If you want your blog posts to be ranked higher in search engines such as Google and Yahoo, it’s important that they be properly optimized. In this SEO for beginners tutorial, I’ll show you the steps you can take to be sure your blog posts are search engine optimized.
SEO for Beginners
A search engine optimized (SEO) blog post means a potential for more traffic to your blog. If you make money with your blog, it can also mean an increase in your income.
By following these tips, you will increase your chances of being ranked higher in search engines.
Here are the steps we’ll be taking to SEO your blog post.
- Install a SEO plugin.
- Determine your keywords.
- Use keywords in your post.
- Put your introduction at the top of the post.
- Use H2 (Heading 2) tags.
- Give your images a title and alt text.
- Interlink your content.
- Check your permalink.
Step 1. Install A SEO Plugin
You can create a search engine optimized blog post without using an SEO plugin. I however find SEO plugins to be very beneficial in assuring that not only my blog posts, but my entire website is search engine optimized.
I use and love the Yoast SEO plugin for my SEO needs.
Step 2. Determine Your Keywords
Before you begin writing your blog post, you need to determine what your keyword or phrase will be.
I use the Google Keyword Planner to do my keyword research. You will need to have an AdWords account in order to use the keyword planner. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pay anything.
UPDATE: Google Adwords now requires you to set up an ad campaign (and enter you billing details) before you can use the service. The only work around I’ve seen for this is to create a campaign, and then pause it immediately after it’s created.
a. To research your keyword, visit the Google Keyword Planner and click on the box that says “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category.”
b. Type your phrase into the first box (don’t worry about the remaining fields) and click on Get ideas.
c. Scroll down to the Search Terms box, and click on the Keyword ideas tab. It’ll look like this:
In this box you’ll find the following:
- The average monthly searches for your phrase
- The level of competition for your phrase
You don’t have to pay attention to the suggested bid.
Below that you’ll also notice that the keyword planner has provided additional keyword suggestions based on your phrase.
The average monthly searches, and competition level is provided for those keywords as well.
d. Using the phrase easy recipes for busy moms, I received the following results:
e. Using the information provided, I can decide to keep my phrase, or I may even decide to go for one of the suggestions instead.
For example, maybe I want to use “busy mom recipes” as my phrase because it has more average monthly searches.
Using that phrase, I could potentially get upwards of 100 page views per month from Google if my post ranked well.
f. When using the keyword planner, I always go for phrases with low competition. Low competition means there aren’t a lot of people competing for that keyword or phrase.
Less competition is a good thing.
g. Another tip for choosing your keyword phrase is to use what are called long tail keywords.
Long tail keywords consist of 3-4 keywords that are specific to what you’re writing about.
Long tail keywords are searched for less, so there isn’t as much competition for them.
Less competition means having a better chance of being found in search engines.
You are much more likely to be found using the long tail keyword phrase “easy recipes for busy moms” as opposed to using a keyword phrase like “easy recipes.”
With a phrase like “easy recipes,” since there are so many other long-standing sites that have already ranked for that keyword phrase, you would most likely never be found in search engines using that phrase.
Step 3. Use Keywords in Your Post
Before we get into this, I want to first say that when using your keywords, do not force your keywords into your content to point that your writing sounds unnatural.
Okay, moving on.
a). Post Title
I know that it’s not always ideal to include your keywords in your post title because sometimes it just doesn’t sound natural, or it isn’t catchy enough.
What I typically like to do is use my “catchy” title for my blog post tile, and use my SEO friendly title in the SEO title section of my Yoast SEO plugin.
That way, my readers see the “catchy” title, and search engines see the keyword optimized title.
b). Meta Description
When it comes to the meta description, I always include my keywords.
Your meta description should be a short description of your post, and it should always include your keywords.
I try to keep my meta description around 150 characters. If you use the Yoast SEO plugin, it will let you know when you have too many characters.
Here’s an example of my SEO title and meta description using the Yoast SEO plugin:
Throughout Your Post
Try to use your keywords a few times throughout your post. Remember, you always want your writing to sound natural, so don’t force it.
I try to use my keyword phrase in the first 200 characters of my post, and then again in the last 200 characters.
I may also use them in H2 tags. We’ll talk about those later.
Step 4. Put Your Introduction at the Top of the Post
Do not place a photo at the top of your post.
Search engines aren’t looking for a photo when they’re crawling your site, they’re looking for actual content.
See how in the image below I’ve placed my introduction at the top, and then added my image?
Remember, try including your keywords within the first 150 characters of your post.
Step 5. Use H2 (Heading 2) Tags
Headings aren’t just a pretty way to break up your content. Headings tell search engines what your content is about.
In WordPress there are 6 headings (H1-H6) available.
When I use headings in my blog posts I typically use H2 tags. Here’s why:
a. The H1 tag is for your post title only. You should not be using H1 tags within your blog post.
b. Think of the H2 tag as a subheading of the H1 tag. Once search engine crawlers find your H1 tag, they will then begin looking for all of the H2 tags.
Next, they will look for the H3 tags, and so on and so forth. Like I said, I usually only use H2 tags in my posts.
c. The final reason I use H2 tags is simply because Google like’s H2 tags.
If possible, I’ll include my keywords in an H2 tag.
Step 6. Give Your Images A Title and Alt Text
When you upload an image to your post (and you should be) make sure you name your image before you upload it to WordPress.
Please do not upload an image titled DC_00346. It’s not good for SEO.
When you’re uploading your image to WordPress, you want to make sure you give your image a title and alt text.
The reason you do this is because search engines don’t know what your image is. You have to tell them.
Here’s what I do to my images:
When I upload an image to my post, I place a title for the image in the title box (use your keywords) and I place a short description in the alt text box (use your keywords).
I like to make my alt text a tiny bit more descriptive than my title, but you can put the exact same information for both.
For more tips on title and alt text, check out my post How to Optimize Your Images for SEO.
Step 7. Interlink Your Content
Interlinking involves linking content in your blog post from within your site.
You should be interlinking your content because (1) Interlinking is good for SEO and (2) Interlinking is a great way to get eyes on your older posts.
How to Interlink
When writing your blog post, if you have any relevant links from past blog posts, go ahead and place those links in your post.
For example, you can say something like, “For more blogging tips be sure to check out my post 6 Things That Should Be In Every Blog Post.”
I interlink on every one of my posts.
I do this by either linking to related content within the post, or by placing related posts at the end of my post (you can see an example of how I interlink at the bottom of this post).
Placing related posts at the end of your post is similar to using one of those “related posts” plugins, but better. It’s better because:
- It’s good for SEO. I’ve heard countless times that those related posts plugins can negatively effect your search engine ranking.
- You control the content. If there’s a post you want to promote, you can bring more attention to it by interlinking it at the bottom of your post.
Step 8. Check Your Permalink
Before you publish your post, make sure your permalink is optimized as well.
A permalink is the permanent link to your blog post or page.
Ideally, you want your permalink to be simple (not too long), free of stop words (such as “the,” or “is”) and include your keywords.
If you already have a post published, do not change the permalink.
If you were to change the permalink on a published post, anytime someone visits the post using the old link, they would be sent to a 404 error page, and you don’t want that.
If you ever decide to change a permalink on a published post, make sure set up a 301 redirect from the old link to the new link.
Free Printable Download
To help you craft a search engine optimized blog post, I’ve created The Perfect Blog Post Planner printable for you to download.
I know this is a lot of information to take in. Just take it one step at a time. Once you get the hang of it, writing SEO friendly blog posts will come naturally.
If you have any questions about this post, leave them in the comments.
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