Are you struggling with SEO on your blog?
Do you wonder why you’re working so hard and just aren’t ranking on Google?
Do you feel like there’s a secret to all this that you just don’t understand?
I know the feeling. SEO used to be my nemesis. I thought I was doing everything right.
But it turns out I wasn’t.
So, I started learning. Studying. Seeing what other bloggers were doing.
And my hard work is paying off. I’m now seeing much more organic traffic on both of my blogs. You can find my post on the top of Google for a couple of topics, and in the first page for many others.
It’s an incredible feeling to type a phrase into Google and have your result pop-up first. And I want you to experience that.
I’m going to share my top beginning blogger SEO tips with you! These are all the things I wish I would have known three years ago when I started my blog.
What Is SEO?
Before you can implement SEO on your blog, you need to know what it is. Here’s a quick primer.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s a term used by content creators and digital marketers to represent the practice of getting content to perform well in search engines.
When you want to know something, you might type some search term into Google. You click the search button, and results instantly appear.
SEO is the process of getting your content to show up in the top results, instead of being buried back on page 572. Because no one scrolls through that many pages to find you and your blog.
Readers want their answers quickly, so they use results from the top page or two of Google. Typically, the higher you rank, the more traffic from search engines you can expect to get.
Quality and quantity of content both affect SEO. You want to write great blog posts!
There are other factors to keep in mind too, of course. In fact, there are entire courses written on this topic. This blog post won’t be an in-depth guide with everything you need to know.
However, it will help you build a solid foundation of good SEO practices to implement on your blog.
What Are Keywords
Keywords are the official name for what people type into Google and other search engines. They are just a word, or a string of words.
Some keywords are short.
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These short keywords are often very broad topics. They cover a range of information about the word.
These types of search terms are very hard for beginning bloggers to rank for. There are established sites with tons of information that you just can’t compete against easily.
Which means you need to use a different strategy. You need longer phrases for keywords. These are more specific and known as long tail keywords.
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When you write a blog post, you need to keep keywords in mind. But you need to make sure your priority is creating quality content.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Website authors used to just stuff keywords into articles. They’d throw a bazillion keywords and related keywords all into one article. They might have an entire page on their site that looked something like this:
Airline shuttle service in New York. New York shuttle. Shuttle service to the airport in New York. New York’s best shuttle service. How to find shuttle service in New York.
To the bots scanning for keywords, this site looked great! It had everything anyone could possibly want to know about airline shuttle service in New York.
It provided no value to actual human readers. It was literally just a bunch of keywords.
Sites like this have since been penalized by Google. They no longer rank highly in the search results, because Google wants people to actually find what they are looking for when they click a result.
Keyword stuffed sites didn’t do that.
Now, Google looks for content instead of just keywords. Make sure you don’t throw random keywords in, okay?
How to Find Keywords
This is where I got into trouble. I had head knowledge of what SEO was. I knew I had to create quality content about that keyword.
But I still wasn’t getting much traffic from search engines.
Something was going wrong.
And I finally figured out what that was halfway through last year. My big mistake was…
I didn’t pick keywords that people were searching for.
I just picked something that sounded good to me and ran with it. I selected my keyword out of thin air, not by doing research.
This mistake hurt my traffic. I was creating helpful articles, but no one was finding them because I didn’t use the right long tail keywords.
Now I know better. I take time to do keyword research before writing each post. And I’m going back and working on the SEO of my old posts. It’s been a game changer!
Here’s my new process:
- Jot down some basic theme/topic ideas on a piece of paper
- Head over to kwfinder.com (I use the free version, so I only get 5 searches in 24 hours)
- Type in one of my ideas and search.
- Look at the suggested keywords and the SEO difficulty score.
- Pick one or two keywords to focus on.
Then I repeat the process for each idea I’m thinking of. It’s really helped me find some great keyword phrasing that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.
Sally introduced me to KWFinder.com back when we were writing our blogging book together. It confused me with all the colors and links.
I didn’t understand what I was looking at, so I couldn’t make sense of the information. I put it off for a while, but eventually knew it was time to figure this out.
Here’s a screenshot of what I learned while doing research for this post:
See what I mean – if you don’t understand what you’re looking at, it’s confusing!
But I don’t want you to be confused like I was.
I’m going to break this down for you one component at a time, so you can confidently do your keyword research.
Once you’ve searched for a keyword, you’ll notice a circle on the right-hand side. This has some numbers and a color.
Green is good. It means it is still easy to rank for this keyword. Rank means get to the top of Google search results.
Keyword topics that are in green are ones you should try to run with as a beginning blogger. SEO tips as a standalone keyword wasn’t in green. It was red.
Red means difficult. The really, really hard kind of difficult.
That’s because a bigger, established, site, a site with authority, has ranked for that word. And there are tons of other sites trying to do so.
