Learning SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of the most important things every blogger should do.
That’s not an exaggeration!
Optimizing your content for search engines leads to more traffic which leads to more opportunities to convert that traffic into sales and subscribers.
In other words, getting your content to rank high in search results helps you make more money.
I understand that SEO can be very scary. It took me a while to figure out what it, actually, is and how it works.
When I first started blogging, I didn’t even know what SEO stood for let alone how to use it. I made lots of SEO mistakes in my first months (and years) of blogging.
That’s why I put together this very basic and simple guide to SEO for bloggers. I want to help you understand it better.
Are you ready to, finally, face SEO?
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.
What is SEO?
First things first, what even is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of optimizing your content for search engines so it appears high in search results.
There are lots of different search engines on the Internet. In this post, we’ll be talking about the biggest search engine in the world – Google.
Why you need to focus on SEO as a blogger
I want to start off with explaining WHY you should pay attention to SEO as a blogger.
Like I already mentioned, Google is the biggest search engine in the world. There are over 3.5 billion searches a day on Google.
That is A LOT.
With so many daily searches come many opportunities for your content to be seen.
Besides that, there are many other benefits of organic traffic:
- Google traffic is more secure than social media traffic
- it’s passive (once your post is on the first place it constantly brings you traffic without having to share it and promote it over and over again)
- organic traffic is more valuable to advertisers (if you have ads on your blog your RPM will be higher if you have more organic traffic)
- it has a higher conversion rate than social media (in other words, people who find your post on Google are more likely to buy something you promote than those who come from social media)
- and more
Beginner Blogger’s Guide To SEO
Now that you know what SEO is and why it’s so important for bloggers (and everyone who has some kind of website) it’s time to go over some important terms and words associated with SEO.
There are many different words you might have head like “long tail keywords”, “on-page SEO”, “user intent”, and many other.
Hearing them might seem like you’re listening to a completely different language because you don’t understand anything.
That’s why I wanted to, quickly, go over some of the most important terms you should know when it comes to SEO.
Let’s talk about keywords first.
Keywords are those words and phrases you enter in the search bar when you’re searching for something.
As a blogger you use keywords to tell Google what your content is about so that it can show it to the right people.
One of my favorite ways to find keywords is through Keysearch.
Keysearch is a keyword research tool that has many helpful features. You can use it to find keywords which I’ll go into detail below. You can also analyze your competitors, track your rankings, check for backlinks, and do many other things.
It’s an all-in-one tool that can help you take your SEO to the next level.
If you want to continue using Keysearch, you can get a 20% off your subscription with the code KSDISC.
Short Tail vs Long Tail Keywords
Short-tail keywords are keywords that only have 1 or 2 words. They are more generic and have high search volume. Because of the high search volume, they are very competitive and hard to rank for.
On the other hand, long-tail keywords are keywords that have 3 or more words. They are more specific and therefore less searched for. People are searching for those phrases less so it’s easier to rank for them.
Here is an example to help you understand the difference better.
The keyword “fashion” is short tail while “fashion movies on Netflix” is a long tail one. “fashion” has a lot higher search volume (according to Keysearch it has a volume of 135k) and it’s very competitive (it has a difficulty score of 65). Ranking for that keyword is impossible.
Let’s look at “fashion movies on Netflix” now. That one is a lot more specific so the search volume is a lot lower (210) and the difficulty score is also lower (40). Ranking for that one would be a lot easier.
Even though short tail keywords have a higher search volume, the majority of searches on Google are for long-tail keywords.
Just think about it.
Think about the way you use Google search and what kind of things you search for. Most of the time you’re searching for some specific things.
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing your content for SEO.
It includes optimizing individual posts as well as your entire website.
Individual post optimization starts with your keyword.
Once you find a keyword you want to rank for, you write a blog post around it.
You write a post around that keyword. You answer that question, solve that problem, etc.
When writing the post you need to include the keyword on different places across the article:
- in the post title (which is also your H1 heading)
- meta description
- headings and subheadings
- in the first 100 words of the post
- body of the article
As I mentioned above, optimizing individual posts is just one part of on-page SEO.
