You will never get any traffic from Google search unless you have optimized your blog for Google search.
It's a pretty simple concept and yet many bloggers completely ignore SEO.
Many new bloggers are intimidated by SEO. But it's only intimidating because you don't understand it.
In this blog post I'm going to lay out the basics of Google SEO for beginner bloggers. By the time we're done, you will have enough knowledge to get your blog posts to rank on Google search.
Before we get started, let's go over what is SEO to begin with.
What Is SEO And Why It Matters
When a user conducts a Google search, Google's algorithm tries to match the users' search query with the best result possible.
The process of optimizing your blog post to rank well on Google search is called search engine optimization.
Many bloggers completely ignore SEO when starting. This is understandable. It is a well-known fact that Google will not send traffic to new blogs.
But ignoring SEO altogether isn't the right approach either. Once your blog ages and begins appearing in search results, you'll be glad you paid attention to your SEO right from the start.
For a blogger, there is nothing better than free traffic. That is exactly what you get with organic Google traffic (organic means it comes from the search results, not from paid ads).
You know full well I recommend new bloggers use Pinterest to get traffic. But that doesn't mean you should ignore Google SEO.
The world's most popular website, after all, is Google. It's the place where people go when they are seeking answers to their problems.
Do your blog posts each solve a specific problem in your niche? If so, you're in luck.
If you are creating content that people search for and your content is solving problems, then Google is going to love your blog!
But in order to get any traffic from Google search, your blog needs to be properly optimized.
You don't need to become an SEO expert to get Google traffic - you just have to know some SEO basics.
Ready to get started? Here is the beginner bloggers guide to Google SEO.
Google's algorithm is looking at 3 main things to rank websites: their content, their authority, and the user experience.
Let's start with content.
When Google tries to connect the search query to the best possible result, they will look at the content of your blog post first. After all, that's what is most important.
Start with keyword research
Always start with keyword research. Before you even lift a finger, you first have to conduct keyword research.
If you skip this step, you will write content for no one but yourself.
I struggled for a long time because I wrote whatever content I wanted to write. Then I'd wonder why I wasn't getting any traffic.
The answer was simple: nobody was searching for the content I was writing.
It wasn't until I started doing keyword research that I started to get more blog traffic.
It's such a simple concept. Find out what questions people are asking and answer those questions.
When we're on the hunt for keywords, we're going to need to look for 3 types of keywords:
There are a few places you can do keyword research for free:
Keywords are useful, but if you have zero chance of ranking for them you are wasting your time. A keyword research tool like Long Tail Pro will tell you the popularity and difficulty to rank for any given keyword phrase.
They can also recommend related keywords and do competitor research to gauge your chances of outranking them.
Write epic content
Are you planning to fill up your new blog with LOTS of short blog posts? If so you're in for a big disappointment, because that's not what Google wants.
I learned this the hard way. Years ago I would write tons of content hoping to rank for hundreds of different long-tail keywords. This strategy worked for a while - before Google caught on and put a stop to it.
What works now is epic long-form content. Now, with a great piece of content you can rank for not just your main keywords, but for related keywords too (even some you don't even aim for!).
Google would much rather prefer a website with 15 pages of amazing content rather than a 250 page website full of short articles.
Focus on creating high quality content. Don't just write great content, write insanely great content.
Think about it, can you really educate someone or properly give your opinion in less than 500 words? Probably not.
Anything worth saving, sharing or reading again should be at least 1,000 words long. This article is well over 4,000 words in length - and I think it can be even better.
As far as a set word count goes, there isn't one. If you feel like you can say everything you need in a 1,000 word article, great. If you need more, go for it.
Case studies have shown that the average word length in the number one result in Google is 2,450 words. The average word count of the 10th result is just over 2,000.
So what does that mean? Write at least 1,000 words but aim for 2,000 and above if you want a shot at page 1 of the search results.
Epic blog posts are what's going to get you more backlinks, longer session durations, more pageviews, a better Google ranking, more email subscribers and even paid clients.
Seriously, if you're not writing an epic blog post, why even bother?
Write An Awesome Headline
A perfectly optimized blog post title will help you dominate Google and boost your site to the first page.
When you create awesome blog post titles, you will get more clicks at a higher rate than the competition.
