In this guide, I’ll show you exactly how to start SEO for your blog. Whether you’re a total beginner starting a blog from scratch or you’ve already written the first few posts and you would like to give your site some gas, this ultimate guide is for you.
SEO ‘gurus’ like to overcomplicate Search Engine Optimization for very unclear reason. But what I’ve learned over the years, blogging SEO is far much simpler than you think.
It just requires a lot of work, which, unfortunately, doesn’t pay upfront or instantly.
The beauty of clean blogging SEO is that it can take your site from just another canvas filled with a ton of posts into a powerful go-to site where people come to learn, convert, and buy products and services.
So if you’re interested in the most simplified guide to on-site and off-site blogging SEO, you can’t skip reading this massive post.
What is Blogging SEO?
Blogging SEO is the practice of utilizing simple and technical strategies to build a solid site architecture and optimize content for the search engines. If done right, blogging SEO can give you a valuable exposure to search engine and increase your site’s traffic.
Having been in the blogging business for 10+ years, I’ve learned that blogging SEO is more than just creating content that people want to read.
It’s about fine-tuning every factor that Google and other search engines care about, without which it gets difficult to rank and make money.
To be abundantly clear, the role of blogging SEO is to:
- Make sure the search engines can find, crawl, and understand your blog content for proper distribution to an online audience.
- Ensure you’re creating high quality content that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience.
While working on a blog, you deliberately use SEO to support a continuing strategy.
This involves creating in-depth, interesting, and relevant content that corresponds with your audience's demands and search intent, as well as utilizing the SEO techniques you may already be familiar with to ensure the success of your blog.
Key Terms in Blogging SEO
I’ll get into the in-depth details of blog SEO in a moment. For now, I want you to understand the most important terms that you’ll come across for as long as you’re in the blogging business.
1. Dwell Time
Dwell time is the amount of time a user stays on a web page on your website after clicking its link on the Search Engine Results Pages before exiting the site and returning to the SERP results.
The usefulness of this measure to a search engine should be self-evident: The longer time a visitor spends on the content of a website, the higher the chance that the page suits their needs.
2. Page Experience (Core Web Vitals)
Core Web Vitals are a set of elements that Google considers crucial to the overall user experience of a webpage. It consists of three particular page performance and user interaction measurements:
- Largest Content Paint
- First Input Delay
- Cumulative Layout Shift
Core Web Vitals are a subset of criteria that contribute to Google's overall "page experience" score.
3. On-site Optimization
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing your website's pages to boost rankings and user experience.
- Internal connections
- Images within page content
- HTML code URL optimization
- User Experience (UX)
- Internal linking
There’s a lot to cover on on-site optimization, so I’ll share more information on the same later in this guide.
4. Off-site optimization
Off-page SEO refers to all SEO techniques that do not include updating or publishing website content.
In the past, off site SEO only meant building backlinks to a blog to improve the rankings of web pages on search engines.
But SEO has changed a lot over the years, and now off-site SEO refers to several activities done outside your site to improve its visibility, including social media marketing, brand development, content marketing, and so much more.
The goal of on-site optimization is simple:
It helps to increase your website’s authority, trustworthiness, and relevance for people and search engines.
5. Technical SEO
Technical SEO refers to enhancing the technical features of a website in order to boost its search engine rankings.
The cornerstones of technical optimization include making a website simpler to crawl, and intelligible for search engines.
SEO Blogging for Beginners: How to Start and Scale to Grow Your Blog Traffic
Now that you know what the common terms used in blogging SEO are, let’s go straight to discussing how you can start optimizing your blog for search engines.
I will focus on the most fundamental aspects of the optimization. In other words, you’ll learn about technical SEO, post optimization, off-site SEO, topical relevance, and evergreen content.
I understand that there’s just too much information to consume on Search Engine Optimization.
But I’m going to share only the most important tips that have helped me to build and scale my websites, so that you, too, can do the same without feeling too overwhelmed with information.
