SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization and is actually not as intimidating as you’d think, once you invest a bit of time learning the basics of an effective SEO Strategy.
Search Engines will be one of the biggest and free sources of referral traffic for readers to discover your blog. The most popular search engines being Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.
Depending on your industry and the context of your blog, a search engine like Google is going to run your website on over 200 different measuring points for quality, reputation, and credibility.
The Truth About SEO
The truth is that no one really understands 100% of how any search engine really works. Search engines are very complex and are constantly being updated and changed in how search results are ranked!
It will be up to you to learn as much as possible about the best practices of SEO and then develop your own strategy for it while providing your reader with the best user and content experience possible! (We’ll be going over some best practices later on!)
What To Expect From An SEO Strategy
Here are some main points to keep in mind when you build an SEO Strategy for your blog.
- Understand that SEO is a long tail game. The more competitive your industry or niche, the longer it will take to rank. Sometimes as long as six months. Some keywords could take longer!
- With voice search getting more popular it’s best to focus on long tail search phrases that match a user’s intent. So don’t focus on a keyword like “Car”, focus on the intent with longer keywords like “buy a new car” or “best deal on a new car“.
- Your website should be coded properly and free of performance issues. It should be secure, easy to navigate and load fast on desktops and mobiles. If it does not, Google could penalize you in the rankings. Check out the Google PageSpeed Insights Tool to test your blog for any issues.
SEO Best Practices For Your Blog
1) Engagement and User Experience Matters
Google measures the value of your website with signals that the reader is engaged with the content. When the reader found your link in the search results and clicked it, did it satisfy the answer to there search query?
If it did not and Google measures that the user clicked the back button too soon, and then went to another website to find an answer, this might signal that your engagement was low because the user experience was poor. Or the quality of your content was low and did not help the user in their search.
Pay close attention to the performance, content quality, user interface colors, pictures, icons, fonts, and the overall quality of your website. It all matters!
Did you know? There’s a whole science behind UI design, even the colors you use. Check out an article I recently read called Your Brand’s True Colors to find out more.
2) Technical SEO Concepts and Checklist
We mentioned earlier how page speed can affect your rankings in the search results. Whether it’s a Desktop Computer, iPhone, or Droid, etc. your blog needs to load fast and display well for a readers device and screen size.
Sometimes web browsers can have HTML compatibility issues. You’ll need to make sure your website does not have any errors when loading with popular web browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Internet Explorer, or Edge.
Most likely you won’t have any issues if you’re using a quality theme etc. If you hire a web designer, they should be knowledgeable in this area of SEO!
For a complete technical SEO checklist that’s pretty easy to follow, check this article by Search Engine Journal: Technical SEO Checklist For Non-Technical Marketers
Quick Tip: You want to have a reader-friendly URL with no weird numbers or characters in the URL of your web post or page. Have a URL structure that looks like this: domain.com/description-of-what-article-is-about – See how you don’t have any ugly characters in the URL? The setup of a proper URL structure is called Permalinks, you can read more it here at this article: WordPress Permalinks
3) Writing Style And Staying On Point
Write engaging posts with a conversational style, this will help keep a reader interested. Staying on point with your headline will make sure the reader gets a high-quality answer to their search query.
The better your content sounds when reading it out loud, the better it will be for voice searches and reading back quotes (from it) for videos and podcasts!
To get more of a deep dive on writing style and staying on point check out the following article I wrote on How To Create A Blog Post.
4) Keyword Research [Focus on the search intent of the end user]
Keyword Research is pretty straightforward if you’re familiar with the needs and problems of the audience your targeting. If you regularly read other blogs in your genre or niche, you’ll have an easier time brainstorming what the main keywords should be for optimizing your search strategy.
Here’s a list of techniques you can use to research some basic keywords for your blog post.
- In the bottom of the Google search results page, you’ll notice a section that says “what other users search for”. It’s giving you free long tail search ideas to include in your article!
- On websites like Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Pinterest and many others you’ll notice an auto-suggestion in the search box when you type something in. Pull information on keywords and search queries from that too.
- Keyword Tools are also valuable resources. Check out Google Keyword Planner Tool, SemRush, and Ubber Suggest.
REMEMBER! Google is swapping exact keywords with synonyms of those words, so as time evolves more and more, it’s going to be harder to game the search engines with spammy keywords to rank high. So use your keywords in a natural way instead of being spammy.
5) Building Backlinks
Backlinks are not super important starting out. High-quality content and good technical SEO for your blog is. After you publish your first 10 articles you’ll want to start paying closer attention to backlinks and using them to build referral traffic to your blog.
There are two types of backlinks you can get from a website; “a follow link” and a “no follow link“; to learn the difference check out this article from Wordstream. Try to get as many “follow links” as possible.
The number one rule of backlink building is: Don’t spam the URL of your blog posts just anywhere, it will backfire big time.
Worse, Google might even penalize you for it! Build them out as naturally as possible using Guest Posts, Comments, Social Media, Online Forums, etc.
Be helpful and provide your link to provide helpful information to a community. There’s a whole blog discussing how to build backlinks called Backlinko – Go check it out, Brian Dean is an expert in this area.
Final Thoughts [RankBrain Changes Everything!]
Google is relying on machine learning and it’s RankBrain algorithm more and more these days. So expect search to be more and more based on the reputation and overall user experience of your website.
Here are some additional resources from Google on how to do SEO the right way:
Remember! There might be some blackhat techniques that work in the short term for boosting the performance of your SEO strategy. But, with the ever changing updates on the search engines, it’s not a sustainable long term plan. So provide as much value as you can and do things the right way from the start.