As a blogger – even as a new one – you most likely have heard the term SEO. It stands for search engine optimization and is basically a set of best practices to use to let search engines know what your content is all about.
Importance of SEO Fundamentals for Bloggers
Why is it important to be familiar with at least the basic SEO fundamentals as a blogger? It’s important because you need to tell search engines what your content is about in order for them to show your content in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for relevant searches. Make sense?
In other words: It’s a search engine’s job to show relevant search results, right? And it’s YOUR job to let the search engine know that your content is relevant for certain topics and search queries.
When done correctly, your content will show up higher in search results and Google & Co. are going to send some love in the form of free website traffic to your website.
Free Organic Traffic From Search Engines
Do not underestimate this traffic stream as it is as passive as it gets.
You do the work upfront and the traffic will flow without you having to pay for it or spend a ton of time promoting your content everywhere.
This is called organic traffic and it is gold!
Since concentrating more on my SEO, my organic traffic grew from less than 10% to about 23% at the moment. Which is not too bad but could still be higher. So I’ll keep working on this!
Alright. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what you can do to improve your SEO score. 🙂
SEO Fundamentals for Bloggers #1: Keywords
What are Keywords?
I don’t claim to be an SEO expert, but from what I can tell you, the only thing you really need to understand is that keywords are at the core of this strategy.
Not really surprising when you think about it – keywords are what search engines use to understand what your content is all about.
So what are keywords? Think of keywords as the search terms that people would use to find specific search results.
Short Tail Keywords vs Long Tail Keywords
Let’s look at an example here. Let’s say you’re interested in buying new running shoes. And – as you do – you ask your friend Google for help. What would you search for?
You might search for “running shoes”. This is a so-called short tail keyword which means it only consists of 1-2 words.
Or you might google “best running shoes for women”. This is what’s referred to as a long tail keyword because it consists of 3 or more words.
Now here’s one thing to keep in mind: Short tail keywords usually have a high search volume and high competition. This means a lot of people search for these terms but there is already a lot of content around these search terms out there.
Long tail keywords, on the other hand, have a lower search volume but also lower competition.
Why long tail keywords matter
Why are long tail keywords important then if there aren’t that many people searching for these terms?
Well, when search engines decide which results to show, they aren’t just looking for your keywords.
Let’s say 5000 people decide to optimize a post for “best running shoes for women” which one should the search engines show at the top of their results?
They need to have additional information to rank the content and show the best and most relevant content at the top of the search results.
What this means for you is that they will also take into account things like your domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA) – both of which will be low when you’re only just starting out.
BTW, you can check your DA & PA here for free.
Anyhow, when you – as a brand-spanking-new blogger compete with well-established bloggers for the same keywords – Google will usually show their content over yours. I know… Such a bummer! 😉
Chin up, buttercup – there’s a way out of this dilemma:
Try optimizing your posts for long tail keywords with less competition. This will give you a better chance to rank and get a piece of the Google traffic pie.
Now that you know what keywords are and what you’re looking for, you need a way to find new keywords and check their respective search volumes – meaning how many people are searching for this exact word or phrase each month.
And you also wanna know how much competition you face when going after a certain keyword.
It’s time to do some keyword research! 🙂
Keyword research tools
This is where keyword research tools like Google AdWords, Keyword Finder, Ubersuggest or Keyword Tool, come in handy!
I’ve got a whole detailed post comparing different keyword research tools – that’s why I’ll only mention them briefly and leave you to read the post so you can check out all the screenshots and pros and cons of each one.
That should help you find the one that’s best for your specific situation.
Choosing the right keywords
Ok, now that you know what keywords are, how to find out how many people search for these keywords and how much competition you’re up against, you gotta choose which keywords to focus on.
This is where it gets tough. As a rule of thumb, you want high search volume and low competition. But – depending on your niche – you might not find many that fit these criteria. The best way to go forward is probably to a) pick a long tail keyword b) make it even more specific.
SEO Fundamentals for Bloggers #2: Keyword Placement & Keyword Density
Once you decided on a focus keyword for your new post – where should you put it and how often should it appear in the text?
Very good question, my friend! 🙂 Here are the most important places to use your focus keyword or keyphrase.
Good spots for your focus keyword or keyphrase are
- In your URL.
