By this point, you are most likely aware of the potential traffic search engines offer. You may also be wondering what you should be doing for your blog SEO.
Google alone gets over 40,000 searches every second on average. That comes out to over 3.5 billion searches every day and 1.2 trillion searches every year.
Taking into consideration that Google is not the only search engine out there, the number of searches combined is theoretically a lot higher.
Naturally, you will (and should) want to take advantage of search engine traffic. A blog that ranks high on search engines has a huge potential to get traffic. With the right things in place, you can make it so that your blog or website will rank higher.
How to get search engine traffic to your blog is now the question. The answer is SEO.
Simply put, SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing your site so it will rank well in search engines (show up higher in search results).
In this post, we will look at how to improve your Google rankings with some blog SEO basics.
Admittedly, there is a lot to learn about it. There are entire organizations dedicated to it and they often charge a high price if you want their services.
The thing is, you do not need to be an SEO wiz to get ranked in the search engines.
If you start a blog with WordPress, you already have much of the SEO basics in place. According to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, WordPress takes care of 80-90% of the SEO already for you, right out of the box.
However, the remaining SEO is up to you. With this 7 point checklist, you can make sure you cover the essential things you should be doing in order to rank well in search results pages.
7 Point SEO Checklist
Here are some of the most important things you should be doing for blog SEO.
Many of these tactics are not hard to use. The thing is, once you are aware of them, it is relatively easy to start using them on your blog right away.
Take the time to understand these points to know how to SEO your blog. By understanding these SEO basics when you first start your blog, you can make sure all your posts get the maximum opportunity to rank higher in search engines.
Ok, here is the checklist:
1) Use Header Tags
Using header tags helps search engines understand and structure your content.
Not only is good blog post structure good for search engines, but it will also benefit your readers.
HTML header tags are used for the titles and subtitles of your page. They not only make the text look bigger on the page for your readers but also convey meaning to search engines.
H tags are used by search engines to determine what the titles are for that page, and ultimately what the page is about. Search engines treat keywords in H tags as more important.
For this reason, it is important to include your main keywords in your most important H tags, like your H1 tags.
Obviously, you should not overdo it or you might look spammy to search engines and your potential readers.
In many cases writing a great title that describes what your page is about will include the right keywords in your title tags.
It is important to use header tags properly to create a proper page hierarchy and optimize for search engines. Take a look at this article on HTML header tags for a more in-depth guide.
2) Have Fast Site Speed
Site speed is important to both search engines and your potential audience.
One of the reasons people leave a site is because of slow site speed. According to one study, 47% of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less.
When people are leaving your site quickly it is not good for SEO.
Dwell time, the amount of time a user spends on your blog, is a factor search engines take into consideration. If people are not spending much time on your site, it can negatively affect your rankings.
According to this article, every second counts when it comes to users leaving your site.
In addition to the role site speed plays in regards to your readers, site speed also a direct blog SEO factor.
Site speed is one of Google’s ranking factors.
Do what you can to make sure you have a fast site speed. Choose a good web host when you start your blog and use plugins to increase your speed. For a list of plugins, take a look at the blog resources page.
To test your site speed, you can use the Pingdom website speed test tool.
You can also use the GTmetrix website speed test and performance tool. This tool additionally gives you tips on what you should do to optimize your blog for speed.
Simply visit the site and type in your blog URL to analyze your site speed.
Use these tools to measure the initial speed of your site. Do what you can to improve your blog speed and then test for improvements to see what works best for you.
3) Image SEO
One blog SEO tip that some beginners neglect is properly using image tags.
There are two tags that you should be aware of when using images, the alt tag, and the title tag.
The alt tag is intended to be alternative information for the image. If the image is unavailable, the alt tag, or alternative text, will be displayed instead.
The title tag is used as the title of the image and is displayed as a tooltip if hovered over.
For example, this image has an alt tag of “blogging with keyboard” and a title tag of “Blogging.”
For blog SEO purposes, it is important to include at least alt tags on your images.
The thing is, search engines do not see the images the way we do. Alt and title tags tell search engines what the images are about. Without these tags, all that search engines see is the code for the image.
To add alt and title tags to your image, add alt and title attributes to your image code.
If you are using WordPress, alt tags are automatically added to your images when you use the add media button. WordPress makes the alt tag the same as what the image was named.
4) Research Keywords
You should be using relevant keywords in order to rank for them.
Doing proper keyword research will help you target the right keywords.
To get information on keywords, you can use Google’s keyword planner tool.
