*Updated on January 3, 2017*
Your blog is a powerful marketing tool that has the ability to earn you some legit income.
But if you want to make money blogging, people need to find your blog first.
If you currently get the majority of your traffic from social media, you might think that SEO isn’t important for your blog.
Your blog posts have a short life on social media. After all, the average life span of a tweet is only 18 minutes. If you want your blog posts to live forever, you need to make sure they are ranking in search engines.
This is where SEO comes into play.
In this “SEO Tips for Bloggers Guide”, I will show you how to use keywords, generate organic search traffic and ensure all of your blog posts are search engine optimized.
It should go without saying that if you want your posts to rank highly, you need to be writing good content.
If you want to learn the secrets behind writing good content, read this guide I wrote, which covers all essential blogging tips.
If you’re new to blogging altogether, you might want to read my post on how to start a successful blog or jump right into it and sign up for hosting. Spoiler alert: it’s only $3.95 a month. Say what?!
SEO TIPS FOR BEGINNER BLOGGERS
1. Install an SEO Plugin
Yes, it is possible to create a search engine optimized blog post without using a plugin, but honestly, the plugin makes things a lot easier.
As per the recommendation of many bloggers, I use the Yoast SEO plugin and quite frankly, I love it.
The Yoast SEO plugin is totally free, as is everything I mention throughout this post! That just goes to show you that generating organic search traffic for your blog won’t cost you a penny!
An SEO plugin allows you to:
- Edit and modify meta description and titles
- Easily create your own sitemap
- Have crawlable categories and tags
- Verify your different social media accounts
- Keep an eye on general SEO factors
If you’re anything like most people, you might not understand what any of that means. But the good news is that you don’t really need to understand it because Yoast does it all for you.
To install the plugin on WordPress, go to your Plugins, click Add New, search for Yoast SEO, install it and then activate. For more information on how to set up the plugin, I definitely recommend checking out this post from WPBeginner that goes into much further detail.
2. Determine & Use Your Keywords
Before you even begin writing your blog post, you need to determine your keywords. This is how people will find you in search engine results.
Think of every blog post you write as an opportunity for potential readers to find you on a search engine.
I highly recommend using a keyword researching tool like KW Finder, which will help you find and rank for long tail keywords – an essential step if you want to rank highly on Google!
To learn more about finding keywords and using KWFinder, check out my new post: How to Find Keywords for Blog Posts.
What is a long tail keyword?
A long tail keyword is a 3+ word phrase that is specific to your blog post. There is less competition for long tail keywords because they are searched for less.
For example, when I wrote my How to Start a Lifestyle Blog post, I used the long tail keyword “how to start a lifestyle blog” rather than a short keyword like “blogging.” That’s because there are so many other websites already ranking for “blogging” and my blog would most likely never rank for it.
If you think no one is searching for your long tail keyword, think again. According to Google, 15% of all Google searches are completely unique!
Once you’ve determined your keywords, put them to good use!
I like to use my keywords once per every 250 words and/or where it sounds the most natural. An SEO plugin will also let you know if you’re using a keyword too often or not enough.
3. Utilize Your Headings
Headings, like the one seen above, not only make your content easier to read but they also tell search engines what your post is about.
There are six different headings to choose from in WordPress. And it’s a good idea to use a few different ones in your post (I usually use the H2, H3, and H4 headings for my content).
Heading 1 is your blog post title. You should not use this heading anywhere else in the post. If you’re using WordPress you only need to include it once in the post title box at the top of the page.
Heading 2 is your sub-heading. Search engines will look for keywords in your sub-heading to get a better idea of what your content is about. Use the H2 heading as the main heading for separate areas of ideas in your posts.
Headings 3, 4, 5 & 6 are also sub-headings, but they aren’t as prominent as the H2. Use these headings to break up your content into different parts so that your blog posts are easier to read for your visitors.
It’s a good idea to take advantage of as many headings as you feel comfortable with using. It helps search engines to determine the key points in your content. It also makes it easier for people to skim through and find exactly what they’re looking for.
