SEO for Bloggers: The Ultimate Guide
WordPress users alone publish 24 blog posts per second, which is 2 million posts every day.
Meaning that bloggers have published approximately 216 posts since you began reading this article. This makes it crazy difficult to stand above the crowd. But you need to stand out if you want your blog to succeed.
While it may take you 3-5 hours to write content, the few minutes you spend in optimizing your blog for search engines are equally important.
Every day there are over 2.2 million searches on Google alone, that’s not to mention the other search engines. Having your blog show up in front of that volume of people can shoot your blog into success effortlessly.
Why Should You Know SEO to Start a Blog?
If you want your blog to rank on the first page of search engines such as Google and its traffic to grow over time, you need to learn SEO and its best practices.
There may be other ways like paid ads and social media that you can use to boost your blog’s traffic, but they may cost you and aren’t as effective as SEO. Data even shows that organic searches drive 300% more traffic than social media platforms.
You can look at SEO as a long-term investment. You may not enjoy the dividends right away, but in time, it pays off.
Ranking on the first page increases the number of traffic your website receives because 67% of all clicks go to the first five organic results displayed on SERPs. 75% of online searchers don’t go beyond the first page of search results.
Besides first page rankings and growth or organic traffic, your blog will see some other benefits form SEO:
- More trust in your content — ranking your blog on Google or any other search engine helps to build the trust people have in your website.
- Easier blog promotion — easily found blog post has more chances of being shared on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
- More opportunities for monetization — if your blog ranks well and gets relevant traffic, you will have more opportunities to monetize it, be it through some courses or advertising, or anything else you have in mind.
SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. The process involves optimizing your online content in a way that enables search engines like Google to place your content on top of their search rankings for particular keywords.
For example, if you want your content to rank high on search engine results, your blog’s content needs to match what web users are searching for.
And you must know what the web users’ search intent is before you start writing content — so you can craft content that satisfies them.
Finding out what people in your blog’s niche are searching for continuously and creating content to answer their search engine queries is SEO.
To excel in SEO, make the right blog with the right content for the right people.
Important SEO Terminology
For a proper understanding of SEO and how it works, there are certain terms you need to get familiar with.
These terms are very common in the SEO dictionary, and to avoid getting confused when reading on SEO, we will highlight some of the most popular SEO terms and their meanings.
- Ranking: The order that search results appear in on the search engine result page in order of relevance to the query.
- SERP: This is an abbreviation of Search Engine Results Page. This is the page you see when you type in a query and click search.
- Traffic: The visits a website gets.
- Query: Words or sentences typed in the search bar of search engines. Web users type about 74000 queries into Google every second and over 6.3 million daily.
- Organic Traffic: Visitors that visit your site without being referred by another website. The traffic comes from unpaid search results on search engines.
- URL: It stands for Uniform Resource Locators. They are the addresses for individual pages on the web.
- Anchor Text: This is a clickable word of a link. You embed the link in a word or phrase. The purpose of the link is to give the reader more information about the web page you’re directing them too.
- Crawling: The process used by search engines to find web pages.
- Indexing: The organizing and storing of data found during crawling.
- KPI: It stands for Key Performance Indicator. This is a measurable value that shows how well an SEO activity is in achieving a goal.
- Click-Through Rate: The rate at which users click an organic search result. We often express it as a percentage.
- Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of web visitors that leave or bounce without viewing other pages on your website.
- Algorithm: A complex computer program that search engines utilize to gather or retrieve data and deliver results for queries on search engine results pages.
- Black Hat: Search engine optimization practices that go against the guidelines of search engines such as Google.
- White Hat SEO: This is SEO done the right way without violating search engine guidelines.
- On-Page SEO: The optimizing of web pages on a website to rank high in search engines and also generate quality traffic.
- Off-Page SEO: All the activities webmasters do outside a website to increase the ranking of a page on search engines. In fact, 75% of all SEO is off-page.