To get started, head over to the keyword planner website and then sign in.
Once you have signed in, you can now search for keywords and get statistics. To do this, type in the keyword you wish to search for.
When you do a search for a keyword, you will see the number of searches for that keyword, the competition level, and related keywords.
Use this information to find keywords worth targeting. A keyword with high search traffic may be too hard to rank well for, especially for a beginner blog.
Try to find keywords with a decent search amount and a low to medium competition level. One of the advantages of focusing on a narrow niche is that you can target specific keywords that big companies might overlook.
The Google keyword planner tool lets you see the competition level for each keyword, so use that to your advantage when selecting keywords to target.
Although targeting the right keywords is a valuable blog SEO strategy, be careful not to overdo it. If you try to stuff your page with keywords in an unnatural way, you risk getting a penalty from search engines and could loos your rankings.
It is possible to recover from search engine penalties, but it can take time to regain your rankings.
Your writing should be natural and not overstuffed with keywords. The main goal of your blog should be to provide great content for your readers. Don’t ruin your blog posts by stuffing it with keywords to the point that it becomes unreadable.
At the right amount, including relevant keywords on your page will help you rank for the right search queries and draw in targeted traffic.
5) Content Strategy
There are many factors that have to do with content that can affect your rankings.
These can also be referred to as on page SEO factors and include:
- The quality of your content.
- How fresh your content is.
- The length of your content.
The quality of your content is another important blog SEO factor to keep in mind.
Google itself recommends creating high-quality content for your visitors. According to Google, you should aim to create content that is:
Creating great content will not only is good for search engines but also will be well received by your blog visitors.
Content that is useful and informative naturally attracts readers and is shared more om social media, linked to more, and bookmarked more. Great content can naturally attract links, called editorial links, to your page.
Try to also write blog posts often because fresh content is also favored by search engines.
This does not mean constantly producing small updates to your pages. Fresh content refers to posts that offer new material.
Content length is another factor you should have in mind when creating your articles. Search engines like content that is thorough. One study by serpIQ of over 20,000 articles found that the average content length of the top 10 search engine results was over 2,000 words:
Striving to write longer content is a good goal to aim for. Longer, more in-depth content also can get more shares and links back to it.
You do not necessarily have to be producing 2,000-word articles. 700-1000 words is a good place to start.
6) Use A Proper Permalink Structure
Permalinks are the links to your blog that point to all of your individual pages.
By default, WordPress uses a permalink structure that looks like a bunch of random numbers and letters.
Your permalinks should have the name of your article in them for two main reasons:
- It will help your readers identify the blog post.
- Having keywords in your URL can add to your blog SEO.
Luckily, setting up a good permalink structure in WordPress isn’t hard at all.
To set up your permalinks, head over to the settings tab on your WordPress dashboard and click on permalinks.
Now you can change your permalinks to a structure that is more readable.
It is generally best to select a permalink structure that includes the blog post name in it. For example, the “Post Name” option is a popular option and only include the post name in the URL. You can then change it in the post editor.
If you want to include the date in your posts, you can also choose a structure that does that also.
For a full walk through on how to set up your permalinks, visit this guide on setting up WordPress permalinks.
7) Link To Your Other Blog Posts
When you create a blog post, link to previous posts you have written.
Not only can this help you get users to different parts of your site, but it can also help spread the ranking power to your other articles.
These types of links are also called internal links. Moz, one of the top SEO resources online, defines internal links as follows:
Internal Links are hyperlinks that point at (target) the same domain as the domain that the link exists on (source). In layman’s terms, an internal link is one that points to another page on the same website.
When linking to other posts, including your links naturally in the text of the page.
As with most blog SEO methods, be sure not to overdo this. Too many links on a page can look like spam and can run the risk of getting your blog a penalty from search engines.
It is useful to note that search engines roughly crawl up to 150 links per page.
There is huge opportunity to get organic traffic from search engines.
By following this SEO checklist and these 7 blog SEO basics, you can position your blog to get better rankings.
You do not have to spend hours and hours on the blog to see results. Following these SEO tips do not take much time and you can get started with them right away.
If you are just starting your blog, it is more important than ever to start good SEO habits for blogging. By understanding and implementing these points, you can make every blog post you write better suited for search engines.
Search engine traffic is one of the many ways you can get your blog noticed. For more ideas for getting traffic, you can check out this ultimate list of 150 ways to promote your blog.
SEO does not have to be hard or something that is a mystery. Follow this checklist and you can better set your blog up to get ranked by search engines.