What is SEO?
SEO is the way in which you optimise your website so that it ranks well in organic (natural) searches from search engines like Google.
Almost everyone who writes about SEO mentions the need to build a website that is friendly and easy for search engines to crawl.
However, it is just as important to make sure your website is more useable and suitable for your readers and visitors to your website too.
Individuals, bloggers, businesses, educational establishments…
Pretty much everyone on the web is now, is beginning to realise how necessary SEO really is for their business and blog.
This is why it is so important for you to start learning all about it and implementing the following strategies too!
What Do I Need To Know Before I Start?
You must be committed
SEO requires dedication and consistency, fine-tuning and regular monitoring and updating.
The algorithms used by search engines change all the time.
Your posts and website in general will therefore also need regularly checking and updating as times and algorithms change.
Patience is a virtue
It can take months for results to show and for the word of your post to spread.
If you are expecting to be able to create a post, add a few keywords and get an influx of hundreds or thousands of views within just a few days,
…you’re out of luck!
SEO is NOT a quick fix.
Learn, learn and learn!
The Internet is jam-packed with posts, videos, informational infographics and articles, just like this one.
They are all ready to offer you help to get your SEO on the right track.
Online Marketers like Neil Patel offer amazing experience, knowledge and services to teach you all about how to learn and implement online marketing to grow your business and attract more visitors to your blog.
Why does my website need SEO?
No matter what kind of provision your site provides (articles and content products, services etc.), most of the traffic on the internet is driven by Google, Bing and Yahoo!
In order for your website to get any number of traffic from search engines, it needs to have good SEO.
Search engines use “targeted searches”.
This means that when someone types something into the search bar, the search engine carefully selects the best and most suitable websites to show in the results list.
If your website is not easy to be found, crawled (searched) or indexed (put into the database), you will not get the opportunities to direct traffic to your website.
You will miss out on a LOT of website visitors – and potential subscribers or buyers.
If you have bad SEO or do things wrong, it can have a HUGE detrimental effect on your search results.
1. Keywords for SEO
Although it is great to get high numbers of visitors to your website, it is more important to get targeted visitors.
Visitors that won’t just read and run.
Visitors that will keep coming back for more because they are your target customers.
So, using the RIGHT keywords is of the utmost importance!
- Are you using keywords that are completely relevant to your post?
- If the keyword is typed into a search engine, will the reader actually find what they were looking for when they click through?
There is now a Google Penalty for websites that just cram a ton of keywords into their posts.
Make sure you always write with your target reader in mind, but just with a bit of extra awareness of your SEO maintenance.
When researching for my keyword specifics, I look for the top keywords relative to each post that is used in both the US and the UK.
They are where most of my readers are from.
These are then included in my actual content, meta data, pins, descriptions and social media etc.
You should do regular keyword analysis to find out which keywords are the most common and how competitive certain keywords, keyphrases or questions are.
If you find that your chosen keyword is being used by 4-million other websites/posts, you might want to try a long-tail keyword (more on this in a minute) or a different keyword.
Here are some free and paid websites for keyword analysis:
Where to put the keywords
Well, other than the obvious – in the actual article, it is important to add your keywords into a few other smaller places, such as:
The permalink structure: The bit that comes at the end of the URL. For example, the permalink for this post is /what-is-SEO-how-to-use-seo/
It should include the specific keyword or key-phrase that you are using in your post.
As should the meta description (a sentence that describes the post and shows on Google results) and the title of your post.
Using keywords as the anchor text when you are linking internally helps the search engine crawlers to figure out what the page you’re linking to is about.
A long-tail keyword (or key-phrase) is just basically a longer and more specific keyword.
Using long-tail keywords will almost always ensure you are higher up the rankings in search engines.
AND, more importantly, it helps to narrow down your target readers so that the people who click on your link will get exactly what they were looking for in the first place.
Say for example, you have written a post for a pasta recipe.
The key-phrase, “Pasta recipe” shows up 849 MILLION results on Google
“Mushroom pasta recipe” shows 188 MILLION results
“Mushroom and pesto penne recipe” shows just under 5 MILLION results
Simply by using a long-tail, more specific key-phrase, you can manage to get rid of 844 MILLION competitors!!
That is pretty good, if I do say so myself!
2. Content Optimisation
Using keywords in the title helps Google Bots and your readers to understand exactly what your page is about.
DO NOT name your title something vague like, “Wednesday 1st May”.
It might sound obvious, but only this week, I have seen at least 5 posts from different websites that have their title like this.
Alt tags on images
‘Alt attributes’ should be added to ALL images on your website. They act as an alternative text for when an image can’t be displayed.
If you are not sure how to do this, you should see it in your image editor when you upload an image. It shows as ‘Alt Text’.
This is how it looks on WordPress:
The word count of the post itself makes a difference not only to your SEO, but also to how seriously readers take your website – and you.
Longer, more informative posts with over 1500 words do better than shorter posts.
