When I was a new blogger, I regularly got overwhelmed about search engine optimization (SEO). There’s so much conflicting information out there. Fortunately though, to make it easier I have dug deep into the basics of SEO.
The goal with SEO is that you want to be in the most prime real estate of the internet…page one of the Google search engine results. And for good reason too! According to brafton 95% of users never go beyond page one when searching.
Well if you’re like me, you know that there are so many different strategies and you’re just not sure which ones will work and which ones will waste your time.
In my quest to find ways to understand SEO for bloggers, I found that the search engines actually need you!
Think about it, people go to search engines for help, information, or how to do something, and if you’ve got what they need with quality content that gives their users (yes they are Google’s customers essentially) the answers they are actually looking for, then you will be rewarded!
This is the basis of blog SEO.
But what if you’re doing everything right and still not seeing results? Well here are my 7 ways to search engine optimize your content to give you the best fighting chance at getting ranked.
Disclaimer: Please note that this post includes affiliate links which may provide a commission to me at no cost to you. You’ll buy me a cup of coffee though, however, the links are for the best software and tools you need for a successful blog. For more information, you can read my affiliate disclosure in my affiliate disclaimer policy.
If you’ve got a new blog and are just starting your journey, you need to go for the low hanging fruit. By this I mean the keywords that aren’t getting as much traffic but you will rank well for with quality content.
Every niche is different.
A new blog doesn’t have the same authority as an older and more established website, so the more difficult (shorter) the keywords are means it will take you much longer to rank for. Notice I didn’t say you’ll never rank for it though.
Now that is not to say that once you have your keyword, that the best way to optimize your blog posts is to just go and stuff it in as many paragraphs as possible.
Please do not do that. This practice can actually have a negative affect on the search engine rankings these days.
Remember, write for humans first and search engine algorithms second.
So if you’re a new blogger, the ideal keywords to rank for would be:
- Low competition
- High search volume
- High click through rate
And where do you find these keywords?
There are two (free) tools that I recommend at the moment. Keysearch and Ubersuggest. Both of these are great at getting a quick snapshot of a keyword, how difficult it’ll be to rank for and of course the search volume.
Both will only give you a limited number of searches per day before you need to upgrade to their paid plans.
However, if you really want to up your keyword research game and get as much information as you can, then I absolutely recommend Ahrefs and SEMrush. These SEO tools will take your keywords to a whole new level and either one is a great choice.
Of course you do get what you paid for. So if you want to get the most out of your keyword research and have the edge over your competitors then Ahrefs (my top recommendation) gives you the chance to look deep into your competitor’s indexed web pages.
This is a really great thing to have because you can see where exactly your competitors are being mentioned and then you can do the same!
2. Adding The Keywords Into Your Post
Gone are the days when you could put as many keywords into a new blog post as much as you could fit and it would rank well in Google. Most of the time it wouldn’t even make sense. This is known as keyword stuffing.
Today it looks like their algorithms have sharpened up a little and it will actually penalize you the more you keyword stuff your blog content. Fortunately for the readers, it’s now about user intent.
With that, here are the four best places to put your keyword phrase into one blog post so you can maximize your SEO rankings.
1. In Your Title
The blog post title (also known as headline or meta title) will be the first thing that gets seen in the search engine result pages (SERPs). So it’s important that this is what your reader is looking for and will want to make them click on your post.
Ideally this should be between 50 – 60 characters in length. Any longer than that and you run the risk of Google cutting off parts of your headline.
To also help with this, try and put your keyword as close to the start as possible.
2. The Meta Description
Meta descriptions are the bit of text that is seen under the title in the organic search results. Google doesn’t always put this piece of content in the search engine results pages, so I recommend to include it anyway just in case it does.
While this part may not be as important as the title, it must still be relevant to the reader. This is a good way to differentiate between you and your competitors.
If you don’t include a meta description then Google will do it for you. The bot will take it out of your content where it believes your web page is about. It may not even make sense, so take the time and add one in.
The description should be between 150 – 160 characters in length, and again having the keyword as close to the start as possible will give you the best outcome.
3. Your URL
Search engines are smart and they read text rather than bunch of random letters and numbers (basically gibberish). The good thing is you can have whatever you want your URL to read.
My advice is try not to make it too long but it’s an easy way to add your keyword in.
4. The Content Itself
This should not really come as a surprise to you that you should put your keyword into the body of your content if you want to rank. Just remember that it needs to make sense first and foremost and don’t overdo it.
Keep in mind your target audience and the user experience. The more people enjoy your content, the longer they would be willing to stay, actually reading your website’s pages.
The benefit of people engaging means it will reduce your bounce rate. This is a good signal to send to Google and they will reward you with higher rankings.
When it comes to content creation, how it looks and reads is Be sure to include heading tags (H-Tags) within your post similar to what I’m doing here.
Here’s how to use H-Tags the right way, their order of importance and relevance to SEO:
This should only be used once and usually reserved for your blog title. You may also hear from other SEO experts about using a title tag. This is simply just a HTML code tag that is shown on the search result page.
