Do you want to learn about SEO and boost your blog’s traffic? You’ve just discovered the best SEO for bloggers guide to massively grow your blog’s traffic.
If you’re a complete beginner, this guide will help you get to understand the basics of search engine optimization (SEO), and you’ll also find tips to help you get free traffic to our blog.
You are going to learn about strategies that are working now and different trends that you need to follow this year.
In This Guide:
- Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization
- How Search Engines Work
- On-Page SEO Optimization Checklist
- Content Marketing and SEO
- How to Do Keyword Research
- Where To Use Keywords For SEO
- Link Building
Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s the process of optimizing your content online in a way that it stands out, which makes search engines like Google to show it on top for search rankings for a certain keyword.
When you optimize your content the right way, you’ll see your content ranking on top of Google and every other search engine.
If you make the right blog and blog content for the right audience, you will excel at SEO
Starting a blog is one thing, making your blog content rank on Google for free traffic is another thing.
If you want your blog posts to rank in search results, you’ll need to write content that matches what people are searching for. This is known as “search intent.”
If you satisfy the intent of the searcher, then you’ve done your job as a blogger.
Why Should I Learn SEO?
If you want to get your site ranked on the first page of Google and other search engines, then you need to learn SEO.
Optimizing your website for search engines is the best way to grow your traffic exponentially over time.
Social media or paid ads might give you a spike of traffic for a day, or send you visitors as long as you keep paying. But learning SEO is an investment that will keep paying off over time.
These days, everyone uses search engines to find what they need.
That’s why it’s important to position yourself to be found when they do.
Basic SEO Terminology
There are some terms that you are going to hear a lot as a beginner.
To get you started, here are few terms that you need to be aware of when learning SEO for bloggers.
- On-page SEO is everything that you do on your website, from using certain words in your content to technical aspects like the way your site is coded.
- Off-page SEO is everything you do to promote your website and improve its authority off your site, like getting backlinks from other authority websites.
- Backlinks act like votes that you get from other websites. Google considers these as proof that your content is good enough to be ranked on the top. The more quality backlinks you have the easier it will be for you to rank.
- Black Hat SEO are practices that violate Google’s policies and can get your site penalized. Black Hat SEO may bring you short term success, but you won’t stay at the top for long. Sooner rather than later, you will be sacked by Google. We strongly advise against this.
- White Hat SEO is the opposite of black hat SEO. In other words, it’s SEO done the right way. Stick to this if you’re in for the long run!
Now let’s move on to the next chapter.
How Search Engines Work
Before we get to the part where we explain how you can do SEO to rank high on search engines, you to understand how search engines work.
You’ll learn how people use search engines, how it works, ranking factors, algorithms and different features of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
The process is simpler than you might think. Search engines have bots, also called spiders, that crawl the contents of a web page.
After it’s done crawling, Google uses that information and runs it through their secret algorithms to decide where to rank it in the search engine results pages.
If you have optimized your page correctly, the bots will index your page on the relevant keyword that you want to target.
This also depends on the various algorithms of Google and other search engines, which you’ll get to know in detail below.
Search Engine Ranking Factors
Did you know that there are over 200 different things that Google looks at to determine how to rank each web page? These are called “ranking factors”.
Not all of them are very important or require your attention. But you’ll some tips on how to optimize for the most important ranking factors.
Here are the most important:
- Referring domains
- Organic click-through-rate
- Domain authority
- Domain relevancy
- Mobile usability
- Dwell time
- Total number of backlinks
- Content quality
These are in no particular order, by the way.
Here’s a bit more info about what they all mean:
Referring domains are other websites that link to your website. If you have high authority domains linking out to you, then this will not only increase your website’s authority but it will also give you a chance to rank higher on Google.
Organic click-through-rate (CTR) is defined as the number of times the searcher clicks on your page after searching for a keyword. If you have a high CTR then you have a good chance of staying on the position you initially ranked for, and even moving up in rankings.
Domain authority is the authority of your domain which you built over time by getting quality backlinks and publishing high-quality content that’s optimized for search.
Domain relevancy means that your domain should have content related to your main topic. For example, if you have a travel blog, it will be easier for you to rank on travel-related topics.
If you start publishing tech news or recipes, it will be much harder to rank those in search results.