- Backlinks: You can use these to mean votes or good referrals gotten from other websites that influence your ranking. Quality backlinks improve the ranking of websites because search engines consider the links to be proof that your content is good.
- Domain Authority: The strength of a website. It influences the ranking of a fresh page. You usually have to build this over time, and the score is between zero to one hundred.
Now that you have learned the lingo, let’s see what you need to have to perform well on SERP with your blog.
What’s on the Search Engine Result Pages?
The search engine results pages (SERPs) isn’t just a list of URLs.
Over time, Google has put in a lot of features to the SERPs to support web users in knowing more about how each page satisfies their search intent without having to click a URL first.
Here are some of the most common snippets you’ll encounter in the SERPs:
- Featured snippet
- Carousel (videos, products, images)
- Map pack
- Image pack
- Knowledge graph
- Top Stories
- Answer box
- Sponsored features (shop on Google, Google Ads, flights)
As a blogger, your target SERP feature should be the featured snippet. If you can get your blog in the featured snippet, expect a massive traffic surge. Now, we will look into the criteria your blog content needs to meet if you want to achieve top positions on Google.
Search Engine Ranking Factors
Not all content ranks high in the search engine results pages and this is because some content does not meet the requirements for ranking.
There are certain factors that search engines consider before determining the ranking for each web page.
Below are some major factors considered:
High Click-Through Rate
A high organic click-through rate increases the chances of a page ranking high on search engines. The number of times different people click on a page after searching for a keyword helps search engines to determine how valuable the information on the page is to visitors.
The number one result in Google SERPs has an average click-through rate of 31.7%. Below is the full CTR breakdown for Google’s first-page organic results.
If your click-through rate is high, it is a sign that your content is valuable and Google will increase the ranking of your page to boost the visibility of the page to other people. You’ll improve your CTR by optimizing on-page elements we will discuss later.
Some Referring Domains
Other websites that link to your website are referring domains. Link building is one of the top 3 most important ranking factors on Google.
Having high-authority domains link out to your website increases your website authority and the higher the authority of your website, the higher it will rank on search engines.
This is because search engines determine the value of content on a post by the links associated with it. Google believes that weak sites will most likely have weak referring domains.
Long Dwell Time
This is the total time that website visitors spend looking at a webpage from the moment they click on the link to the page on the SERP before leaving the site and returning to the SERP page.
It is the time visitors spend on a website. Google pays attention to this because the longer the time a visitor spends on your web page determines how useful the content on the page is to the visitor.
If your content is relevant, the time spent will be longer. But if it’s not the visitor will exit the page immediately. If the visitor leaves your site and clicks another link on the SERP of the keyword you rank for, it means that website’s content met the needs of the visitor better, not yours.
Enough Domain Authority
Through the constant publishing of good quality content that is SEO optimized and having quality backlinks, you can boost your domain authority.
The domain authority is usually within the range of 0 to 100 with 0 being the lowest and 100 being the highest. If your score is 5, you will not likely rank well on search engine results.
High Content Quality
Upgrading and republishing existing blog posts with fresh content increases organic traffic by over 111%.
Quality Content and SEO go hand in hand.
Without high-quality content, it is impossible to enjoy the full benefits of SEO. The quality of your content determines how your visitors will interact with it.
And this affects your CTR and dwell time which also affects your blog’s domain authority and relevance and the quality of referring domains.
It is easier for a web page to have high-quality backlinks if it has high-quality content. High- authority websites do not link out to pages with poor content quality because it will reduce their ranking.
In the same manner, if the content on a page is good and relevant, it will get high-quality backlinks. The higher the quality of the backlinks, the higher the ranking of the page on SERPs.
Good User Experience (UX)
This has to do with creating a blog that users can easily interact with.
Optimize your blog to give readers a wonderful experience and eliminate anything that may confuse or irritate the user. Remove excessive ads, have a nice blog layout with an easy to read typography (think Roboto, Poppins or another Sans Serif font), add a table of contents.
