When I first started out blogging, I knew that SEO—search engine optimization—was important to creating a successful blog, but I really had no idea where to start or what best practices I should be implementing.
A little less than a year later, I’ve learned a lot about the strategy behind SEO and how to use it to my advantage to grow this blog. Since a lot of my readers are fellow bloggers, I wanted to share the best SEO tips for bloggers I’ve found in my research that have been successful once implemented.
Before we begin, let me stress that if you’re blogging or want to start a blog, I highly recommend using WordPress. I initially blogged on Blogger, but when I made the change to a self-hosted WordPress.org site, my page views grew about 20% without me having to do anything new simply because my content appeared more often as relevant hits in my readers’ online searches. Pretty ironic considering that Blogger is a Google platform!
Another major reason to switch to WordPress from Blogger is a lot of the tips below cannot be implemented on Blogger because of the limitations of the platform. But the number one rule of SEO is to create quality, unique content that provides people with information they need, which can be done on any platform. So without further ado, here are my top 7 SEO tips for bloggers:
I love alliterative or play-on-word headlines as much as any magazine editor, but they are a total SEO buzzkill. Instead, it’s best to title your post someway readers can easily find it. For example, an outfit post on pink maxi dresses should be called “How to Wear Pink Maxi Dress” instead of “Pretty in Pink.”
Taking it a step further, it’s ideal if the post title is the same as the focus keyword set for the post. For example, in SEO by Yoast—the plugin which I use, and highly recommend—the focus keyword for this post is “SEO Tips for Bloggers,” which is the same as the post title.
On Blogger, you cannot set the focus keyword that is associated with your post, but on WordPress, you can. This helps with SEO tremendously as it allows search engine crawlers identify more accurately what your post is about, and in turn, enables readers to find content relevant to what they are looking for.
When selecting a keyword, be sure to pick one that quickly encompasses what your post is about. A short phrase like “how to make fabric hair ties” or a few words like “gifts under $25” is ideal.
SEO by Yoast allows you to set your focus keyword, and then gives your post a rating of poor, okay, or good based on usage of that keyword. SEO by Yoast also encourages and rewards use of the focus keyword in the post URL, the post title, the metadata, and content. Becoming more aware of how focus keywords work by striving to meet this criteria has helped me strengthen my content and how I structure my posts, ultimately driving more traffic to my blog.
A tip I recently learned is that you can log into Google Adwords to use their keyword planner to see how often a keyword is used by Google searchers. This allows you to create content around what people are looking for—there’s no point in creating a post no one wants to read!
I don’t necessarily use this tool to brainstorm new posts, but instead, I take the post I already decided to write and pick the best focus keyword possible for my content. I try out a few different keywords that accurately describes my content, and then select the one that is most searched for by Google users.
For SEO, the ideal post title is: the URL of your site / post title. For instance, the URL of this post is: atouchofteal.com/seo-tips-for-bloggers. You’ll note there is no date or category included. In Blogger, this clean URL structure is impossible to have, even if you own your own domain. In WordPress, this permalink structure is the default.
I fell victim to this major SEO no-no for a long time. When uploading images to your blog, don’t settle for the standard image name your camera provides such as “IMG_4601.” Instead, rename your images to match your focus keyword so that web crawlers understand what you’re uploading images of, which will help your SEO.
Also ensure that you use hyphens to separate words in your image titles. For example, “SEO-Tips-for-Bloggers” is correct, while “SEO Tips for Bloggers” is not. Spaces are not allowed in URLs, so WordPress will randomly fill in characters and numbers—you know the ‘%0%49%%’ crap you’ve seen!—which defeats the purpose of strategically naming your image.
After you’ve uploaded your keyword-named images, be sure to also input that keyword as the alt-text. Alt-text stands for alternative text, and this is the text that will show up in case your picture doesn’t load for whatever reason. Not only will this let your reader know what the picture should be in case it isn’t there, but it allows your keyword to be in yet another place on the page in text form which search engine crawlers can pick up (they can’t “read” images).
A backlink is when another website links back to your site from their site. The number of backlinks is one tool search engines use as a indicator to determine the popularity or importance of a website or page.
That being said, backlinking to your OWN content is equally important. Find relevant, natural places to include references to previous posts and you’ll be an expert at this in no time.
So there you have it—my top seven SEO tips for bloggers. Let me know if you have any additional tips that are worth adding or questions about SEO in the comments section below!