And when your page gets clicked on more than the competition, it sends a signal to Google that your page is more relevant for that particular search term.
Google keeps track of your CTR (click through rate) and pushes sites with a higher CTR higher on the serps (search engine results page).
Your article should be keyword optimized. In other words, each article should have a keyword phrase you are trying to target.
This exact keyword phrase needs to be in your title, preferably at the beginning.
My keyword phrase for this article is "SEO for beginner bloggers". You'll find it in my title and sprinkled throughout my article just enough times to let Google know that's what my article is about.
On Google's search results, they will display on average the first 55 characters of your title. So make sure that your keyword phrase is in those first 55 characters.
The perfect title that maximizes click through rate and improves your Google ranking should have this formula:
(Number) (Adjective) (Keyword Phrase) ( Benefit) (Time)
Not every blog post will have this exact formula. The article for this blog post doesn't even follow it.
So why did I choose "Google SEO Guide For Beginner Bloggers" instead?
Simple. That's what my stats told me was the best title.
I use Thrive Headline Optimizer to conduct tests on a group of headlines I give them.
For each blog post, I write 3-5 different headlines. Other ones I tried for this blog post were:
Thrive Headline Optimizer shows different readers different headlines and, based on the analytics, pick the winning headline for me.
It is the only surefire way of knowing you have an awesome blog post title that both Google and your readers will love.
Edit The Meta Description
The meta description is a code that's in the source of your webpage whose purpose is to describe what your page is about. It looks like this:
<meta name="description" content="This should be a two or three sentence description of this page."/>
Years ago, this was used to rank your site. And boy did I take advantage of it! But now things have changed and what you put there won't help you rank.
But Google does use this text to show as the description on the search results page.
Just like movies use trailers to preview their movie, the meta description is the preview of your blog post on Google.
The better you utilize the meta description, the better your click-through rate will be.
If you choose to not add a custom meta description at all, then Google will choose the first few sentences of your article. And since often times your article will start with a question or an anecdote, it's not the best use of this space.
The best way to edit the meta description of your article is to use the Yoast SEO plugin. It's one of the WordPress plugins on my list of must-have WordPress plugins for new bloggers. Once installed, you'll be able to create a custom meta description for each post.
A perfect meta description includes your exact keyword phrase. When the search term matches your keyword phrase, the text is bolded on the results page.
If both your title and your meta description each contain your keyword phrase, the bold in the title and description will draw more attention to your link.
My strategy for the meta description is to describe what the post is about (using my keyword) in the first sentence.
In the second sentence, I tease the reader with some more valuable information.
My meta description for this post is:
This is the beginner bloggers guide to Google SEO. In this blog post I'll break down the 3 main elements of Google SEO to help your blog rank #1 on Google.
Optimize Your Images For Search
Your blog post should have a good dose of visual content in the form of images. When you optimize those images, you can get traffic from Google Images too.
To help you rank on Google Images:
Use larger images
Small images or low quality images do not appear in Google images results very often. Use larger high quality (yet optimized) images. You can optimize your images using ShortPixel which will reduce the file size but keep the quality.
Keywords in the file name
While the user cannot see your file names, Google can. Name your images appropriately, utilizing your keywords in the images.
Add your keyword to the alt text
Alt text is meant to describe your image to the blind who are using a screen reader to browse your site. It's also a great place to add your keyword phrase. Add a sentence that describes your image, making sure to add your keywords.
Keywords near your image
Add your keywords near the image so that Google identifies what the image is about, since Google can't quite "see" the image.
How And Where To Use Your Keyword Phrase
If you do not add your keywords throughout your article, Google will never know what your article is truly about. Yet if you add it too many times you are keyword stuffing which will have negative consequences.
So how often should you include your keyword phrase?
There is no one-size-fits all approach when it comes to keyword density.
The reason is that Google is smart enough to know a keyword and its' variations. So even though you might only be adding your exact keyword phrase a couple of times - that may be enough.
You can add your keyword phrase to the Yoast SEO plugin and they will tell you the number of times you should be including your keyword phrase.
For this article (4,000+ words) they recommend I mention it 11 times. I am actually only mentioning the exact phrase twice and related phrases 10 times.
