Hey Aspiring Bloggers!
Welcome to my Ultimate Guide to SEO and Higher Organic Traffic!
You might have heard of the acronym, “SEO” flying around everywhere on the internet while searching for ways to increase your blog traffic. If you’re new to blogging or creating websites in general, then you might be absolutely clueless about SEO.
If that’s the case, this Complete Guide to SEO is just for you! If not, still keep reading because I’m positive you’ll learn a few new things.
This 3,000-word article is no joke. SEO is extremely important when it comes to growing your blog.
I’ll be providing some in-depth explanations to help you understand how on-page and off-page SEO can bring you traffic. Then I’ll top it off with some tips and tools to help you optimize both your website and your posts.
If you really want to understand SEO, then there are four terms you really need to understand: SEO, PageRank, Backlinks, and Domain Authority.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” which is basically how optimized your blog content is for search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, MSN, etc.
Search engines send “bots” to crawl your website so that they can analyze and retrieve information from your site. That information consists mainly of the keywords you use throughout your articles. This is how search engines know what you’re writing about.
That’s right! They don’t hire humans to read every page on the internet—so you might think!
When your content is optimized, it makes it that much easier for bots to understand what your articles are about. Search engines can then index your posts and make it easier for your audience to find your posts. The traffic you receive from search engines is called “organic traffic,” and this is the traffic you want.
That being said, if your posts aren’t optimized because of poor SEO, then you won’t gain much or any organic traffic at all.
There are two types of SEO:
What you can do on the page to increase your SEO. It includes things like keyword research and using keywords throughout your blog post.
What you can do off the page to increase your SEO. It includes things like getting backlinks to increase PageRank and overall domain authority.
What is PageRank?
Better SEO leads to higher PageRank—a term created by Google that measures the placement of your pages on search engines.
If one of your posts is on the first page of Google, it’s already at the highest PageRank possible. However, if your post is on the 79th page on Google, then your PageRank isn’t very high at all.
Whether your posts are on the 79th page on Google or the first page is determined by two factors:
- How optimized your posts are
- The number and quality of backlinks leading to your pages
What are Backlinks?
A backlink, also known as an inbound link, is simply a link from another website that leads to one of the pages on your site. The more backlinks you have directing to your pages, the higher the PageRank of those pages.
How much each backlink contributes to the PageRank of your pages depends on the domain authority of the website giving you the backlink.
You want to gather as many backlinks to your pages as possible!
What is Domain Authority?
Now that you understand PageRank and Backlinks, it’ll be really easy to understand what Domain Authority. It’s the overall ranking/reputation of your site based on the PageRank of all your pages.
The higher your Domain Authority, the easier it will be for your posts and pages to rank really high in search engines immediately after you post. You can increase your Domain Authority by getting backlinks from high authority websites.
As an example, the reason why you’ll see new articles from the top news sites is that they’ve already established excellent Domain Authority from high PageRanks of all their previous articles.
Let’s move onto the truth about SEO.
SEO is a huge pain but a worthwhile investment
As tedious as SEO may be, you absolutely DO NOT want to take shortcuts when it comes to SEO. Consider SEO as an investment. If you take the time to optimize each and every one of your posts, you’ll get a huge boost in organic traffic.
When you effectively implement SEO on your blog posts and pages, search engines will continue to send traffic to blog for as long as your blog continues.
Isn’t that awesome?
This should be the ultimate goal for you as a blogger—for search engines to send readers to your blog so that you can share the content you’ve worked so hard to develop. If you monetize your blog, you’ll earn a higher income from the extra traffic.
My theory is that if you’re not going to bother search engine optimizing your website or your posts, then don’t waste your time blogging at all—unless, you want to spend all of your free time promoting every single one of your posts on social media or other traffic sources.
Now that you have a much clearer understanding of SEO and why it’s important, I’ll proceed to cover some topics that can help you increase SEO on your blog! This is the Ultimate Guide to SEO after all. Here’s what I’ll be covering:
- How to increase SEO by increasing site speed
- choosing a good web host
- switching to PHP 7.0
- installing a caching plugin
- minifying your images
- Increase SEO by using HTTPS on your website
- Increase SEO by optimizing your content
- Keyword research
- Long-tail keywords
- Using Yoast SEO
- H2 Tags
- Meta Description
- Increase SEO by getting more backlinks
1. Increase On-Page SEO by Increasing Site Speed
Site speed is one of the most important off-page ranking factors! A slow website isn’t favored by search engines for one good reason: It doesn’t deliver a good user experience.
Do you like going on slow websites? Probably not, so don’t expect anyone else to want to visit your sluggish website (if that’s the case).
When search engine bots notice that your website is slow, your ranking will go down the drain while faster websites will climb up the ladder.
