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The month of May marks 2 years since I started this blog. I was planning on writing a “what I learned in two years of blogging” post, but decided to do something a little different. I’ve been trying to focus more on SEO lately, so today I’m going to talk about SEO for beginners.
What is SEO?
I’m going to answer this question first since I didn’t know when I began blogging. What is SEO anyways?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Basically, your content is so amazing that search engines pick it up where you end up on the first page of Google. This beats spending so much time on social media to bring traffic to your blog!
SEO is something that takes a long time to gain momentum with, but once it does, you don’t have to depend on trying to get traffic through social media and other means.
Why Focus on SEO?
Unlike the algorithms on social media, which can change all the time, search engine optimization is a slow, but steady growth. I’ve heard of SEO since starting this blog and have used some on this site from the beginning, but never took it seriously since recently.
When Pinterest updated their algorithm recently I noticed a slight decrease in my blog’s traffic. Since Pinterest was my largest source of traffic up to this point, I decided to focus less on Pinterest and other social sources of traffic and start to utilize SEO more.
I still love using social media to connect with my audience but with those algorithms constantly changing I never know how it will affect my blog’s traffic. This is where using SEO comes into play.
Where to Start with SEO?
There is so much to search engine optimization, but I just want to go over the basics of SEO in this post. Just remember that SEO takes time to get the hang of. You may have to experiment and go through some trial and error, but it will be worth it!
I’ve read a ton of articles on SEO for beginners, and the more I read about search engine optimization, the more I understand how to apply it to my blog. I hope you can too by the end of this article!
Start Your Blog Now!
If you are on the fence about blogging, now is a great time to start your blog! You can implement these SEO strategies from the start and have a great advantage over other bloggers.
Make sure to be self-hosted so that you can make money with your blog from all the traffic you will get using these search engine optimization strategies. I use Siteground and they have been a great self-hosting platform!
Now, on to more SEO strategies…
On Page SEO
The focus of this blog post is to give you a crash course about on page SEO for beginners. There are many other ways to use SEO on your site that is in the background. The best place to start is using SEO directly on your blog posts, which is what I will be talking about here.
First, add an SEO plugin to your blog. I recommend using Yoast SEO if you are just beginning to focus on SEO on your blog. You can get the basic Yoast SEO plugin for free.
The Snippet Preview on Yoast SEO is a great place to start for SEO for beginners. The stoplight colors will let you know if your blog post is SEO ready or needs more SEO optimization.
The green circle means the Yoast SEO checker approves of your blog’s SEO. The orange circle means your blog is okay, but needs some more work on SEO. The red circle indicates that the SEO checker thinks you have a lot to work on.
If the Yoast SEO checker shows orange or red, don’t worry too much about it. You need to start somewhere, plus Yoast will give you suggestions on how to improve with your SEO in these areas.
Right below the snippet is a place where you can quickly describe what your post is about to search engines and potential readers (the meta description). You can read more about this below.
Update: I recently switched to Rank Math SEO and love it! It provides more details on how to improve SEO with a grading system that goes up to 100 for site speed and optimization, instead of colors.
Many bloggers still use Yoast. I think both are great and it counts on which you prefer.
Both of these are SEO guides, and won’t guarantee more traffic. They are a great place to start though!
Next, is the readability analysis part of Yoast SEO. This part of Yoast lets you know if your blog post is reader friendly. It checks for transition words, not using too much passive voice, how many subheadings you have, sentence length, paragraph length, and more.
Focus keyphrase is another part of Yoast SEO that lets you know if you have used your keyphrase enough in your blog. I’ll explain more about this later.
Before you start writing, you want to figure out what your blog post will be about. To get your post picked up by search engines, you want to write an article that people are searching for in your niche through keywords.
If you are a travel blogger, you don’t want to suddenly write about your favorite recipe. Write about something in your niche that resonates with your audience, such as solving a problem for them.
Knowing exactly what your audience wants to read may take awhile, but start by writing useful articles in your niche. You can narrow your topics down as you get feedback from your audience.
Once you have a topic, you want to pick a keyword that people are searching for. How do you do this?
Google Keyword Planner
There are many websites that can help you find a keyword or phrase that is being searched. I love using the Keyword Planner through Google Ads. Its informative and free!
I try to pick a phrase that has low to medium competition, but also a phrase that people are searching for, that is getting several thousand searches a month.
If you look for a keyword or phrase that is really popular (hundreds of thousands to millions of searches a month), as a new blog or blogger just getting into SEO, there isn’t much of a chance to rank high on search engines since there are other websites that are already ranking for those popular keywords.