Google doesn’t just look at the keyword when deciding which post to put in search results. It looks at a website as a whole.
There are lots of other ranking factors that play a big role in that. Some of the most important ones are:
- website speed
- user experience
- original content
- website topic (aka niche)
There are many things that have an impact on your website speed like your hosting, the theme you’re using, how many plugins you have installed, how many images you have and how big they are, etc.
Some simple things you can do to improve your website speed are:
- uninstall unnecessary plugins (only leave essential plugins on your website)
- reduce the size of widgets you have on your website (e.g. Instagram feed widget, related posts widget)
- download a cashing plugin
- resize your images before uploading them to WordPress
- install an image optimization plugin that will compress your photos (I love ShortPixel)
If your website is still very slow after doing these things I would look into changing your website theme to something that is lightweight and fast (Astra is a great free option) or switch from shared to managed hosting.
Another thing you can do (if it’s in your budget) is, hire someone to look at your website and fix your speed.
It’s so important to have a theme that is responsive and mobile-friendly. Not only because of Google but also because of people who will be reading your posts.
Nowadays people use their phones more to search for things. You want to make it easy for them to read your post and be able to navigate your website.
Mobile-friendliness ties in with user experience. Making your website mobile-friendly is one of the ways (but it’s something Google pays more attention to) to make your user experience better. You also want to make sure you choose a font that is easy to read, text size is big enough, that there aren’t ads or pop-ups blocking the content, etc.
There is a lot that goes into on-page SEO. I would highly recommend checking out Easy On Page SEO ebook that really goes into detail about all of this. It explains exactly what you need to do and how to do it to make sure your post is well optimized.
Off-page SEO includes everything you do outside of your website to help your SEO.
The most important part of off-page SEO is backlinks.
Backlinks are links from other websites that link to your website.
There are many different ways to build backlinks like guest posting, round up posts, commenting on other posts, creating valuable content people will want to share,
What you want to focus on is building high-quality backlinks from websites that are related to your niche and that have higher authority than your website.
Here you can find over 30 different ways to build backlinks for your website.
How to optimize blog posts for SEO
Now I want to go more into detail and share my process with you.
This is how I find keywords and write posts that rank on Google.
Step 1: Keyword research
The first step is to find a keyword. If you can’t afford a keyword research tool, you can just start with Google.
Just go to Google and enter something related to your niche in the search bar. If you have an idea for a topic you’d like to write about, just type it into Google and hit enter. Or search for a term that is related to the topic of your blog.
From there you can look at the “people also ask” box and related searches at the bottom. There is also the autocomplete when you’re writing something in the search bar. Look at all of those places to find something interesting.
Besides Google, you can also use keyword research tools. I love using Keysearch for my keyword research because it gives me access to lots of helpful information that Google doesn’t. I also love the fact that it’s very affordable (it’s under $14 a month if you use the code KSDISC), unlike some other tools that are $100+ a month.
To find keywords with Keysearch, just enter something in the search bar, and then you will get lots of keyword suggestions.
For example, if you have a blog about saving money and you’re looking for ideas for posts you can just enter “saving money” in the search bar.
You’ll get lots of keyword ideas on the right.
Let’s say you’re interested in writing a post about tips for saving money. You can click on the keyword “saving money tips” where you can see lots of information about it.
As you can see, “saving money tips” is quite a competitive keyword so it would be hard to rank for it. What you can do is search for “saving money tips” and then you will get lots of other keywords related to that one. Some keyword suggestions are “saving money tips for college students”, “money saving tips on groceries”, “money saving tips for younger families”, etc.
That is how you can find ideas for posts. Start with one topic (in this case money saving) and then go deeper to find long tail keywords that are less popular.
But don’t choose any random keyword. You need to have your target audience in mind when choosing your keywords.
Who is the person you’re writing for?
Is it college students, is it families with kids?
Knowing who your website is for will help you find keywords that are related to them.
Besides looking for long-tail keywords, you also need to pay attention to user intent.
That is the reason why someone is searching for that keyword. Are they looking to buy something? Are they looking to find information? Etc. User intent is very important.
