In today’s post, I’m talking SEO tips for beginners. SEO is a super important part of blogging and something you need to get the hang of if you want your blog to succeed. These three letters stand for Search Engine Optimisation, which basically means the steps you take to get your blog/website/photos ranking high in search engine results (such as on Google, Bing and Yahoo). I know it sounds really boring… but it’s actually something you can turn into a habit so easily. I do all the tips I’m going to mention below without even thinking about it these days.
Getting your blog onto the first page of Google should be one of your top blogging goals. Good search rankings can send lots of traffic your way, not just in the short term but throughout the years to come. When someone searches for a particular topic, you want them to be shown your content. This not only applies just to searching through Google, but searching through any website where there’s a search bar. Other people’s content doesn’t appear at the top of the search results by accident!
There are lots of different things you can do to try and make this happen, so I thought I’d run you through them in the easiest way possible so you can start making them part of your blogging routine.
Blog Title & Description
The first step to get your SEO sorted is to make sure you have filled out your blog title and description in the best way possible. On Blogger, go to Settings > Basic and you will find the fields there. On WordPress, go to Settings > General.
Your blog’s title can be more than just your blog’s title. I’ve always included the title plus several keywords. By keywords, I mean words that relate to the content on your blog.
Using Blog Pixie as an example, I’ve set the title as ‘Blog Pixie | Blogging tips, free fonts, how to start a blog’. This is the title that will appear in bold on Google. By having keywords in it (rather than just ‘Blog Pixie’), it’s more likely to be found when people search for blogging tips, free fonts and how to start a blog. If your blog title isn’t well known, people are unlikely to directly search for it, which is why adding keywords will better your search results chances.
Underneath your blog’s title will be your site description. This is simply a description of what your blog is about. It needs to include keywords as well, so figure out a few keywords that are best for your blog. They do prompt you to add in your blog’s ‘Tagline’, however I’d place that into your header image or somewhere else on your blog so you can reserve this field for your actual site description.
For example, if you run a baking blog, your ideal keywords could be:
baking, bake, recipes, cooking, home, food, easy, affordable, best and ideas.
If your blog title is Bake With Anna, you could set the title as ‘Bake With Anna – Best Baking Recipes’. Then your description could be ‘The best baking recipes to make at home. Quick and easy food ideas, affordable ingredients and home cooking made easy!’. See how many keywords I got in there?
Your keywords should be all the words you can imagine someone searching for in relation to your blog’s niche. I included the keywords ‘best’ and ‘easy’ because majority of the time, people would search for ‘best recipes’ and ‘easy recipes’, rather than just ‘recipes’ or even less likely, ‘hard recipes’.
The way you set up a blog post is one of the most important parts of SEO. It’s your prime opportunity to say to Google (or any other search engine), “Here is my new post on the topic of ______ and this is why you need to show it to people who search for this topic, more than anything else”. Follow these steps and if you do it well, you could see traffic from Google in a couple of months.
For a blog post, you will once again need to focus on using keywords. Whatever your post is about, you need to think up several keywords that you guess would be most searched for when looking for a post like the one you’re creating. These keywords need to be in the
- First paragraph of your blog post
- Throughout your post writing
- In your images
Besides your blog posts, you can also add keywords around the different parts of your blog. You have your pages, such as your About page, which you can fill with keywords that relate to your blog. You can also place keywords into your side bar and footer.
The more writing you add to a blog post, the more “valuable” it becomes. I used to write such short posts, as I didn’t really like the writing side of blogging (I was way more into the photos). When I learned more about SEO and started writing longer posts, my traffic to those posts increased. You should aim to write at least 300 words per post. This is easier to do when you add headings to the post.
Break up the writing in your blog post by adding headings to show what you’re writing about. Search engines like headings! To add a heading, write a heading (as you usually would), highlight that heading and select “H1” or “H2” (or “Subheading” on Blogger) from the formatting dropdown in your post editor.
The permalink of a blog post is the URL for that post. How your permalink is set out is another contributing factor to the success of your post. When you fill in your post title, the permalink will automatically be created for you, however it may not be the best permalink for SEO. If you’ve given your blog post a catchy title such as “5 Ways To Style Your Workspace”, your permalink will be set as yourwebsite.com/5-ways-to-style-your-workspace. I would recommend changing that to use better keywords, such as yourwebsite.com/how-to-style-workspace-desk. Always use dashes ‘-‘ between words and remove any unnecessary words/letters like ‘a’, ‘do’, ‘is’.
The way I figure out what the best permalink would be is I imagine typing it into a search bar. It’s unlikely that someone would search for “5 ways to style your workspace” – they’d be more likely to search for “how to style a workspace” or desk. You have to put yourself in the shoes of someone who would be looking for your content.
To change your permalink on WordPress, you’ll see it right under your post title in the post editor with an ‘edit’ button. In Blogger, you’ll find the Permalink section to the right of the post area in the post editor (underneath where you type in your labels). On Blogger, you can’t change the permalink after the post is published, so make sure you fill that out before you hit publish.
