If you write for your own blog, the chances are that you’re trying to generate more traffic.
That can be easier said than done, as there are millions (maybe even billions) of blog posts a day. That’s a lot of competition!
So, how are you supposed to stand out from the millions of other blogs out there?
If you want your blog to be a hit, you need to master SEO or search engine optimization.
It’s what will help you show up on the first page of results on Google and other search engines. If you’re a total wizard at this, you can even show up in the first five results.
Every day, millions of blog users compete to optimize their page for search engines. The goal is to show up on the coveted first page of results.
This guide will break down everything that you need to know about SEO. That way, you can start implementing some optimization strategies on your blog!
Definition and Overview
Search engine optimization involves techniques to raise your rankings on search engines. You want to rank as high as you can in unpaid listings or organic listings.
There are some areas on Google and other search engines where users pay for a top spot. That’s pay-per-click or PPC, and it’s a subject for another time.
To rank high on the organic listings, you won’t have to spend any money at all if you do it right.
Let’s think of an example. If you write a blog about restoring classical guitars, you want to rank for ‘classic guitar restoration’ on Google.
You want your page to show up as the top result when someone searches for classical guitar restoration. Phrases and words like this are ‘keywords,’ and they play a big part in SEO.
The idea is to interject phrases like ‘classic guitar restoration’ into your content. That includes your headlines, meta description, and more.
You see, Google will identify these key phrases and look for them on your page. If you put them in the right places, you’ll increase your ranking!
Now that you know a bit more about SEO, let’s take a look at two critical methodologies. They’re known as white hat SEO, and black hat SEO, as a nod to classic Western movies.
Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO
Much like the American Western movies they named for, white hat and black hat SEO is a code for good and evil.
Some people practice spammy and rule-breaking SEO tactics to make a quick buck. These techniques are black hat SEO or what the bad guy does. Some common black hat tactics include:
- Duplicating content
- Using invisible text to overload keywords on the page
- Re-directing users to other pages with no warning
- Links from other sites that contain non-relevant content
While these techniques may show some short-term profit, it’s not a sustainable system. If you want to run a successful blog that ranks high for years, you need to practice white hat SEO.
White hat SEO involves honest techniques that generate fantastic results. They take more time and effort than black hat techniques, but they’re worth it in the long run.
White hat SEO tactics include:
- Relevant and organically written content
- Images that are well-labeled
- Relevant interlinks and references
- Good spelling and grammar throughout
- Unique page titles that include keywords
- HTML that complies with all standards
Ideally, you only ever want to practice white hat SEO tactics.
There is another option, though. You could don a gray hat and practice a combination of both techniques. You don’t want to manipulate the system entirely, and you also don’t want to wait too long to profit. Use caution whenever using black hat techniques, and use them sparingly,
Understanding On-Page and Off-Page SEO
Now that you know about the color of your hat, it’s time to break down the two main categories of SEO. There is on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO is pretty self-explanatory. It involves the optimization techniques that you use directly on your page. That includes your content, headlines, meta tags, and overall page structure.
Off-page SEO is a little bit murkier, but it’s still imperative. It refers to all the things Google looks at that aren’t in your control. These include social networks, other blogs, and your search history.
To do well with SEO and get your blog to rank high, you need to be proficient in both.
Think of it like this, on-page SEO is the inside of your house, and off-page SEO is your front lawn. You need both to look inviting to attract guests to your home.
Okay, so there are three main things you need to look at for on-page SEO. First and foremost is the content on your page.
If your content doesn’t deliver what your readers are after, then your blog will fail.
That comes back to the way that search engines work. They want to deliver the best content that’s as specific as possible.
That means your content has to be fantastic to stand out to Google and other engines. Make sure that you write informative blog posts that serve a real purpose. The more helpful your information is, the more people will search for it!
Keyword Selection and Research
The next significant factor is your keywords. As mentioned before, a keyword is a word or phrase that users commonly search on Google.
Knowing how to research and identify keywords is a huge factor in your success with SEO. There are many tools that you can find online that will provide you with the hottest keywords.
90% of SEO revolves around the use of your keywords. They will determine how you build links, what your content is about, and more.
Next up is optimizing the HTML on your page. Learning the basics of HTML is relatively easy if you don’t know. You by no means need to be a professional coder to use it and learn how it works.
There are a few simple components you need to know about to optimize your page for SEO. They are:
- Title tag. These are the tags that show up at the top of your web browser. You should insert your primary keyword into your title tag!
- Meta description. That’s the short description that shows up under Google and other search engines. It’s generally around 75 characters and sums up a page’s content. Be sure to include important keywords and a call to action!
- Subheadings. These are H2, H3, H4, and beyond. They refer to the subcategories and headers on your page. Each one should include important keywords.
Okay, now that your blog looks great and is optimized for search engines, it’s time to go off-page and take care of the front yard. First, search engines need to know that they can trust your website.
You can use tools such as TrustRank to see if Google trusts your website or not. The more you look like a large enterprise, the more likely it is that Google will trust you.
You can also use backlinks from sites like .edu and .gov to add credibility to your page.
A bounce rate refers to when someone visits your page for about 10 seconds and then clicks off. That’s known as a bounce, and it goes to your bounce rate. The higher your bounce rate is, the worse your search ranking will become. You want to be able to hold your visitors’ attention so that they don’t click away immediately.
Google also favors older domains. If you want to build trust, find an expired domain to use. That way, your new website can enjoy a more aged domain that has more trust in it.
Backlinks are massive in SEO. You want your page to have links on as many pages as possible. As a rule of thumb, don’t wait for someone to link to your page. Instead, be proactive and ask for backlinks.
Remember, the quality of backlinks that you have will have more value than the total number. Instead of trying to get as many as possible, try to get solid links from reputable websites.
Social media is a massive component of off-page SEO. Having a solid social media presence will work wonders for your search ranking. If people start sharing your blog on social media, you know that you’re doing things right!
The quality of the shares that you get is another factor of off-page SEO. Try your best to attract online celebrities that are interested in your topic. Followerwork is a great tool that helps you find influencers in your field!
We hope that this guide serves you well in your SEO endeavors. Remember, optimizing your on-page and off-page SEO is vital for generating new traffic.
- Focus on creating genuine content that contains relevant keywords and information
- Fully optimize your headings, content, meta description, and subheadings
- Develop a strong presence on social media and attract influencers in your field
Follow this guide, and you start seeing an increase in traffic!
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, involves techniques to increase your ranking on search engines.
How Long Does it Take for SEO to Start Working?
For most, it takes around six months to a year to start seeing tangible results.
Does Duplicate Content Hurt My SEO?
Search engines won’t hold it against you, but it’s better to create original content every time.
What Link Building Factors Matter the Most?
A search engine will look at how many links you have, your anchor text, and the site’s relevancy that linked to you.