SEO is always mentioned in the blogging world, and if you want to make money from your blog in 2023, you have to teach yourself SEO.
But, where do you start?
Do you find it a little overwhelming or confusing? Is it just another skill you need to learn but don’t have the time for?
Seriously, SEO is not that hard and is a skill that will reap many benefits. This complete beginners guide to SEO will show you how with SEO terms for beginners.
When I first started blogging, I had no idea about SEO.
I concentrated on social media and Pinterest to grow my blog and send readers my way and paid no attention to the fact that Google was the key to making money blogging.
Back in 2019, I moved my website from Squarespace to WordPress and installed the Rank Math plugin. This is probably the first time I realised how powerful SEO was and I couldn’t believe I had neglected it for so long.
My page views almost doubled overnight and they steadily continued to grow.
Within 3 months of changing my website and installing Rank Math, I was able to join the Ad Management Agency – Mediavine, and start earning decent money from my website.
Do you want to know how you can grow your blog? Do you want to move away from social media and make your blog your main source of income?
Continue to read this post to find out more about SEO for beginners…
What is SEO and how it works
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. SEO helps websites to reach a high position in search engine results and that coveted first page on Google.
SEO helps improve your site to increase its invisibility and attract prospective and existing customers to visit your site.
Why do you need SEO for blogs?
Billions of people every day are using search engines to find answers to their questions, queries and problems.
Traffic from those search results is extremely important in building your website’s views and in turn, helping you to monetise your content whether that be ad revenue, affiliate links, products to sell or services.
The best thing about traffic from a search engine is user intent.
You could post on your social media stories every day about new blog posts or products, but the users who are viewing your stories will probably not want or need this product.
With search engines, the user has gone directly to Google or Bing and asked a specific question. If your website comes up in the results, that user will more than likely visit your website and buy from you or read your content.
I know this only too well by just looking at my Google Analytics. Pinterest used to be my no. 1 traffic driver, but in the last 6 months, Google has overtaken this.
My social media accounts (even though I post regularly and put links every time I publish a new blog post) make up around 1% of my monthly blog views.
This is with a combined 280,000 followers!
Google is the dominant player in search results and as of December 2022, it accounted for around 80% of the online search engine market share.
So, if you want to be seen and heard in 2023, Google’s algorithm and how to navigate around it is the most important thing you can do!
How do search engines work?
Search engines have bots that crawl the internet, follow links to websites and then index what they find. The index is like an enormous online library which users can pull information from to help find what they are looking for.
Algorithms then analyse the pages in the index and determine where the pages should appear in the search results, using a ranking system.
What is the ranking system?
There are 100s of factors to determine where your page will sit in the search results, but the main ranking system indicators for search engines are –
- Pages that contain high-quality, relevant information that answers the user’s query
- The keywords you put in your pages to determine whether your website and content are relevant
- They crawl other websites similar to yours to see if they answer the queries better.
- They look at the backlinks (other websites that are linking to your website) to see if your website is trustworthy.
- How easy your content is to read. Are there headings, short paragraphs, and images to support your content?
- Your site speed is fast
- Your website has a good structure so visitors will find it easy to navigate.
This might seem like a lot of work, but once you have a procedure put in place, they are all easy to achieve.
Search engines are looking for the best answer to users’ queries, your job is to come up with the best answer and beat your competition.
A beginners guide to SEO – how to actually DO SEO for blogs
Taking all of the above into account, where do you start with SEO for beginners?
If you have a WordPress website, the best thing you can do is install the Rank Math or Yoast plugins. These are Search Engine Optimization plugins for WordPress that make it easy to optimise your content with built-in suggestions and are extremely easy to use.
However, they can be a bit basic and without any knowledge of SEO, you may still struggle to rank highly on search engines.
What are the main ranking factors of SEO for blogs?
- Keyword research
- Keyword usage
- Site speed
- Site structure
- Easy to read
Every point above has an important part to play in how your website ranks in search engines. Making sure each blog post has these factors will help you to increase the traffic of your website.
This is such an important aspect of SEO for blogs, it had to go first!
I ignored keyword research for my blog up until very recently and it is probably the main reason why, even though I have good traffic from Google, it could be so much better.
