Here’s all the tips you need to know for SEO if you’re a blogger! Don’t feel intimidated about Search Engine Optimisation ever again!
Most bloggers I meet seem to think that SEO (search engine optimisation) is this super scary and confusing technical thing. They’ve heard other bloggers say about how important it is for them to “optimise the SEO of their blog” but they don’t really know what that means or how to do it.
In this post, I’m going to break down everything a blogger needs to know about SEO. I’m going to give you simple tips and advice so that you never feel like you are missing out on optimising your blog for the search engines.
So stop stressing about SEO. I’m here to help!
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So what is SEO?
In super simple terms, SEO (search engine optimisation) is creating content like blog posts that will be found by search engines – like Google, and getting that content to appear on the first page of search results.
In this blog post I’m going to use Google when I’m talking about Search Engines. However the tips I give you will work on Bing and Yahoo as well. It’s just that Google is the biggest search engine, so that’s really where you want your content to rank highly.
We all know as bloggers when we search for something in Google, we rarely go past the first page of results. We expect the answer we are looking for to be in the top few results. And if it’s not on the first page, we generally just use a different search term and try again.
Your readers do the same thing. So when you write a blog post, you want to make sure that you are putting keywords into your content so that Google will pick up on them and show your post in their results.
However, there is a lot of content out there on the internet so it can be really difficult to rank on the first page. But if you start making all of your blog posts SEO primed, you’ll have a leg up on a lot of other bloggers and hopefully, find yourself on page one of Google!
SEO for Bloggers
There are lots of things to do to improve your SEO – some are really simple, others require a bit of work. I’m going to give you a list of SEO tips and divide them up into basic and advanced steps.
If you are a total newbie to the world of SEO for bloggers, concentrate on the basic steps. If you have been blogging a while and already do many of the basic steps, it’s time to up your game and move to the advanced SEO steps. Whatever you do, don’t just ignore SEO. Your blog deserves to be seen!
Keyword Research (basic-ish)
So what is keyword research? Well if you want your blog post to rank well on Google, you need to know what keyword or phrase your audience is searching for that would be looking for your blog post.
For example, say you have a vintage fashion blog and you write a post about the best vintage fashion shops in Ireland. You need to think about what phrases people will be searching for in Google when they are looking for this information.
Possible search terms might include: Vintage fashion Dublin
Vintage fashion Ireland
Classic vintage fashion
Retro shop Ireland
Clothing Vintage Dublin etc…
So it’s important to incorporate as many of these words into your blog post and to choose a focus keyword(s) that you particularly want to focus on and use that keyword(s) throughout the blog post.
How do you find possible keywords?
There are advanced tools like Google Keyword Planner in Adwords, Moz.com and semrush.com that you can use but some of these can be expensive. Starting out, my advice is to just think about the blog post you are writing and think about what keywords are relevant to your post. Make a list of these keywords and keep referring back to them as you write.
If you are drawing a blank on keywords, use Google autosuggest and see what related topics they recommend. This might help you create some more keywords. Also another tool I use is https://ubersuggest.io/ which can give you lots of related keywords and is free.
Headlines / titles (basic)
A mistake I see a lot of bloggers make is writing headlines or titles for their blog post that are cute but don’t describe what the post is about. If you are writing a blog post about current spring fashions, don’t use a title like “Put a Spring in Your Step”. While this is a fun title, it gives readers no clue about what the post is about. Instead something like “5 Spring fashion trends that will make you stand out”, lets the reader know (and the Googlebot that crawls your site) what exactly the post is about.
If you struggle with creating good titles, there are a few easy ways to be inspired. Look at magazine covers. These have perfect examples of how to create an attention-grabbing headline that works. Magazines need to entice people to pick up and buy their magazines. So they know how to craft a great headline! Or even just look at a site like Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed has fine tuned the art of a good headline. Some may say it’s a little clickbaity, but as long as you deliver the information you promise in the headline – your reader won’t mind.
Whatever you do, just don’t be too cute or clever with your headline. Your content just won’t be found.
Use H1, H2, H3 (basic)
Another simple mistake I see bloggers making is using bold and italics to make headings instead of using H1, H2, H3 tags. When a Googlebot crawls your site, it doesn’t read bold and italic headlines as important. It just sees it as one big mess of text.
But when it reads H1, H2, H3 tags it can see that H1 is the main heading and what the content is about. The H2 is a secondary heading and H3 is a more minor heading again. For the Googlebot, they can know decipher what your blog post is about and logically how it flows.
This might not sound important, but it is for your SEO. So get out of the habit of writing headings and subheadings with bold or italics. Help the Googlebot figure out what the hell your blog post is about.
Have your keyword(s) in your URL (basic)
When the Googlebot goes on your site, it looks for clues about what your blog post is about by looking at the URL and seeing what keyword is used in it. Try and avoid using computer generated URLs that have a heap of numbers in it. Instead, edit it to include your main keyword(s). For example, for this blog post, I am using the URL www.sineadsocial.com/SEO because SEO is what this blog post is all about. Most blogging platforms allow you to edit your URL when you write your post, so use that chance!
