A laptop and desk decor of a blogger that is using our seo for bloggers guide

SEO and PR can often overwhelm even the most seasoned of bloggers. Why do some blog rank higher than others in Google, and how can it be done for your own blog? Today we welcome back Nic Tuxford, senior SEO specialist at digital marketing agency Exposure Ninja, to share the secrets to great SEO for bloggers

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO For Bloggers

The thing about search engine optimisation (SEO) is that it’s not the reason why many bloggers started blogging (unless, of course, your blog is actually about SEO). As a result, it’s hard for many bloggers to get passionate about SEO and, when you’re not passionate about something, then you’re less inclined to invest time in it.

For too many bloggers, SEO is just a tool that they use reluctantly. Just as businesses apply health and safety rules to their business after the fact because it’s what they are “supposed to do”, so too, do bloggers spend time doing SEO. It’s a chore, it’s an admin task, it’s something that they’re “supposed to do”.

This is a bad way to look at SEO for bloggers. Sure, some tasks related to SEO will seem quite dull, but it’s important to keep in mind the overall goal. At its heart, SEO is just about making your blog more appealing: to search engine bots, to readers, and to yourself. Think of SEO like redecorating your house. You want your house to look as awesome as possible, and you have a passion for the overall design that you’re going for, so it’s important to remember that when you’re spending hours on the phone to your electrician.

Audit Your Site

Before you start any SEO work, you need to take an honest look at your site. No site is perfect, and no matter how many readers compliment you on it, there’s always room for improvement. Ask an honest friend, family member, or fellow blogger to give you a critique of your site. Even better try a free SEO review from a digital marketing agency like Exposure Ninja. Whilst it can be tough hearing criticism of your pride and joy, you’ll benefit from this in the long run.

An SEO friendly blog should be optimised for mobile usage (mobile responsive), it should be free from broken internal links, it should have an optimised site speed, and a good bounce rate. You can check for many of these issues using this fantastic free site audit tool from Raven Tools.

Optimise For Strong Keywords (But Don’t Over-Optimise)!

I will never stop singing the praises of WordPress plugin Yoast. If you self-host a WordPress blog, then install it right now! The benefit of using this plugin is that it gives you step-by-step targets to properly optimise each blog post for your target keyword.

How do I choose my keywords?

With strong keyword research, that’s how! You’ll want to start with a list of generic long-tailed keywords that are appropriate to your site’s niche. These need to be specific and relevant to your ideal reader.

A recipe blogger might think, “OK, I want to rank for the term recipe”. However, unless BBC Good Food, Jamie Oliver, and All Recipes go out of business, said blogger is going to have a tough time. This is where things like Keyword Tool can help. You simply enter your starting point (“recipe”) and it will produce a selection of long-tailed keywords that you will have a better chance of ranking for.

Once you find a keyword you like, you can go one step further and enter it into Moz Keyword Explorer to get the difficulty, opportunity, and potential for that keyword, as well as further suggestions for keywords you could target too. Bear in mind, you can only search two terms per day with the free account.

Sadly Google Keyword Planner no longer provides the free search volume data it used to without an AdWords campaign. There are some paid tools that give search volume data, but to date, no free alternative has been found to get bulk keyword volumes. The good news is that Google still has some great free tools that are highly useful for SEO for bloggers.

Google Trends to the rescue

Google Trends is my favourite of these tools and perfect for SEO for bloggers. If you have a few terms you’re considering using in a blog post, you can compare them in Google Trends and it will show you people’s interest in them over time. So let’s say our example recipe blogger is considering targeting “chicken recipes” and “beef recipes”. Type both into Google Trends and you’ll see that “chicken recipes” generates far more interest than beef recipes. You shouldn’t stop there, though. Go back to your keyword tool and enter “chicken recipes”. Now you’ll start to hit gold.

