If you’ve just decided to start a blog, you’re probably overwhelmed with all there is to know about the digital content world. We’ve put together a list of most basic SEO tips to get you started. We also recommend reading Google’s SEO Starter Guide as a pre-requisite to optimizing your blog for Search.
SEO Tips for beginning bloggers:
1. Invest in a great website
There are two reasons for this SEO tip and neither have that much to do with Google, but more to do with the user. Whenever bloggers come to me for freelance work and their current blog or site is very outdated, I tell them to start there. Start by updating your WordPress theme or by building a more modern website.
The first reason is that the competition is tough for content sites and you really, REALLY need to stand out. This means high-res images, easy navigation, seamless user experience and a mobile responsive layout. The second reason is that user experience (UX) often suffers when you haven’t updated your site in a really long time.
Code becomes outdated, page load times may not be optimized in the way that they should. We’ve all heard how users will leave a site if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds or less and then negatively perceive your site forever to come.
But I think the same can be said for sites that look super outdated or when the font size doesn’t adjust for a mobile screen. UX is a huge deal so keep that in mind as you focus more on your site. And if you’re currently in the process of deciding where to build your new, shiny website, strongly consider using WordPress.
2. Make sure your homepage SEO fields have been added
While every page of your new blog is important, the most important page to Google is your homepage. They rely on it to determine what your site is about and what the content would be most relevant to appear in rankings for. Before you launch your site, make sure the SEO title and the meta description is filled out.
3. Understand your performance on mobile
Data shows that more than 70% of global internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Last year, Google moved to a mobile-first indexing system, meaning that your website is now assessed by how it looks/functions on mobile instead of on desktop. Take some time to check out how your site looks from your phone.
Is it fast? Do ads pop up and block the content? Is the text too small to read? These are all things that could potentially deter a user from continuing through your site as well as impact how Google will rank your site.
Make sure your website is responsive to all screen sizes. Use Google’s page speed tool to test how long it takes your site to load. If it’s more than 5 or so seconds, look into Google’s Accelerate Mobile Pages (AMP) as a potential option to address slow load times.
4. Post frequency
People often ask me how many words a post should have for SEO. My answer to that is similar to my answer to this, which is along the lines of, ‘don’t force content, but more is better’. It’s important to understand the idea that when you’re writing just to fulfill a certain subjective quota, it might sound forced or low-quality.
But it’s also important to understand that Google AND users are looking for expert authors. And expert authors should have more than enough words to talk about their expertise. Quality over quantity is a sure truth, but quantity and posting frequency lends to authority signals for Google. Posting consistency is also key, your users will come to trust you for fresh, new content.
If you’re a fitness blogger who is trying to build an authoritative presence in the fitness community but you’re only posting once a month, Google may not feel your site is authoritative enough to rank in the search results. Also, check out your competition and create a benchmark based on the frequency of their content.
If you’re just starting out, getting 3-5 well-written posts out a week might be a challenge, but start with that as a goal. As you grow and continue to build your brand, daily posting might be the frequency you’re working towards.
5. Use keyword research
When people think SEO, people tend to think keywords! And while it’s still an important part of the process, the meaning behind keywords in SEO has changed. Throughout the last five years, Google has gotten better and better at understanding that different words can mean the same thing.
It’s no longer about making sure that your exact target keyword appears a certain number of times on the page. While you should definitely still make sure it’s on the page, Google has more advanced ways to tell if a web page is the best fit in the search results. You should always mention the main topic/key phrase of your blog posts in the headline, the SEO title, the slug, the meta description, the intro paragraph and then wherever it naturally fits again on the page.
6. Focus on quality content
As you know, the web is a busy place. There are over 4.5 billion indexed web pages as of today and Google is deciding the best page to serve in the results all within fractions of a second. In order to compete, you must strive for high-quality content.
But what does that mean? Let’s go straight to the source and see the instruction Google gives to content creators:
Have a clear purpose – make sure your content is useful to readers
Craft clear, concise sentences with proper spelling, grammar and punctuation
Make sure outbound links go to websites that are also “high-quality, reliable and respectable”
Be thorough in covering your topic – use supporting facts, expert quotes and credible information
With each post you publish, think to yourself what search term would lead the user to your page and then think, would they be satisfied with this result?
If you have any SEO questions or have a topic you’d like me to cover, feel free to send my way at Lindsay.Valdez@shemedia.com.
** This article was originally published in Aug 2018, updated in Dec 2019