If you’ve landed here to learn how to SEO a blog, it’s probably because you need more traffic.
And there’s a direct relationship between traffic and website ranking.
I’m going to show you, in a geek free way exactly what you need to do to SEO a blog and catapult your website ranking.
You’ll not be reading about the same old SEO tips that every other blogger regurgitates.
Here are 7 Power SEO Optimization Strategies to grow your website.
Let’s go ….
Why You Need To SEO A Blog
Traffic doesn’t just arrive at your website.
It gets there through various mediums including paid promotions (inbound promotions), referrals (backlinks), social media promotions (paid and organic) and organic search.
The traffic that comes from search engine results pages is free. And it’s the traffic that most bloggers crave for.
So the question is not so much why you should SEO a blog but rather ask yourself how, in your wildest dreams, you expect to get organic traffic if you don’t SEO each and every blog post.
How User Intent Affects Website Ranking
Congratulations. You’ve gotten past the most difficult part already.
Deciding what you want to write about!
Now you have to think about what your users want to read about.
You can do as much SEO analysis as you like, if your content doesn’t give your users the information they’re looking for, all your SEO efforts will be completely wasted.
Your content’s usefulness will be reflected in the number of times your post is read.
Google analytics is pretty helpful in identifying user behavior. It’s a great way to tell how your users are engaging with your content.
I’ll summarize a couple of important aspects here, but I’d advise you to read my post about the Google analytics metrics that matter most.
You’ll want to assess your content if:
- Number of Users – is not steadily increasing.
- Session Time – is extremely short. I’d say that less than 90 seconds (minimum) on a regular basis is an indication of inadequate content.
- Bounce Rate – is high.
Whilst not a metric in itself, the comments you get on your posts is also indicative of quality, helpful content.
The more useful your content, the more interactive users will be in your comments section.
And if Google sees your post is liked by users, they will up-rank it.
In Google analytics, check to see what pages are really popular amongst your users.
Concentrate on writing more posts around similar topics and categories.
This will help you to generate more traffic to your site.
And when your traffic increases, you may find users becoming interested in other topics they never knew you wrote about.
So don’t neglect the less visited topic categories. Rather aim to generate more traffic to those pages by using effective internal page linking.
And never neglect the power of social media either. It’s one of the best ways to drive traffic to your pages.
If you don’t yet have my Double Your E-Mail List In 30 Days eBook, request it below and I’ll send it to you. It’s FREE.
In the book I discuss 10 ways to get traffic to your website + 3 additional BONUS tips to generate tons of organic traffic to your website or blog through Pinterest.
Alternative Keyword Research And Its Application
I know the creative juices are flowing.
But before you start writing your post, you need to establish what your target audience is searching for – their true intent.
Whilst there’s a whole lot more to optimizing content than simply adding keywords to it, failure to optimize for relevant keywords would be a mistake.
The secret is to present your content in the most natural way. Writing for keywords doesn’t serve users well and Google will ultimately down-rank your posts if you spam them with keywords.
We also need to consider two of Google’s algorithms. Hummingbird (2013) and RankBrain (2017/8).
Hummingbird is all about user intent and seeing that we just touched on the subject, I’ll include a small discussion about it right here.
By seeking to understand the actual intent of user search queries, the Hummingbird update introduced the delivery of more personalized search results.
The RankBrain algorithm goes a step further than Hummingbird by attempting to deliver SERP pages that don’t contain exact match search terms.
Using artificial intelligence (AI) much like what you’ve seen in robotics movies, RankBrain attempts to understand, and sometimes even guess (calculated), the meaning of search queries.
The algorithm is programmed by computer scientists to learn from previous search patterns that have used extremely lengthy phrases, and even sentences.
These terms may, on the surface, appear to be completely disconnected but when brought together and analyzed using a form of AI, make some sense to the algorithm.
This information is then applied to new search queries that are unbeknown to Google.
By analyzing these disconnected packets of information, together with the aid of correlation techniques, RankBrain is more equipped than any previous algorithm to return the most fitting search results to users.
In short, SERP results are no longer based only on the meaning of individual keywords as was the case prior to September 2013.
In the wider context, when it comes to long tail keywords (phrases), Hummingbird and Rankbrain both attempt to understand what users are looking for (user intent) by interpreting the meaning of entire phrases and sentences together with other aspects of grammar and punctuation.
In everyday application, the use of long tail keywords in your content not only helps Google to understand your content better, but they’re also less competitive and easier to rank for.
It certainly doesn’t mean that keywords are no longer important in blog SEO.
But it’s clear that Google is taking a more holistic approach to understanding content, with a view to delivering search results that most closely match the user’s intent.
I’ve seen posts appearing on page 1 of Google SERP’S where the primary keyword only appears once or twice in a 4000 word article.
