This post was most recently updated on July 27th, 2023
[This article was originally published in July 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.]
For those who wanna get serious with your blogs, SEO is certainly something to think about. At first, it sounds scary and confusing when you’re new to this blogpedia and when you read the information on the internet, you’ll think about what exactly this SEO means and why you need SEO guide for your blog.
When deciding to start blogging, the first thing that I have to learn is about SEO. I read about it many times but I don’t know what it is and how it works for my blog. Now, I don’t pretend to know everything about blogging. I have no problem at all putting my hands up and saying to you that I don’t know many things about certain aspects of this blogpedia.
I’m learning. Yes. You read that. Learning. Every day I try my best to learn tons of things about this world. It’s fun but at the same time can be overwhelming. Blogging is a process and there is always something new to learn every day. I think that’s what makes it so exciting, right?
Well, you don’t need to worry. Really. After reading this very very long post, you need to make sure your blog posts and your blogs, in general, are SEO-friendly. This will increase your organic traffic and your visibility on search engines. All of you want that, right? Thousands of bloggers out there all trying to achieve something similar.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization – which means SEO making sure that the words and phrases that you use in your content help to tell search engines (eg. Google) what your post is about. So, when people search for some keywords on Google, they can find the solution they are looking for and also, your work!
Why do you need SEO?
For new bloggers, even for two years bloggers like me, SEO can be intimidating. Even with consistent posting, to be noticed, search engines like Google can take up to a year or more to see your content. That’s why the earlier you start the better.
You need to try to learn about SEO from the very beginning so that your posts can build some SEO juice over time. It’s much easier to start from the beginning rather than try to go back and fix your old posts. In this case, you should still do updates of your old posts from time to time, but small fixes are one thing and SEO is another.
How to start working with SEO?
It’s quite simple.
Here is an example, let’s say I want to start blogging and don’t know where to begin. I found the answer on Google by typing it into the search bar. And VOILA, the search engine searches millions of articles looking for the best ones to match my question.
It happens because the articles that are listed on the first page are most likely to have the keywords or phrases that I was looking for. If you aren’t using SEO-rich keywords in your blog content that people are searching for, your hard work may never be noticed.
The more you work on your keywords and phrases in your title, headings, alt text, and within your paragraph, the more likely those keywords will show up (when scanned) in a search engine when someone is looking.
- URL structure
I have explained how to change your permalink structure after installing your WordPress. Permalink is the link of your post name after your URL. You need to have your permalink geared toward your keywords. Use your title for a catchy intro and the permalink to tell Google what is your post about.
For example, I write posts about ‘Epic Blogging Schedule: 14 Magic Ways You Can Do’, but I don’t want all those words to be part of my permalink structure because it’s too long and not something people would search for. Therefore, I shorten the permalink to “blogging schedule” which is related to my keywords and content.
If possible, keep your URLs short. Even if your blog post title has more than 70 words, set it up simply and include the main keyword for which you want to optimize the page. Unfortunately, search engines don’t like reading lengthy words with complex structures.
- Page speed
For user experience, page speed is really important. I don’t like it when visiting sites that load more than 10 seconds. Search engines use page speed or load time as an indicator of quality. Use Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool for suggestions on how to improve your pages.
- Duplicate content
Pages containing identical or similar content confuse search engines. For that reason, search engines consider duplicate content as a negative SEO. And when finding it, a search engine like Google can penalize the website by not displaying any of those pages at all.
- Broken links
A broken or dead link sends a visitor to a 404 page. A broken link redirects your visitor to an article that might no longer be there. So it’s important to pay attention to this link by regularly checking your links. You can fix your broken link here. I like to check and fix my broken links on the weekly basis.
A sitemap is a simple file that lists all URLs on your site. Search engines use it to identify what pages to crawl and index. On the other hand, a robots.txt file tells search engines what content not to index (for example, an about page or legal pages you don’t want to appear in search).
What are you looking at every time you use a search engine?
Information on the particular problem, answer for your question, in other words – content. This content might come in different formats. It could be a tutorial video, product recommendation, or a text-like blog post. It’s all content. And SEO helps you gain greater search visibility.
While crawling a page, they determine its topic. Analyzing other elements like page length or its structure helps them know its quality. Based on this information, search algorithms can match a person’s query with pages they consider the most relevant to it.
The process of optimizing content begins with keyword research.
- Keyword Research
Before creating your blog post, the best thing to do is to find related keywords. You have to do a quick search for keywords, it will help you set up your outline in an organized way and meet the needs of the SEO.
Why do you need keywords?
If you want to attract people to your website, you need keywords. That’s possible only if it ranks for the keywords those people would use when searching. Otherwise, there’s no chance they’d ever find you. And that’s even if your website appeared at the top of the search results.
That’s why SEO work starts with discovering what keywords visitors use in search engines.
Once you have the keyword, use it in your title, first sentence, headings, meta description, and alt text, and spread them throughout the entire post while still sounding natural.
- SEO guide for your images
Always remember to make sure your image titles and description are having the keywords you have researched. Rename your images before uploading them to WordPress because you won’t be able to change them afterward. And add captions to your images!
- Publishing relevant content
Search engines especially like it when you are posting relevant, related, and consistent content on your site. That’s why I tell you to find your niche in the very beginning before launching your blog.
