With everything there is to learn as a beginner blogger, it’s easy to overlook the importance of using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your new blog. I’ve compiled a list of powerful SEO tips for bloggers that can be easily implemented, even if you’re brand new.
If you’re not already familiar with search engine optimization, I’m sure the thought of having to learn another skill can seem daunting. But, SEO is important for driving traffic to your blog, so you do need to at least understand the concept. I promise, it sounds a lot harder than it actually is.
Before we dive into the tips I want to share with you, let me answer a couple of questions you might have.
What is SEO?
“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine.” – Wikepedia. That definition fits perfectly, at least for the purposes of this blog post.
No matter what niche your in, having your blog’s content showing up near the top of Google search results for popular search phrases is a huge factor in growing your traffic.
Why Do Bloggers Need To Use SEO?
Bloggers need to use SEO strategies to make it easier for search engines to better understand how to categorize your content and where to rank it in their search results. With the right SEO strategies in place, you’ll increase the chances of growing your blog organically.
The internet is full of information-overload on just about every topic you can imagine. That’s why search engines use algorithms to determine which content should show up for any given search term (keywords and phrases).
It takes a long time for new content to actually start ranking in search results organically. We’re talking months or even years, depending on how competitive your niche is.
However, if you learn to use at least basic SEO practices from the beginning, your blog will have a better chance of ranking sooner in Google and other search engines for the topics you write about.
Implementing SEO really isn’t that hard once you understand the basics.
That’s why I’ve compiled the most powerful SEO tips for bloggers that will make a huge impact on helping your content rank higher on Google. I’ve split them up into a few different categories to help you understand when to implement them.
PRE-LAUNCH SEO OPTIMIZATION
Before you even launch your blog, there are a few things that will impact whether your new website will be given authority in search engines.
Search engines like Google, Bing and Explorer are looking for the most valuable and trustworthy information to show users. That means you need your website to be optimized from the very beginning.
1. Choose The Right Blogging Platform
Are you serious about building a successful blog? Do you plan on standing out from the competition as a professional and expert in your niche?
If so, don’t pinch pennies by using a free blogging platform for your website. It costs less than $10/month (even less if you pay annually) to have a self-hosted website where you can use a custom domain of your own.
Using a free platform like WordPress.com (do not confuse with WordPress.org) or Blogger immediately screams “beginner” to any website visitors. They could even be looked at as untrustworthy. Because of this, those blogs on free platforms give you a lower impact for ranking in search engines.
If you’re still using one of those free platforms, there are so many reasons your content will be overlooked. For a professional blog, and especially if you want to monetize your blog, spend the few bucks a month to get your own website.
2. Get A Custom Domain Containing Keywords
The very first step to getting Google’s attention is to get your own self-hosted website, which means you’ll also get your own domain name.
This is the perfect opportunity to use keywords relevant to your niche and the content you plan to write about on your blog. Not only will this help you rank with search engines, your readers will recognize the point of your blog right away, just by the website address.
Of course this isn’t always possible, but if it is, take advantage of the opportunity.
For best results, choose a domain name that ends with .com.
3. Use An SEO Optimized Theme
Next, you’ll need to choose a theme for your new website – this is the fun part! There are thousands of themes to choose from but that doesn’t mean they are all a good fit, especially those that are free.
If you’re at this stage of building your blog, I highly recommend choosing a theme that is optimized for SEO. Here are some of the things to consider when choosing an SEO-ready theme:
- Upload speed
- Website structure
- Responsive design
- Social media integration
You can find dozens of beautifully designed SEO-friendly themes here.
4. Correct Your Permalink Structure
Since search engines depend on the their spider-bots to read and understand your links, your SEO strategy is best served with the right permalink structure.
Most of time, your WordPress default setting for the permalink structure will need to be changed. From your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings -> Permalinks -> Choose “Post Name” -> Save.
FINDING THE RIGHT KEYWORDS TO OPTIMIZE FOR SEO
Keywords are going to be a huge component of your SEO strategy, so it’s important to choose the keyword phrases that are most relevant to your blog.