Mobile usability refers to how easy it is to use your site on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. It helps to improve the load time of your blog so that it loads faster. You also need to work on the overall user experience (UX).
Dwell time is the time a visitor spends on your website. Let’s say that your blog is ranked at the 4th of the first page and a visitor clicks through to your blog.
Your visitor really likes the content and spends time going through the information you have on your blog. Your content has satisfied the user’s intent and he leaves your site without going back to the search results and clicking on a different link. Google will take note of this and might give you a bump in your position.
Total number of backlinks is the number of links to your website from other sites around the web.
Content quality goes without saying! The better the content you create, the better the chances of getting good links. This is the foundation of SEO for bloggers.
Search Engine Algorithm Updates
Search engines, more specifically Google, make a lot of updates to their algorithms to improve their search results.
You will hear the people often talk about how a certain Google update made them gain or lose their rankings.
But if you are doing everything right and following the basic Google guidelines, then you don’t have anything to worry about.
Our advice to you once you start doing SEO is that there will be times that you will be greatly rewarded after a Google update. Then there will also be a time when you might lose your rankings even though you were doing everything right.
At times like these, be patient and keep doing what is right and satisfy your visitor’s intent with good compelling content. If you stick to that, you’ll be rewarded.
Features of Search Engine Results Pages
Search engine results pages (SERPs) don’t only include lists of URLs. Google has added a lot of features to them over time.
You may have noticed things like featured boxes, ads, image carousels, and other features.
These are some of the most common rich snippets you’ll see in the SERP:
- Featured snippet
- Answer box
- Carousel (images, videos, products)
- Image pack
- Map pack
- Sponsored features (Google Ads, flights, shop on Google)
- Knowledge graph
- Top stories
The SERP feature you should target is the featured snippet. If you manage to get your site in the featured snippet, you will get a huge traffic boost.
Now we know what SEO means and how search engines work, it’s time to move on to the good stuff.
We’ve already explained a bit about what on-page SEO means: everything you optimize on your own site in order to rank in search results.
So, let’s talk about implementation.
Back in the early days of search engines, on-page optimization was all about stuffing as many keywords as possible into your content.
But as search engine algorithms have evolved, these practices have mostly ended, because they hurt more than help.
Now it’s all about understanding the user behavior and engagement.
Let’s move on the to the on-page SEO for Bloggers Checklist.
On-Page SEO Optimization Checklist
Before you hit that publish button make sure that you check everything off the list.
1. Research Keywords for Your Blog Post
Find keywords that have high volume and are easy to rank.
Apart from that you need to understand the intent of the keyword, so that it’s easy for you to right the content that will satisfy the searcher.
To put it simply, keyword research is the first and the most important part of SEO which you can’t ignore. We will talk about keyword research below.
2. Optimize Your Blog Post Title and Subheadings
Now that you have your keywords, you need to use them in your title, subheadings, and throughout the content of your article.
You don’t need to forcefully use the keywords to your content. Use them naturally and make sure that you don’t stuff keywords where it doesn’t make sense or sound good. Always remember that you are writing for the reader first, then Google.
The only meta tags you need to worry about are meta title and meta descriptions. You should use your keywords in both of these. It’s easy to do this if you’re using the Yoast plugin for WordPress.
These are important because they can help you improve your CTR (click-through-rate), which is a ranking factor. So, you need to make sure you get it right.
3. Use Readable URLs
This is an important aspect of SEO for bloggers especially. You would never want your blog post’s URLs to look like this:
Instead, you should make your URLs user friendly, so they look more like this:
The URL should be able to show what the content is all about, and it should give a basic idea about the topic.
To ensure that your URLs are proper in WordPress, you can log in to your dashboard and click on Settings » Permalinks. Then select “Post Name” as seen in the screenshot below.
4. Add Rich Media to Your Content
Adding images and videos to your content will help engage your visitors and reduce your bounce rate and increase your average visit duration. This sends good signals to Google which helps in getting your content ranked.
Be sure that you add alt text to your images. Adding alt text to your images help Google to understand what the image is all about. It also helps in getting your images listed on Google Image search, which has the potential to bring in traffic.
Always optimize your image using TinyPNG, so that it doesn’t take too long to load.
5. Link to Other Blog Posts on Your Site
Internal links are a perfect way to drive traffic from one page to another. It makes the visitor’s stay time on your site higher, which is what you want as a website owner.