Have your keyword(s) in the first 100 words of your post (basic)
It’s important in the opening paragraph that you include your keyword(s). This allows your reader and the Googlebot to know exactly what your content is about. I would also try and include your keyword as much as you can throughout your content. You don’t want it to sound spammy, but wherever it is appropriate. This can help you boost your chances of ranking higher on Google.
Use keyword(s) in your images (basic)
Never upload an image to your blog with a name like 1389712943.jpg!! The Googlebot has no idea what that image represents, and neither do your sight impaired readers. Always give names describing your images and if possible include your keyword(s). This is a super basic but very important point! So many bloggers do this and you are missing out on easy to get SEO juice.
Reduce size of your images (advanced)
Never use massive images on your site. It slows it down and Google hates slow website (as do your readers!) If you are self-hosted there are plugins that will help reduce the size of the image file but doesn’t impact on the quality of the image. I use the plugin WP Smush to reduce the size of my images.
Write in-depth content (basic)
A lot of places say that your blog post just has to be over 300 words for it to be able to rank on Google. While technically true, in more recent time Google have definitely started to give more favorability to content over 1,300 words. Google loves pages that give a lot of value and go deep on a chosen topic. While this doesn’t mean that you have to write long blog posts every time you publish, if you want to rank for a certain keyword(s) you will probably need to write over a thousand words at least.
For example, instead of writing one short blog post about a new blush from Benefit, maybe write a longer post comparing it to other blushes on the market at a similar price point. This would give your reader a lot of value and help your post rank higher on Google.
Use internal and external links (basic)
This is really important to help with your SEO. The way Google finds your blog is by crawling through the web and following links from other websites to yours. So it is important to get your blog linked to by other websites. But they have to be good quality links. Don’t buy links or have your blog appear on spammy websites. Things like guest posting are a great way to get your blog to be discovered.
Also, reach out to other bloggers and websites. If you have a great blog post that compliments a blog post that they have, there is no harm in reaching out (either by email or social media) to ask can they link to your content. They might say no or ignore you, but that’s the worst that can happen. On the upside, they may say yes and you’ll have another link pointing to your blog. If you do ask for a link, don’t link to your homepage. Instead, link to specific content. If a new reader lands on your blog, they have no idea where to start. A link to a specific blog post with great content gives them a feel for you and your blog.
It’s also important to link to blog posts within your own blog. It helps readers find other similar articles that they might be interested in and lets the Googlebot find more of your site. Always make sure that every blog post you write has a link to another post within your website.
Don’t post duplicate content! (basic)
If you do guest post on another blog, or maybe you want to post some content on a site like Medium, don’t just copy and paste content from your own blog. Google is not a fan of duplicate content. And you also run the risk of your duplicate content on somewhere like Medium ranking far higher than your post on your own blog. Your number one priority should be to have people coming to your own blog, not someone else’s. So create original content if you are guest posting or publishing on other blogging platforms.
Make sure your site is Mobile Optimised (basic)
As more and more people are reading content on their phones, you need to have a site that is mobile responsive. That means that it will arrange your content to be viewed easily on a small screen. Google are penalising websites that have not got mobile responsive themes and pushing them lower down the ranking list. Make sure your site/theme is mobile responsive. If it isn’t, change to one that is ASAP.
Use categories and tags for all your blog posts (basic)
Having a logical layout to your website can really help with your SEO. Categories help readers find content on your site. So many times I see bloggers put all their blog posts into the ‘unassigned’ category. Don’t do this! The only times I use this is if I have a once off announcement. All my other content is assigned to proper categories.
Also, don’t let one category become too big. If you started a food blog and had a general recipes category that has become massive, break it down. Separate them into breakfast recipes, dinner recipes etc. Having a single ginormous category can make it difficult for readers to navigate your site.
The use of tags allows readers to find similar content on your site. I suggest having about 10-15 tags per post.
Use Yoast Plugin (advanced)
Unfortunately, this is only an option for self-hosted WordPress.org bloggers. But if you are self-hosting on WordPress, you need this plugin. This makes SEO so much easier as it gives you tips on every blog post on how to optimise it. It also allows you to change the metadata for your blog post to make it more appealing for people to click on it. It’s a free plugin and is my absolute favourite SEO tool.
Check your Google Analytics (advanced-ish)
By regularly checking your Google Analytics, you can see what search terms people are using to find your blog. This could give you a strong indication of what keywords you need to optimise.
It also lets you see what blog posts of yours are performing well in search. This is the first group of blog posts I would concentrate on improving SEO, as you could quickly rock up through Google rankings with an SEO primed post.
Feeling like a SEO pro yet?
So hopefully you have a better idea of what SEO is and how to improve your blog’s SEO. By making sure that you have my basic tips down, you’re setting up your blog perfectly to be found by Google. SEO is a bit like a black hole, and you can go much deeper into it and way more advanced. But honestly, I think for the average blogger, following the steps above is about all you need to do.
If you have any SEO questions or need help with anything I’ve talked about above, just reach out to me in the comments and I’ll be sure to get back to you.
And be sure to download the free SEO checklist for bloggers below!
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