If you’re serious about blogging then search engine optimization (SEO) is something you need to learn. Without getting the basics down, your posts will be at a disadvantage when it comes to appearing in the search engine results and getting organic traffic – i.e. people actually reading your blog.
While SEO can get quite technical, we’ve compiled 7 tips that beginners can follow to start growing their blog and making money …
1) Use SEO Friendly URLs
An SEO-friendly URL is a URL that contains relevant keywords for its corresponding page. For example, a post about pasta sauce may look something like this:
This allows search engines to easily identify what the post is about and rank it in the search results accordingly.
A generic URL like www.yourblog.com/?p=98785 makes this process more difficult.
Fortunately, WordPress now uses the title of your post in the URL (or slug as they call it) by default, but if you use another platform you might have to find a plugin or addon to accomplish the same thing.
If you feel the post title in WordPress is not quite sufficient, you can manually change the slug at the top of the post edit page.
2) Include Meta Tags
Although they are becoming less important, meta tags are the old backbone of SEO and provide a direct message to search engines about the content of your pages. The most important of these are the Title and Description tags.
The title is what’s displayed on the page tab at the top of your browser and for the page’s title in search results. The description is also displayed in search results. Neither of these actually appear on the page itself and instead sit within the coding.
It’s important that your blog posts and pages contain a relevant title and description (I.e. they include your keywords and actually describe the page well), but are not too long or stuffed with keywords.
As a rule of thumb titles shouldn’t be any longer than 50-60 characters and descriptions no longer than 300 characters.
In WordPress, your post title and excerpt will automatically be used as the meta title and description. If you use a plugin like YOAST, you can have more control over how these tags are generated and can manually change them from the post edit page.
3) Focus on Quality Content over Keywords
Because keywords are what drive SEO, people often fall into the trap of crafting their posts around keywords and “stuffing” them throughout in an unnatural way in hope of ranking high. However, Google has evolved since its early days and if you overdo keywords your post could actually be penalized and ranked lower because of it.
As a blogger, your main focus should always be on creating quality content for your readers. Your keywords should naturally emerge from the post rather than the post being made specifically to fit pre-chosen keywords.
Content that ranks well is typically lengthy, well sourced, unique, and includes other media like images and video, if relevant.
Remember, one of the key factors in search rankings is how many backlinks page has. People will only link to a page if they genuinely find it valuable.
4) Organize with Headings
Nobody likes a wall of text, including search engines. Blog posts are much more readable if organized with relevant headings. This can be done with heading tags, which also guide search engines on what that section of a post is about and its importance.
The headline/title of a post will usually be hard-coded with a <h1> tag by the blog‘s theme, but you can add your own throughout the post. <h2> for regular headings, <h3> for sub-headings and so on.
5) Tag Images
The images in your post can be found via search engines and also add to the overall theme of the post if tagged correctly. This is done with an “alt” tag and can be done within WordPress. Should the image fail to load, the text of the alt tag will be displayed instead. Think of this tag as a short description of the image.
6) Internal Linking
To help search engines crawl and index your blog you need to have an URL structure (a system by which your pages link together). This tends to be done automatically via categories and post tags, but you can add more weight and improve SEO for certain posts by linking to them from within posts themselves.
For example, if your post is about a topic you’ve already blogged about, linking them together is helpful to both readers and search engines.
7) Cache for Speed
An often overlooked area of SEO is site speed. If your blog loads slowly, Google will rank faster pages ahead of yours. If your blog is particularly slow it could be an issue with your web host or server, but you can also improve speed by using a caching plugin for your blogging platform.
By implementing the above tips your blog will be in a great position to begin ranking well in the search engines and generating traffic. However, it can take quite a bit of time before the likes of Google to recognize any SEO you have applied, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t see results right away.
SEO is an ongoing and evolving practice, so don’t stop learning here. Remember to follow some big SEO sites and continue to refine your posts and pages to stay ahead of the competition.