Your blog post photos will need to have keywords attached to them as well and there are a few ways you can do this. The first thing I do when getting my photos ready for a blog post, is to save them with names that include the keywords I’ve chosen for the post.
For example, if I was doing a review post on the Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette, I would save each photo as too-faced-chocolate-bar-palette-review-1 and add a different number at the end for each photo. This puts the keywords into the image itself, before you’ve even added them to the blog post.
The next thing you need to do, is when you add an image to your blog post, you can click on that image and click edit. You will have the option to add an ALT and a Description. The most important field to fill out is ALT, as this explains to search engines what your photo is about. So for the same example, if the photo I’ve added was of the palette swatches, I would click on that photo and fill out the ALT section as “Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette Swatches”. This helps push your photos up in the search rankings in image searches, such as Google Images.
Make sure your photos aren’t overly too large, as your blog’s loading time will affect your SEO. If your blog takes more than a second or two to load due to high-resolution photos that haven’t been resized, that will reduce the quality of your blog and you will rank lower in search results.
Putting all of the above into action, I’ll give you an example of a blog post I did on Flip And Style. I wrote a post on my shopping experience at the online store called Pretty Little Thing. To boost the SEO:
- I gave the post a title I knew people would search for (Pretty Little Thing Review)
- I used those same keywords in the first paragraph of the post
- I wrote more than 300 words
- When I finished editing each image for the post, I saved them with names using keywords (pretty-little-thing-review-1.jpg, pretty-little-thing-review-2.jpg, etc.)
- When I added the images into the post, I filled out the ALT for each one using keywords (eg. pretty little thing online store review)
With all these things combined, this meant my post shows up on the first page of Google Australia when someone who is thinking about buying from that online store, searches “pretty little thing review”.
The more links there are pointing to your blog from other websites, the better your blog will be ranked. If Google can see that there are lots of websites linking to you in some type of way, they’ll view your blog as a valuable website. Even better when the websites that are linking to you are high quality as well.
There are so many ways you can get your blog onto other websites. Some include:
- Adding your posts to bookmarking websites like Reddit and Stumbleupon
- Adding your posts to promotion posts in Facebook groups
- Commenting on other blogs (be genuine!)
- Being featured on other websites (e.g. being interviewed)
- Adding images to Pinterest which are linked to your blog
- Adding your blog’s URL to each of your social media accounts
The more social you are on the net, the more it will boost your blog. You may not be interested in running a Twitter account or having a business Facebook page, however having these pages set up and linking back to your blog will help with your SEO.
You will notice that majority of the spam comments on your blog are from people who either have a link in their comment name or a random link in the comment – they’re trying to backlink. I have my comments section set where I have to approve each one, due to the amount of people trying to place links on my site. There is nothing wrong with leaving your blog link in a comment on another blog, as long as you’re leaving a comment to engage with the blogger and not just to try and get your link on there.
On Blogger blogs, it doesn’t matter as much, as Google has made it so that any links placed in comments on your blog are no-follow. I’m not too sure how it works with WordPress just yet, but to be safe (because having a lot of backlinks on your site actually hurts your SEO), I delete every single one that’s not a normal comment.
Another way to let Google know that your blog is full of information that should be shared and ranked highly is to add links on your blog that link to other posts and pages on your blog, in other words, linking to your own content. This creates a “web” around your blog, showing that there’s more to your blog than just the homepage.
The easiest way to do this is when you’re writing a new post, if you can relate something in that post to a post you’ve done previously, link to it! And don’t just say “go to this post here” with the word “here” being linked. Use the keywords from that past post as your link. For example you could write “Here’s a post with blogging tips for beginners”, where the words “blogging tips” are the link.
In this post for example, I’m going to let you know that I have more helpful blogging posts if you’re looking for other ways to fix up your blog. As you can see, I linked the word “blogging” to the Blogging category on my blog. That is an interlink.
One last important thing I have to mention is making use of “no-follow” links. If you’re linking to posts within your blog, they don’t have to be no-follow. This more so comes into play when you’re using affiliate links or you’re doing a sponsored post for a business. Google will penalise you in terms of search rankings if you’re directly linking to websites where you are or could be making money from that link. To resolve this, you need to make these types of links “no-follow”.
On WordPress, I’ve installed a plugin called Rel Nofollow Checkbox. When I click on a link I’ve added into a post and then select ‘link options’, the following box comes up with the option to select if I want it to be a no-follow link. I’ll check this box for all affiliate links.
On Blogger, when you highlight a word and click the Link button to add a link to that word, this box will come up. As you can see, it has the same No-Follow check box option.
A few more tips:
- Make sure your blog is mobile responsive
- Remove any broken links or images
- Reduce the amount of WordPress plugins you use to speed up your site
- Publish blog posts consistently
- Show 3 or less blog posts on the homepage to speed up your site
- Make use of the Read More button in posts to speed up your site
I could go on and on about SEO, there’s so much to write about but I think that’s enough for now! I don’t want to make it too overwhelming for you. Get going with everything I’ve mentioned above and I hope you’ll see an increase in traffic. Even if you don’t see results straight away, by acting on each of the SEO tips above, you are making your blog more valuable in the long term.