The ultimate beginner’s guide to SEO for bloggers

Office desk

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.

The basics

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.

Office desk

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.

Get optimising!

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.

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29 Comments

  1. 8th May 2017 / 11:24 pm

    Thanks for this great advice! I recently switched to WordPress and Yoast has been amazing! It’s so easy to do SEO with that plugin!

  2. 8th May 2017 / 11:37 pm

    Great post! I’ve been a blogger for almost five months and still getting the hang of everything. I am going to save this post for future questions.

  3. 9th May 2017 / 4:44 am

    This was great! The terminology is so helpful. Thank you. Pinning for future reference.

  4. 9th May 2017 / 5:19 pm

    Interesting , I am searching this kind of article since I am new how to blogging .

    thanks

  5. 9th May 2017 / 6:13 pm

    This is just what I need!! I’ve bookmarked to read properly at a later date when I can concentrate on it fully!
    Em x
    http://happywiseowl.com

    • arcasela
      14th May 2017 / 3:25 pm

      Thanks Emma, so glad it was useful! Let me know if you have any questions x

  6. 13th May 2017 / 10:36 am

    Grea aricle with all useful information , all need to work on seo and get higher blog rank and search appearance ,thank you

  7. 14th May 2017 / 2:45 pm

    Very informative! I’m a new blogger myself and learning to get the hang of things. Yoast is what I use as well. Thanks for the other helpful tips as well.

    • arcasela
      14th May 2017 / 3:25 pm

      Thanks Pikakshi, glad it was useful! Good luck with the blog, I’ll be sure to check it out 🙂

  8. 14th May 2017 / 4:57 pm

    This is excellent. I find SEO makes my eyes glaze over. But this breakdown is superb and easy to digest. I’m printing this and going to make a few changes and strategize.

    So grateful for this post. Thank you.

    • arcasela
      14th May 2017 / 5:01 pm

      Haha I know what you mean. Sometimes someone will be trying to explain something overly technical and my eyes definitely glaze over lol. So glad it was useful for you!

  9. 14th May 2017 / 5:43 pm

    Thank you for outlining the terminology! It drives me bonkers having to look it all up!

  10. 15th May 2017 / 6:06 pm

    Great guide Amanda – I’m a big fan of the Yoast traffic lighting system on WP!

    • arcasela
      17th May 2017 / 2:14 pm

      Thanks Kate! Yes I love Yoast it’s so helpful!

  11. 23rd May 2017 / 3:14 am

    This is just what I needed to read as I am just starting out on my blog. Thanks for the great tips!

  12. 23rd May 2017 / 4:35 am

    SEO… ahh I’m so glad I have a plugin for it lol. This post is great for us beginners. It’s very informative and I love the way you broke it down for us 💕

    • arcasela
      26th May 2017 / 10:57 am

      Thanks Hannah! Yep agree, Yoast is super useful for this. Don’t know where I’d be without it lol

  13. 24th May 2017 / 8:46 am

    I started blogging a few days ago, and this article helps me a lot, so thank you so much.

    • arcasela
      26th May 2017 / 10:56 am

      You’re welcome! Glad you found it useful 🙂

  14. 24th May 2017 / 6:15 pm

    This is sooo helpful and detailed! Thank you so much for sharing all these. I definitely need to look into this more than ever starting now. Also, your blog & photos are beautiful btw 🙂

    xo Tina
    IG: @tinasweetheart
    http://www.tinasweetheart.com

    • arcasela
      26th May 2017 / 10:56 am

      Thanks Tina! glad you found it useful!

  15. 26th May 2017 / 10:58 pm

    Love all of these tips!

  16. 2nd June 2017 / 7:02 pm

    This post is so helpful, especially for a newbie like me! With SEO and all aspects would you say WordPress or Blogspot is better? I’ve just started my blog on Blogspot but it doesn’t have a lot of the plugins or capabilities I’d like and don’t know whether to make the transition over to WordPress.

    • arcasela
      2nd June 2017 / 8:33 pm

      So glad you found it helpful Laura. In terms of wordpress vs blogspot. I’ve only ever really got to grips with wordpress. I’ve used it both for my blog and for some of the businesses I’ve worked with. I find it very user friendly and flexible due to the plugins etc.

      I’ve only used blogspot for a total of 3 months when I first set up a blog but then made the switch quickly over to wordpress.

      I would suggest asking someone who’s on blogspot to get their input too. As I’m biased lol.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

  17. 7th June 2017 / 9:09 pm

    I rely on that plugin to do everything I need for me!

  18. 8th June 2017 / 9:40 pm

    Really helpful! SEO can seem so overwhelming and you’ve really broken it down nicely.

  19. 8th June 2017 / 11:05 pm

    As an SEO professional by background and a Mum blogger too, it’s refreshing to see sound advice on this. I see a lot of rubbish written about it!

    The one thing I’d add is to make sure you have Google Search Console on your blog and use the Search Analytics section to understand what keywords are already driving traffic. This can help you to find opportunities in old content to optimise further and increase traffic.

    • arcasela
      8th June 2017 / 11:22 pm

      Thank you so much Stacey! It means a lot, to get feedback from other bloggers and SEO professionals. I agree with you on there being a lot of rubbish out there and one of the reasons why I wanted to write a post on it. I’ve seen a lot of people giving very poor or even bad advice so I just wanted a simple article to outline some basics and direct new bloggers to good sources.

      Some great advice on the Google search console tip, thanks for sharing! Thanks again!

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