5. Do Some Keyword-Research
When deciding on the keywords you should focus on, think about your target audience. What are their biggest pain points?
Make a list of the different search terms your target readers might use to find answers to their pain points as they relate to your niche.
Now, I know it would be nice to rank high for the main niche keywords like “travel”, “blogging”, or “recipes” – but it’s highly unlikely.
You do however, have a chance to rank for popular keyword phrases like “travel to Europe on a budget”, “seo tips for bloggers”, or “gluten-free dinner recipes”.
That’s why your main focus for keyword optimization should be aimed at those longer keyword phrases that your target audience is typing into search engines.
Doing your keyword-research is going to have a major impact on where you rank in search results. You can also use a reliable keyword-research tool to help you find the best keywords for your blog and website content.
6. Setup Google Search Console For Your Blog
Google Search Console offers a plethora of helpful information for your blog’s SEO performance.
If you’ve already been blogging for a bit and are getting some traffic to your website, Google search console can help you determine which keywords are already bringing you traffic.
Even if you’re new, you still want to sign up for Google Search Console as soon as possible.
You’ll be able to see how many of your pages are being ranked in Google’s search index, track the performance of your links and even submit a link to Google for indexing. This will help your blog posts get indexed faster, and hopefully bring you traffic sooner.
You can learn about all of the benefits of using Google Search Console in this post from Databox.
WHERE TO USE KEYWORDS FOR SEO
Now that you you’ve determined the keywords that you want your website and blog content to rank for, it’s important to know where to actually use them.
Keywords should always be used organically in your content so that it flows naturally. Search-engine spiderbots have evolved to recognize different keyword-stuffing techniques. Here are the important places to use keywords throughout your website to start ranking in search engines.
7. Image File Names
Before you upload your images into your WordPress media library, take a moment to rename the image file to reflect what’s actually in the image.
Search engines do not “look” at the image and only know what it is based on the file name. For example, if you have a picture of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, change the file name to “eiffel-tower-paris.jpg” instead of leaving it as “img-002485.jpg”.
For each individual page or blog post, you want to choose keywords that are relevant to that particular content. This keyword phrase should be much more targeted. You also want to choose a different keyword phrase for each page/post.
By using a variety of on-page SEO strategies, you can improve the chances of that particular link ranking in search engines.
Here’s a list of the most effective on-page SEO tips for bloggers to rank higher in Google search results.
8. Blog Post Title
For every blog post you write, you should be focusing on a specific topic or keyword-phrase (hopefully relevant to your overall niche).
Include the keyword phrase in blog post title, also known as the headline. Try to put the phrase at the beginning of the title if it will make sense to do so.
9. URL Slug
Make sure that the keyword-phrase is also used in the URL slug for your blog post.
WordPress automatically generates the URL slug but just use the “Edit” button next it to change it. You can eliminate the stop-words to shorten the URL since search engines ignore them anyway. Just be careful that your URL reads correctly for the message you are conveying in your blog post.
According to Yoast “Removing stop words can actually hurt your SEO because it can make your URLs read differently. For example, /growing-up-with-hearing-loss/ is NOT the same thing as /growing-hearing-loss/ (the version where stop words are removed).”
10. First Paragraph On Page or Post
Always try to use your selected keyword phrase in the first paragraph of your content. Not only does it tell search engines what your content is about, it also helps readers know immediately what the main point of the page or post.
11. Sprinkled Throughout The Content
While you’re writing your blog post, it should be easy to naturally include your keyword phrase in various sentences throughout.
Remember, you don’t want to keyword-stuff – search engines will penalize you for that.
Also, search engines have evolved enough now that they pick up on variations of your keywords. That means you don’t have to repeat the same phrase over and over. You can use an alternate phrase with the same meaning to add variety but still be optimized for search engines.
12. High-Level Headings
When writing a blog post, using headings and sub-headings helps to organize the content and provide a better reader-experience. The more you break up content, the easier it is to scan.