Where To Add Your Keywords
You need your keyword phrase everywhere: in your title, your slug (the URL), in the headings (h2 tags), in the image alt tags and within your content.
Within the content, it's most important that your keyword phrase appear in the first sentence or two.
Add Related Keywords
Not everyone will type the exact keyword phrase you are targeting into Google. By using related keywords, you can Google traffic from these similar keywords as well.
For example, in this article I may mention "SEO guide" every new and then, which is a related keyword phrase to the one I'm actually targeting, "SEO for beginners".
Use your keyword in your URL slug
If you're trying to rank for a keyword phrase you need to have your keyword phrase in the title, in your first paragraph and most definitely in the url.
If you don't do this, Google won't know what search terms to show your blog post for.
The slug is the last part of the URL of your blog post.
For example, the URL slug for this blog post is in bold: http://www.dosixfigures.com/seo-beginner-bloggers/
If your URL's look different - you need to change them. To change the permalink structure of your WordPress blog, go to Settings > Permalinks.
Use A Short Slug
Sometimes, your post is too long and you end up with a url that's far too long. This makes the url look unprofessional.
Imagine this long url: http://www.dosixfigures.com/google-seo-guide-for-beginner-bloggers/
That looks spammy to the visitor and it looks spammy to Google as well.
Instead, let's refine our permalink by making it as concise as possible.
Phew... that was a long one! Now let's move on to the next factor that's important in SEO - your authority.
If you are a nobody, Google search will ignore you.
Sorry to be so blunt, but that's how it is.
Google wants to present the reader with the best answer to their question. Sure, Google looks at your content to determine that, but all things being equal, they prefer to send the reader to an authority blog.
But don't despair, you too can become an authority in your niche. Here's what it takes to build up authority in your space.
What is an authority blog?
Imagine you're Google's algorithm and you want to send a user to the best possible answer.
Let's say the question is: "where do I buy the new iPhone?"
Would you send the user to apple.com/iphone or to a new website, let's say buynewiphone.net
Even though you can buy the new iPhone at each site, the one with more authority gets the coveted number one spot.
It all boils down to authority. The high authority site will win every time.
Apple has been around longer, has more high-quality sites linking to them and has tons of social shares. Those 3 factors are huge for Google SEO: domain age, backlinks and social signals.
Your new blog won't get much Google love to start. After all, Google barely knows you. Perhaps you two should go on a date and get to know each other first?
Then after a few months of showing your worth (like providing great content), they'd be willing to take the next step and let you into their search results.
You never know, if Google ends up loving your blog they might just let you go all the way and have the number one spot.
How to get backlinks
Google can only guess how valuable your blog content is. While they can read it, they don't really know how useful it is.
But what if a bunch of people (including very important people) are all linking to your blog post?
Surely then, this blog post must be good!
Getting backlinks is so important if you want to rank your blog on Google search. Here are a few ways to get more links.
How does Google know if your blog post really provides value? One thing Google supposedly looks at is your social media shares.
If your blog post was shared on Facebook 1,500+ times, there's a good chance it's a good one.
This is why you should always encourage your readers to share your blog posts on social media.
The best way to do this is to use the Social Warfare WordPress plugin to add share icons to your blog posts.
The 3rd and final thing Google looks at is the user experience you provide.
Google wants the user to be satisfied when they visit your blog post. They can gauge that by whether the user returns back on Google and visits another search result instead.
This is called the "dwell time", or the time from when the user clicks on your link to the time when they come back to Google.
Google also scans your blog posts to detect common things that affect user experience, such as pop-ups, ads, slow sites, small fonts, etc.
Want to provide a good user experience? Here's the lowdown.
No pop-ups (especially on mobile)
There are two kinds of pop-ups, the annoying kind that open a new browser and the less-annoying kind that's called a lightbox overlay.
You should always avoid opening a new browser window without permission. That's essentially browser hijacking.
But overlays? From what I've read, Google will penalize mobile versions that use pop-ups, not desktop versions.
No obtrusive ads (especially above the fold)
Google cares about the design of your website. Even though Google doesn't technically have 'eyes', it does attempt to see your blog the way a visitor sees it.
