I think I’m in love with SEO (for the past few weeks at least). It’s so analytical, and I guess I like that side of it.
So I guess it was only appropriate to write about it and dig deep into the whole SEO (search engine optimization) game. I will be writing about in the sense that you are somewhat new to the entire SEO concept, though we do go quite deep with this, so hang tight.
SEO is super important when you are starting a blog. It’s essential even after years of blogging. SEO is all about your content showing up on search results.
If you haven’t thought about SEO, your content (even if impressive by all means) will never show up in peoples searches.
With proper SEO you make sure your content is found online. If you don’t make sure your content is optimized for searches, there’s no way your content will be found.
Blogging is huge in volume
There are around 2 million blog posts published every single day (source). That is a lot of posts. If you want readers for your blog, make sure it stands out from the crowd.
And so we get to SEO, which is exactly the answer for you to get seen. Hopefully, I didn’t crush your dreams of writing what comes to your mind and people finding you that way. It’s not how it works in the global markets.
You might do fine locally but not if you want readers from all over the world.
I do have to admit that some do make a living writing what comes to their mind; however, that’s not very likely to happen to most of us.
We need SEO, and we have to make sure our content is something that is searched for. So I can’t write about my day or how good last nights movie was.
Let’s avoid SEO mistakes and see how to do it properly and effectively for your blog.
Google and SEO
These two are pretty much synonym for me. Whenever I think Google I think SEO. Google is a search engine, and SEO is search engine optimization. So you probably start to see how things connect.
By optimizing your content, you are making it searchable, and you are telling Google that: “hey look at this content”.
Googles’ job is to make sure that it provides you with the best information available for the search term you gave it to.
Let’s say you search: “the best restaurant in new york”. Googles job is to give you an answer to that question. And your job as a blogger is to provide the best possible answer to the question.
While you might give the best answer to that question in your blog post, you also have to make sure that the answer you gave is something that Google finds.
So your job is also to make sure that Google finds your answer and ranks that as the best possible answer available.
I guess you start to understand why SEO is super important.
Organic traffic and SEO
The above example was all about organic traffic and someone creating an organic search. That person was looking for the best restaurant in New York, and Google provided a link to a site to give you that answer.
This is called organic traffic, someone is organically looking for answers to a particular problem. Your blog is a database of solutions to problems people have. You blog about things that people search for. Now, you don’t always have to do this, but for your blog to be seen, you kind of need to.
If you are ok with that idea, you are ready to make money with your blog. Where did that come from?
Traffic = Money
Social network traffic and SEO
Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube are no different. They also work in the way of providing you the most relevant and best content for your search. Even though Facebook is not a search engine per se, it still has that same goal.
To provide you with the best content available.
Pinterest and Youtube are search engines like Google. I also consider these search engines part of those traffic sources that are important to know and understand.
You are searching for information and knowledge to yourself, and you do that by typing keywords to the search bar.
Keywords are THE thing in SEO. Keywords are search terms and tell what your content is all about. If you search something, you use keywords, you might see them as just words, but in SEO, they are called keywords.
Keywords, the meaning of them and an example
Keyword, as stated before, is a search term that people use to find content online. For a blogger like you, a keyword is a way for you to tell Google what your content is all about.
Let’s look at the previous example where a person asked: “best restaurant in new york”. Now, if your blog post has this specific question as the title, in the meta description, and you talk a lot about it. There’s a good chance your content pops up and is shown for the user.
Optimizing blog posts for keywords
Ok, so now we know how you need to have those keywords in your blog posts. But how exactly you implement this all to your blog posts?
Here’s a quick list you need to do, to get started with SEO and keywords:
- Title [H1]: Include your keywords to the title
- Subtitles [H2]: Include keywords to the subtitles
- Meta description [Install Yoast plugin if not yet installed]: Include keywords to the meta description.
You should not stuff keywords like an insane person, instead, give hints by using keywords sporadically. You should not fill your content with keywords. Remember you are still writing a blog post, have fun with it.
Don’t overcomplicate things.
Your blog post is not about the keywords it’s about giving the answer. My job here is to give you the answer to how you can implement SEO for your blog and improve traffic that way.
Same with your blog post. You answer a topic while making sure those words people write to the search bar are visible in your blog post and that you answer to the question at hand.
Now that you know what is SEO and keywords and how they connect. It’s time to go for SEO strategies. How you can approach the whole SEO concept.
You see, SEO is not just about keywords. There’s a bunch of other factors that play a part here. It’s how you rank in search results and how you get your blog seen after the keyword optimization is done correctly.
If you think that no one else does keyword optimization, you are wrong. Keyword optimization is kind of the basic thing you should be doing from the very beginning.
If you haven’t done this before, there’s a lot of work to be done.
When I was just starting with blogging, I knew nothing about these things. I didn’t realize I had to use keywords in my titles. I didn’t even understand meta description. There was a lot of mistakes I made. Not doing SEO is one of the biggest regrets I have.