- In your Meta Title: That’s what Google shows as the title in the search results.
- In your Meta Description: That’s the snippet that Google shows underneath the title in its search results.
- In your headings.
- In your anchor text: That’s the clickable text in a link.
- In lists.
- In the first paragraph of your text.
- In your image ALT-tags.
Now you know where to place them for maximum impact – how often should you use them? You might be tempted to put them EVERYWHERE…
Don’t! That’s called keyword stuffing and it’s not good. It’s hard to put a number on this, but you should probably aim for a keyword density of around 3%.
The easy way out is to just use the Yoast SEO plugin to help you figure this out. It will tell you if you used your keyword enough times or too many times. Yoast SEO will also give you more hints on how to improve the SEO score of your post.
SEO Fundamentals for Bloggers #3: Optimized Images
All – and I mean ALL – your images should be properly named and have descriptive ALT-tags. Preferably containing your focus keyword.
Um, what are ALT-tags again? ALT stands for “alternative text” and these tags are used to describe the image for visually impaired users using screen readers or are shown instead of the image when the image can not be displayed.
That also explains why they should be descriptive and to the point.
SEO Fundamentals for Bloggers #4: Link Structure
Links are also an important ranking factor. Here’s what you wanna do:
- When writing your post, link to related blog posts you’ve published previously. Those are called internal links and are also great to reduce your bounce rate and increase the time people spend on your blog.
- When writing your posts, link to relevant high-quality pages for further info. Those are called outbound links.
- Build backlinks. Those are links from other websites to your own website. Obviously, you want those links to be relevant and high-quality instead of spammy and low quality. Don’t pay for shady backlinks! This will only hurt your ranking!
Generally, there are 2 types of links: Do-follow links and no-follow links.
Do-follow links tell the search engine to crawl the linked content and if a high-authority website links back to you with a do-follow link, it passes on what’s referred to as “link juice” – which basically tells search engines that you are a trustworthy site too.
No-follow links, on the other hand, do not pass on any “link juice” and tell the search engine crawlers not to crawl the linked content.
A healthy, natural-looking link profile contains a mix of do-follow and no-follow links.
SEO Fundamentals for Bloggers #5: Publish quality content consistently
Publish and share content that people engage with as social shares and engagement also help to rank you higher.
This means you also need to make sure you have the relevant social share buttons on your website to make sharing super easy for your website visitors.
Every post should be at least 300 words long. But longer ones usually do better. I try to create content that’s at least around 1000 words.
Having said that, it really depends on the topic you write about. I mean a topic like SEO is huge and there’s a lot to talk about.
If on the other hand, you’re talking about your favorite strawberry ice cream recipe, chances are there’s less to talk about.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: Don’t just write for the sake of writing a long blog post. Use as many words as you need to talk about your specific topic. Stay relevant.
SEO Fundamentals for Bloggers #6: Website Optimization
Last but not least: Optimize your website speed.
Search engines and website visitors, in general, want speedy quick websites. No one wants to wait for your website to load. Anything longer than 2 to 3 secs and people will bounce.
You can use sites like GTmetrix to measure your website speed and performance. It will also tell you how to fix existing problems to make your website faster.
Two of the most common and easiest fixes to make your website faster are to:
1. Compress your images using a plugin like WP Smush. It will do all the heavy lifting for you and optimize your images.
2. Use a caching plugin like WP Fastest Cache to create static HTML files that load faster.
Oh, and while you’re optimizing your website – make sure it’s mobile-optimized and easy to navigate too. 🙂
So this was my quick introduction to SEO for bloggers! I hope you enjoyed it! 🙂
Is SEO something you’ve been paying attention to or something you’ve avoided dealing with so far? Let me know in the comments below!!
PS: Exciting news!
I’m working on a challenge to give away at least one deep-dive strategy sessions to help you align your target audience, offer, and messaging for your blog! 🙂
This will allow you to clearly communicate what you stand for so you can confidently earn money doing something you love.
It will stop you from being all over the place and help you focus on the things you need to do to actually change your bottom line.
I think this is super exciting!! 🙂 I’m absolutely stoked to work with someone 1-on-1 and to take the time to dive deep into creating a congruent strategy for your blog!!
Hands up who needs this right now!!