From the SEO perspective, properly placed internal links help the Google bot understand your site structure and what it’s about, and which pages are most important.
Ideally, each post shouldn’t take more than two clicks to reach from your home page.
6. Ensure Your Site Is Mobile Optimized
Almost 60% of searches come from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, so it’s important to have a very good and fast mobile version of your site.
Google looks at the mobile version of your site when deciding how to rank it in search results, even for searches performed on a desktop. This is called “mobile-first indexing.”
So if your mobile version isn’t fast enough, you won’t rank well, even if most of the traffic on your site is from people on desktops.
That’s why it’s so important to have a responsive design that looks good on any theme and to test your website speed to see if it’s fast enough.
7. Optimize Your Content for Voice Search
That’s why it’s smart to optimize your content for voice searches, too.
In order for your result to pop-up during a voice search, you need to rank in the top 3 results.
It also increases your chances if your content is in the featured snippet, as 4 out of 10 voice search results come from featured snippets.
It helps to include a question and an answer in your content. Adding a “Frequently Asked Questions” section in your content can help even more.
8. Try to Get Your Content In Featured Snippets
Featured snippets, also known as “position 0”, are another factor that you should try to optimize for when possible.
These are the boxes that show up at the top of search results:
According to Ahrefs, 13% of all search results now show featured snippets. This makes it very important to optimize your content for them.
So, how does your content show up in the featured snippets?
First, you need to get you content ranked on the first page. From there, you can optimize your content and formatting to get the snippet.
Here are some types of content that gets featured in the featured snippets:
- “How to”
- “Best of”
- “Who is”
- “What is”
- “Why is”
Basically, question-related types of blog posts have a higher chance of getting into the featured snippet.
Content Marketing and SEO
Are you learning SEO for bloggers as a part of your content marketing strategy?
This is something that has actually bugged me for a long time. Sometimes people think that content marketing and SEO are opposed to each other, or that SEO is something nefarious while content marketing is pure.
Actually, content marketing and SEO go hand in hand and they complement each other.
One can’t succeed without the other.
Imagine if you wrote and excellent piece of content that’s filled with visuals and great information, but you don’t optimize it for search engines.
Would anyone read it? Similarly, you perfectly optimize a page for search engines but it’s packed with content that no one would read. Do you think it would rank for long?
That’s why you need to create unique and compelling content and optimize it for search engines for maximum effect.
This helps in getting more backlinks and increases the reach for your content.
Effective Types of Content
First and foremost, your content should be unique and compelling. It should be able to satisfy the reader’s intent.
There are a few types of content that get more traction than others. You may have to learn how to get backlinks.
Let’s talk about the following, briefly.
- Research-Based Content with Original Data
- List Posts and Tutorials
- In-depth Guides
- Visual Posts: Infographics, images, videos, etc.
These are some of the content that gets the most backlinks and engagement. You should try to come up with ideas that fall into one of the above-mentioned content types.
For more tips and ideas, see our guide to types of blog posts that work for any niche.
What Is the Ideal Length of a Content Piece?
The ideal length of a blog post depends on how many words it takes for you to get the message through. Remember that you are writing for the user first then search engines.
Since we can’t outright ignore Google and other search engines, we need to understand how they behave in terms of content length.
According to a study by Can I Rank, the word count of blog posts that were ranked in the top 3 was more than 1000. In this sense, there is a better chance of ranking in the top 3 if your content has more than 1000 words.
But keep in mind that your 1,000 words means nothing if your content isn’t good enough and doesn’t get the message through.
How to Do Keyword Research
You can’t write an optimized post without doing proper keyword research first.
To be fair, we can’t cover everything about keyword research in this guide. This will require a separate guide to cover every aspect of it.
But we will try our best to explain how to do keyword research in this chapter.
Keyword Research the Easy Way
First, you need to get some broad topic ideas. You can see our list of blog post ideas to get started. From there, you can come up with a list of topics to start doing research on.
How to Choose the Right Keyword
Apart from your own judgement you can also to consider the following factors to help you rank.
Google Keyword Planner and other SEO tools can help you look up these stats.
- Search volume: When you are shortlisting your keywords you need to see if they have a decent volume. There is a chance to get a lot of traffic if your keyword has a high search volume.
- Keyword Difficulty: Target low competition first, they will help you get ranked faster.
