Blogs are a fantastic source of information and they can help immensely when you're trying to establish yourself as knowledgeable in your field.
But, what's the point in having a blog that no one reads?
If your blog isn't optimized for search engines, not many people are going to have the opportunity to benefit from your expertise and the whole activity becomes pointless. You need to actively optimize your blog to build brand awareness, and in time, that crucial loyal following.
Get Your Blog Up and Running
Before you can optimize your blog, you need a platform to blog on. WordPress remains one of the most popular and widely-used blogging and website platforms out there. It's simple to add posts and to incorporate SEO techniques to your pages. Here are some low-cost options for WordPress hosting to get you started. Once you have your blog all set up, you can proceed to adding pages and posts that are related to your niche.
WordPress also has a range of optional plug-ins available to install to help with your SEO, contact forms, site speed, mobile-friendliness and analytics.
Optimizing Your Blog
Now you have a blog (and hopefully some posts), you can work on optimizing it for search engines. I'm going to walk you through some simple tactics to help get you ranked.
#1 - Provide Quality
High-quality writing is essential for SEO and for your audience's enjoyment. Your post should add value to the reader by being informative, useful and relevant to your niche. Search engines like Google take the quality of each website and blog highly into consideration when they're ranking sites. They put a big emphasis on user-experience, so the better your content is in terms of quality, the more favorably they will view you.
Ensure your spelling, grammar, punctuation and paragraph formatting are all correct and accurate. Additionally, use headings, subheadings, and images (with Alt tags) to break up your text and make it easier and more appealing to read through.
Lastly, run your post through a site like Grammarly to ensure it's all up-to-scratch before going live.
#2 - Incorporate keywords
Use Google's keyword planner, or another free planner to select keywords for your posts and pages. A good keyword planner will tell you the search volume for each keyword, as well as the amount of competition for it.
Begin by brainstorming possible search queries that people may type into their search bar to look for the information you're offering. This could be something like "How to...", or "What's the best [product] to buy". These are long-tail keywords that are very specific, and for good reason. Long-tail keywords will bring you much more targeted traffic than broad keywords.
For example, If you're offering decorating advice, using a keyword like "decorating" will not bring you targeted traffic. There are loads of reasons why people may search for that term. Use terms that accurately describe what information you're offering such as "How to hang wallpaper", or "Sanding skirting boards before painting". These indicate that the information you're sharing is exactly what the searcher is looking for.
Next, search for your keywords in the planner. It will show you details of the keyword and other similar keyword matches so you can choose one that's right for you. As already said, keywords should be specific, targeted, and highly-relevant to your post or page. The ideal combination for your primary keywords is a high search volume with low competition.
That being said, don't dismiss high-competition keywords. Although these will usually take significantly longer to rank for, they will pay off in the long run. It's worth opting for a mix of high and low-competition keywords.
#3 - Link- Building
Google bots scour web pages to index and rank them. This process can take some time but link-building can speed it up. Having hyperlinks on authority, well-established, and relevant websites will help get your web pages and blog posts ranked higher and ranked quicker. Google bots will find your web pages through those links and associate your blog with those authority websites, thus giving it more credibility.
#4 - Lower Your Bounce Rate and Increase Time on Your Blog
Your bounce rate is the rate in which your visitors arrive on your site or blog and then leave without visiting any more pages. As Google (and other search engines) is big on user-experience, bounce rate is a big ranking factor. If a lot of people are leaving your blog shortly after visiting just one page, they are likely not enjoying their time on there.
There could be many reasons for this. Here are some ways to increase the time people spend on your site and lower your bounce rate:
- Link Blogs Together - Link your blogs and encourage your audience to click through to another one. Don't be over-promotional, but do highlight the benefits of further reading and make it easy for them to do so.
- Use Videos - Videos are naturally more engaging than text. They provide information that's generally easier to consume.
- Write Longer Posts - Longer posts tend to get more engagement. This is because those who actually take the time to read through a long post will have a genuine interest in what you have to say. You can provide much more in-depth expertise in a longer post than a short one that just skims over the topic.
- Generate Excitement - Announce the launch of a new blog post on your social media channels and let people know what they can expect to gain from reading it.
- Keep Relevance in Mind - Everything should be clear and relevant, from your keywords to your meta description, as well as your social media posts that link to your blog. This helps avoid misconceptions from people thinking that your post is about something else. If they click on your link and it's not the topic they expected, there's a high chance they will simply leave. This will increase your bounce rate and lower your placement in search engines.
- Easy Navigation - The easier something is to do on your blog, the more people will do it. Navigation is no exception! Every action and link click counts when it comes to SEO, and your aim is to get as many as possible. Make sure everything is within easy reach with as few steps as possible for each action. Your menu functionality should be smooth and well set-out. Your blog posts and pages should be easy to find and simple to navigate from one to another.
- Speed Matters - Consider your blog's speed. How many times have you clicked on a link with a slow-loading page, only to give up after a few seconds and navigate away from it? Your blog speed will have a big influence on your bounce rate and your SEO.
Make it Mobile-Friendly
Over half of internet traffic comes through mobile devices. For this reason, Google prioritises mobile-friendly websites and blogs. If yours is not, you are missing out on a lot of potential traffic and Google will push you further down in its search results.
To be mobile-friendly, your blog must be well-laid-out to fit in a mobile screen, it must load its pages and images quickly, and you should be able to see every element of your pages on a mobile device.
Take Advantage of Yoast
Yoast is a popular plug-in that helps you with your SEO. If you're just starting up, the free version will be a great option for getting to grips with the basics. It's simple to use and understand, even for those bloggers who are less tech-savvy. It advises on aspects such as:
Yoast also offers a paid-for subscription for those wanting more in-depth SEO assistance.
My last piece of advice is to keep on posting. Post regularly and keep updating your content so that it remains relevant. The more high-quality, relevant and interesting posts you have, the more chance you have of gaining a larger audience and increasing your SEO.
Remember, the more traffic you have, the higher you'll rank in search engines. And, the higher you rank in search engines, the more traffic you'll gain.