s important to include it in the first 65 characters of your title. That’s where Google cuts off the page’s title, in the search results. If you want to do even better, then make the first 3 words of your title, your keywords. You can use the Blog Post Headline Analyzer to create truly powerful headlines.
- The First Paragraph – It’s logical why you have to include your keywords in the first paragraph. It’s a crucial place because both spiders and readers get their first impression from it.
- The Slug (URL) – Your URL says a lot about what’s in your post. You can customize the URL of each of your posts, so make sure that they include at least one or two of your keywords.
- The Meta Description – The meta description is there to give the reader and the search engine information about the contents of your webpage. Be sure to include at least one of your main keywords, but include more if you can. By writing a good meta description, you’ll get higher click rates and you’ll attract readers much easier. So make it as catchy as possible.
- Your Image’s Title and Alt-Text – Your readers will also see the name you give to your images, so make sure that it’s something catchy and it blends in well with the rest of your post. The Alt-Text is only read by the search engine robots. So write an exact description of what’s on the picture. You should use a keyword in one of these if possible. You can also use them in the name of the image file you upload.
If you place your keywords in all of these fields, than you’ll already be ranking much better. But be sure not to do keyword stuffing and use your keywords irrationally. They have to blend into the rest of the text and feel natural to the reader, to ensure the best possible experience. In short, write them in a natural voice.
Now that you know the basic technical frameworks of practicing good SEO for your posts, it’s time to establish your content production in a similar manner. For some people, writing high quality content comes naturally, because of their writing talents. Others might need more practice, but can do pretty well if they stick to a few simple rules.
Basic Writing Tips For a Great Blog Post
1. Think It Through
As I already mentioned earlier, establishing what your post is going to be about, what’s its purpose and who you’re writing it for, will make for an outstanding blog post. Outline what’s the most important you want to achieve once the post has been published.
2. Outline The Structure Of Your Post
If you only come up with the most important headlines of your text and a basic structure, it will make for a very qualified post. So, do the following:
- Write a catchy introduction with 1-3 sentences at max. Introduce your topic, and maybe even write it in bold text.
- Write the text body with your headlines in it. Try to use plenty of headlines, to separate subtopics within your post. It will make it much more engaging, transparent and easy to read.
- Write a conclusion at the end of your post.
3. Separate Your Text Into Paragraphs
Use paragraphs within your text to separate certain topics or important parts within your text. Use about 5-6 sentences within a paragraph at max. Be sure to create your paragraphs in a way that makes them have structure and that they provide a clean idea of what they stand for.
4. Keep Producing Content on a Regular Basis
The most important thing for your website is for it to be alive. If you write post regularly, you’ll regularly give Google the signal that your site is lively and there are active people behind it, so it will increase your ranking.
Add Images and Video
More content means more value. You should always add at least one image to your post, so that it is more engaging for the reader and Google will find it more appealing as well. If you want to take your engagement one step further, add more images, create infographics and post YouTube videos. The more time people spend on your site, the more it will help your ranking. The amount of time a user spends on your site is a major ranking factor, so do everything you can to maximize user engagement.
Link To Other Relevant Content
By having inbound links in your content, you help search engines determine whether your content is valid and relevant in the topic or not. So it’s very useful to link to other articles on the web. The same goes to your own articles. Internally linking will not only help your ranking but will also put more content in front of your reader’s eyes. It’s a win-win solution.
Build a Solid Social Media Following
Social Media is THE place to grow your blog’s audience. It is a great tool for content discovery. It’s important that you focus on Social Media for SEO purposes and especially for traffic building purposes. That’s because Google will look at your post’s social media signals and use that data to determine whether your content is valuable or not. What better way to find out what the people will like, than just see what they actually like, right? Write some killer content that your target audience loves and you’ll be well on your way to building a massive following. Also, follow these few tips to be better at the game:
- Share other people’s content as well, as long as they’re relevant in your topic. Give them some exposure as well and you’ll build a good relationship with them as well. You’ll also be pushing out more valuable content that your readers will love.
- Give more to your social media followers than what they can find on your blog. With this, you give them all the more reason to follow you and use your page as a resource for their interests. You should also use Instagram as one of your channels.
- Use Buffer as your social media management tool. It will help you schedule your posts and will help you distribute your content to the right people.
Comment On Blog Posts Written In The Same Topic
Networking is important and where else would you network, then the places where people are already interested in what you have to say. Write comments to other blogs that are sharing content in the same niche as you do. Post links to your own content as well, as a recommendation to others who are interested in the topics you’re writing about.
Use Tiberr to help you find all of the blogs that write in the same topic you do. It help you distribute content a lot faster than you would do it by manually finding sites and commenting on each of them.
Google’s Search Console is Your Friend
Google offers a free tool called Search Console that will help you see how well your page performs. It has a useful section called the Search Analytics Report that will help you analyze how people got to various pages of your site from Google Search. It will help a lot in knowing what keywords people are using to get to your content and what kind of questions they have.
Finally, Read a Lot From MOZ
MOZ is one of the leaders in the SEO field and they produce some truly amazing content every week. Their blog posts help any beginner understand what SEO is about throughout. They also have a series called Whiteboard Friday, in which they give great tips and SEO blueprints that you can use to drive your success. Their advice has helped us to give birth to this post as well, so be sure to check them out!
There you have it! By following these tips, you’ll make a solid effort to kickstart your blog’s SEO efforts. Just remember that no SEO practice is a “rank fast” scheme. SEO is a time consuming process with a lot of moving parts to understand, but it will give you great value in return!
I hope that you have found this article useful and that you’ve learnt something new you are going to use. Keep an eye out for our next one!