Nevertheless, people still search using keywords, so traditional keyword research is not to be neglected.
Where To Find Long Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords (LTK’S) are basically longer strings or phrases entered by users when searching the internet.
Google records these keyword search phrases and uses them to automatically suggest search terms that may be useful to future users.
You see these search terms, or long tail keywords every time you begin a search using Google (and other search engines).
Long tail keywords are more specific (narrower) than simple keyword terms thus allowing users to select phrases that are more specific to the information they are actually looking for – their user intent.
See how important user intent is?
It’s behind everything Google does.
And if you keep it top of mind when you design your posts, you’ll always be on track with your SEO optimization and be well on your way to achieving outstanding website ranking.
When used in your content, these long tail keywords give search engines a better understanding of what your content is actually about.
This is where the Hummingbird algorithm does its magic!
For example, the keyword “tamper” produces reams of search results with a multitude of meanings ranging from Tamper Bay to tampering with mail.
But a search for the term coffee tamper gives Google a better idea of what the user is looking for.
And the longer tail variations are even more explicit, for example engraved coffee tamper or best coffee tamper.
You see how long tail keywords help Google understand user intent?
The more specific you make your content, the greater the chances of ranking for those long tail keywords.
And what’s more is that these LTK’S will help you to drive some really important traffic to your site.
All compelling reasons to make use of them.
Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest provides hundreds of new keywords based on a single search.
And it will (apparently) give you more keywords than the Google Adwords Keyword Tool – which is now pretty much exclusive to Adwords users.
The brilliant thing about Ubersuggest is it’s FREE.
And besides giving you hundreds of additional keyword ideas (including LTK’S), it also provides search volumes, cost per click analysis, paid difficulty and organic search difficulty.
Here’s an example using the search term coffee tamper.
By the way, a search difficulty of 49 translates to a 51% chance of ranking for that keyword.
Personally, I find this to be one of the most helpful keyword ideas tools.
LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing.
LSI keywords are words that are closely associated with the main keyword and are often used together with it.
Think of them as adjectives.
Here’s an example:
Main keyword: Glasses
This could mean drinking glasses or it could mean spectacles.
If Google finds the words, prescription or polarizing in your content, for example, it knows that the content is related to spectacles.
LSI keywords should not be used as your main keyword.
They should be used in addition to the main keyword to help search engines better understand your content.
They make your content appear more natural, thereby eliminating the need for keyword stuffing.
Latent semantic indexing is obviously an integral part of the Hummingbird algorithm which has effectively done away with keyword density as the ONLY measure to assess how relevant the content is to a search query.
LSI Keywords allows you to search for either LSI keywords, LTK’S or both.
The tool provides search volumes but unfortunately doesn’t include search difficulty.
At the bottom of any Google search results page, you’ll invariably find related search data.
Whilst there are no volumes or other data, these long tail keywords are a gold mine!
You’ll often find useful LTK’S that you can easily rank for.
And by following these additional links, you will be able to explore further LTK’s that you can use in your content.
I use this Keywordtool often because it generates hundreds of LTK’S, extracted from the Google Autocomplete engine.
That’s much more than you’ll find on a Google SERP page.
The free version doesn’t provide search volumes. However it’s still useful to identify long tail keywords.
Different Forms Of SEO Competitor Analysis
SEO competitor analysis is invariably considered when it comes to an SEO audit.
Personally, I believe it should be an integral part of optimizing every single post you write.
When it comes to getting that number one spot in Google SERP’S, you’ve literally got to pull the rug out from under your competitors.
SEO competitor analysis will give you a bird’s eye view of what your competitors are doing to clinch organic visibility as well as the SEO backlink strategies that are working for them.
With that information at hand, you will be in a better position to direct your SEO campaigns in the direction required to overtake your competitors and vie for their SEO positions.
It’s pretty pointless publishing a post and having to return to it afterwards to make SEO adjustments.
Whilst you’ll always be returning to existing posts to keep them updated and current, it’s best to perform your competitor analysis before you write.
That way you know what keywords to optimize for and how to best structure your posts.
Here are some things to look out for:
Content And Language Complexity
There’s certainly no shortage of well articulated authors on the internet.
But there’s nothing worse than landing on a web page and clicking off it because you need a PhD in Technical Writing to decipher the meaning of the content.
If any of your competitors are guilty of losing readership due to this, the door’s wide open for you.
On the flip-side, the same opportunity exists if the content on any of your competitors’ posts is thin and lacks substance.
With respect, I’ve seen some weak content spewed out on some high domain authority (DA) sites.
That’s proof that DA plays a big role in Google ranking factors!
Target market analysis is hugely overlooked.
And you can cut it whichever way you like – everything you do online boils down to marketing.