They’re all fighting it out over those common keywords.
But, while they’re busy fighting, you can sneak in and rank in the green areas. If the keyword you originally search for is red, think of how you can word it differently. Make it a question. Or add some details.
Oh, I forgot to mention that yellow means sort of difficult. Not as easy as green, but not as hard as red. It’s sort of medium difficulty, but still theoretically possible.
The Search Suggestions
Over on the left-hand side of the screen, you’ll notice a bunch of related keywords. These are all topics related to the one you searched for, along with their difficulty level.
This is where you can glean the information you need to find keywords related to your topic that you can integrate into your post.
Google likes sites that provide in-depth information, so they want to see these related keywords in your content.
They often make great subheadings, so think about using them when you do your outlines.
This is important. This is how you can figure out if people are actually looking for information about this keyword or not.
You’ll notice when I searched for “bloggers guide to SEO” it didn’t show anything in the trend column.
That’s because it’s not something people are looking for.
The trend column can help you avoid the mistake I made for years. Don’t pick keywords that no one is searching for.
Instead, look at your list of suggested keywords and go with one that’s hopefully green and has good amount of activity in the trend column. These two things will help you build a solid SEO keyword plan for each of your posts.
Of course, there’s a lot more data you can find on this website. They have tons of insight to help you grow. The sites listed on the right-hand side are all posts that are doing well for this specific keyword. You can use those to see what you must beat.
Your goal should be to write better, longer, more complete posts than the ones that are currently ranking.
There’s a ton to learn about SEO, but for now focus on the color, related keywords, and the trends. Look at the rest, but don’t get so caught up in trying to understand everything that you forget to take action with what you do know.
Beginning Blogger SEO Tips for Writing Your Blog Post
Once you find your keyword, it’s time to write your helpful blog post. Your goal is to naturally integrate your keyword into the post.
The important part there is naturally. Remember, no keyword stuffing allowed.
Write a great blog post about your topic. Break it down into easy to read sections with headings and subheadings. Break up long paragraphs so everything is easy to read.
Add an image or two to help readers get a better understanding.
Once your draft is done, it’s time for some tweaking based on SEO best practices.
Many bloggers (including me) like to use an SEO plugin to help us optimize our posts. Sally and I both use Yoast. There are free and paid versions available. I’ve been using the free one, and it works for my current needs. Perhaps someday I’ll switch, but for now the free one works.
Once you’ve written your post in WordPress, scroll down. If you have Yoast activated, you’ll see something that looks like this:
See where it says, “Focus key phrase”? That’s where you want to type your keyword or keyword phrase.
Now, you can use the suggestions Yoast provides to help implement some best practices in your post. This includes things like:
- Using the key phrase in the headline
- Including the key phrase throughout the post, but not too many times
- Having both outbound and internal links
- Writing a meta description that includes the key phrase
- Including the key phrase in your slug
- Having pictures with the key phrase
- Using the key phrase in a heading
On Yoast, when your post meets the guidelines, the little dot next to it turns green. When there’s a yellow dot, it means there’s something you could improve.
But, remember you are writing primarily for human readers. Not for Google bots.
This means you may not always be able to turn every dot green. That is okay! Sometimes you want a fun introductory paragraph that doesn’t include the key phrase. Or you want to have your key phrase at the end of your headline instead of the beginning.
This plugin understands that you many not always hit everything on the checklist. It gives you an overall post color as well. If the main dot at the top, by the word “Focus Key phrase” is green, that’s good!
SEO Is a Long-Term Game
When I first started blogging, I’d rush over to Google and see if I could find my site. I’d get so frustrated that I never could.
I was buried under pages and pages of other content. Even on words I’d tried to rank for.
I didn’t understand that SEO doesn’t happen overnight. It is a long-term game.
Google likes established sites. They like when a site has published multiple things in related areas and have some authority.
If you’re a beginning blogger, SEO will take some time.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Instead, write the best posts that you can. Blog consistently.
In about six-months to a year, you will start to notice your site ranking. Then the traffic starts coming from Google, and it’s a wonderful thing!
Quick Recap of Beginning Blogger SEO Tips
This post covered a lot of material quickly, so let’s review some basics:
- SEO helps you get organic traffic to your blog from search engines
- You need to do keyword research
- You need to pick keywords people are actually looking for
- Use Yoast (or another SEO plugin) to help you optimize your posts
- SEO strategies take time to implement
- You absolutely can go back and revamp your old posts to improve the SEO
- No one likes to read posts that are stuffed with keywords but don’t offer any value
- Write for people first
Beginning bloggers can build a solid foundation for their SEO. This will pay off greatly down the road. What you do now really does matter.
For even more blogging tips, including how to do keyword research on Pinterest, check out the book Sally and I wrote Make Money From Blogging. It answers many common questions about creating a money-making blog.