For the first 4 years of my blog life, I would write about topics I wanted to cover or read. I paid no attention to what people were searching for on search engines and I am surprised anyone was reading my content!
Keyword research is all about finding keywords that people are searching for and in good numbers. There is no point in writing a blog post on your favourite bobble hats if no one is searching for bobble hats.
However, you also have to be careful about your competition (other websites in your niche).
You could write a blog post on your favourite hats, but if giant websites like Marie Claire and Woman and Home are also writing about their favourite hats, your small website won’t have a chance of competing and ranking high.
Keyword research is all about finding keywords with the highest number of searches but low in competition.
More on Keyword Research >>>
How to carry out keyword research?
There are plenty of ways to find keywords to use in your blog, either for free or paid.
Google Trends is a great way to search and compare keywords to find out what is currently trending. You can can set the location and find out what keywords are currently “breaking”. The key is to jump on that keyword quickly.
I get a lot of my keywords just from typing in ideas into Google itself.
If you have a blog post in mind, type some keywords about the topic into the search bar. It will show you a page of results from people who have already covered the topic (and help you gauge the competition) and will also give you some examples of questions users have asked. Base your keywords around that!
What are your most popular blog posts? Can you squeeze more content around that topic?
For example –
I’ve written a blog post about bedroom mirrors which is my top-performing post. I could then create content around budget bedroom mirrors, where to place mirrors in the bedroom, the best small mirrors for a dressing table etc.
More on Keyword Research >>>
After doing your keyword research, you need to place this keyword in your blog post.
To optimise your keywords, you need to put them in specific areas such as –
- Your title
- At the beginning of your content
- In the alt text of images
- In one or more subheadings
- Scattered several times throughout your content
- Your meta description
- Your URL
- Make sure you haven’t used this keyword before!
I use Rank Math to help me with keyword usage in my blog posts. In time, it will become second nature.
Building links back to your website is one of the most important things you can do. Google’s algorithm places huge importance on backlinks to your site as it deems your website trustworthy and indicates your content is worth reading.
Your website DA (Domain Authority) is one of the best ways of appearing high in search results. When you are looking at the competition for your keywords, knowing your competition’s DA will help determine whether it is worth writing a blog post around those keywords.
If you are a relatively new website, it can be hard to increase your DA and get backlinks.
The best way to start is –
- Write guest posts for other websites
- Feature in brand’s blogs and get them to link back to your website
- Share all your content on social media
- Respond to journalist’s requests for content on websites like www.presshunt.co and www.pressplugs.co.uk
How fast your website loads and how quickly users can navigate around your website are becoming more important for ranking within search engines.
Improving your user’s experience can have huge implications on SEO for blogs. If your site is slow to load, users will bounce back out of your website and will indicate to search engines that your site isn’t worth directing traffic to.
Helping users navigate your site can improve their experience and tell search engines you are providing good content.
A good site structure includes informational architecture such as cornerstone (pillar) content, tags and categories, internal linking and website menus.
Cornerstone (or pillar) content is high-value content that should be the core of your website.
These blog posts or pages should be extremely well-written, and lengthy, and include keywords that describe what your website is about.
Your cornerstone content should be a pillar post that can be internally linked from other blog posts, multiple times.
These articles should be –
- At least 1000 words long
- Well written and researched with plenty of information to answer user’s queries
- Regularly updated
- Evergreen – a piece of content that people will read regardless of what time of year it is
- Be easy to read with lots of headings, images and internal linking
- Written around your main website categories
Good SEO plugins like Rank Math and Yoast both have the option to mark content as pillar content. Make sure you use it!
More on Pillar Content >>>
Tags and categories
Tags help you to describe your post in detail, while categories allow you to group post topics.
You should aim to have around 10 categories on your website. This will become your pillar content and help you to stay within your niche and tell Google what your website is about.
Tags help to describe your pages and posts in more detail and you should aim to include a maximum of 10 tags per post.
Tags are like the index of a book. If you go to the index of a recipe book, you will be able to find the pages listed for recipes on chicken, beef and lamb.
Tags on a website have the same purpose when it comes to SEO for blogs.