Here are a few ways to help you increase your site’s speed:
A good web host makes all the difference when it comes to server response times—the time at which your website responds to a host’s servers. The lower the time, the better.
I’ve used many web hosts in the past but I’ve come to settle with Siteground. I find it to be the best web host available for beginner bloggers because it delivers super fast response times, is inexpensive and offers security like no other host for its price.
You can read more about why I favor Siteground at the link below or Sign Up.
If you have a bigger budget, I would recommend going with WP Engine. They offer speeds that are faster than Siteground’s but costs nearly three times as much per month. The reason why they’re able to offer such high speeds is because their servers are optimized specifically for WordPress while other hosts aren’t.
Switch to PHP 7.0
PHP is a scripting language used in web development and in web hosting servers.
Not long ago, PHP 7.0 was released! If you created your blog before within the last year or so, there’s a good chance that you are still running on PHP 5.6.
PHP 7.0 runs up to 2x faster than PHP 5.6 so it’s well worth it to switch! It doesn’t cost anything and you can easily do it in your web hosting panel. If you’re unfamiliar how to switch, it’s best to contact your web hosting support and they will be able to help you out with no problems.
I was able to do it on Siteground by using the PHP Config feature in my SG Optimizer plugin. This plugin is only available to Siteground users, unfortunately.
Install a Caching Plugin
First of all, what is “cache”? It’s not what you use to pay for groceries at the supermarket if that’s what you’re thinking.
Cache is a temporary storage space that is used to store information for easier access later on. By installing a caching plugin, you can utilize this caching feature so that visitors can load your pages even quicker!
There are quite a few caching plugins available but what I use is W3 Total Cache. You can download it from your plugins tab in your WordPress admin panel or use the link below to download and install it yourself:
Download | W3 Total Cache
Minifying Your Images
Larger image file sizes will contribute to longer loading times if you don’t optimize them. This is because your pages will have to download the images from your server when your pages load.
To counter large image file sizes, you can install an image compression plugin.
These plugins will automatically compress all of your images as they’re uploaded so that you won’t have to worry about doing it manually.
I personally use the Smush plugin which can also be downloaded through the plugins tab in your WordPress admin panel. Here’s the download link:
Download | Smush Image Compression and Optimization
2. Increase On-Page SEO by Using HTTPS on Your Website
Out of the box, your website will use HTTP. Implementing HTTPS on your website, however, will help make your website much more secure! That’s what the ‘S’ stands for.
Since I’ve already mentioned that search engines value greater user experience for higher page rankings, it makes sense for me to say that websites that offer higher security will rank higher in search engines. After all, they don’t want their users catching viruses or malware.
Siteground provided me with an easier route by allowing me to implement HTTPS on my website with one click by using their personalized “SG Optimizer” plugin.
If you’re not using Siteground, you’ll have to take the longer route.
3. Increase On-Page SEO by Optimizing Your Content
Moving onto the content side of things on this Ultimate Guide to SEO, the first thing you MUST do before writing a post is to find a focus keyword and related keywords by conducting keyword research for SEO.
As I mentioned earlier, you DO NOT want to take shortcuts when it comes to SEO, so don’t just choose random keywords! Make sure you do the research or else you’ll end up using keywords that are already being used by thousands of other websites—which will significantly lower your chances of obtaining high page rankings.
Something I would strongly recommend is using keyword research to find long-tail keywords to use throughout your post. These keywords contain more words, are more specific and therefore and have lower competition. The only drawback with long-tail keywords is that have low search volumes but when they’re grouped together, they can generate a ton of traffic!
Once you find your keywords, you can move onto implementation by using an SEO Pugin.
Using the Yoast SEO Plugin
The Yoast SEO plugin is free and will help you keep track of how effectively you’re using your keywords within your posts and pages. This tool is used by millions of users worldwide, including many professionals bloggers and marketers, probably because Yoast SEO is considered best plugin when it comes to helping WordPress users with on-page factors that affect page ranking.
You can install it straight from WordPress by going to Plugins > Add New > Searching for Yoast SEO.
Once you have Yoast SEO installed, you’ll notice something like this at the bottom of your post/page edit screens.
Using the seed/focus keyword you found through keyword research, enter it into the box that says “Focus Keyword,” and then modify your article so that everything under the “analysis” list has a green circle. The analysis displays all of the on-page factors that you need to focus on.
You want everything to be green!
Let’s see why some of these on-page factors are important:
Keyword in Title (aka H1 heading on WordPress)
Based on intensive research underwent by Ahrefs (as shown above), having your keyword in the title is the most important on-page ranking factor. This means that your title absolutely must include your keyword. By default in WordPress, your page/post titles will always be in H1(heading 1) so you won’t have to worry about the second on-page ranking factor in the image above.