Your H1 heading of your blog post is usually reserved for the title and should already include your desired keyword phrase.
When possible, try to include your keyword in other higher-level headings (H2, H3). Again, don’t overdo it.
13. Meta Description & Excerpt
Your meta description is the short paragraph that shows up next to your post title in search results. It’s an opportunity to grab the readers attention and convince them to click through to your content.
Use a strong hook – peak curiosity, include a call-to-action and use powerful, emotional words. Keep in mind that you’re given a limited number of characters to win your reader’s click-through, as shown in the graphic below.
You should always create a custom meta description. Otherwise, search engines will pull from the first paragraph of your blog post.
14. Image Alt-Text
In SEO tip #7, I talked about images and using keywords in the image file name before uploading into your media library.
When you add the image to your blog post, or anywhere else on your website, you’ll want to update the image alt-text. The alt-text (also referred to as alt-tag) is used to describe the image on-screen, and is read out by screen-readers for the visually-impaired.
Google looks to the image alt-text to understand the image and also to help identify the text around it. That means using your keyword phrase in the alt-text can help your post get a boost in ranking and show up in the “Images” results on search engines.
BLOG POST BEST PRACTICES FOR SEO
There are a number of SEO tips for bloggers to use within your blog posts, too. Use these best practices for all of your blog posts to help increase your rankings in search engine results.
15. Write High-Quality, Long-Form Content
Although there’s no “minimum” number of words required for a blog post, you should always be aiming for in-depth content. When writing on a topic, give your reader all of the information. Don’t make them hunt around to other websites for the answers to questions you should cover in your post.
For any given topic, the first-page results on Google are almost always blog posts that contain over 2,000 words. Yes, it takes longer to write – but the benefits are worth the extra work!
Consider this blog post, for example. I could have simply included a numbered list of the SEO tips without any explanations. But how helpful would that have been for you? I’m pretty sure you’d have been confused by at least some of these ideas without the in-depth, accompanying information.
Give your readers as much as they need – if you’re really able to do that in less than 1,000 words then go for it. Otherwise, write a longer post. Period.
16. Include Internal Links
Every blog post and page should include links to other content on your website. Search engines use the links in your content to help determine what your writing about. By including links to other blog posts, you’re helping Google and other search engines understand the topics you cover to better categorize your blog.
Including internal links is also a smart way to keep readers on your website longer, reducing your bounce rates (also good for your SEO).
Update Older Posts
Don’t forget to periodically audit your older blog posts.
This gives you a chance to make sure that the information is still accurate and allows you to update with internal links to relevant newer posts on your blog.
17. Add High-Ranking Backlinks
Another important piece of the SEO puzzle is link-building using backlinks. Search engines take notice of the websites you are linking to in your content.
By backlinking to high-ranking, reputable blogs, you’re actually building your own authority with search engines.
You do want to actually verify the content that you’re linking to. Backlinks should always be relevant to your blog post and helpful to your readers.
Use outbound links to validate claims made in your article, provide social proof or expand on an idea. For example, you’ll notice many of the outbound links in this blog post are for articles that provide further details about these SEO tips.
WEBSITE UPDATES THAT CAN IMPROVE SEO FOR BLOGGERS
18. Secure Your Domain
Google openly admits that secure websites receive a slight boost in rankings. Google now displays a warning to Chrome users that indicates a site is “not secure” if it doesn’t carry the “https”. In some cases, there will even be an entire page warning the user that it may be unsafe to continue to a particular website without https. This can have a huge impact on your traffic, your bounce rates, and even your income – so you need to secure your website with an SSL certificate.
Since most web hosts are now offering a free SSL certificate so there is no reason not to secure your website. If your web host doesn’t, you may want to think about switching to one that does.
19. Speed Up Your Website
The speed of your website should also a critical component of your SEO strategy. The longer your website takes to load, the less authority your pages are given.
Search engines not only want to provide results that are relevant and precise, the user experience is also important for your rankings.
