Considering the state of social media and other traffic sources the way they are these days, blog SEO (search engine optimization) is becoming more important all the time. Ultimately, you want to drive more traffic to your writing.
But here’s the reality most writers are facing these days…
Social media platforms simply don’t have the “viral” effect that they used to. Sharing on social media becomes limited to reaching your friends. And the algorithms of various platforms make it more difficult for content to be seen by even the people who follow you to get those updates. Email subscription and readership is down for many writers too, simply because subscribers deal with burnout from managing too much content.
Regardless, there are people out there right now who are looking for the exact content you have on your blog.
So the focus for writers needs to shift to how you find those people (and get your content in front of them). And that’s the focus of what we’ll explore in this article. We’ll dig into five questions to help you understand why blog SEO is important and how you can do it well.
How important is SEO for blogging?
Let’s face it. If you’ve been blogging for a while, then you might remember the day when you could share a link to a post on Facebook or Twitter, and watch it generate plenty of clicks (through to your post) and shares (extending your reach). But with algorithm changes that filter what people see, most writers have been experiencing a massive decline in traffic from social media sources.
And traffic studies across many websites are showing the same results. One study shows that social media sources account for just 5% of website traffic. Meanwhile, organic search is bringing in 51% of all traffic.
If you take a deeper look into the data, then you’ll also see that Google accounts for over 90% of all search engine traffic. So when you’re looking for traffic from search engines, getting it right for Google is (or at least can be) the single biggest driver of readers for your writing.
But doing blog SEO well is much more than simply installing a plugin and getting a green light on your blog post for some random (or too generic) keyword phrase.
With around 3.5 BILLION searches performed on Google every day, there’s a pretty high likelihood that some of those searches are for something that you wrote about. The best part about this is that it’s most likely being done by people who you are not already connected to (as through social media). That means you have access to new readers looking for you… if you can get your content to show up (especially on page one) in Google search results.
How to make your blog visible in Google search results
There’s good news and bad news with this one.
Bad news first… It’s not like social media where you can just post it and it’s there for everyone when you publish new content. And the downside, as we’ve already discussed, is that there’s no guarantee that people will even see that. At least with social media, you can share a link anytime you want to get it out there.
Now the good news… There’s really nothing you need to do to have your content available to show up in search results. Search engines use ‘bots’ to crawl websites across the Internet and then work to figure out how to index that content. So while there’s nothing you need to do to get it to show up in search engine results pages (SERPs), there are some things you can do to improve your chances of ranking well.
- Strong technical SEO – One of the first things you need to understand about SEO is that Google wants to provide a good experience for their searchers. That means if they send people to your website, then they need to know that it’s going to perform well. So evaluating elements like page load speed and website architecture can impact your standing on search engines. You should have a plan to ensure you’re running well and providing a great user experience for your visitors.
- Best content available – Just because you wrote a blog post that you’re passionate about doesn’t mean that it rank really high. Again, Google is looking to provide the best experience for their searchers. Part of that is making sure they send people to the best answer to their questions. From Google’s perspective, if they sent you a visitor who saw no value in your content, then the searcher loses confidence in Google as a source of providing good answers. So your content strategy should focus on providing great resources.
- Leverage crawl data – The best SEO strategies are not just a one-time function that you can set and forget. They require an ongoing analysis and adjustments to work towards key improvements. Therefore, understanding and using your analytics and crawl data (which Google will provide for you) is one of the biggest keys to driving your content up the rankings and obtaining more traffic from organic search.
Getting your website to show up in Google search results isn’t really difficult. But it does mean you need to be intentional. You also need to remove barriers (even unintentional ones) that can prevent you from ranking well.
Here’s a little deeper look at some core concepts related to each of these three points.
Which blog platforms are the most SEO-friendly?
I’m just going to come out and say it. I believe that WordPress is hands-down the best platform for blog SEO. Not only is it one of the most widely-accepted platforms out there, but it’s easy to implement all of the elements that help you improve your chances with the search engines.
The biggest of these has to do with how well you can enhance your technical SEO. Standard WordPress is a simple content management system that does a good job of storing and displaying your content. Then you can slap any theme on it to get you the design and style you want. Beyond that, a variety of plugins can be used as needed to improve the user experience. And while there are many more types than what I’ll discuss here, these types that can help you fine-tune your website to get better search results:
- Caching plugins – Without getting too technical, caching is a method used to push elements closer to the user so that they don’t need to ‘download’ every element on the page every time. This helps speed up page load speed, since there is less ‘distance’ for some elements to travel.