Let’s think about this for a second. When you search for a phrase in Google, what’s the first thing you’re going to look at before determining which link to click on? The title! Google also knows this and that’s why having your keywords within the title of your posts is so important. It helps users identify what your post is about and whether or not they’re interested enough to click it.
When it comes to the title, don’t just throw your keyword in there! You need to still create a catchy title that people will actually want to click. This method is called link bait and will increase the number of people clicking on links to your site from search engines.
Keyword in Content
Including your keyword in your content is also very important. If you’re going to write about a specific topic, make sure that the topic is clear to your audience.
On average, you should have your keyword included in your articles once for every 100 words in your article. For example, if your post contains 1000 words, include your keyword 10 times. Yoast will help you keep track of this.
Also, include H2 and H3 tags for topics and sub-topics. Bots will emphasize more on topics using those headings.
Keyword in Meta Description
Below the title and URL of a search engine result, you’ll see a short description of the post. This is called the “meta description.” With Yoast SEO, you’re able to easily modify the meta descriptions of your posts.
If you don’t set a meta description, WordPress will automatically generate one using a few lines from the first paragraph of your post. You do not want this to happen because sometimes the first paragraph won’t contain your keyword.
It’s good practice to write your own meta description so that it will contain your keyword and you’re able to customize what you want people to know about your article before you click it.
In my example link in the image above, I explain briefly how one should take precautions by backing up WordPress databases and files so that anyone who’s interested in learning why or how can click on my link.
Keyword in the URL
The URL (aka permalink) of your post or page should also contain your keyword. While this is minor compared to other on-page ranking factors, it’s still something that shouldn’t be ignored.
Good permalinks will help others to further identify what your articles are about.
You can edit your permalinks by clicking on the edit button underneath the title while on an editing page:
The Alt Tags in Images
The only way Google or other search engines can identify your images is through “alt tags.” Otherwise, their bots aren’t smart enough to know what your images are. That’s why it’s necessary to manually enter in alt tags for all of your images.
Fortunately, it’s easy to add alt tags to your images by either editing the images when you upload them or by clicking an image that’s already in your post and clicking on the pencil to edit. You’ve probably seen this screen before:
4. Increase Off-Page SEO by Getting More Backlinks
Here are some ways you can get more backlinks:
I find that building connections with other bloggers in your niche is the most effective way to get backlinks to your site.
You can exchange backlinks which means you link to someone’s articles in your posts and they link to your articles.
This ends up being a very reliable source of backlinks because good connections will stay and you’ll have the opportunity to get more backlinks from these connections in the future. Plus it’s always nice to meet other bloggers!
Write High-quality Content
The more useful and fun your articles are to read, the easier it will be for others to find your articles and give you backlinks on your own.
Successful bloggers love to provide solutions for their readers and sometimes it might not be through their own content, but content from another website.
Sometimes I link to articles that I like simply because I know my readers will benefit from it. You want to ensure every single one of your articles is worth sharing.
Guest blogging is a term that means writing content for another blog.
This can give you backlinks because most sites that you can write guest posts for will allow you to include yourself as the author of the post and provide a link to your site.
If you can manage to get permission to write a guest post for a very popular blog, you’ll notice that your page rank will go through the roof from the backlink!
Some additional things to keep in mind in terms of backlinks:
Ensure that You’re Getting DoFollow Backlinks
While backlinks are important, you want high-quality DoFollow backlinks.
Only DoFollow links will be considered for increasing your page rank, so make sure when you receive backlinks from other sites that they are DoFollow!
Anchor Text in Backlinks
Another thing you should keep in mind is the anchor text of the links leading to your site. Anchor text is the text that contains the hyperlink. In my link to the DoFollow article above, the anchor text is “What is DoFollow?”
Anchor text is important because it helps your website rank for the keywords you want to rank for. If you’re getting backlinks for a post about making money through blogging, you might want the person giving you a backlink to use the anchor text “learn how to make money through blogging” to link to your site. That would allow your pages to rank further for the keyword “make money through blogging.”
Welcome to the World of Search Engine Optimization!
Congrats! You’ve made it to the end of this post.
I never said it was going to be easy. 😁 I intentionally made this post really long in order to provide you with as much information as I think is necessary for you to learn in regards to SEO.
I must admit, I don’t find SEO fun. However, what is fun is seeing the traffic that flows through your websites afterward! If you follow these SEO steps, you’re going to be one successful blogger down the road.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, regarding this guide to SEO, please comment below and I promise I’ll reach out soon after.
To help me teach others about SEO, pin the image at the top and share this blog post!