- Keyword Trend: Another good way to decide whether the keyword you have chosen is good or not. Go to Google Trends and enter your keyword. Google Trends will show if your keyword is trending or not. If the graph is high, that means you have made the right choice.
Semantic Keywords are those keywords that are related to your primary keyword. They are also called LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords.
You can use these keywords in your content to make it more complete. To find LSI keywords go to LSIGraph, enter your keywords, and get a bunch of related keywords for your blog post.
Learn more about how to use LSI keywords in this post.
Quick Note: Never stuff your blog with keywords so that it sounds unnatural and forced.
You will be inviting Google to strike you hard and penalize your site. This website optimization technique is old and outdated, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Where To Use Keywords For SEO
Once you’ve come up with a great keyword to rank for, you have to know where to use them in your content.
To make the process of adding keywords easier, we suggest you use one of these top SEO software plugins or apps.
1. Page Titles
Optimizing page titles is part of Google’s SEO ranking factors, and is a good starting point when using keywords for SEO.
A page title describes the main subject of your page and shows up as the first line of a search results entry to let both Google and searchers know exactly what the page is about.
In many cases, the page title may be the same as the headline for a blog post or the name of the page (like “about” or “services”), but it doesn’t have to be.
You can use SEO software like All in One SEO to tweak the SEO title to improve search ranking potential.
The best practice when writing page titles is to use your target SEO keywords or keyword phrase at the start of the page title.
If you use the Yoast SEO plugin, the plugin will immediately notify you with an orange button of such an aspect.
That’ll make sure that it’s seen as more relevant. Also, more practically, your page title won’t get cut off in mobile SERPs, which can happen on small screens.
2. Meta Descriptions
The next important area for the use of keywords for SEO is the meta description. This shows up as the second part of a search results entry.
Though the meta description is no longer a direct ranking factor, it can help Google determine how relevant your content is to what people are searching for.
The meta description also helps searchers decide whether to click through from a search result to see the full content on your website.
That’s why it’s so important to use the right keywords here. By right, it means relevant to the content that searchers will find when they click through.
Before we get into how to use keywords for SEO within the main content, let’s talk about subheadings.
Subheadings help make your content scannable, giving readers’ eyes somewhere to pause.
Subheadings may help visitors decide about the relevance of content to their needs.
The best practice is to use keywords in at least a couple of subheadings.
One of the most important places to optimize the use of SEO keywords is in your content. That’s because the content is one of the top SEO ranking factors.
But it’s essential to get it right; poor keyword usage can actually hurt your search ranking.
For example, it’s crucial to avoid keyword stuffing. If you’ve got keywords in every other sentence the chances are your content will incur Google penalties. Google has an excellent example of the kind of thing to avoid.
We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.Example of keyword sturffing
Your readers won’t like it much, either, as keyword-stuffed content can be pretty hard to read.
So, here’s how you use keywords effectively in content:
First, use your main keyword in the first couple of sentences of your content, or at least within the first paragraph.
Next, use that keyword and variations of it, throughout the content, as shown below.
The best practice is to include latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords rather than the exact keyword every time.
Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a concept used by search engines to discover how a term and content work together to mean the same thing, even if they do not share keywords or synonyms.
LSI keywords are simply words that are frequently found together because they share the same context.
For example, “Apple” and “iTunes” are LSI keywords because they share the same context and are frequently found together. But they are not synonyms.
If your page or blog post is about Apple, how will a search engine know if you’re referring to the fruit or the company?
Answer: It looks for LSI keywords.
These might include some of the phrases that showed up in the SEMrush SEO content template we talked about earlier.
The bottom line: write for humans first, and make content readable and understandable.
When you’re considering how to use keywords in a website, images probably aren’t the first items you think of, but you can’t afford to ignore them.
Here are a couple of reasons why. First of all, images are indexed too, creating another way that people find your content.
Second, images can help you handle content accessibility, which is useful for the millions of searchers worldwide who experience a disability.
So, how and where should you use keywords for SEO in images?
- First, make sure any images you use are relevant to your content.
- Next, give them a file name that reflects that relevance. You can include keywords or LSI keywords here if it makes sense.
- Use SEO keywords in image titles, which are little pieces of text that pop up when you hover your mouse over an image.