I didn’t realise the importance of internal linking when I first started my blog. Internal links can point your readers towards content that is similar to what they are reading, keeping them on your website and improving the reader’s experience.
Internal linking is also extremely important in helping search engines understand the structure of your site and what content your site provides. Search engines will put more emphasis on blog posts that have lots of links pointing to them.
Having the right internal linking strategy can help search engines determine the relevance of your pages, the relationship between the pages and the value.
Your menus are extremely important as it helps users navigate your site. It should be available on every page and include links to all your important content.
Don’t overload your menus with too many links as they will start to look cluttered and unusable. Your menus should include your categories so users can find your content quickly.
On this website, I have 6 main subjects on my menu. My blog title contains all my categories, and the other subjects point to pages away from my categories. This way, users can quickly find what they are looking for without becoming overwhelmed.
Finally, make sure you look at how your menus appear on a mobile site. It may look good on a desktop, but if you have overloaded your menus, they may go off the screen on a mobile.
Easy to Read
Making your content easy to read, or readability is all about marketing good content to your audience by making your writing understandable and providing answers to their questions or solutions to their problems.
Google is now putting more emphasis on user experience, so if your content is unreadable, boring or stuffed with keywords, users are not going to stick around . This will signal to search engines that your content isn’t worth reading, so is extremely important for SEO on blogs.
Blog posts with good readability should have –
Short, easy to read and understandable sentences
The majority of users coming to your website will do so via their mobile phones. It is a whole different experience reading an article on a mobile phone than it is reading it on a desktop, so you really need to keep your sentences short and sweet.
This will stop huge blocks of text from filling up the mobile screen and potentially stop users from reading it.
Many readers will read a blog post by skimming it first, so if you provide them with short, separated sentences, it will be easier and quicker for them to read.
Make sure you start every paragraph with a core sentence. The first sentence of every paragraph should contain the message you are trying to get across and the rest of the paragraph can go into more detail.
A good structure
We all know how frustrating it is when we search for an answer to our question and end up on a web page that doesn’t answer it at all.
The most important thing we need to do when writing a blog post is to make sure the content answers the title and gives our readers what they need.
To make our blog posts well-structured we need to –
- Create a title that grabs the reader’s attention
- Have a clear goal when writing the blog post. This will make it easier for you to write and useful and informative for the visitor to read
- An introduction which covers the title and why the reader should carry on reading
- The main body of text. This will be separated by sub-titles to help make the post easy to read and goes into more detail about the subject, hopefully answering the reader’s questions
- The conclusion. Summing up what you have covered in the blog post and potentially giving the reader a call to action.
If you want search engines to show your pages in search results, you must make sure a search engine can access and read your site’s content – or crawl it!
You could have the best-written content with answers to many people’s problems, but if your site isn’t using basic SEO, search engines will believe your content isn’t worth reading.
Reasons why Google is not indexing your site or pages –
- Your site is not mobile friendly
- Your site speed is slow
- Your content is poorly written
- You are using a complex coding language
- Your site isn’t user-friendly and is hard to navigate
- Your site is set up as a noindex
- You’re not using a sitemap
- You haven’t implemented technical SEO!
The first thing you need to do to correct any crawl issues is to add your website to Google Search Console. This is such an extremely powerful tool; it can help you optimise search performance and monitor your performance.
Search Console provides invaluable tips, tutorials and advice and you can check to see if individual pages on your site are indexed (Google’s search index is basically its entire inventory of websites. Only indexed sites will appear in search results).
I regularly check that the pages from this website are indexed and if they have been crawled by Google via the Search Console. If they are not indexed or crawled, I submit a request asking Google to do it and 9 times out of 10, this fixes the issue.
This blog post has only scratched the surface of SEO for beginners, but I hope it gives you a bit more understanding of what it is and how to implement it.
I have been teaching myself SEO for a few years now and it has had impressive results on my blog. However, I am always learning about SEO for blogs as it is such a vast subject.
Google is always looking for the best result for its queries, so above all, make sure you are writing extremely good content!!
There are plenty of tools out there to help you with SEO for beginners, like keywords, improving your site speed and post structure, but if Google users are coming to your page and bouncing straight back out again because it is poorly written, Google will be wary of sending people to your site again.