Are your competitors targeting a broader market?
If so, there will likely be some untapped opportunities in the smaller niches.
Niches make money – period!
There can be huge income earning potential if you find a gap to segment the market.
Conversely, if your competitors are aiming at smaller market segments, explore the opportunities of marketing to a wider market or audience.
Untapped SEO Backlink Potential
Reaching out to online businesses and bloggers that link to your competitors is one thing.
And yes, you need to explore that.
But besides “stealing” your competitors backlinks, what about exploring the untapped backlink potential?
Don’t concentrate only on domains that are linking to your competitors.
Look for other organizations in the same niche and reach out to them.
Explain to them how their websites can benefit by linking to your longer form, more user friendly, highly informative and helpful content.
You may be pleasantly surprised by the response!
As much as you may not like it, prospecting for backlinks is one of those important activities.
I highly recommend you read my post about the daily habits of successful entrepreneurs. It explains the difference between urgency and importance in business.
Long Tail And LSI Keywords
I know we spoke about this before, but you need to get a hang of how to apply these keywords in practice.
Are your competitors using long tail keywords and LSI keywords in their content?
If so, are there other unused keywords you can hone in on?
You need to be using them in your posts. But remember, they must fit in with your content otherwise you risk becoming spammy.
Many SEO bloggers will suggest you do competitor keyword research analysis.
And yes, you should!
But getting back to the often neglected, long tail and LSI keywords – these can generate some important traffic to your site.
And Google interprets this as greater user interest and will likely up-rank your post!
Are Your Competitors Using Correlated Search Patterns?
The probability of your competitors using correlated search patterns is quite low.
Some may not even know about this and others may be too lazy.
In the same way that undervalued stocks can lead to huge financial gains, so too can these undervalued search patterns.
Remember, you must become better than your competitors.
Google Correlate provides additional words and phrases that are often searched for together with main keywords.
You know how eBay and Amazon suggest items that are often searched for together with the one you were looking at?
Well the concept is the same with Google Correlate.
Here’s an example using the keyword nutrition.
Include a sprinkle of correlated words in your content.
It can only give you an edge!
How Web Design Affects Blog SEO.
OK. I can hear you asking. What does web design have to do with blog SEO.?
Quite simply, a well designed website decreases bounce rate and increases session time.
In other words, it improves user engagement and results in more posts and pages being viewed.
And when Google sees that, they’ll up-rank them!
Have you ever landed on a site that was so cluttered you couldn’t find the information you were looking for?
What’s was the first thing you wanted to do?
Get the hell out of there. Right?
It’s the same with selling property.
I ran a real estate business for many years.
The properties that attracted crowds of high quality, qualified buyers, were the ones that were minimalistic, tastefully furnished, uncluttered and gave the impression of space.
Likewise, the best websites are the ones that make use of simple, minimalist themes, designed to give the impression of plenty of white space.
Optimize those with quality content and you’ll have a winning formula.
Stay away from adverts.
They make for a poor user experience and they’re also bad for website speed.
And this leads me to …
Google only cares about the content your users want to see.
I keep coming back to this but it’s important.
Stick to user intent!
If you find yourself having to add padding to make your content longer, go back to the drawing board. Do some more research.
Never, ever, plagiarize.
You’ll get slapped with a Google penalty so quick your head will spin and you site will sink!
If you want your posts to rank well in Google SERPS, make sure your content is of the highest quality. It must be accurate, actionable and original.
Make sure your use of language is apt and that your spelling and grammar are perfect.
I’ve come across posts where the authors use swear words in their content.
It’s not a good look!
Don’t do it.
Make sure to grab your users’ attention from the very outset.
Keep your introductions short and punchy.
Tell users early on exactly how your content will benefit them.
Do you know what users do if they can’t find what they’re looking for?
I’m not talking about menu items here. That’s a foregone that every other blogger talks about.
Here’s what I mean:
- Use a table of contents
- Use anchor links (or jump links as Brian Dean calls them) within the table of contents. It saves users scrolling through reams of content to find what interests them most.
- Open external links in a separate tab. You don’t want users to leave your site so make it easy for them to simply click back onto it (See rel tags below showing how to do this).
- Open internal links in the same tab. That way Google sees users navigating through your site’s pages or posts and it makes for better SEO.
- Use breadcrumbs. It makes for easy navigation and is great for SEO. If breadcrumbs are not included in your theme, you can use Yoast SEO to add the functionality. Yoast has instructions and code that you can insert in different places, theme specific.
Rel Tags And Link Juice
When you SEO a blog, the intention is to build you website ranking as much as possible.
As you build your post content, you may sometimes link to sites to make it easy for users to access them directly.
An example of this is where I provided a link to go to the Pingdom website in the speed optimization section (which follows shortly).