Consistently posting is really important. Google would like it very much and push the website to the top of the results list that posts 2-3 times per week every week for a year than another one that posted 52 posts in one month and nothing for the other 11 months.
- Using internal links
These links are links that will take your audience to other parts of your blog. When your audience stays longer on your site, search engines will value that your content is valuable and should be placed higher in rankings.
Common questions are asked by so many new bloggers.
What are the external links? Nofollow? How do I use them? Why do I need them? And, what do they all mean?
Well, I feel the same at first. It’s like returning to my university life and asking my professor about grammar. GOSH. Why are there so many anyway?
These links have a special place in blogpedia. Not only to give a positive reader experience on your blog but also to SEO. All bloggers want their site to have actual traffic coming to it, right? When you learn about these links and understand how to use them, you’re getting on Google’s good side and ranking high within the search engine.
I’m going to break the types of links in SEO down for you so that all of you can create amazing content instead of getting headaches about these little things. At first, I’m going to post it in different posts but since it is related to the damn SEO, I’m going to put THEM ALL here for you!
- Internal links
An internal link is a link that you add to other relevant content within your site.
It’s better to have 3-5 internal links in each of your posts that link to other content in your blog. This will make your audience stay longer on your blog and reduce your bounce rate, plus provide additional value to your audience.
For SEO purposes, don’t forget to periodically go back and update your old posts with relevant content links. Google loves fresh content and these little updates can really boost your blog,
- External links
An external link is the one you use that will lead your audience away from your blog.
You should have 1-2 high-quality external links in your blog post. High-quality means that a site offering amazing value within your niche (considered a high authority site), such as the New York Times, Google, or Forbes.
You need to do research if you want the links to add to are the topics being discussed in your post. Having these links will enhance your audience’s experience and show that you have quality information to share.
Backlinks are when other websites include your links within their blogs. This way can help you quickly build your SEO, boost your standings and authority.
In 2019, Forbes posted that quality backlinks may be one of the most important ways to boost a blog’s authority, especially with the algorithm update.
Here are some ways that you can get good quality backlinks for SEO:
- Leaving quality comments on sites that keep your URL in the comments
- Guest posting on sites with a higher domain authority than your site
- Mentions from ‘experienced’ bloggers in your niche
- Reach out and do collaborations with other bloggers on a regular basis (can help grow your backlinks)
- Advertise your blog on higher domain authority blog
- Affiliate links
Affiliate links are links that you add in your content that if clicked and/or purchased from, you may get commissions in some way.
There is no exact amount to use within a post, but it’s best to create affiliate links that include reviews of the affiliate that you are mentioning rather than just random links. Affiliate links should always be set to ‘nofollow’, which is explained below.
- Sponsored links
Sponsored links are links that you are compensated for. Google announced that instead of using ‘nofollow’ for sponsored links, you should start using ‘sponsored.’
If you read this after posting tons of sponsored links on your old posts, you don’t have to go back and update all of them. Google is fine with that as long as going forward, you use the new one instead.
- DoFollow vs NoFollow
DoFollow and NoFollow links tell if a search engine should follow on to the next site.
Search engines (Google and others) don’t like it when you make them follow a link from your site to another site which you could be compensated for and can penalize you for it. This includes sponsored posts, affiliate links, and comments.
By default, WordPress sets all your external links to ‘dofollow’ and so the links that you are being compensated for will need to be changed to ‘nofollow’ – to make sure that Google stops following the link.
Then, how to change links from dofollow to nofollow?
All you need to do is go to the top right corner dots in your WordPress editor and change your view to ‘Code Editor.’ It sounds scary because you will need to edit your HTML.
But, thankfully, I’ve been using a plugin called Pretty Links from the beginning. If you haven’t installed this plugin, it changes long-messy links into pretty-to-use links that match your URL and automatically open my external links with a ‘nofollow.’ It’s a great reason to use this free plugin when you start using affiliates.
Anchor text – perhaps new bloggers will just link a single or non-specific word to their link. But, search engines like Google prefer that you use a phrase that is describing SEO instead. For example: “finding more on how to become a professional blogger” is better than “finding more on this here”. The italicized text is what is known as the anchor text and Google likes it to be specific.
Best SEO tools
Rank Math SEO
Rank Math SEO is a great tool other than Yoast SEO. It’s the best tool for beginners to learn deeply basic SEO. It’s really simple to use and measure all of the content and find loopholes for improvement.
Don’t simply feel happy when you get the green color (means your SEO is great) as it’s more important to write useful information for your audience first, SEO comes second.
Use a free keyword tool like Ubersuggest which will sort the keywords by highest searched and include some of those relevant keywords that perform well with your idea.
One of my best resources for ideas is Answer the Public. Knowing what your audience wants and needs will help you with your DA (domain authority), help you to choose relevant keywords, and bring the audience back to your blog for more.
Congrats! If you are here, that means you’ve reached the end of this basic SEO guide! There will be more and more articles about SEO on this blog that you can use as a guide.
How long does it take for you to understand SEO from this post?
It will take time. So don’t worry. I always said that blogging needs so much work. It doesn’t come easy to learn new things, even when you want to make money from blogging.
This is a great challenge for you. I hope for those who don’t really understand – or just know about the ‘SEO’ word now – this post answers some of your questions on what SEO is and how to implement it on your blog!