SEO for bloggers – A Beginners Guide
Let’s talk SEO for bloggers. Even the thought of SEO is enough to send shivers down a new bloggers spine! If you’re new to blogging or have been around a wee while but are yet to jump into getting a jumpstart on traffic then this post is for you.
SEO needn’t be scary! It’s simply a set of things that you “should” do when it comes to helping the search engines find your blog and posts and get them popping up in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
I’m by no means an SEO expert. But, I have been in marketing for many years and there’s a few things that I include in my workflow that mean I’ve helped Google to find my content.
After all, you spend all that time writing great content, and you definitely want your ideal audience to be able to find that content, right!
So let’s start with a wee run down of what exactly SEO is.
What is SEO? And why should you care?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. This means helping the search engine find your content and then encouraging those search engines to display your content as search results when someone searches for a particular word or phrase.
SEO is a non paid, or organic form of traffic generation. THE BEST KIND in my humble opinion. Organic traffic means that you have not paid for ads to generate an audience to your site. It simply means people have found your content via organic means.
There’s a whole heap of ways you can get traffic to your website and a lot of these are paid. Google ads, Facebook promos, retargeting, display ads, are all some of the paid ways people tend to use to drive visitors to their site.
While paid traffic is still good traffic, as it is usually pretty highly qualified (meaning not random, but specific to your particular topic and niche) … it can be costly! And, when you stop paying… the traffic usually stops along with it.
Organic traffic on the other hand is long lasting. It is free and it is also usually really specific to your niche.. If you’ve done your SEO correctly.
SEO is all about using both onsite and offsite tactics consistently to get organic traffic.
Keyword (or Keyphrase) basics
Keywords and keyphrases are the same thing. They are in essence the search term that someone puts into the search engine to find relevant answers to their queries.
For example; you might be an Etsy shop owner and sell handmade hair ties. More specifically, let’s say you make hair ties for dance shows.
So, the first thing to figure out is WHO is your idea lor target customer. What do they look like? And what problem are you solving for them?
Let’s say – your ideal customer is Sally, she’s a dance mom to 2 girls, aged 7 and 9. She makes her own costumes for the girls but needs accessories like hair ties and clips. She wants high quality and bright and sparkly. She doesn’t mind shipping online and wants uniqueness over cost. It’s a really good idea to get to know your ideal customer really well through surveys or market research to find out exactly who they are and what they want.
All really important things to find out!
So, Sally might search for the following words… “hair ties”… or “girls hair ties” … but.. Sally is far more likely to be searching for key phrases like:
Cute sparkly hair ties for dance recitals
Unique one of a kind hair accessories for dance
Or, she might even get really specific…
Unique gold hair ties for junior dance competitions
So, knowing this stuff means that you know what Sally might be searching for online. Which is fabulous news! Now all you have to do is make sure your content matches up nicely with Sally’s thought processes. Remember too that Sally might search for random strings too like Hair ties gold unique dance recitals.
Your keyphrases might then be:
Hair ties for dance shows
One of a kind hair ties
Unique hair ties
The next thing you can do is take your list of great keyphrases you think your customers will be searching for and give it a little test drive…
You do this by plugging it into a search engine… lets take a looksie.
Immediately when I type in hair ties for… I get this result, which shows me two things…
The first is that people are not searching for hair ties for dance shows… or not many people are as it’s not top.. But! wait.. That COULD be a good thing… it means it’s very specific and niche which is good for you.
It also shows me the top results… which is good to know.. .but these top results may also be hard to rank for. Meaning that plenty of people are using these terms and using them well. So you might find yourself on page 40 of hte search results page if you try to compete on the easy targets.
When I progress a little more I get this… which is probably getting more towards what you want to be targeting…. It’s less general… more specific to your ideal customer… and will be easier to rank for…
Then we go the whole hog… Hair ties for dance shows and get a results page like this …
Which gives us some good clues as to what’s ranking and what keywords are being used.
Next up… pop that key phrase into a tool like Ubersuggest. Here you can see the overall difficulty a particular keyword will have… plus a heap of other really interesting and useful info like the age range of searchers and what months this search was popular. Great info to have for content planning!
You’ll also get a list of suggested keywords… which you can export. Super handy!
Plus, a list of the top SERPs. Which is basically a list of your top competitors.
