Do you want more traffic from Google? If so, you need to do all you can to improve the SEO (search engine optimization) of your blog.
I know many beginner bloggers who shy away from SEO because they think it’s too hard and complicated.
But, I will let you in on a secret. It’s not!
Yes, at the high-end SEO can be technical and challenging but there are lots of simple SEO basics that you can implement that will boost the performance of your blog and help you get more traffic from Google and other search engines.
And this post I am going to share eight of these basic blog SEO tips.
1. Create Good Content
The backbone of SEO is good content without it you won't get very far.
You might think that what is considered as 'good' is in the eye of the beholder, and maybe you're right. But, good content, at least in the eyes of Google, is first and foremost content that satisfies the intent behind a search query.
Let me break that down.
Let's say someone is searching on Google for 'How to Change a Car Tire', and they come across a post you have written on the topic 'How to Change a Tire in 12 Easy Steps' when they click through to your post it should provide all the information they were looking for to answer their search query.
If it doesn't, they will quickly leave your blog and go back to the search results pages, which can act as a negative signal for Google.
In addition to satisfying the search intent. Good content should also:
- Be easy to consume
- Engage readers and keep them on the page
- Encourage readers to explore your blog further and read more content
- Link to useful content on other trusted websites and blogs
- Be free of spelling and grammatical errors (something I am still trying to master)
So how do you create quality content?
Do Keyword Research: Use keyword research to understand what information people are looking for and what questions they are asking in relation to the topic.
Research Topics: Thoroughly research a topic before writing a post to see what others are saying and to glean new ideas, insights, and points of view.
Format Your Content: Format your posts with subheading and bullets points and use short paragraphs to make your content easy to read and scan.
Add Visual Elements: Use images, videos, gifs and other visual elements to draw people into your content and keep them engaged.
Use External Resource Links: Find and link to trusted websites and sources that add validity, provide further information or add context to support your content.
Add Internal Links: Add internal links so readers can navigate to other relevant/related posts on your blog.
Proof & Edit: Edit, edit and edit again, then proofread and proofread again before hitting the publish button.
2. Adhere to On-Page Optimization Best Practices
On-page optimization (or on-page SEO) is a set of best practices that you perform on each post you publish to give it the opportunity to gain maximum visibility in search engines results pages (SERPS).
These best practices include:
- Optimizing content by including primary, related and LSI keywords
- Optimizing eta titles by adding primary keywords
- Optimizing meta descriptions by writing enticing copy
- Optimizing images by resizing them and adding alt tags
- Reducing page load times
- Using SEO friendly URLs that include primary keywords
- Internal linking to other related posts and pages
- External linking to other trusted websites
Although this might seem like a lot of work, it's pretty straightforward, and after a while, it becomes second nature.
To learn more about on-page optimization read my post "SEO for Blog Posts – Beginners Guide"
3. Make Your Blog Easy to Navigate
Visitors to your blog should be able to easily navigate it and find the content they need quickly. This not only makes for good user experience, but it also helps your SEO.
One of the metrics that Google uses to determine the quality of a blog is the average time that users spend on it and the how much they engage with your content – do they view one page or multiple pages.
By making it easier for people to navigate your content and move deeper into your blog, you will increase the time on site and engagement metrics.
Some things you can do to aid navigation are:
Add a Navigation Menu – Add your most important categories and pages to the main navigation menu.
Add Breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs display a hierarchical navigation menu as a trail of links above a web page. They act as a secondary menu that allows users to follow the content path of where they are on your blog.
Most blog themes will have breadcrumbs, but if yours does not, you can add a plugin like Breadcrumb NavXT.
Sidebar Widgets – You can add a sidebar widget to your blog to display your most popular posts or categories.
Internal Links – Add internal links within blog posts to help people navigate to other relevant pages and posts.
4. Provide a Good Mobile Experience
Most blog themes today are mobile responsive out the box – meaning they resize to fit the screen of different mobile devices. However, even if a blog is responsive, the mobile experience for users might not be optimal.
And a poor mobile experience can have a negative impact on SEO.
There are a few things that you should check in addition to responsiveness.
Navigation – Make sure your blog is easy to navigate. Sometimes on mobile devices menu tabs and other navigational elements are difficult to click.
If users find it difficult to navigate your blog they will leave without engaging with your content.
Speed – Mobile speed has a big impact on SEO performance but aside from SEO, if your blog is slow users will abandon it before it fully loads.
You can check site speed using tools like Geek Flare:
If your blog is slow, there are lots of WordPress plugins that help improve load times. If you're not using WordPress, you might have to get the help of a developer or talk to your web host provider.
Content – Your content should be easy to scan and read on a mobile device.
Quiet often paragraphs can look fine on a desktop, but look like big blocks of text on mobile devices, which can put people off, and prevent them reading.
If you see that your content is difficult to scan, consider making your paragraphs shorter.
Forms / CTA Buttons – Like with navigational elements make sure that sign-up/registration forms and CTA buttons (Call to Action) are accessible and clickable.