SEO for bloggers - Google Trends

The first term that came up for me was “chicken recipes for kids” I can put this into Google Trends, and compare it to “beef recipes for kids” and “vegetarian recipes for kids”. You’ll see that chicken gets the most interest — then vegetarian and then beef. The interest seems to peek at the start of the year. This is probably due to all of those diets people decide to start in January. So, to get the best possible results, jump on the “new year, new me” bandwagon and publish your chicken recipes for kids at the start of the year!

Don’t forget to look at the related queries too. As of January 2017, interest in chicken crockpot recipes is rising by 250%. This is another potential opportunity. But don’t forget to research each new term fully. If the competition for a keyword is incredibly high, then you’ll never reach first page of Google for it.

Post Good, SEO-Friendly Content Frequently

Google loves fresh, well-optimised content. You should aim to post at least two new blog posts a week. Each post should be over 600 words long, optimised for a strong target long-tailed keyword, and feature a call to action (CTA) for the reader.

What is the call to action and why should I use one?

A call to action is an imperative sentence that tells your reader to do something. Let’s say your blog is about pets and you’ve written a post all about dog training:

“Do you want to hear more about dog training? Sign up to our mailing list

“What are your thoughts on dog training? Any tips I forgot to mention? Comment below!

Check out my other post about dog training

Download my FREE dog training guide

Sign up to my dog training webinar

The aim of the call to action is to keep people on your site. Whether that’s through offering them something for free or encouraging them to buy something from you. Whatever it takes, give people a reason to stay on your website.

Don’t forget internal linking

Internal linking is not only a great way to keep readers on your site, but it’s also great for SEO. When you write a new blog post, link back to old posts that are relevant to the new topic using well-optimised anchor text. Get out of the habit of hyperlinking “read more” or “here” and get your link into the organic text.

Linking externally, while not having a direct impact on your rankings, can also get your site noticed by PR companies. Just remember to set any external link to “open in a new tab” to prevent an increase in bounce rate.

Strong Meta Titles and Descriptions Are Important

Every blog post and page on your site should have a strong meta title tag and description. There are several good reasons for this, and not all of those reasons are directly related to SEO.

The Title Tag

Your title should contain your target keyword and your description should entice readers to click on your search engine result. Think of it as a digital “advert” for your site. It’s good practice to try and get your blog name in there too:

Title including keyword | Blog name

This isn’t just good for SEO. It’s good for branding and it helps you to write better. Whether it’s a blog post or an entire book, the skill of a great writer is being able to summarise the core idea behind their writing in one sentence or phrase. Title tags force you do this.

The Description

At Exposure Ninja we’re big advocates of getting a unique selling point into your meta description. So if you have a giveaway on your blog you should get the word “WIN” as close to the start of your description as is natural. Make that description stand out.

If you are using Yoast to enter your title tag and description, you’ll get a warning if the description is too short or long. However our rule of thumb is around 65 characters for a title tag and 155 characters for a description.

Offsite SEO For Bloggers

One of my biggest pet hates is seeing SEO guides advising bloggers to spam comment as a means to improving SEO. By all means, comment on a blog post you enjoyed reading, and link to your own site too, but please don’t waste valuable time commenting on 50 odd blogs a day.

At Exposure Ninja we value three sources of backlinks:

  1. High authority directories
  2. Video sharing sites
  3. Guest posts on similar niche sites

As a blogger, it is unlikely you’ll have a business address, and so your directory listing opportunities may be limited. However, you should ensure you get a brand page on Google My Business, a Facebook page, and some of the recommended directories for bloggers.

If you enjoy vlogging, then you probably have a YouTube account. Don’t forget other video sharing sites though. Daily Motion, Wistia, and Flickr all provide opportunities to share videos each with a backlink to your site on the account description and in the video description.

Finally, the most valuable link opportunities come via guest posting. You can start small, posting on a fellow blogger’s site, and eventually try pitching ideas to larger publications and online magazines. Vicki, for example, has featured in some huge publications such as Red and the StyleCaster through hard work and persistence. I would recommend aiming to write at least one guest blog post per month to increase your organic backlink profile.