When it comes to user intent, Google is very smart and knows what people are searching for exactly (based on all the information from previous searches). Therefore it’s so important to look at the search results and pay attention to what kind of websites and articles are on the first page).
Here is a very simple example. Let’s take a look at the keywords “white jeans” and “best white jeans”
The person searching for “white jeans” is most likely searching for a store where they can buy white jeans (and if you google that you will see online stores).
On the other hand, when someone is searching for “best white jeans” they aren’t looking for stores to buy jeans, they are looking for recommendations on which jeans to buy. Here, stores aren’t on the first page, instead, it’s articles talking about white jeans.
Step 2: Competitor analysis
Now that you found a keyword you want to rank for, you want to see if you have a chance for ranking for it.
Just because you chose a long tail keyword it doesn’t mean you have a chance.
It will depend on how competative that keyword is, how established and niched down your website it, etc.
This is what I do.
I go to Google and search for that keyword. And then look at the websites that are ranking on the first page. If there are just those high authority websites (like Forbes or Healthline) it means that I don’t have a chance.
It’s hard and probably impossible to outrank those websites.
If there are just regular websites and blogs (or for example 1-2 high authority websites and the rest are blogs) it means that I have a shot.
When it comes to DA (domain authority) I honestly don’t think it matters that much. My blog has a very low DA (14) and I outranked some websites with a lot higher DA (some had a DA 50+). For one keyword I even outranked Enterpreuner.com which has a DA of 92.
I think it’s more important to have a website that is niched down so Google sees you as an expert on that topic. Google is more likely to rank your post because you have more authority on that topic than some else’s who has a higher DA but less authority than you.
Another important thing is to create a high quality post that is better than those that are ranking.
You want to offer more value and more information than those that are out here.
Step 3: Post writing
Now it’s the time to write the post about that keyword you selected.
The first step for me is to figure out how long my post should be.
What I like to do is go to the first 3-4 articles that are ranking on Google and see how many words they have (there is a free Chrome extension you can use for that).
And then write a post that has more words than those.
For example, if ranking posts have around 2000 words I make mine between 2500 and 3000.
I need to point out that you don’t want to write 3000 words of fluff just for the sake of hitting your word count. You want to make sure that your post is helpful and includes as much detail as possible.
Something you can do is look at the related searches and people also ask boxes. Include those things in your post. Create headings and subheadings around those searches and questions. (that can also help you appear in the featured snippets, or in search results for those searches).
Make your post easy to read by including headings, subheadings, bullet points, etc. Also, if it’s very long, add a table of contents (I use a free plugin “easy table of contents” and it works really well). Your readers (and Google) will appreciate that.
Follow good SEO practices by including your keyword in all the right places (e.g. title, URL, across the article).
I’d highly recommend checking out Easy On-Page SEO ebook that goes in detail of optimizing your post for SEO. It shows you what you need to do with that keyword you found and want to target.
Something I’d like to point out is that you need to be patient. It takes time for your post to get to page one. Some of my posts showed up on the first page within a week of being published, for some it took several months and some showed up after a Google update.
Also, just because you did all of this, it doesn’t mean that your post will be in the first place. You can’t predict Google or make them put your post there. But if you follow these steps, there are high chances it will happen.
As I said, it takes time and you need to be patient. There is a post I wrote in February that wasn’t ranking at all (I think it was on the 5th page or something) and around a month or two ago it jumped to the first page. In August it had over 2k page views just from Google.
Step 4: After publishing
Now that your post is done and published, it’s time to help it rank.
Some things that can help your post get on the first page are:
- social media shares
- links from your other posts to that post
Final thoughts on SEO for bloggers
SEO is a very big topic and there is so much more to it than what I shared in this post.
This post was just an intro to the world of SEO. To help you understand it better
There is a lot more that goes into it.
I would HIGHLY recommend reading and learning as much as you can about SEO.
There is so much free information out there (like this free SEO course). Take advantage of those resources and absorb everything you can.
Also, don’t be afraid to invest in learning about SEO. You will earn that money back (and more!) in no time.