One of the best things here though is this! A list of content ideas. Oh my! Such a brilliant tool. So, you make hair ties, you know your audience.. You now know your keywords and how difficult it might be to rank with them… AND you get a list of possible topics you could write on your blog or tweak to fit your niche to start your content marketing efforts.
Ok, so that’s a few ways to find out what your customers are searching for and what you might like to target and also write about. You can use this exact same strategy on Pinterest in their search function as well. Which for many niches might be even better than Google!
Expand this to Facebook Groups, Quora and any other communities where your ideal customer might hang out to get more valuable intel on your market.
There’s a few other things that are pertinent to mention when it comes to SEO for beginners.
On site optimisation
So, it’s one step to know what your ideal customer might be searching for and then cater to that. But, there’s also another factor to SEO that’s vital to your success.
First up… make sure it’s a great experience. There’s two things here UX and UI. UX stands for User Experience and UI stands for User Interface. Technically, they are User Experience Design and User Interface Design.
Focusses on all the things a user might experience on your site. How they go from one place to the next.. The pop ups they encounter.. The great stuff and the not so great stuff. Think easy. Think spacious. Think super intuitive when it comes to UX. And definitely think NOT ANNOYING! Great UX leaves a user feeling great about your company and your product.
Is more about the look. It’s about the aesthetics of design and any buttons, widgets and boxes a human might interact with on your site. UX is brains and UI is beauty.
You want to make sure you are creating an aesthetically pleasing web experience for your readers and that you’re also focussing on making sure the flow for a user is intuitive and natural. Great design is simple.
A site with great UX and UI will mean your visitors stay longer, click on more pages, and go on to become loyal fans.
On page SEO
This is where things get fancy! But it’s still easy if you know a few tips.
On page SEO means that with each piece of content or page you are creating that you make sure that you are optimising it for search. Remember you’re handy wee keywords you researched earlier? Yup. Those. There’s a few things you need to do to make sure when you are writing a post that it makes sense for what your readers are searching for. Otherwise, no one will find your brilliant post!
The first is simple.
Make sure your page is easy to skim. Handy things like using H1 and H2 headers, using lists, using a table of content (I use … and love… Lucky WP Table of Contents), Bold headers and H3. Lots of white space. Imagery that makes sense for the sections and topic and finally, that ole chestnut UI.
Those keywords you now have in your hot wee hand… we need to get those onto your page.
You might have decided that you’re going to use this suggestion in your content
And expand on it a little to write about making your own hair ties for your audience.. This might seem counter intuitive! But…. when you give to your readers they will give back. So be generous… give them tips and create value and you’ll create loyal fans and customers.
You’ll want to make sure your keyword (or keyphrase) is in these places:
- Your blog title
- Your intro paragraph
- Some of your H2 Headers
- 1 or 2 of your image titles or alt tags
- A few times (naturally) in your main paragraphs
A word of caution… don’t keyword stuff. Make it natural. Far better to naturally use keywords in your article than make them stand out like a sore toe. Google is smart!
Once you have your blog written check it for your SEO components. There are handy tools you can use to help you here. I use Yoast SEO, which is a super handy plugin for WordPress.
Yoast looks something like this.
When adding Alt text and title to images also make sure that they make sense! So google knows what they are.
Also make sure your images are not huge in size. Google doesn’t like it when your page takes ages to load and large file size imagery can increase your page load speed. I use a plugin called Smush to decrease the size of all images on my site.
Finally, make sure you create compelling and clickable Metadata!
Metadata is the stuff that you see in search results that tells you what a page/ result is all about.
Cute hair ties | Etsy is the title and the text below is the meta description. This is what you need to pay attention to when you have completed your article on your blog. Make sure you have a short (ish) URL. A catchy title that takes keywords into consideration and an accurate and appealing description, that also contains your keyword. You also want to make sure you use all the space in your meta description!
You also want to increase your Google juice by adding in one or two high authority outbound links to your post. High authority means they are reliable and sound sites that you recommend. Forbes for example is a great high authority site that Google will recognise as legit.
Then add in some internal links. Making it easy for Google to find links to your other content and increase your validity that you’re an expert on this topic.
Finally, you want to make sure you’re thinking of building your inbound link strategy. Simply put; other reputable, high authority sites that contain links TO your blog content.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of SEO tactics, but hopefully is a good start if you’re struggling to understand the basics of SEO for your blog. I’m no SEO expert, but I found a few things that are easily implemented into my workflow that make a huge difference to not only site traffic, but user experience.