- Image optimization plugins – Another factor in page load speeds is the file size of the images you use. Many writers pay little attention to this, and upload larger, hi-res images that take longer to load. A good image optimization plugin will help reduce that file size and help pages load quicker.
- Analytics plugins – Knowing how your website is performing is paramount to building a strong SEO strategy for your blog. Google Analytics will certainly give you some of the best information regarding visitor tracking, and there are some good plugins that can help you integrate and sort through what’s important.
- Security plugins – Few things can kill your search rankings quicker than a security-compromised website. So yes, keeping an eye on how secure your website is, and dealing with potential issues quickly, will help you maintain your earned rankings. So it doesn’t necessarily get you ranking higher, but it can keep you from losing what you have.
- SEO data plugins – A good SEO plugin doesn’t make your website rank by itself. But it can help with some of the extra ‘coding’ that help those search engine bots figure out what your content is about so that it knows how to index you.
Getting the right mix of plugins running on your site can go a long way in improving your search rankings. If you can get your website to load quickly, provide a good and safe experience for visitors, and build in some good ‘coding’ structure, then you’ve just set yourself up for success. From here, the next thing you’ll want to look at is your content.
Note: The exact plugins we would suggest (free and premium) are all listed in the How To SEO a Blog e-course (get 25% off at checkout using that link). And our BASIC+ Hosting plan includes some of the best premium plugins we know of for great SEO performance (plus some cool reports).
How to make your blog content SEO-friendly
Once you’ve built a strong foundation for your website, the content is the next element you can focus on. And while sometimes it’s good to write just to write, with no big blog SEO goals in mind, you’ll want to have a strategy for how you approach your writing to help you get found. There are a few basic phases of content development that you’ll want to consider:
- Keyword strategy – Using search engine data, you can find the best opportunities for keywords to target in your writing. A little bit of research here can pay big dividends not only in how you target terms, but also in the ideation of new blog post topics to inspire your writing.
- Structure your content well – The biggest thing here is to write your content in such a way that it’s the best resource out there for your desired target search terms. That means you’ll need to know what your page one search results competition is talking about, and evaluate what it would take to provide a better resource than what they have.
- On-page optimization – Some of the plugins we mentioned earlier will help with some of this. But getting your post structure right and ensuring you have all of the right elements in the right places will get that post set up for success when the bots come crawling.
Ultimately, it’s important that you write for humans, not for search engine bots. So don’t overthink this stuff! Write great content first. Then go back through an cover your blog SEO steps to ensure you’re doing what you need to do for the bots.
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How to use Google Search Console (GSC) to improve SEO
The follow-through is probably the most important element of your strategy, because it’ll show you how you can improve. And while Google Analytics will give you some great information about what your visitors are doing when they are on your site, Google Search Console will give you some incredible insight into how Google is ranking your pages/posts in their search results.
With the data in Google Search Console, you’ll be able to evaluate:
- Which terms you’re ranking for.
- Where the pages/posts on your site are ranking (on average) in the results.
- How many clicks (and the click-thru rate) you’re getting from any of those search results through to your website.
- Errors that Google sees that can impact your rankings.
All of this information can tell you how to optimize your content, including the meta title and descriptions, in order to improve rankings and click-thru visits. And knowing the errors that Google sees when their bots crawl the site gives you the opportunity to correct the issues and keep the crawls running smoothly.
Conclusion: Getting Blog SEO right
Blog SEO isn’t really rocket science. But there are some key concepts that you need to understand. And if you can build a solid plan for how you approach your blog SEO, then you’ll be rewarded with some great traffic from new readers who are looking for you right now. I can’t stress this enough… If you’re a writer, keep writing great content for people. You shouldn’t really be thinking about blog SEO while you’re writing. Think about whatever message you have for your readers. But if you have the strategy built into your publishing process, then you’ll be able to create your content in such a way that it’s more likely to climb the rankings and get found more often.
Better search engine rankings = more traffic for your website = greater readership for your writing.
P.S. We’ve developed a course to help you understand key SEO concepts and build a plan that will drive more traffic to what you’re writing. And just as a thank you for reading this post, you can get How To SEO a Blog for 25% OFF using the promo code of SEO25OFF at checkout!