In fact, research has shown that posts with around 2500+ words (this article has 3334 words!) do better than those with fewer words.
It also keeps people on your page for longer.
Check out this article from Snap Agency about the best post length for SEO.
3. Links, links and more links!
Ever heard of a “nofollow” tag?
“Nofollow” tags are added to external/outbound links as a way to tell search engines not to include your link in their visit count to the other website.
This means that you keep all your “link juice”.
You should add the “nofollow” tag to all affiliate links or sales links to avoid receiving a Google penalty.
It is advisable to add “follow” links to individuals who have written the external posts (blogs etc.) and “nofollow” links to big businesses such as social networking sites or online tools websites.
For SEO purposes, you should try to have a good mix of “follow” and “nofollow tags” on your external links.
To create nofollow links, you need to download an external plugin, such as the free “Title and NoFollow for Links“.
This is the one I use.
Once you have activated the plugin, an option to add the “nofollow” link to your link text or link object will appear on your link-building window.
Internal links help to keep your website strong and makes things easier for search engine crawlers to index your site pages.
As with the higher word count, internal links also keeps people on your website for longer – reducing your bounce rate and improving reader retention.
Internal links should always have the “do-follow” attribute (or just don’t check the box for the nofollow tag).
If you really can’t think of a way that any of your other posts can be linked in to a new post you are writing, you can add a few links to “related posts”, like this:
Get Noticed on Google: 18 Ways to Boost Your Domain Authority Ranking
How to Explode your Pinterest Traffic
Versatile Blogger Award for Life It Or Not
Links pointing to your domain (Inbound Links)
The easiest way to get backlinks is to submit a few guest posts.
However, to really make the most of all your hard work, you should try to only guest post on websites that have a higher DA (Domain Authority) than yours.
You can get backlinks in a huge number of other ways, such as hosting a giveaway that takes readers to a landing page.
The more this is clicked, the more link juice you get!
Create monster content!
Your readers should love your content so much that they WANT to share it with their friends or within their business.
Get yourself featured in online publications.
Use anchor text with keywords to link externally.
You can use a company like fatjoe.com, which can create a blog outreach post for you that will use an anchor text of your choice to include in the post. This post will have a direct link via your anchor text directly back to your domain.
If you add a link to text like, “this post” or “click here”, nobody will find it through a search engine.
Whereas, if you look at the text I use in my external links I use keywords that people would actually search for.
Keyword Analysis to support backlink building
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer is one of many online tools that enable you to actually find your competitors for certain keywords!
You can see how many backlinks your competitors post has got and where they are all coming from.
Then you can contact the backlinks owner yourself with the aim to get a backlink.
Neil Patel has a great post about how to get backlinks as a new blogger.
Want More Traffic To Your Pinterest?
4. Create a Site Map
Although a site map will not get you ranking better in Google, it is useful for the crawling spiders (sounds gross, I know!) to find and index your pages.
It is also handy for your readers to navigate your website.
If the spiders that crawl websites can’t find their way around your site, chances are most of your pages won’t be indexed into the search engine directories.
This WILL affect your online ranking!
How to create a site map
You will need to download the plugin ‘Yoast SEO‘.
After activating Yoast, you need to click:
- SEO (on the left sidebar)
- General Settings
You will then see an option for XML Sitemaps.
Turn it on.
Once you have created your sitemap, you should submit it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools to give the spiders a bit of a helping hand with indexing your pages.
- Login to your Google Search Console
- Click on the ‘Sitemaps’ option in the left-hand toolbar
- Add sitemap_index.xml to the permalink box in “Add a new sitemap”
- Under “Submitted sitemaps” you will see your sitemap
Don’t panic if you do not see any pages on there straight away.
It can take weeks – if not months for Google to successfully crawl all of your pages.
5. Social Media Management
The biggest way that most smaller blogs and businesses get traffic to their site is through social media platforms.
The most popular platforms are:
However, it is important not to just dive in to every single social media avenue all at the same time!
Not only will you get bogged down with doing too much in too many places, but you will also not be focussing enough on your target audience and their avenues of searches.
Many new bloggers jump straight into using all (or most) of the social networking sites, only to realise after a few weeks that their blog is spreading in completely different ways than they originally thought.
They end up ditching one or two accounts and just focus on the ones that are bringing them traffic.
Most blogs and businesses will eventually be on the obvious platforms like Twitter and Facebook, but there are others that you should explore too.
Business orientated: Linkedin and Quora
Image orientated: Flickr and Instagram
Video or sound orientated: YouTube
Backlinks through Social Media
Try to remember that although social networking sites are just that – social networks, they are also WEBSITES!
This means that every single link you post on a social media site is considered a backlink.
Make sure that you use every opportunity to add your links in to every place you can on these websites.
But, be very careful not to SPAM!
Everyone who likes your Facebook page or followed your Twitter account etc. did so because they (assumingly) want to see what you have to say or share.
However, if you are posting one thing after another to a point where their feeds are full up with your links, they are likely to…well, unlike your page and unfollow your account.