A good UX makes it easy for the site visitors to identify the answer to their questions effortlessly. Quality UX also increases the engagement on a web page and plays a key role in determining how your website will rank on the SERPs.
Data reveals that poor UX is responsible for the failure of about 70% of online businesses. So it’s something you’d want to look out for.
What You Need to Know About Algorithm Updates
Google and other search engines, consistently make updates to their ranking algorithms to enhance the quality of their search results. You’ve probably seen posts about how a recent Google update made people lose or gain their rankings.
However, if you stick to Google’s basic guidelines, then you have little to worry about concerning their updates.
Once you start with SEO, there’ll be moments where you’ll get compensated for your efforts by Google but there’ll also be times when your ranking drops even though you’re doing everything perfectly.
In such moments, keep doing what you’re doing by satisfying your visitor’s intent and aligning your blog to the recent updates. By sticking to that, you’ll get a rank boost reward from Google.
On-Page Search Engine Optimization Checklist
We’ve already gone through what on-page SEO means—all you do on your blog to optimize your site to rank in search results. But in this section, we’ll discuss on-page SEO implementation.
Back in the days when search engines were gaining traction, on-page optimization was just about putting in as many keywords as possible into your blog posts. But with the evolution of search engine algorithms, such practices have mostly become irrelevant to ranking.
Now, effective on-page SEO is all about analyzing and understanding user intent/behavior and engagement. To satisfy users here’s a list of things you need to tick off, before hitting that publish button.
1. Research and Analyze Relevant Keywords for Your Blog Content
Immediately, when you get an idea for a blog post, carry out keyword research on your idea. The research will assist you to understand how web users are searching for your topic idea on Google.
Next, locate keywords that are both easy to rank for and have a high search volume (more on this later).
Asides these, you need to understand the search intent of the keywords to make it easy for you to churn out the right content that’ll satisfy users.
Keyword research is the first and most important stage of on-page SEO and you don’t want to skip it.
2. Implement Blog Post Title and Subheadings Optimization
After getting your relevant keywords, you need to place them in your post title, subheadings, and throughout your article content. But ensure you do not stuff your article with the keywords as that would do more harm than good.
Include them naturally, as you’re writing for the reader first, then the search engine. You don’t want to ruin readability because of keyword placements.
Next, use your keyword in your meta tags (meta title and meta descriptions).
This is crucial as it helps to boost your click-through rate, which is a vital ranking factor. If your blog runs on WordPress, you can easily do this using the Yoast plugin.
3. Ensure Your URLs are Readable
This is such an important aspect of SEO and you don’t want your blog content URLs looking like this:
Rather, ensure your URLs are readable, so they look something like this:
The URL should give web users a basic idea about your topic and what the content is all about.
4. Add Quality Visuals to Your Blog Posts
Including videos and images in your blog posts will help to engage your blog visitors and decrease your bounce rate while boosting your average visit duration. This informs Google that web users like your content and the search engine rewards you by increasing your ranking.
Make sure you include alt text to all visuals on your page. Adding alt text to your media helps Google to know what the visual is all about. This will also assist in Google placing your images on Google Images search, which will drive more traffic to your blog.
Also, optimize your image load speed using tools that will compress them and reduce their file sizes, such as TinyPNG or some plugins. That way you will avoid slow load times.
5. Include Internal Links in Your Posts
Internal links are useful in driving traffic from one page to another on your blog. It increases the visitors’ average duration on your site, which is what you’ll want as a blogger.
From the optimization perspective, placing internal links helps Google crawler understand what your blog is all about, your site structure, and which pages are important.
Each page should not take more than 2 clicks to get to from your home page.
6. Put Mobile Optimization in Place
Approximately 60% of all searches are from mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. So it’s crucial to have a fast and efficient mobile version of your blog.
Google checks out the mobile version of your blog when figuring out how to rank it in the SERPs, even for searches coming from desktop computers. The process is called “mobile-first indexing”.