You are already in a better place than I was, just by reading this.
So now, we dig deeper into the SEO and see what else there is to it.
Strategy #1: Page and domain authority
Now, I have to say this in the very beginning that page or domain authority is not confirmed to be part of Googles algorithm. So why should you care about this?
Well, even though Google doesn’t use this, this is still an exciting strategy, and something that Googles algorithm update revealed (Panda/Farmer in 2011).
Now, page and domain authority is something that was developed by Moz but is a metric that somewhat correlates with search results.
Page authority explained by Moz:
Page Authority is based on data from our web index and takes into account dozens of factors. Like Domain Authority, it uses a machine learning model to identify the algorithm that best correlates with rankings across the thousands of SERPs that we predict against, then produces Page Authority scores using that specific calculation.
Simplified by me:
Page authority is a metric that says how authoritative your page is. How well it ranks among other pages of the same kind. Is your blog post (page) better or worse than the article next to it?
Domain authority explained by Moz:
Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and the number of total links, into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a site over time.
Simplified by me:
I see domain authority as a value that tells how good content your whole site has. How often it is referred to and if it can be seen as a trustworthy information source.
So how this all becomes a strategy?
Think it this way, what if you would be super enthusiastic about plastic bottles, and you wouldn’t like to write about anything else but plastic bottles. In the end you would know everything there is to know about the subject.
You would write about it from every single viewpoint. You would cover everything about it. Wouldn’t that make your site the only place to find information concerning plastic bottles?
This would make your domain authority to climb towards value 100 (in Moz), and it would make your pages show up in Googles search results like never before.
You would be the authority on plastic bottles. Your site would be the only one people should see and visit.
The key point here is that your content would also have to be the best out there. Even if you would write everything, there is to write about it, but you would lack the problem-solving aspect of it. Users wouldn’t stay on your site, and your domain authority wouldn’t grow. People wouldn’t link back to your site.
And so we get to backlinks.
Strategy #2: Backlinks
Backlinks are links that are placed to sites outside of your domain. These are links that drive traffic to your blog.
You can’t create backlinks for yourself; you need others to do that work for you.
When you are writing a blog post, and you cite someone, or you insert a link to another blog post or another website. You create a backlink.
Let’s say your content becomes wildly popular and people like it a lot. They add links to their post and point them to your blog. This will create traffic for you and an excellent form of traffic.
You are getting traffic from other sites.
What if 1000 visitors read that one post on some other site that has a link back to your site, you can get a share from that 1000 readers.
Imagine that happening daily.
Backlinks are somewhat important in getting your site rank higher in search results (source).
Strategy #3 Search intent & user intent
According to Yoast, there are four different types of search intents.
- Informational intent: User is looking for information
- Navigational intent: User is looking for a specific website
- Transactional intent: User wants to buy something
- Commercial investigation: User wants to buy something in the (near) future, and so the person is collecting information
User intent and search intent are somewhat the same things. A user has an intent and that intent is typed to a search engine — intent on getting information, on buying something or trying to get to a certain website.
It is said that Google is taking user intent into account when displaying search results.
For you to tap into that flow, you should make sure your content is always answering the question one has presented in the search bar. You should also understand what kind of answer that person is expecting to get. What kind of response would satisfy your question?
This kind of approach to your blogging might be something you might not have thought of. Not if you are just beginning with your blogging journey.
Strategy #4 Skyscraper technique and long-form content
This technique was invented and developed by Brian Dean from Backlinko. This is an interesting one and correlates with Strategy #1.
The main idea of this technique is that you create better content than anyone else, but you also make sure you answer the question at hand with such versatility that other articles lack.
You write content that is better than the ones you currently see and read in the top search results for your keywords.
Let’s use the same example here: “best restaurant in new york”. You see ten search results, and from those ten posts, you read 4-5 that are currently as the top results.
Now what you do is write better content than those 4-5 top search results had. If you want to push it, try to combine all that is said in those 4-5 posts and create one massive post that is at least 2000 words long-form post. Giving everything you can come up about New Yorks best restaurant.
This post would give you authority as well as rank your post to the top, just because it’s the most comprehensive and best information available for that subject.
This is not easy by no means. This is pretty hard to do, but you get the idea and how this is one strategy to go for.
SEO tools – best and free ones
There are a lot of tools that are listed by some sites as “free” while they are not. Usually, there’s a trial period to use a tool for free, and after the trial period, it’s pay time.
However, I wanted to list tools that are honestly free and ones I use more or less.
SEO tools help you find keywords as well as help you see if people even search the thing that you are writing about or would like to write about.
See, keywords are precisely the thing you should take into account when you write your post. This keyword importance has been said many times already, but these tools show you if the thing you are writing about is even of importance.
It could be important for you, but these tools show whether it’s important for others too.