Get Your Technical SEO Right
1. Use HTTPS
HTTPS is a ranking factor, always has been since 2014. And given that HTTPS encryption is free with the use of Let’s Encrypt, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have it on your site.
The padlock that appears on the browser on the left side of your site’s URL in the browser’s search bar indicates that a site uses HTTPS. And it gives visitors the confidence that your website is secure.
2. Use Fast WordPress Themes
WordPress is a powerful Content Management System. But, on its own, it doesn’t feature beautiful themes that enhance readability experience.
Often, you’ll find yourself going outside what WordPress provides to finding themes you can install and use instead.
That’s a good move.
But you have to choose a faster WordPress. Otherwise, your site won’t load fast, which more than likely will lead to a bad user experience.
Check out my guide on choosing a theme for your blog to find the right theme that would be suitable for your blog.
3. Optimize for CWV
Web engineers at Web Dev define Core Web Vitals as Google’s initiative to provide quality signals for delivery the utmost user experience on the Internet.
Core Web Vitals are new Google ranking factors, but, like with many of the 200+ signals, they don’ carry much weight.
If anything, optimizing your Core Web Vitals won’t give you an instant boost in Google’s rankings. But, still, they’re an important factor to consider in your technical SEO.
Check our guide on Core Web Vitals here for more information.
4. Setup SEO friendly URLs
Setup your blog’s permalink such that it allows you to write SEO friendly URL for every post and page that you publish on the site.
You can easily do this of WordPress. Simply:
- Login to your WordPress dashboard
- Hover over the settings tab on the left menu and click permalink
- Change the permalink from the default option to ‘post name’
Now, when it comes to creating SEO-friendly URLs, it’s good to ensure you include your target keywords in there.
We’ll talk more about this later in this guide.
5. Minimize the Number of Plugins
WordPress plugins extend the functionality of the WordPress CMS, allowing you to turn your blog form a basic platform into a content powerhouse.
However, the problem I’ve seen many bloggers make is to install as many of these extensions that they really need, and that’s simply wrong.
Plugins are great.
But they can easily slow down your website, making pages load slowly and thus affecting user experience in a negative way.
The bottom line is this:
Make sure you install only the most necessary plugins in your WordPress blog – at least for the sake of site’s speed and overall page experience.
Optimize Your Blog Content for Search Engines
With your site’s technical SEO figured out, it’s time to learn how to optimize your posts for search engines, so that you can rank for more keywords and make more money with the monetization options of your choice.
Content optimization may be involving, but it’s not difficult.
You’ll spend time doing keyword research, optimizing content based on an up-to-date optimization checklist and boosting readers’ experience.
Let’s look at each of these options in more details below:
1. Keyword Research
Keyword research is the process of analyzing and understanding the language employed by a target audience while searching for products, services, and information online.
In the process, you have to analyze, compare, and prioritize the best chances for your website based on the niche you’re working on.
Keyword research is important because it’s the only way to determine what users are searching. By doing keyword research, you’ll have a clear picture on what to avoid because no one is searching for those terms and instead focus on the keywords that can bring you traffic and money.
When it comes to keyword research, I often recommend focusing on long tail keywords, and for good reasons.
Often more than three words long in keyword classification, long tail keyword are search terms with low search volume and low competition. However, there are also long tail keywords with higher search volume that also fall in the long tail category.
One thing that I’ve learned as a blogger is that there literally thousands of long-tail keywords to target. What’s even more interesting is that people search for them more than they search for other types of keywords.
There are two primary reasons why you should prioritize long tail keywords:
First, long tail keywords are less competitive than shorter head and body keywords when it comes to SEO.
That means they’re easier to rank for within a short time.
And when it comes to running PPC ads, long tail keywords might be less expensive to bid on than the most popular ones.
Second, Long tail queries are not just longer. People who look for long tail phrases are typically considerably further along in the purchasing process than those who seek for head terms.
For example, a user who searched for the phrase such as “best mountain bike for beginners” is highly likely at the stage of making an order and purchasing a bike than someone who searches for a keyword that isn’t as specific.