If your blog’s mobile version isn’t fast and efficient enough, your ranking will suffer, regardless of if most of your traffic comes from desktops.
That’s why using a responsive design for your blog is so important, as it looks great on any device. If you aren’t sure how well your blog is optimized for mobile users, you can check here to test it.
7. Voice Search Optimization
This makes it a smart move to optimize your blog’s content for voice searches.
But for your page to show up during a voice search, it needs to rank in the top 3 results. And your chances are higher if your blog post is in the featured snippet because 4 out of 10 voice query results come from featured snippets.
You should also include a FAQ section in your content to boost your chances of appearing in voice search results.
8. Aim to Have Your Blog Post in Featured Snippets
Featured Snippets or position “0” are the boxes that appear on the top of the search results page.
Studies show that 13% of search results have featured snippets, which means you’d want to optimize your posts for them.
What do you do to get your content on the featured snippet?
The first thing is to get your content on the first page. You can then optimize your post and formatting to get the featured snippet.
Here’s a list of content types that get a place in the featured snippet:
- “Why is“
- “Who is“
- “How to“
- “Best of“
- “What is“
Question-related blog posts are more likely to be on the featured snippets.
Quality Content and SEO
Imagine writing a fabulous piece that’s saturated with data, visuals, and quality information, but you don’t carry out search optimization on it. No one would read it. Similarly, if you carry out the perfect optimization for your page but your content quality is low, you wouldn’t rank for long.
So you need to craft unique and quality content and optimize it for the SERPs for a profitable outcome on investments.
This boosts your reach and also attracts backlinks because your content becomes an authority in your niche because of its quality of information.
What Do Search Engines Consider as Quality Content?
First things first, your posts need to be interesting and unique. And should satisfy your visitors’ intent.
Here are a few ways to give your content some traction and make it effective:
- Write in-depth guides
- Produce research-based posts with original data
- Craft tutorials and list posts
- Produce visual posts: videos. infographics and images, etc.
These content types get the most engagement and backlinks. So you may want you to come up with ideas that fall into one or all of the above content types.
What is the Acceptable Length of a Blog Post?
The acceptable length of a content piece depends on the number of words you require in passing your message across effectively. Keep in mind that you’re writing for humans first then search engines.
However, since we cannot outrightly neglect search engines, it’s imperative to know how they behave regarding content length.
Data reveals that blog posts that are long-form, with 2500+ words, have a higher chance of ranking in the top 3 positions.
Especially if we are talking about your most important, “pillar” content, as you want to be able to cover that topic in enough detail. Hubspot analyzed their own content and came to the same conclusion.
It’s important to note that if readers don’t consider your content as quality and it doesn’t get the message across adequately, then the length is irrelevant.
How to Do Proper Keyword Research?
You can’t churn out a properly optimized post without adequate keyword research first. So let’s have a look at what proper keyword research is
First off, you need to come up with topic ideas and then you can begin research on those topics. With SEO tools like Serptimizer that have advanced features, you can improve your rankings easily.
But there are also basic ways to do some simple keyword research.
Once you pick a topic idea, type it in the Google search bar and you’ll see Google give you a few suggestions of related keywords.
These suggestions are important as Google shows them to you because web users search for them often. Use different variations of your topic and pen down the keyword suggestions that Google shows you.
Next, check out the “Searches related to..” section on the SERPs at the end of the page. That looks like this:
Include these keywords to your keywords list and if you desire to increase our keyword list, click on the suggestions in the “Searches related to..” section and copy the keywords from the “Searches related to..” section.
Now that you have a list of keywords what do you do with them?
Choosing the Right Keyword
Consider the following keyword factors will help you achieve desired rankings faster:
- Search Volume: When picking a keyword you need to know if it has a high search volume.
- Keyword Trend: Using tools like Google Trends you can check if your keyword is trending or not. If your chosen keyword has a high graph, then you’ve made the best choice.
- Keyword Difficulty: Aim for keywords with low difficulty as it’ll help you rank quicker.
