Whether you’re just getting started in the blog game or have been writing entries for a while, you know how challenging it is to get your site near the top of Google’s search rankings.
However, with some good blog SEO tips and a bit of persistence, you can get a head start on your competitors.
While the exact algorithm for search rankings isn’t fully known, we do know that there are a lot of blog SEO tips you can use, all of which can add up to a higher rank and more visitors.
Here are 10 techniques that you can start using right away.
1. Content is King
It sounds obvious, but writing great blog posts is a must these days. It’s only going to get more and more difficult to rank in Google using short (<500 words), me-too articles sourced from ideas already shared by other blogs in your space.
Compelling, well-written and well researched blog posts that are useful and relevant for your audience is what is going to keep your visitors coming back for more. Think original, trust-worthy content that genuinely helps your reader.
If you become the go-to resource in your niche, links and ranks will come naturally.
Here are the most important things to remember when it comes to content:
Post relevant, interesting content
Obvious, right? People will only come to your blog if you’re saying something worth reading.
But what is interesting content? And how do you make sure you’re coming up with fresh ideas on a regular basis?
Here’s where you can turn for some juicy content ideas:
First, the most obvious. There is plenty of inspiration out there on the web.
But what’s the best way to find it?
We’d recommend starting with a broad search, such as ‘SEO’ for example.
Type it into Google.
What keywords do you see?
Type a keyword you find from SEO into the search bar again: what sub-sub-genre do you get from that?
In other words, use the web as your brainstorming tool; your spider diagram.
Keep repeating this process. You’ll end up with sub-sub-sub-niche topics that are a lot more specific than ‘SEO’.
You can use the niche sub-keyword you end up with as a starting point for your new article.
Check out your competitor’s blogs and social media: have they covered a topic that you haven’t yet? Maybe they haven’t gone into enough detail? What content are they sharing?
Remember, just because a topic has been written about before, doesn’t mean you can’t write about it.
Just make sure you bring your own style, flare and tips to the table.
You could even use a tool like Buzzsumo to find and sort your competitor’s post for you. They rank each competitor post by social media popularity- so you can see what kind of content is smashing it.
Check out the news. Check out your social media feeds. What’s hot at the moment?
Can you write anything in response/in discussion with that trending topic?
Not only does this give you inspiration for a new post idea, but you also have the potential to harness the large traffic generated by the hype.
Game of Thrones is a perfect example. How many news sites and magazines wrote a post about Season 7?
Even if their blog wasn’t explicitly about GoT (or TV, even), they joined in the conversation- and gained thousand of views in the process.
Your own content!
Many people are afraid to do this, but recycling old content is a great place to start for new article ideas.
Take a look at all your previous posts: could there be a “Part 2” to any of them? Could you update stats? Any new perspectives on old topics? Can you turn an old post into podcast? Or combine several posts into an ebook?
The possibilities for recycling content are endless.
If you’re writing lots of blog posts per week, sometimes you need a little extra help.
There are plenty of tools out there that help you come up with article ideas.
Having a regular posting schedule is really important.
As well as great quality, readers return for consistency, and an author/brand that they can rely on- almost anticipate.
The best way to maintain a post schedule is by having a content calendar. You can create your own, but there are also plenty of easy tools to help you.
Keep content fresh, keep it updated, keep it relevant and keep it coming regularly! There’s a reason why “content” is the first word in “content marketing.”
2. Make Keywords Count
You need to use relevant keywords in your content if you want to rank highly in Google searches.
What are keywords?
Keywords are the single words, terms or phrases that users type into search engines.
For example, if you wanted to know about what you’re reading right now, you’d probably type into Google: ‘what are keywords?’
When you start typing, Google starts to give you suggestions based on popular searches.
As a blogger, you want all the keywords on your site to be relevant to what people are searching so that your content is visible.
This involves both knowing your audience (what language they use to type in what they are searching for) and what keywords see a particularly high flow of traffic.
