Okay, before you go thinking about SEO too much, just remember that there’s a lot of old advice out there that doesn’t work anymore in 2014. You could waste millions of hours on dumb ideas. So don’t.
Just write. Keep writing.
That said, it’s important to know what people are searching for. You might be using a particular phrase over and over, when most people search for a slightly different phrase. That would be truly annoying.
Basic SEO For Your Domain Name
You also will want to get a domain early on so that any backlinks go to your domain and not yourname.wordpress.com. And when you buy that domain for your writer platform blog or niche topic, it’s worth thinking about SEO first. Also keep in mind the overall topic of your blog and any books you’re planning on writing within that niche.
As a writer, basic SEO is just a small piece of your overall marketing strategy, but understanding SEO is important for choosing domain names. Once you’ve read this post you’ll see why. [Tweet]
Finding Keywords For Search Engine Optimization
Your first and most useful beginner keyword tool is to simply type things into Google and see what it suggests. This is what people really search for (and sometimes the results can be a shock). These are the words that need to appear in your blog somewhere. For the big obvious search terms, you might want to incorporate the words into your domain name, your tagline or a short “about” section in your sidebar. This way it will show up in all of the pages of your blog.
Now, to rank for a particular keyword, that keyword generally has to actually be in your blog, or someone else needs to be linking to you with those words in the anchor text or SEO title of their post. The quickest way to get those keywords linked to you then, is to do it yourself.
If you have a tennis blog, the first things you see in the search when you type tennis (and wait to see what Google suggests will follow) is “tennis warehouse” “tennis rankings” “tennis results” “tennis court lyrics” “tennis elbow”. If your blog is about Tennis, it’s not so difficult to think about a post about tennis elbow. But WHAT about tennis elbow do people search for? Type in “tennis elbow” and wait to see what Google suggests. The results include tennis elbow exercises, for one. That’s a good place to start. Note that some people would call this a keyphrase, but most people call it a keyword, despite there being multiple words.
It’s worth checking even further to find the long tail keywords. You see, as a beginner blogger you’re not likely to get to Google’s page 1 for “tennis” anytime soon, or even “tennis elbow” at a guess. But you might get to page 1 for “tennis elbow exercises therapy” if you write a great post about it.
Note, there are lots of advanced keyword analysis techniques out there that involve checking the competition for those keywords. There are also tricks such as using LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords), which you’ll automatically do if you’re a writer with a good thesaurus in your brain. You’ll get to all that later, but for now just stick to the basics.
Write Posts For Your Keywords
For each keyword you find that is relevant to your blog, write a post specifically that uses the keyword so that you have your on-page SEO sorted. For this, you have to think a little like a robot. Not for your writing, but just for a minute or so before you start. You see, for best results we need the words “Tennis Elbow Exercises” to appear together a few times. Writing “I love the new exercises for my tennis elbow” is not as effective as “My physio showed me a bunch of new tennis elbow exercises that are working really well” when you are targeting “tennis elbow exercises”. Strangely, because this is a robot we’re talking about, you can add punctuation in between the words and it won’t affect things (last I heard, anyway). For instance, “I hate my tennis elbow. Exercises every day are a complete drag” will still be useful. There is some intelligence behind the robot behaviour though, so don’t force things and get unnatural about it. Natural language and placement is key these days.
You also need your keyword to appear in certain places in your post, such as:
- In the title of the post (and the slug).
- In a heading or two (H1 and H2 tags).
- In anchor text to a relevant website.
- A least once in the actual body of text (don’t overdo it).
- In image titles and alt image tags.
Note that the slug (the bit of your post URL after your domain) should be keyword-rich rather than some generated link that makes no sense. It should also be brief and to the point.
It’s for this reason that you also want your blog’s domain name to have some relation to your primary keywords. If your domain contains “tennis” that’s a start. If your domain is “Tennis Elbow” you could soon be big in the world of tennis elbow rankings. If your upcoming book is about tennis elbow too, you’re onto a winning idea. Now you get it? Check out NameCheap to get your domain sorted.