You should check out this guide to learn how to find long tail keywords (or topics) to create content around.
2. On-site Optimization Checklist
Now that you have some decent long tail keywords for your blogging SEO, it’s time to take this even a step further and start optimizing posts for the keywords.
To be abundantly clear, post or page optimization is a repetitive process.
In other words, you’ll do less the same thing on one post as you do on the nest one – for as long as you’ll be in the blogging SEO world.
Focus on Long Tail Keywords
I can’t stress enough just how important it is to focus on long tail keywords, especially if you’re just getting started with a new site.
You have the chance of ranking faster on Google, thus putting your content in the eyes of so many people who search the web, often earlier than a new blogger who focuses entirely on body and head keywords.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t focus on head terms. Later, you may want to write thorough guides on head keywords to which you can point the less competitive posts as support articles.
For now, focus on long tail keyword!
Write a Catchy SEO title
Include your keyword in the title tag, making sure you front-load it as soon as possible and where possible.
Also, consider adding title tag modifiers from your list of keywords, but make sure the title reads naturally so you don’t confuse your reader.
The advantage of adding title tag modifiers to your SEO title is that you give every blog post the opportunity to rank for different long-tail keywords, thus bringing more traffic to your website.
Write Creative Headlines to Boost CTR
Your SEO titles don’t have to be just keyword packed. You have to make them as interesting as possible to boost click through rate.
In addition to including your keywords in the SEO title, often exactly as it is, don’t hesitate to use additional words that easily grab a reader’s attention and make them want to click on your results.
Optimize Your Meta Description for CTR
Likewise, it’s important to write your Meta description for CTR.
To be clear, you don’t have to include your keywords in this section, as it doesn’t carry much ranking power anymore.
But, where and if it fits, feel free to include the keyword in the description. And make sure the section reads naturally.
SEO Friendly URLs
Earlier in this guide, I showed you show to change the permalink from the default setting to post name in WordPress.
But that’s not all there is to creating an SEO friendly URL.
You also have to include your target keyword here. By doing so, you make it easy for Google to understand what your post is about, not to mention that it can go a long way to boot your CTR.
Also, make the URL as short as possible. For what it’s worth, short URLs tend to rank better in Google.
Place Keywords in the Right Places
I often make sure I have keywords in the right places in my post before I hit the publish button. And that’s quite instrumental when it comes to ranking my website.
Start by placing your keyword in the very first paragraph. But if doing so won’t make your introduction read naturally, use the keyword in at least the first 100 words.
Make sure your target and related keywords appear in H1, H2, and H3 tags. That way, you will have the opportunity to rank higher for the keywords you place in these tags.
Sprinkle Related Keywords in the Content
Perhaps the biggest mistake I made when starting out was optimizing every post on my blog around a single keyword.
The traffic from each post “okayish”, and the results weren’t as pleasing.
But when went back to my posts and started to sprinkle related keywords during re-optimization, I saw quite a significant boost in ranking.
If you want to rank on Google, your approach to keyword use has to change.
Instead of including your primary keyword in the article fifty or so times, consider using related phrases. After all, we’re in the age of semantic search and search engines are smart enough to figure this out on their own.
Let’s easy you want to target the keyword “how to start a blog”.
To me, it wouldn’t make sense to include that keyword 20+ times in the post. Rather, I would consider including other phrases such as:
- How to setup a blog on WordPress
- How to customize a blog
- How to launch a WordPress blog
You get the idea.
You can use the LSI Graph tool to find additional keywords in the blink of an eye.
I’m not sure if Google demotes websites that don’t use images. But I can tell you for sure that people don’t like reading walls of text.
So add images to your blog posts, and make sure you optimize them properly.
There are no hard and fast rules to image optimization, but you at least should get the filenames and the alt tags figured out depending on the post you intend to publish and the niche you’re working on.
3. Boost Reader's Experience
This bit is a no brainer, so I’ll go over it very quickly.