There are so many factors that can slow down your website. Here are some tips that will help improve your site speed and help with your overall SEO strategy for your blog.
20. Clean Out Your Media Library
I don’t know about you but my Media Library ends up with a ton of images and other media that’s not being used. Images take up space, which slows down your website. You might be wondering why you would have media files that aren’t being used. Here are a few examples:
- Demo images that came with your theme
- Page builder template images that you swapped out for your own
- Duplicate images uploaded by mistake
- Old images that you deleted from posts or pages
- If you updated your website and branding, switching out the images with new ones
I’m sure you get the point. Over time, they really add up to extra weight for your database.
How To Bulk Remove Items From Your Media Library
To get rid of media files that aren’t being used, follow these instructions:
- Open up your Media Library and filter by “Unattached” and click “Apply”. By doing so, you’ll only see those files that aren’t being used anywhere on your website.
- Select “All”. Verify that there aren’t any PDF downloads linked to from your email marketing client or other items you want to keep.
- In Bulk Actions choose “Delete”.
That’s it! In the next tip, you’ll learn how to permanently delete junk files to save even more space.
21. Permanently Remove Unused Files
Lighten the load of your website by cleaning up unnecessary and unused items. This is similar to emptying the Recycle Bin on your desktop or laptop.
When you delete a plugin or trash a page or post, it doesn’t actually remove it from your website. In fact, every revision you’ve ever made to a post or page is also stored on your site.
You can remove all of these unused junk files easily with a plugin called Advanced Database Cleaner. It’s free and allows you to permanently delete those unnecessary items that are slowing down your website.
22. Compress Your Images
Your images can be one of the biggest components of slowing down your website. Image quality is important, but you can compress your images without sacrificing quality. Just install an image compression plugin like Smush to automatically compress images.
BLOGGING SEO STRATEGIES TO BUILD BRAND AUTHORITY
As discussed in SEO Tip #17 above, search engines look at the quality of backlinks. You can improve your own backlink authority with the following tips.
23. Guest Post On Other Blogs
The right guest blogging opportunity can take a blog from zero to overnight sensation. Not only should it be a part of your content strategy, it should be part of your SEO strategy as well.
When you write a guest post, you are automatically building backlinks to your own blog. When those backlinks are coming from high-quality, high-authority websites, search engines start recognizing you as a valuable source of information.
24. Leave Comments On Other Blogs
There are a lot of blogs that use the CommentLuv comment plugin (including this one!). When you leave a comment on blogs using CommentLuv, it automatically adds a backlink to your most recent blog post!
This is an easy way to build your backlink authority and show your support of other bloggers. Commenting on popular blogs in your niche also gets you on the radar of those bloggers, which could help you with landing a guest post or collaboration opportunity.
Be sure to leave a thoughtful and meaningful comment that shows you actually read the post. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or add your input on a topic discussed in the article.
Personally, I love reading and responding to comments. So why not start implementing this tip right now by leaving a comment on this post? I’m very interested in your feedback!
25. Use Keywords In Your Comment Responses
When readers leave comments on your blog posts, you should always respond. Not only is it an opportunity to build a personal connection with readers, you can use also improve your SEO.
Write heartfelt responses that add even more information about the topic in the blog post. You can enhance your SEO by including keyword phrases in your answers and linking to other recommended content on your blog (if it’s relevant to their comment).
Ranking in search engine results for your blog’s relevant keyword phrases takes time. The sooner you get started with implementing tips like those in this post, the quicker you will start seeing results.
Google considers over 200 factors when choosing the ranking for organic search results. These simple changes will become second nature and help improve your overall strategy for building a successful and profitable blog.
What Do You Think About These SEO Tips For Bloggers?
Your feedback is important to me. What SEO strategies do you use on a regular basis? Are there other simple tips that I could add to this list that help with search engine optimization? Please take a moment to leave a comment below.
If you found this post helpful, please share it on social media or pin to your favorite Blogging Tips board on Pinterest! You’re the best.
Until next time…