- Finally, use SEO keywords in the alt text. This is the part that helps with accessibility. The best practice for using alt text with images is to make it descriptive; don’t just use the keyword.
Here’s how you can add titles and alt text to images.
Ever seen those URLs that are just strings of numbers and weird characters? Those can be a big turnoff for visitors.
The best URLs give visitors – and Google – a clue about what’s on the page, so you want to make them descriptive. And that means using SEO keywords in the URL, as in the example below where the “Seo guide” keyword is in the URL:
The best practice is to keep URLs short, and include no more than one or two keywords in a way that makes the URL make sense to people who are visiting.
7. Link Anchor Text
Links are one of the top three SEO ranking factors, so you absolutely have to optimize these for SEO.
The golden rule is: vary your anchor text. That’s the clickable text that’s highlighted as a link.
Anchor text — or link text — is the visible, clickable text of a link. It usually appears in a different color than the surrounding text and is often underlined. Good link text tells the reader what to expect if they click on the link.
Getting your anchor text right increases the chance of someone clicking on your link, and helps search engines by giving them context.
If you use the same anchor text for every inbound link you create, that’s an SEO ranking red flag for Google, and it might get you penalized. Instead, use LSI keywords to vary inbound anchor text.
In the example below, the link points to content on this blog with text describing the “best SEO tools“, which the focus keyword. Instead, “top SEO software plugins” is used.
The same rule applies to internal linking, which helps both Google and searchers find other site content. And it applies to external links, too.
If too many links on your site use the same anchor text to link to another site, Google might think it’s a black hat SEO link scheme, and penalize your site, reducing its search ranking.
Now let’s move on to the next part, link building!
Link building is one of the most important factors of SEO for bloggers. It is the process of getting links from other websites to increase your website’s authority.
These links act as votes and the more you have them, the more authority your site gets.
But there are a few things you need to know; how to differentiate between a good and a bad backlink.
A good quality backlink should…
- come from high authority websites
- have a relevant anchor text to your keyword
- be on relevant websites
- have the “do-follow” attribute
- come in from a unique referring domain
Why is Link Building Important?
Google has officially stated that backlinks are among their top 3 ranking factors.
While you’ll likely get some backlinks naturally if you publish great content, purposefully building backlinks can help your traffic grow much faster.
Do-Follow Links and No-Follow Links
There are two types of external backlinks: do-follow and no-follow. When you’re building links, you need to make sure that you get “do-follow” as they are the ones that help your rankings.
No-follow links don’t pass on any authority, because the publisher is basically telling Google that they want to link to this page without vouching for the site or its quality.
Luckily, most of the links you get from are do-follow unless you get them from comments sections, profile links, press release or paid advertisements.
If you manage to get high number of quality backlinks then there is a high chance of you ranking in the SERPS.
How to Build Quality Links
In this section, we will be talking about some popular ways you can use to build quality backlinks.
1. Resource Pages Link Building
The first way is to find websites that list useful resources. Once you have found them, reach out to them asking them to link to your content. The more resourceful your content is, the more chances it has of getting a link.
Here are some search operators you can use in Google to find resource page link building opportunities:
- “Keyword” + inurl:links
- “Keyword” + inurl:resources
- “Keyword” + inurl:useful-resources
- “Keyword” + “helpful resources”
- “Keyword” + “useful resources”
- “Keyword” + “useful links”
Make a list of potential sites, and then follow up and ask them to link to your best content.
2. Link Roundups
Website regularly link out to valuable websites, they call this link roundups because they do it either monthly or weekly.
All you have to do is reach out to them and ask them to include your link in the next round up.
If your content is good enough, you will get a backlink in their roundups.
3. HARO Interview Link Building
HARO stands for “help a reporter out”.
It’s a platform that lets journalists send pitches to everyone who has registered on Haro.
There are a lot of big publications that send their pitches. You will get these pitches in your email, you can respond to the pitches you feel qualified to answer.
If your pitch is accepted you will be notified and will get a contextual link from your website.
4. Spying on your Competition
You can check out other blogs in the same niche as yours, and get links from the sites they are getting links from. All you have to do is create better content and then ask those sites to link to your content instead.
There You Go!
I hope that our beginner’s SEO for bloggers guide helped you get started in understanding search engine optimization.
Next, you might want to check out this guide on getting more traffic to your blog.
If you have any questions or feedback, then do use the comment box below!