5. Upload a Site Map to Google Search Console
If you don't know what Search Console is (formerly Webmaster Tools), it's a free platform by Google that helps you monitor your website.
From Search Console, you will receive messages if you have SEO related issues, you can see what keywords are bringing you traffic, which websites have linked to your blog and a raft of other data.
You can also upload an XML Sitemap.
A sitemap is a list of all the posts, pages and categories on your blog and the hierarchy in which they are structured.
A sitemap is important because it enables Google to easily find all the content on your blog and make it available to be indexed and appear within search engine results pages.
Without a sitemap (if your blog is poorly structured) Google might not see new posts that you publish.
If you are using WordPress and a related SEO plugin like 'Yoast' or 'All In One SEO' you can build a sitemap and get the sitemap URL from the plugin admin dashboard.
Once you have the URL, login to Search Console and then:
- Navigate to 'Sitemaps' under the 'Crawl' tab
- Click 'Add/Test Sitemap' button
- Enter the sitemap URL and click 'Submit'
6. Update / Improve and Republish Old Posts
Updating and refreshing old posts is a great way to get some quick SEO wins. Google loves fresh content and giving old posts a spring clean can help them rank better in search engine results.
There are a few things you can do to breath SEO life into old content:
Rewrite & Add New Sections: Revisit posts and ask yourself if they really provide all the information that they should – do they match the search intent and live up to the promise you make in the post title.
If not, re-write where needed and add new sections to improve the overall informational value.
Optimize for Keywords: Are your old posts optimized for keywords? If not, add the primary and related keywords that pertain to the post topic but are missing from the text.
Also, re-work your posts titles to make sure they are SEO friendly, containing the primary keywords you want the post to rank for.
Add Internal Links: If old posts are not linked to from other related content on your blog then make sure you add links to them where appropriate.
Likewise, link from old post to related new content.
Update Meta Titles: Review meta titles and make sure they contain the primary keywords related to the post topic.
Add Visual Elements: Add images, video, and other visual elements if missing to make the content more engaging – if adding images, place keywords in the Alt-Text.
7. Secure Your Domain with SSL
SSL (Secure Socket Layer), encrypts the information that passes between a users browser and the web server that hosts your blog. Preventing hacking and other malicious attacks.
If your blog is secured with SSL, you will see a little padlock and HTTPS in the URL.
Having an SSL secure domain is important for two main reasons:
SEO Benefit: Google uses SSL as a ranking signal and gives preference to sites that are secured over those that are not.
User Trust: When a visitor sees that your blog is secured they will have more confidence that they are on a trusted site and will feel more confident with disclosing sensitive information like emails, and credit card details.
Also, in July 2018, Google Chrome started to show sites as un-secured if they are not protected by SSL, which obviously impacts user trust.If your blog is not already using SSL, then it's time to update. Most web host providers will offer SSL solutions (free and paid), so talk to a customer care agent to find out how to switch over.
To learn more about SSL, read this article from HubSpot 'A Beginner's Guide to SSL.'
8. Build Backlinks
A backlink is when another website links to yours using a hyperlink. They play a big role in SEO and are one of the major ranking signals in the Google algorithm.
A backlink is considered as a vote of confidence or trust. The theory being that if another website links to yours, it's a sign that your blog is providing useful, relevant, quality content.
Google has strict rules when it comes to obtaining backlinks, and any attempts to game the algorithm by buying links or using other manipulative (unnatural) practices can land you trouble and get your blog penalized.
Basically, when it comes to backlinks, they should be earned, and websites should link to you because your content is good and of value.
How do you get backlinks?
Backlink acquisition is an art and science, and there are lots of different strategies and tactics that you can use to obtain links.
Here are some of the easier ones:
Publish Guest Posts – Guest posting is when you publish posts on another blog, and it's a great way to start building links.
Build Relationships – Get to know other bloggers and site owners and build relationships with them. Then when you publish a great piece of content, ask them if they will link to it from one of their posts (if it's relevant for them).
Resource Page Links – Many websites and blogs have resource pages with lists of links to helpful content and resources. You can reach-out these webmasters and ask them to link to your blog.
To find websites with resources pages, search on Google using search terms like:
- "Resource Page" Keyword
- "Resources" Keyword
- "Helpful Resources" Keyword
A few more tips on link building:
- Only ever get links from quality, reputable websites
- Get links from sites that are relevant to your niche and blog topic
- Don't use the same tactic too much – Guest posts are great, resource page links are good too, but everything in moderation.
- Go with quality links over quantity – 10 strong links are better than 100 shitty ones.
To learn more about backlinks and link building strategies check out this great resource from Moz "Beginners Guide to Link Building."
Now it’s Your Turn…
Google and other search engines have the potential to deliver tons of traffic to your blog. Start, implementing these tips today to reap the benefits that SEO can bring.
If you are starting from scratch with no prior knowledge, then start with the easiest tips and take it from there. You don’t have to do everything in one day, but every little improvement you make will help.
As usual, if you have any questions, please feel free to chime in below in the comments or drop me a line.