Once you find your keyword or phrase for your article, you will want to include this in your title, near the top, middle, and end of your post.
Title, URL, Description
The title, URL, and description of your article should also include the keyword or phrase that your audience is searching for. I already mentioned having the keyword in your title.
Make sure that the title is compelling enough to get your audience to click on and read that particular post. A “how to” or “10 best” included in your title is a great way to start.
For example, one of my most popular blog posts is titled “How to Grow Sunflowers“. It’s simple and to the point, and lets my audience know exactly what I’m going to talk about in my post.
Low Hanging Fruit
Something else that has to do with keywords that I want to briefly discuss is low hanging fruit. Low hanging fruit are the keywords that already rank well in search engines. These are great keywords to start off with as a SEO beginner.
Low hanging fruit are keywords that are keywords that are not hard to rank with, do not have much competition, and have low (around 100 searches) traffic per month.
Again, use the Keyword Planner in Google to find keywords for a blog post that are low hanging. You never know how much traffic these words can bring to your post and blog!
Another way to use low hanging fruit it to have a main keyword or phrase for your article, then include the low hanging fruit as related keywords throughout your post.
The meta description is a small snippet about your site that is included with Yoast SEO. This snippet will appear below your URL link on search engines. Make sure this is short and sweet, but to the point and compelling enough to get clicks!
Make sure to use your keyphrase here and keep it short (around 100 characters). If you are using Yoast, it will tell you if your meta is too long.
Once you find your keyword or phrase, and have all the above taken care of, you are ready to write your post. Another thing search engines look for are articles with great content.
If you are not the best writer, write anyways. Practice makes perfect! In time you will become a better writer.
Include your keyword or phrase in your writing, make your sentences and paragraphs short, and include plenty of pictures and graphics after every few paragraphs to keep your audience interested in what you have to say.
Long Form Content
Something else I want to mention to maximize SEO for beginners is the length of your blog posts. To get noticed by Google and other search engines, you want to write a lengthy but valuable blog post.
How long is a long blog post? The minimum amount you should be posting is no less than 300 words. To rank well with search engines, you want to write a post with at least 1,000 words.
A blog written with 1,500 words or more is considered long form and will rank even better. I know this may sound confusing. Vary your lengths and see how your audience and search engines respond.
I’ve seen varying numbered argued for long form content, but from what I’ve read, the longer the better for SEO. Search engines will also better understand what your content is about once it reaches around 2,000 words.
Subheadings for SEO Optimization
You also want to include subheadings to make your article easy to follow and read. This looks great for SEO and helps guide your readers through your articles. When I write my outlines for my articles, many of the phrases I use in my outlines become my subheadings.
Make sure to include links to other blog posts from your site. This is a great way to keep your readers on your site longer, which looks great for SEO as well. I try to include several links to relevant articles on each of my posts.
Images for SEO
I mentioned using pictures and graphics in each post. Make sure these images are top notch and relevant to what you are talking about. If you are using someone else’s picture, include where you got the photo from as well.
I use my own images as well as stock images. Pixabay has over a million images that you can use for free. This is where I get most of my stock photos from.
There are other sites as well that provide free stock photos that are professional and high quality.
If you have not utilized Google Analytics yet as a blogger, then I highly recommend you do so. You can get so much information about your audience and what they like through Google Analytics.
Once you connect analytics to your blog you can check on audience trends, popular posts, where your audience comes from, and so much more!
Link building is not so much on page SEO, but a great way to start using SEO in the background. Link building is just like it sounds, building links with other sites to gain authority with search engines and let them know you are an expert in your niche.
You can do this by writing a guest post for a website that has higher authority in your niche than you. You can also have other bloggers write guest posts that link back to their site.
This barely covers the surface but is also another way to gain authority online and get noticed by search engines.
Once you have your article complete and published, you can get it checked for SEO optimization through an SEO checker. Many websites offer a basic SEO checker for free. SEMrush is one of many websites that provides this service.
Once your article or site is analyzed for SEO, the site will go through what you are doing right with your SEO and what you need to work on. Think of it as a more indepth guide than the Yoast SEO plugin.
SEO for Beginners
If you made it this far then, congrats! You are ready for SEO and made it through my lengthy blog post! There is so much more to SEO than what I explained, but this SEO tutorial should get you started with the basics.
Have you implemented SEO on your blog? Let me know your thoughts about SEO for Beginners in the comments section below!