But you may not intend to lose, or “leak” your own page rank.
When providing links to third party sites, you pass link juice to those sites – unless you add rel=”nofollow” tags to them.
Now sometimes you may want to pass link juice to an authoritative site, as it can also have positive SEO effects.
That’s why I did so in this post by linking to Neil Patel and Brian Dean.
I’ve learned from both of them, so this is a way of paying things forward.
So you need to be aware of this and decide what your intentions are when adding external links to your posts.
The link below shows how to open a link in a separate tab, using target=”_blank”, as well as adding a nofollow tag to it.
The nofollow tag tells search engines not to follow the links.
In that way, you don’t pass link juice to an external site (unless you intend to) which causes you to leak some of your own juice.
<a href=”https://example.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener nofollow”>Example</a>.
If you intent to pass link juice to a third party site, simply remove the nofollow part of the tag.
Helping Google Understand Screenshots
Here’s the deal.
Google crawls the source code of your pages, not the frontend of your site.
This being the case, it’s obvious that Google cannot “see” anything that’s described in words on a screenshot.
Truth be told, many screenshots contain important content.
And the sad thing is, authors don’t describe them.
I’ve seen posts where authors have captured screenshots and then added contextual information on the screenshot without typing it out in the content.
That’s wasted SEO – and time!
As you will noticed with my speed test further down the page, I have explained exactly what information the screenshot portrays.
In other posts, I’ve used tables to summarize a series of results. It makes it real easy for users to see at a glance, a summary of the pertinent facts.
Whatever you do, always explain to Google what your visuals are showing to your users.
After all, it’s only a robot!
Website Speed Optimization
Website Speed Optimization is so crucial, it should have been first up on my SEO a blog agenda.
Nevertheless, you’ll notice that many of my posts include some aspect of WordPress speed optimization.
You can read my article about 32 page speed hacks for a more in depth discussion.
For this post, I’ll touch on the crucial aspects of speed optimization.
Fast websites are crucial for user experience (UX).
And it’s not only users that love speedy websites. Google does too.
Not only is Google increasing their concentration (in their algorithms) on up-ranking fast loading websites, but they’re also going out of their way to down-rank sluggish sites.
There are a number of speed testing tools available to assist you.
Pingdom have recently updated their website and added additional testing locations.
In the same breath, I think they’ve also altered their algorithm.
GTMetrix is reliable, but you’ll generally find their speeds are slower than Pingdom.
Nevertheless, GTMetrix gives you some very useful information that you don’t get from Pingdom, e.g. time to first byte, paint times, DOM loading times etc.
It’s pretty easy to become OCD about speed tests. So I want to enlighten you about something.
These tools show you your fully loaded page speed.
But the fully loaded speed is not indicative of the true user experience.
Time to first byte and first paint times are more important.
You can see below how my homepage starts to load at 0.6 seconds – First Paint.
In the background, my cache processes the rest of the page until it’s fully loaded at 1.5 seconds.
Point is – don’t judge your site by fully loaded time.
Google has their own Page Speed Insights tool.
The tool shows your Google page speed score, not loading times.
Now I’m not one to chase after scores or grades because speed is really the most important thing.
But the closer you get to 100/100, the faster your page will actually load.
I’m proud of my 100/100 Page Speed Score!
There are 2 CRUCIAL aspects in achieving lightning fast website loading times.
And you won’t be able to get there without them.
1. Rock Solid Website Hosting
Rock solid website hosting is where it all begins. This is THE #1 prerequisite for speed.
Hosting is not negotiable.
It’s a necessity.
And unless you’ve got a large site, there’s no need to spend a fortune either.
I host all my sites with Siteground. Having used 6 hosting companies over a period of years, I find Siteground is the fastest and ticks all the other boxes too.
You can read my full Siteground WordPress hosting review for an in depth discussion.
When I talk about caching, I mean aggressive caching, not any old type of caching.
Before I came to hear of Swift Performance, my page loading times were really mediocre.
And nothing I did would improve the lack of speed.
Don’t get me wrong, WP Rocket is a really good caching plugin, but it lacked the edge I was looking for.
Swift Performance is the most aggressive caching plugin I’ve seen.
Never before was I able to achieve the kind of speeds I do now.
Just a note of caution – Swift needs some CPU. So you won’t be able to use it with a limited CPU hosting plan.
I’m not going into any more depth here because there’s not much more to say about caching.
But if you decide to go with Swift Performance you can access my comprehensive setup guide by reading my post about the Swift Performance caching plugin for WordPress.
And even better, you can import my settings too.
Until Next Time ...
Thanks for visiting.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this post.
More importantly, however, I hope you’ve learned something new about how to SEO a blog.
So, are you going to improve your blog’s visibility? Let me know by leaving a comment.
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