4. Update the Meta Titles and Descriptions
One of the reasons I love using Yoast is that I can actually change my meta title and description.
If you don’t know what those are, let me explain.
The meta title and description are what shows up in a search engine result. By default, search engines will grab your blog post title and the first bit of text in the post.
In some cases, this might work out perfectly. But most of the time, this results in truncated titles and descriptions that aren’t relevant or SEO-friendly.
With Yoast, you can easily change and optimize the meta titles and descriptions yourself, by using the plugin at the bottom of every post.
This also means that your blog post title and the title that shows up in search engines don’t have to be the same. You can use a “catchy” title on your blog to intrigue your readers and then an optimized meta title for search engines.
And as you can see from the screenshot above, along with being able to change the meta titles and descriptions, you can also change the URL.
5. Improve Your URL
Having an SEO-friendly URL is essential for your search engine visibility and social shares.
Your URL should be easy to read, include your keywords and be free of any stop words.
Never keep your Permalink settings on default.
If you’ve never changed your Permalink settings in WordPress, then perhaps your URL slug ends with something like /p=123. This is not doing you any favors. Head into your Permalink settings and tick off “Post Name” instead of “Default.”
You can take this post as an example of a good URL slug. I am using “/seo-for-bloggers” – which looks simple and contains one of my keywords.
If I used something like “/the-best-seo-tips-for-bloggers-the-ultimate-guide”, it would be truncated by search engines and I would miss out on my getting my keyword noticed. Plus, it doesn’t look very nice to share on social media!
Never change the URL on a post that you’ve already published.
If you change the URL on a published post, anyone who clicks on the link through a search engine will be sent to a 404 error page. You definitely don’t want that to happen! So try to get it right the first time.
If you must change the URL, then read this article from Shout Me Loud to make sure you do it correctly.
6. Optimize Your Images
If you like using images in your blog posts, you need to make sure that you are using SEO-friendly file names, titles, and alt text.
Search engines don’t know what your image is about, so you have to describe it to them through these titles.
Before you even upload the image to WordPress, save it to your computer with a descriptive name. Adding images with titles like “IMG_123” are definitely not helping your SEO.
Once you’ve uploaded your image to WordPress, add a title and alt text. Try to include your keywords where possible.
The alt text is often overlooked but this is a crucial component of optimizing your images for SEO. This is where Google likes to take its information from. Describe your picture in a few words or a sentence.
I’ll use my Pinterest image above as an example. I saved it to my computer as “seo-for-beginners.jpg”, uploaded it to WordPress and used “SEO Guide For Bloggers” as the title and then “girl learning how to use SEO for blog posts” as the alt text.
This might add a minute of extra work every time you upload an image, but it’s definitely worth it. This will help you rank higher AND drive traffic from Google Image searches.
For more information on optimizing your images for SEO, I totally recommend checking out this post by Tiffany Griffin over at Beautiful Dawn.
7. Add More Links
When writing a blog post, you should try to add as many relevant links as you can. If any of your past blog posts are relevant to your new content, add them. If there are any high-quality external websites that are relevant to your post, add them too.
These links are beneficial to your readers and are a good way to increase your rankings.
Before Google decides where it will rank you in search results, it needs to decide if your blog is trustworthy.
Adding frequent links to your own posts and links to other trustworthy websites will help prove to Google that you are a great resource, thus increasing your search rankings.
So, the next time you see a blog post that is full of anchor text links, you’ll know that the blogger behind it has some SEO knowledge.
What are your biggest struggles with SEO?
I realize that this is a LOT of information to take in. So, I recommend bookmarking this page and referring to it the next time you’re writing a blog post.
Here’s a quick summary of what we covered:
- Installing an SEO Plugin
- Finding & Using Keywords
- Using Headings for SEO
- Changing Meta Titles & Descriptions
- Improving Your URL
- Optimizing Your Images
- Utilizing Links
And now, I want to hear from YOU! So, please leave me a comment down below telling me your biggest struggles with search engine optimization!