Search volume and keyword difficulty are metrics you can determine using tools like Moz or Ahrefs.
It’s important to state that you shouldn’t stuff your page with keywords unnatural to your content as it’ll invite a penalty from Google.
With that said, let’s proceed to link building.
Link Building in SEO
Did you know that 13% of SEO experts think link building is the first thing every marketer should learn when learning SEO? If you are running your own blog, you are also a chief marketer for it.
Link Building is an off-page SEO technique that involves the building of one way backlinks to a website to boost the search engine visibility of the website.
It is important to note that not all links are good. Getting backlinks from low-quality sites can jeopardize the ranking of the site. To prevent this from happening, it is important to know how to identify good quality backlinks.
Below are some indicators of the quality of a backlink.
Page Authority and Site Relevance
Page Authority is a score developed to determine the ranking strength of a single page on SERP. It is not the same as domain authority but we calculate the metrics used for measuring the same way.
Page authority is about a single page, while domain authority measures sub-domains or entire domains.
The authority of the page linking to your website determines the quality of the link and the impact it will make on your ranking. Links from authority sites pass more Page Rank or Authority to your blog.
Earlier in the post, we talked about how the relevance of the site affects the ranking of the website on search engines.
If search engines check the relevance of the site to determine how high it should rank, then you should also consider that when trying to determine the quality of the backlinks you will get from the website.
However, no matter how high the domain authority of the link is, if the niche or the content of the site linking to your blog is not relevant to your niche, the backlink is as good as useless.
Getting a backlink from a cryptocurrency website with a DA of 90 to your webpage on recipes is useless. A backlink from a similar website with a lesser DA will be more useful.
Link Anchor Text
The link anchor text is the clickable text section of a link. You embed the link in the text and when the text is clicked on, it redirects the visitor to another website where there is more information on the topic.
Search engines like Google pay a lot of attention to link anchor text when determining the quality of a link as the anchor text shows what the link is about. For instance, if your anchor text is “On-page SEO” the page the site is linking to must be about “On-page SEO”.
If the anchor text differs from what the page linked to covers, search engines may not consider it as a quality link. Using keywords as anchor texts is also helpful in SEO but do it with caution as search engines now mark most keyword-rich anchor texts as spam because of overuse and abuse.
Here’s an example of a keyword-rich anchor text – the orange one:
Position of Links on the Page
When building links to your blog content, you want to get the best ones possible. Links put at the sidebars and in footers are not as great as links placed directly in the article body. The link should appear in the main body of the post, especially in the middle. This adds more value to it.
The link also needs to be put in naturally. Randomly placed links are often not recognized and can be considered as a violation of search engine guidelines.
Do-follow and No-follow Links
Do-follow links are HTML attributes that allow search bots to follow links. A web page linking to your site with a do-follow link allows people and search engine bots to follow the link and get to your site.
Do-follow links play a key role in boosting link authority, increasing page rank, and gaining more SEO points, which will help the site to rank high in search engine results pages.
Here is an example of a do-follow link
<a href=”http://exampleblog.com“ rel=”external“>Example3</a>
The more the do-follow links, the better.
No-follow links are HTML attributes that instruct search engine bots not to follow a link. It sends a message to search engines that the linking to your website is not an endorsement, therefore link juice is not passed on.
About 50% of participants in a survey believe that no-follow links hurt their SEO, hence they are not keen on getting them.
This is an example of a no-follow link:
<a href=”http://exampleblog.com“ rel=”external nofollow“ >Example5</a>
Getting no-follow links to your blog pages won’t hurt you, but they are still not as effective as do-follow links.
To Sum Up
We hope this SEO for bloggers guide helped you optimize your blog properly.
Keyword research will help you determine whether some topic needs a better angle, title, or should be skipped.
On-page elements and good content structure will help your blog posts have better user metrics which will send good signals to search engines and lead you to better SEO results.
Follow all the SEO rules listed in this piece meticulously and watch your blog succeed.