Getting Ranked For Words That Describe Your Blog
There is a slight hitch when you want to get ranked for something you are, rather than something you’re likely to write about. For instance, if you were a blogger wanting to get into the results for “tennis blogs”. Robots want to see the words “tennis blogs” on the blog or they want to see someone linking to your blog from a post about “Tennis blogs”.
People seem to be searching for “tennis blogs on Tumblr”, so why not write a list of your favourite tennis blogs on Tumblr? Obviously, make note of your own blog in the list! This approach is useful for a lot of reasons:
- You get to use those keywords.
- You get to show off your favourite bloggers and make some alliances.
- Those bloggers might share your post.
- Those bloggers might write their own list with you in it (which gets those keywords coming back to you too).
- You get seen as an authority or interesting blog to read on a given topic.
- More bloggers might share the subsequent posts.
- List posts by nature are likely to be popular.
Don’t Blog Alone
You might be writing your blog all by yourself, but the blogger world is bigger than you. Consider the point above for a second and you’ll soon see why this is one of the best SEO tips for bloggers: you need friends and allies for SEO purposes. It’s more than that though. You need conversation and peers to keep you going. If you think you’re alone you might stop blogging altogether. And besides, learning what other people know and chatting to people who share the same interests as you is fun.
Make sure you respond to your own reader comments, as multiple comments show search engines that your content is generating conversation. It also builds relationships with those commenters, so that’s win-win.
It’s easy to get trapped into thinking about backlinks and social media when you’re considering SEO for blogging. But don’t focus on it. Just get out there and make some blogger friends. If one of your blogger friends happens to have a following already, consider writing a guest post for them. You might be surprised by how many new visitors your blog receives after a guest post!
When you’re winding down from a day of blogging, hit the forums, visit your favourite Facebook groups, browse some relevant hashtags on Twitter, check your RSS feed and make a few comments on other people’s blogs. You’ll eventually make some good friends and the rest will fall into place naturally. When real people like your content, more real people will find out about it.
Linking Within Your Blog
Another SEO tip to keep in mind as a beginner blogger is that you should always link to your own posts. If you have nothing relevant to link to, write it later and then update the post with links to your new content.
Think about it from a reader perspective. They may browse your blog by tag or category for a while, but they will almost never browse by date. How are they going to find all the other great content you’ve written? Well, you have to tell people it’s there and link to it. Also, from an SEO point of view, this tells the robots which posts are related to each other. And if you choose your anchor text correctly, it will tell the robots what the post is about.
For instance, if you’re linking to your post titled “The Tennis Elbow Exercises My Physio Recommends” you might link to it from another article using a sentence like “By the way, here are the tennis elbow exercises that my physio recommends”. But you wouldn’t link to it using the anchor words “my physio recommends”, but rather the words “Tennis Elbow Exercises” because then the robots following the link know what it’s actually about. The reader probably won’t care which words are used to link as the whole sentence tells them what to expect. The better you can merge the two goals of linking the better your blog will become. Do it with every post and you’ll appreciate the benefits in the long term.
Improve Your Load Time
If your page takes ages to load, your SEO will suffer. So, if you’re self-hosting your blog, make sure the host is a good one! We use SiteGround for our forum and recommend them, so check them out.
Try A Plugin
Self-hosted blogs can try plugins like the ones by Yoast to help out with SEO-related tweaks. This is fantastic if you have no idea what you’re doing, and even better if you do.
Update Your Blog With Quality Content
Write for readers and write often. For starters, have a decent blog design for your blog. If you use WordPress, check out Themeforest for professionally designed themes. Also make sure that your navigation is sensible, and that you use great images in your posts.
Getting found in search results is all about the content, so keep writing quality content on a regular basis. These days, 300 words is considered an absolute minimum, but many SEO experts vouch for 1500-3000 words as an ideal blog post length. Also, you should proofread your post. Readers and robots alike consider decent spelling to be a quality indicator.
Whenever you publish a blog post, you’re essentially telling search engines that your website as a whole is still current. If every post is of a decent length and features a decent article, you’re already well above a lot of the blogs out there. Plus, you’re giving your fans something new and interesting to read. And you write for them, don’t you?
What’s been the most useful thing you ever learned about SEO? Tell us in the comments!