Getting to grips with SEO for bloggers can be quite intimidating if you’re not sure where to start. I wanted to put together a guide for those looking to get a better understanding of SEO and how it benefits your blog or website. There’s a few guides on SEO for bloggers out there already, so I’ll share useful resources down below. But I wanted to put together an ultimate beginner’s guide to SEO and hopefully share some learnings from my experience of working in SEO.
Just to be clear, I am in no way an SEO expert but have worked as part of wider SEO teams, in particular within outreach and digital PR. So I do have a solid understanding of the relationship between bloggers and why/how brands work with them. I’ll always be the first to put my hands up and admit if there’s something I don’t know when it comes to SEO. But I’ll either go to reputable sources like Moz or Search Engine Land, or even by asking my more technical co-workers. I encourage other bloggers to do the same and hope this post will be a useful start.
SEO stands for search engine optimisation and quite simply put, is a range of activity related to improving a website or blog’s chances of appearing in search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo.
SEO to optimise your blog can consist of including the relevant links within your post, choosing the right title or even adding alt text to your images. However, the list is quite endless, especially due to the uncertainty of a lot of things within SEO. Google is notorious for being very secretive about it’s algorithm and whilst there are clearly things that affect SEO in a postive way, there are twice as many things that still remain assumptions when it comes to SEO tactics.
There’s actually a lot of terminology and acronyms thrown about when talking about the topic. Common of anything in marketing, and probably one of the reasons why it can be quite daunting when you first look into it. So I’ve put together the below key terms used when talking about SEO, for a more thorough list visit Moz’s SEO glossary.
SEO terminology explained
SEO – Search engine optimisation
SERP(s) – Search engine results page(s)
SEM – Search engine marketing
Algorithm – The system or program search engines use to determine if a website should appear in their results
Backlinks or links – when text within a website is marked up to point to another website, essentially ‘linking back’ to it, hence backlink
Bounce rate – the percentage used to measure how quickly a visitor leaves your website or blog
Anchor text – the copy/words used to type out and link out to another page or website
Keyword(s) – words or phrases used by a user searching for something in particular. For example if I am shopping for black shoes, I will search either: ‘black shoes’, ‘shoes’, ‘black heeled shoes’, ‘black flat shoes’ – all variations of potential keywords in relation to that search
Crawl/crawling – the action used by search engines to go through all the websites/blogs on the web
Domain Authority – a measurement developed by Moz to measure how strong a website is. It is a score from 1-100, and the higher your score the more likely you are to rank
Trust Flow – this is a measurement developed by Majestic, similar to Domain Authority, the higher the number the higher your ability to rank
Link juice – this is a casual term used to describe the value being passed when one website links to another
Rankings – this is a term to describe your position when appearing in a SERP
Outreach/link-building – the activity of working with other websites, blogs and online publications to source a backlink to your own website. Brands outreach to bloggers in order to drive links back to their own brand’s websites
On-page and Off-page – On-page is any SEO activity that can be done on your side. Tasks such as updating your website’s setup and coding, including appropriate copy within your content, essentially anything within your own control. Off-page is in relation to external factors such as links pointing to your website
So what is SEO?
SEO covers a wide range of activity, all with the goal to improve where your website/blog is listed on SERP(s). Google still remains to be the leading search engine and is often the industry standard when it comes to optimising. At my previous role we mainly focused on improving rankings within Google, closely followed by Bing. There are certain ‘signals’ or metrics search engines use to determine whether or not your website (and content in general) is a good source to list as a result for a certain search.
Let’s take fashion and shopping for example. If a potential shopper was to search for a particular clothing item, and if your website or blog talks about this item, you will want it to show on the results page right? So if this shopper was searching for ‘white shirts’ for example they may type in a particular keyword or list of keywords to find what they are looking for. You can therefore optimise your content to ensure Google will list you as a result. There are a number of ways to give Google these so called ‘signals’ to tell it that your blog should be listed.
What can I do as a blogger to improve SEO for my blog?
The first step I’d advise is to get setup with an SEO plugin, I have Yoast as I use wordpress. This is probably the most useful tool for a blogger! It helps you optimise your posts and pages to ensure you have set it up in the best way possible. It makes the process very simple as it analyses your post for you and highlights what you need to do in order to best optimise the content. This could be anything from adding a focus keyword, updating the blog post title or even if the length of your post is appropriate.
Next on the list would be internal links. These are links you include from one post (or page) on your blog then point it to another. These should be relevant to the content and used within context. For example, if you were to write a new blog post about a lipstick you just bought and then linked to previous post about other beauty products you use. The reason to do this is two-fold. The simple reason is to provide a better user journey and relevant content to your reader to lower bounce rate. The other reason is to ensure you are passing on authority/link juice
So should I just focus on links?
One of the main ‘signals’ telling Google to list your blog would be the links pointing to your website. Google is more likely to list a blog or website that has good authority websites linking back to it. However as a blogger you should also ensure you focus on creating good content as this is key in ensuring you generate an engaged audience that keep coming back to your site.
For a blogger, there are a number of ways to get good links back to your blog. You can start with guest posting for similar blogs. Most guest contributors will have a relevant link to their own website and therefore can pass relevant link juice back to your own blog.
Another way to build links is to produce great content that people actually want to read and promote it appropriately. This will be more of a slow burn, but you may find that other websites will use and cite your content as a source and give you a link organically.
What Do-Follow and No-Follow mean for your blog
This is probably the most important aspect of SEO for bloggers. How you mark up your links tell Google different things. If you ‘do-follow’ a link, it passes authority from your blog to that website and vice-versa for a no-follow. So when should you use each instance? Well, working with brands plays a major factor into this. And probably why there’s a constant battle between bloggers and PRs.
Brands want do-follow links as it gives them the SEO value and helps to optimise their website. However, this is actually against Google guidelines as they do not want search results to be skewed by brands. Mainly as it is considered as paying for links. You can see why this is a problem for bloggers who want to work with brands and brands who want SEO value from bloggers.
That’s not to say that no-follow links are not valuable. These can still provide relevant referral traffic to the website being linked to. But that’s why building a strong blog audience is just as vital as working on your social following! This is what brands may appreciate when considering to work with you.
In terms of SEO for a blogger, the key thing to remember is your blog is like a business. Whether or not you intend to monetize it, you will want to drive readers to your website and therefore treat it like a business. So SEO for bloggers can make the difference of your blog having a couple of visitors a day to having hundreds a day.
Start with the smaller on-page actions like adding appropriate internal links, adding relevant keywords to your copy, making sure your snippets are optimised. Then move onto the off-page tactics by trying to build relevant backlinks back to your own blog. Also be sure to read up and educate yourself on SEO. If you want something more advanced and technical learn from industry sources like Moz and Search Engine Land. I also think Tereza’s blog tips series is super useful!
I hope you found this post useful! Do you have any of your own SEO tips to share? Comment below to share your own or if you have any questions.