- Use short paragraphs: Avoid walls of text because they’re an eyesore. Break some paragraphs into bullet points to make it easy for readers to scan your content.
- Add Images and Videos: There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to adding images. But you want to make sure you have an image after every 150 to 200 words of content.
- I also like to embed a relevant video in the post, but of course, where I feel videos would do a better job at illustrating something than plain text would.
- Do Internal Linking: Internal linking helps a lot with SEO. So it’s important to interlink related content on your blog to make it easier for the bots to crawl and index your posts and pages.
These are minor tweaks to make to a blog, but they can be very easy to forget – or neglect altogether.
Keep in mind that you want your content to be the best possible on the topic. So, making these changes can go a long way to make a huge difference.
Do Off-site SEO to Improve Your Blog’s Visibility
If you want to rank on Google and enhance your brand's organic traffic, you'll need to consider more than just on-page SEO.
Off-page SEO is a crucial component of a good SEO strategy. So, it must be a part of your blogging SEO campaign.
What Does Off-Page SEO Entail?
Off-page SEO refers to all SEO techniques that do not include posting or updating website content on your website.
When it comes to off-site optimization, you have to consider:
- Link building
- Brand development
- Citation building
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
These techniques assist both search engines and people in gaining a deeper understanding of your website, hence enhancing its authority, trustworthiness, and relevancy.
Off-site Optimization Techniques to Use Right Now
Let's examine off-page techniques you can employ to increase authority and organic search traffic.
1. Link Building
Link building continues to be a fundamental component of any off-page SEO strategy.
It’s because getting backlinks from authoritative websites to your own assists in establishing you as an authority in your niche.
The primary objective of link building should be to get high quality links and connections from authoritative sites. And, if anything, quality should always take precedence over quantity.
As part of your link-building plan, you should work to close the link gap between your site and those of your rivals. If they're gaining backlinks from high authority websites that aren't connecting to you, you may be missing some high quality traffic.
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing encompasses both on-page and off-page strategies.
Publishing outstanding content on your website is simply one aspect of content marketing. It also encompasses any material you generate and publish anywhere on the web.
In action, content marketing is about writing guest posts or producing infographics for major publications in exchange for mentions and backlinks to your own site.
Developing outstanding, engaging content may facilitate the promotion of your content and encourage others to share it. Content marketing also works well with off-page strategies like as link and public relations.
Guest blogging is the submission of content to another website in order to give knowledge and value to their audience. When done correctly, guest posting may add far more to your marketing plan than simply building links.
One big advantage of guest posting is that it exposes your blog to a specific audience, generates targeted traffic, and positions you as an authority in your niche.
Reaching a new audience, gaining exposure to a site's traffic, and establishing your brand should be the key goals of guest blogging.
When you approach the strategy with this mentality, you will discover how beneficial guest blogging can be to the development and growth of your online presence.
In other words, links should not be the sole motivation for guest posting; they should be an extra bonus.
4. Content Syndication
Occasionally, a magazine will syndicate information from other sources to augment its own unique stories. They do this because it is simpler than constantly developing new content.
Typically, content syndication happens among sites that are part of a network controlled by a television or radio company. But publishers also use this to enhance the amount of daily material published on their websites.
Carefully syndicate your material. If you syndicate your work on other websites, Google will always display the version they believe is most relevant for consumers in any given search.
It is beneficial to ensure that each site that syndicates your information include a link back to the original piece. You can also request that individuals who utilize your syndicated content include the no-index tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.
5. Social Media
About 93% of frequent Internet users access social networking sites every month. Social media plays a significant part in accessing the Internet and seeking for solutions, because they’re a form of answer engines that provide answers to questions that people have.
You should be aware that social shares are not a direct ranking factor, but your social presence may get you in front of prospective clients and consumers who are searching for answers to their inquiries or for the right brand to use.
You must maintain a solid presence, interact properly, and view social media as an additional brand channel that both present and prospective consumers will discover along the sales process.
You now have the complete guide to blogging SEO that you can use to grow your site’s traffic from 0 to 20,000+visitors per month.