Here’s a simple list of SEO tools I use daily and weekly:
- Yoast (WordPress plugin)
- Google keyword planner (marketing tool)
- Buzzsumo (website service)
- SEMRush (website service)
- SEOQuake (browser extension)
- MozBar (browser extension)
- Google trends (website service)
- AnswerThePublic (website service)
You can always add a bunch of tools to this list, but then again, I like to keep things simple and easy.
Yoast is a plugin you install to your WordPress. The plugin helps you with meta description, title, social sharing, readability, etc.
The Yoast plugin is considered a must-have for every WordPress owner. I use the free edition of Yoast, and I think it’s enough to get your blog posts SEO right.
With Yoast, you can tinker your meta description, add focus keywords, make sure your blog post is structured correctly for readability.
Your goal with Yoast is to have a green light for SEO and readability.
Google Ads & keyword planner
You can use Google Ads to find keywords related to your search. Keyword Planner is a powerful tool and something I always use when planning my next blog post.
Planner gives you ideas, search volumes, competition, and bidding values.
I wanted to emphasize search volume as one of the most important metrics you should follow. You see, search volume tells you if there’s competition for that keyword and if people are even searching your keyword(s).
Let’s say that you insert the following keywords to the planner: “what is success”. You get that 1K-10K searches answers to that question every month. You can also see that competition to get your ad shown is low.
At the beginning of your blogging career, you should always focus on the fact that there are people looking answers for the topic you are covering in your blog post.
I don’t use Buzzsumo too much, but you can use it to see what is the most shared site on social media concerning your search.
In Buzzsumo you analyze what post gets the most shares in social media. This information tells you that people like the post and that they like to share it on social media.
This service is somewhat hardcore as the amount of quality information available in it is just fantastic. I use SEMRush when I want to spy on my competition and see what kind of traffic and traffic volume they have, and what organic search terms they rank for.
SEMRush is the best spying tool available in my opinion.
I would say that Domain Analytics -> Organic Research & Overview + Marketing Insights -> Traffic Analytics is the best information you can get from that service. There’s a bunch of other metrics such as backlink information that is also golden for you.
This is a browser extension that leverages information gained through SEMRush. This is my absolute new favorite among SEO tools. SEOQuake offers you instant insight on your search results.
When you type your question (blog topic) to the search engine, you will immediately see what kind of stats your competition has.
If you want to rank for a specific keyword, I suggest you analyze the DS (domain score) value. If your domain score is lower, then it’s harder to rank for that keyword if it’s higher, you most likely can’t beat that specific post you see in the search results. At least not at the beginning of your blogging career.
MozBar (browser extension)
This is somewhat similar to SEOQuake except it shows DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). We talked earlier about authority in Strategy #1, where your goal is to build an authoritative page.
MozBar’s browser extension helps you see DA and PA values in Google search results. This works the same way SEO Quake and follows the same principles where you compare your DA value to the ones shown in search results.
If your DA score is lower, it’s harder to beat the currently ranking post, but I do have to say that it’s not so black and white.
You can easily witness this by seeing a search result with lower DA score ranking with ones having a higher DA score.
So what we can conclude is that the DS and DA scores are metrics that point to the right direction but is not a deciding factor ranking first in Google.
Google trends (website service)
When you are writing a blog post, you might want to see if there’s a demand for that blog post. Even if you see that Google Keyword Planner gives you the search volume, but Google Trends shows you if that same demand is either increasing or decreasing.
It would be a shame to write about something that no one cares about after a few years. Then again blogging is not only about statistics and how to beat this or that article online.
You and I are here to share information from our perspective, and that’s what matters in the end.
AnswerThePublic (website service)
I listed this service as the last one, as it’s somewhat overwhelming to use. The idea behind this service is that you place a search term and see what people ask about the subject.
I sometimes use it to get ideas than anything else.
A final note
We covered Google’s side of SEO, keywords, strategies and SEO tools. I like to think that you should use only the SEO tools that you feel comfortable with.
It doesn’t matter how many SEO tools you use, or what kind of strategy you go for. What matters is your content and that your content is searchable.
Focus on the things that matter and use tools and strategies to guide your writing.
Don’t make the tools limit your creativity or limit your options. SEO tools job is to guide you, not determine the way you write.
The strategies and tools I have listed here for you are the ones I see useful. I can’t say that I use these every day or use all the tools when I’m planning my next blog post.
I think using too many tools and services, overwhelms your whole blogging experience, and you might be more confused than necessary.
So my suggestion is that you use the tools and services you see fit and supports your blogging goals.
Want to remember this post later. Pin this post “SEO For Bloggers – Improve Your Website Traffic” to your favorite Pinterest board!
Bring in the discussion
There’s a bunch of other tools and resources to up your SEO game. To keep the list reasonable, I only listed the ones I currently see important and the ones I use. IF you know some SEO tool you think is essential for building a successful blog leave a comment below.