So in order to think like Google, we must think like a regular visitor. What do they want and when do they want it? The answer is they want their question answered and they want it done quickly.
'Above the fold' refers to the section of a blog that is visible without scrolling.
In your first paragraph, you need to clearly tell the reader what your blog post is about and why it's important.
I know that
most all of you want to make money from your blog. You might think the answer is to slap a bunch of ads all over your page. But that type of thinking is outdated. Ads just don't work anymore.
Instead, focus on building a relationship with your reader. Get them on your email list. Give them value. Once you've established that you are an authority on the subject and they trust you, that's when it's time to start making money from your audience.
Make sure your blog is mobile-friendly
Google essentially has two algorithms, a desktop and a mobile one. If you don't have a mobile-friendly version of your website - you're missing out on over 50% of all traffic!
I recommend beginner bloggers use the Divi WordPress theme to build their websites. With Divi, it's incredibly simple to build a desktop and smartphone-ready blog with their drag and drop visual builder.
Fast loading blog
Google has indicated that the speed of your overall site and page is a signal that's used to rank pages. If you want to rank on the first page of Google's search results, you need a fast site.
There are other reasons why you want a faster website.
Slow Websites Lose Traffic
Visitors often times click to go to the previous page or simply close the window if a webpage is loading too slow. In a world of fast-loading sites with great content, nobody wants to visit a slow site.
Improved Crawl Rates
When Google's bot visits your site, it might decide to spend a few minutes on your site. It's looking for new webpages and updated pages to add to their index. If your site loads too slow time will run out before Google's done checking out your new content.
Get The Right Hosting Plan
If you choose a budget hosting company you will get what you pay for. If you want a fast loading site, you have to pay for it. Sure, there are things you can do to improve your page speed, but the bulk of the work is done by your host.
I recommend beginner bloggers get their hosting from Bluehost - but not because they are lightning-fast. Rather, its' because they are cheap and newbie-friendly.
If you want a fast loading blog you'll have to upgrade to their Bluehost's WP Pro hosting package ($19.95 per month).
How To Improve Your Page Speed?
If you have a WordPress blog and want to speed up your website, here are some tips:
- Choose a blog theme like Divi by Elegant Themes that is optimized for speed and is mobile responsive.
- Do not add too many plugins to your site, badly coded plugins will slow your site down.
- Use a content distribution network (CDN) like Cloudflare (free).
- Optimize images using ShortPixel.
I created a guide to the best WordPress plugins to speed up your blog here.
No broken links
Broken links are a bad experience for the end-user. Since Google's bot follows links, they'll know if you're linking to a bad link. Do you?
You can use the Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin (free) to look for broken links in your blog posts.
Keep in mind that this plugin is a known server hog, so I recommend installing it, using it, then deactivating it until its' next use.
Good use of internal links
A good user experience means the user got what they wanted and found resources for additional help on related topics. This is why you should add on-topic links to your other blog posts throughout your content.
Don't let a related posts plugin to do the work for you. Instead, add internal links within your content naturally. These internal links will carry more weight than a list of links at the end of your blog post.
By linking to your past blog content, you're letting Google know these pages are relevant to the topic of the blog post and that they are important.
Good website metrics
Google may or may not (I totally think they do) look at your bounce rate and average time on page in Google Analytics.
If your website has bad metrics, it can raise a red flag to Google that users aren't having a good experience on your blog.
The bounce rate is the percentage of users who only visit one page. In other words, they show up and then they bounce.
The average time on page is the amount of time a user stays on that particular article.
You can see these stats on Google Analytics. I use the Monster Insights WordPress plugin to show me this data right in my WordPress dashboard.
Well Designed Blog
I don't care how valuable your article is, if it's not an easy read, I'm not going to read it - and nobody else will either.
When it comes to blog design, many bloggers spend way too much time trying to get their blog to look exactly how they want. And they end up overdoing it.
The best blog designs are sometimes the simplest. I recommend using the Divi WordPress theme to create a simple design that puts the focus where it belongs: on your content.
Aside from your blog design, here's how to make your articles easier to consume:
I dive deep into how to design a WordPress blog here if you want to learn more.
That about does it. That was quite a doozy! I hope you learned something new about SEO today.
Please consider leaving a comment or sharing this post on social media!