Keyword research tools
You can use keyword research tools to see which keywords have a high search number. Here are a few we like:
Longtail Pro is one of the popular keyword research tools in the industry.
Clean and easy to use, this is the go-to tool if you want a simple solution without the need to over-analyse it too much.
With great power comes a greater price tag.
For a monthly fee you can generate relevant keywords for your niche in a matter of minutes. But beware: it doesn’t come cheap.
The all-in-one solution lets you find new keywords, track your rankings, keep an eye on competition, and much more.
These tools will help you find the “low hanging fruit” to go after.
You should go for keywords that have high levels of traffic, but a low bidding price. This will give you a much higher chance of appearing further up in that Google search.
3. Put Keywords in Your Post’s URL
When writing new posts, set the URL to contain your main keywords for the article.
If you have the Yoast plugin installed on your WordPress theme, then this will prompt you anyway.
Also, try to keep the whole URL string as short as possible — it suggests high relevance.
4. Add Images to Your Content
A post without images is like a pub with no beer; a pizza with no cheese; a holiday without your best friend.
You get the picture. It’s pretty vital.
Having high quality images in your content has two big benefits:
Makes your text easier to read
Having images in your post brings your text to life.
Choose high-quality, captivating images that really compliment what you’re trying to illustrate through your writing.
SEO brownie points
If you done right, your image could be another tool for bringing people to your site.
Users that search for a relevant image on Google will have a chance to find your original image.
From there, they’ll not only be able to link to your website, but they may also use your branded image on their blog.
To make sure your image appears in relevant searches, make sure you:
- Add an alt tag to your image, including your chosen keyword where possible.
- Don’t save your image under the filename 0001.jpg. Instead, save it under a relevant name and add your keyword.
If you’re not a photographer, don’t worry. There are plenty of free image sources out there.
The main thing to remember is that images improve both your reader’s experience and attracts more traffic- so it’s a no-brainer.
5. Include Your Keyword in Title Tags
Web users may not look at a page’s browser title as much as they look at what’s actually on the page, but for SEO purposes, keywords in the title tags are important.
For WordPress users, this will be under ‘SEO Title’.
If you can, try and put the keyword at the beginning too. Doing this makes it appear more relevant for the search spiders.
6. Add Unique Content on Category Pages
Again, content is king.
Custom content on your blog’s specific category pages can help boost your ranking.
Especially if you put a blog post in more than one category.
Having unique copy on each category page will help the category page to not come across as spammy.
7. Link to High Quality Sites
I know what you’re thinking: why would I encourage my reader to leave my site?
While websites used to be about stickiness and not letting the visitor leave, we now know that linking to reputable and relevant sites can actually help your blog show up higher in the rankings.
This means linking to other companies or tools if you’ve mentioned them in the post, or even other blogs that offer useful information on the same topic- just like we’ve done throughout this article.
Some writers have likened it to paying your dues.
8. Make it Easy to Share Your Content
If other sites and social media accounts link to your blog, not only will it lure more visitors to your site, it will also boost your rankings.
Make it easy for others to link by including buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and Google+ users.
9. Use Webmaster Tools
Based on the data you receive, you can re-evaluate and adjust your blog as necessary.
For example, you can see the CTR (Click-Through Rate) for a particular keyword and compare the content of the more successful pages with the ones that have a lower CTR.
Check out Google’s own resource pages to get started.
10. Write a Good Meta Description
OK, this may or may not be directly related to SEO.
However, if your page comes up high enough in the rankings because you used the other nine techniques mentioned here, a good meta description (the text snippet of your content) can mean the difference between a user deciding to click or pass.
The free WordPress plugin SEO by Yoast offers an easy way to edit the meta description of your post.
Good SEO practises are absolutely essential to getting your blog ranked higher. It will take time for you to gain the knowledge and skills for making a difference in your rankings (a good SEO course can help), but slowly you’ll get there and all additional learning will eventually compound to give you an edge over your competitors. It’s important to remember, however, that your rank won’t shoot up overnight.
You’ll need to give it a bit of time, and soon enough you should start to see results.