6. Yoast SEO
I love Yoast SEO!
Yoast gives you the ability to keep track of all of the basics of in-content SEO.
It notifies you of what you can do better WHILE you actually write the post!
Here is an example of what Yoast tells you while writing a post.
It even provides links to help you to fully understand what everything means.
Not only does Yoast warn you and teach you about your SEO status, but it also helps you to ensure that the readability of your post is at the optimum level.
Yoast uses the ‘Flesch Reading Ease’ test to judge whether your post is easy to read.
It tells you when you have repeated the start of sentences with the same word and how well you are using your subheadings and sentence length.
If you can use Yoast, you are sorted for the basics!
7. Continuous website analysis
In order for you to keep up with getting good search results, you need to be consistent.
You can’t spend hours on SEO one month and then none the next because the results in traffic will also be inconsistent.
Keep a regular check of your website by completing regular website analysis.
- Do regular checks of keywords though websites like Semrush
- Consistently write VALUABLE content that is appealing to the reader
- Check the codes (HTML, CSS) in your header and additional coding to make sure there is nothing having a detrimental effect
- Check out the website rankings of your competitors in your niche or the post you are working on. You can do this through websites like Sitechecker or Moz.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are two of the most important tools you can use when looking at your overall website traffic.
They are also a priceless source of knowledge as far as what is working and what is not working.
Use these tools to determine which techniques, promotional tools or ads etc. are actually bringing the traffic.
Then use this information in your future content marketing plans.
Although there is the option of downloading monthly reports from Google Analytics, I actually use an Excel document on my Google account to keep track of all my traffic.
8. Google Analytics
When I first started blogging I was über obsessed with Google Analytics.
Ok, I still kind of am!
If you are a newer blogger or business, I would suggest that you check your Google Analytics account every week.
For older businesses or more experienced bloggers you might prefer to just do a regular check once a month.
Here are some of the awesome things you can do with Google Analytics:
See trends on social media platforms
You can see if your traffic has gone up or down on certain social media platforms.
You can identify when the changes happened.
What made the changes happen.
And then either change your content marketing techniques or repeat it, if it is a positive change in traffic.
Learn about your readers Demographics
From a quick glance at my Google Analytics account, I can tell you the demographics of the visitors to my website this past month.
- 43% of visitors are from the US
- 37% of visitors are from the UK
- 46% are aged between 25-34
- 86% are female
- The majority use their mobile phones to visit my website
This tells me that I should focus on optimising my website for mobile responsiveness (although computer and tablet are still important).
It also tells me that I am doing things right, as my more specific audience is women aged 21-40.
Even more so, it gives me a great insight into the types of keywords I should be looking for, as I can see what my readers are most interested in!
Compare analytics for particular dates or time frames
This allows you to see trends in promotional periods or times when you changed your posting schedules etc.
You might find that your visits from Pinterest went up just after you posted a new article.
Or that your visits from Twitter went down after you changed your tweeting consistency.
Maybe you were tweeting more and your followers got fed up.
Or you may have been tweeting less and failed to get seen in the craziness of the Twitter world.
Have your Google (direct searches) had a significant fall in traffic while all your other traffic avenues have stayed the same or gone up?
It could be that you have been slapped with a Google penalty!
Know the bounce rate for each post
The bounce rate is basically how many people leave your site after viewing that one page and how many people stay on your site to visit other pages.
The higher the number (normally given as a percentage), the worse it is.
If your bounce rate is going up, you should look at why this might be.
It could be something as simple as a slide-in opt-in form that kept getting in the way of the readers time on your post.
That actually happened to me…!!
I had checked it before going live with the post but had accidentally changed the forms settings the next day while editing a different opt-in form.
Identify which specific posts have had a change in traffic
This is a brilliant aspect of Google Analytics.
You can see which posts are getting the most and least traffic and from which avenues / platforms.
There are a few different ways that Google Analytics describes the kind of traffic that is driven to your website.
Direct Traffic: Typed direct into a search engine, saved into bookmarks or email links.
Referral Traffic: Links that act as a referral (from another website, link in email etc.). Referral traffic can also come from campaigns or landing pages.
Social Traffic: Traffic from social networking platforms such as, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook etc.
9. Last Resort?
Are you doing everything you can for keywords in SEO?
Are you still not getting much traffic?
You can always pay for a campaign to “buy” traffic.
Ads like these are available through Google Adwords and Bing Adcenter.
Want a reminder of all the main tips in this post?
Why not pin this infographic?
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I had NO IDEA about no follow links. Super helpful tip!
Thank you for this post! This was the first article that really helped me understand keyword research better. I subscribed to your website!
You are more than welcome Suzanne! I’m so glad it helped you 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment and subscribe.
Thank you Mykki! I am very happy it has helped you. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask 🙂
Thank you so much for this! I struggle a lot with SEO so I think this will really help.
Thank you for your comment Meghan! I really appreciate it. I’m so glad you are finding it useful. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and ask 🙂