These are the pillars of your post. As you can see from this post all of my blog topics are H2 tags. These are crucial for SEO on Google today. It allows you to have short and long tail keywords that you want to try and rank for.
This is a subtopic of your H2 main topic. In this post, it’s the headings in gold that I have made it into H3 headings. Again this is great to add relevant keywords if you wish.
Headings 4 – 6
These are just really used for formatting and just make your content look nice and presentable. They have the least bearing when it comes to on page SEO.
3. Content is King
Let me start this section off by saying that if you think you can write a 10,000 word post filled with irrelevant crap and still expect it to be number one on page one then that’s a mistake.
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) that’s not how it works. You don’t need to write that much. Yay! In fact if you can write on average more than 2000 words for every new post you create, then you’re doing more than the average of page one which is 1,447 words.
So while the phrase content is king may be true, the reality is, that quality content is king. You need to write with user intent. By all means, answer the question straight up but then elaborate on it in the body of the post.
Provide value to people with in depth and well written content.
4. Build Your Linking Strategy
Here’s a quick did you know? That Google pays particular attention to linked keywords?
Yep, linked keywords have more weight or authority than non linked keywords. But again don’t over do it and link every word.
Here’s 3 ways you can link in a post:
Backlinks are when another website will place a link back to your website. In the section above we spoke about you linking to others, however, when someone else finds your content worthy of something to link to it is seen as a “vote” on the internet.
Google and other search engines use backlinks as a ranking factor when it comes to ranking a single blog post.
As part of your own content marketing strategy, building links is the next most important thing after creating content for your own blog.
Ways to gain a link from another website include:
- Guest posting (more on this below)
- Creating shareable content – this can come in form of evergreen content or a case study and bring in more traffic to your site over a long period.
- Outreach to other blogs letting them know they have broken links on their site – you then recommend your in depth article as a replacement.
- Set up a Google alert for your website’s name. Anytime it gets mentioned anywhere on the internet, you’ll get notified. Check to see if a link back to your own site has been placed. If not, you can always ask them to link back to a single page.
- Link exchanges. Building backlinks this way is quite common. You agree to link to a website with high quality content and they will link to your content.
When it comes to asking for links, it’s always a good idea to get personal and have a meaningful conversation first before you go asking for something.
Believe it or not, but few people actually do this and most, if not all of these emails get binned almost immediately.
5. Build an Email List
What does having an email list have to do with SEO? Well, having an email list is incredibly important in my opinion. It’s a list that no one can take away from you.
What if Google was to crash tomorrow? Or your own website? Even your social media apps?
You can always let your readers know what is going on with your website, by including links to subscribe to your email list (by the way you can subscribe here).
Once they’re on your list, you can then direct people to certain parts of your blog. This shows that you’re engaging with your audience and can impact your SEO.
I currently use ConvertKit for my email opt in provider.
People don’t usually hand over their email addresses willingly these days. It’s like giving out your phone number on a date.
They usually will want something in return. In this case it can be a free guide, or a one page checklist, or a quick 7 day course.
You can also include social media sharing buttons on your page.
6. Optimize Your Images
Whenever you upload images it will automatically put in the title of the image and will usually not make sense. This is an easy way to grab some more SEO juice.
Because search engines don’t have eyes, they rely on the text in the description to understand what the picture is. Now before you get keyword happy again and go stuffing the image alt text with a whole bunch of keywords, there’s a trick.
It is to write as if someone with vision impairment is reading that description. So if the keyword is relevant and optimized, the Google image search page will also show it in the “images” section of the search results.
Not bad for a couple of minutes work!
7. Promote Your Content
You’ve just spent hours and hours writing the perfect blog post and you’ve just published it. You’re in the groove and so you just want to keep on writing and writing and writing. I get it, we’ve all been there.
But once you publish your post, it’s time to let people know about it. Remember, you want the traffic coming to your site and ultimately get that domain authority. This is all part of an effective content strategy.
So here are some final ways you can get the most out of your blog SEO results:
Of course please don’t think you have to actually do all of these every single day, make a plan for the month and just schedule 1 or 2 things that you really want to focus on. Then, get to it. The following month, perhaps change it up again.
This will keep you interested and your backlinks coming in from every direction. Not just the same ones over and over.
I hope this beginner’s guide and SEO tips have helped you understand how it is possible to attract website visitors even if your blog is relatively new.
The key points to remember are:
- Conduct thorough competitive research to find topic ideas you could use a long tail keyword in.
- Use visual elements to break up walls of text.
- Proper on page optimization through headings.
- Great content and links is the backbone of SEO success.
This takes time though. But in my opinion well worth the effort. The efforts you put in today could take up 6 months to be recognised by the search engines, so be patient.
Don’t get complacent, hang in there and remember you’re in it for the longhaul (pun intended).
It’s time to be the pilot of your life and not just the passenger.
What are some other SEO strategies you’ve done? Let me know in the comments below
Chris Bournelis is a blogger and part-time web developer. He has been working in online business since 2015. Join him here at ChrisBournelis.com for the best SaaS reviews and tips to get the most out of your online business.