What About Social Media?

It’s still not clear whether there is a link between social shares and SEO for bloggers. Google says no, but studies have shown correlations between highly shared online content and search engine rankings. Given that social shares will inevitably increase traffic to your site, it’s certainly a good idea to embrace social media.

Google+

No-one uses Google+, but Google would rather that you at least pretend you care and there are signals that Google+ does impact SEO. So get a Google+ page and share every post you publish on there. Try to connect with people in your niche as Google sees this as an endorsement by those in your circle.

Facebook

Yes, the algorithms may drive you mad, but Facebook still remains one of the most popular social media channels. Share 3-4 times a day on your Facebook page. One post should promote your latest piece and the remaining posts should be discussions or links to external content of interest to your readers. Facebook is also a great place to share your video content.

Twitter

Not as popular as Facebook, Twitter is still a great way to reach out to a wider audience who perhaps aren’t following you. Use popular hashtags, or reach out to accounts who share posts from bloggers, to increase your followers. You need to post more often on Twitter to get your message seen. Don’t be too self-promotional. Join in discussions, and retweet the content of other bloggers. And don’t forget to follow some SEO and digital marketing specialists like myself!

Pinterest

I’ll confess; I’ve added Pinterest because I’m obsessed with it! It’s almost a cross between a social media site and a search engine. It’s a visual tool, so you’ll need to ensure you have great graphics to share. One of my favourite pinning tools is the infographic. You can design a simple infographic using a tool like Canva and share it on Pinterest. At Exposure Ninja, we’ve seen some great results from a good infographic digital PR strategy!

Nic Tuxford is a senior SEO specialist for digital marketing agency Exposure Ninja. For more in-depth information on digital marketing read Exposure Ninja’s “How to Get to the Top of Google” written by Head Ninja Tim Kitchen.

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48 Responses

  1. Lucy At Home

    Just popping back from #blogcrush. This post is crammed with so much helpful info! The perfectionist in me loves watching that little dot in Yoast go green (haha yup I need to get a life!) but other than that, I’ve never put much more thought into SEO. It’s great to hear other ways to boost your site. Thanks.

    #blogcrush
    Lucy At Home recently posted…#BlogCrush Week 3: 3rd February 2017My Profile

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  3. Mummy and the Mexicans

    This is such a useful post, I confess I haven’t really thought much about SEO or made an effort to investigate it, so I’ll be taking notes on all this information! #brillblogposts
    Mummy and the Mexicans recently posted…January in ReviewMy Profile

    Reply
  4. Aleena Brown

    Bookmarked! I have been thinking about SEO so much recently, and I have to say while it has provided a ton of insight and oh-so-useful tips, this post has frazzled my brain a bit! I need to do this one step at a time haha! Thanks guys! x #brillblogposts
    Aleena Brown recently posted…How I Have Lost 2.5 Stone with Slimming WorldMy Profile

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  5. ohmummymia

    awesome it’s really helpful for someone like me who is starting with blogging:) thanks for that:)
    #brillblogposts
    ohmummymia recently posted…What do you expect from your kids?My Profile

    Reply
  6. Twin Pickle

    Great tips! I need to have a look into Google+ because my blog auto posts there but I’ve never interacted with the site as all and therefore haven’5 had any traffic from that direction! #brilliantblogposts

    Reply
  7. Welsh Cakes and Wellies

    I found this so useful, I’ve taken down lots of tips and have pinned so I don’t lose them!
    Welsh Cakes and Wellies recently posted…A Couples Get Away at the Greenway Hotel and Spa, CheltenhamMy Profile

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  8. Mirka Moore @Kahanka

    What a useful post Vicki! Have come across SEO more than 8 years ago when setting up my blog and learning HTML coding, but TBH, have never had time to implement much. This reminds me how important it is, and some great tips for me too!
    Mirka Moore @Kahanka recently posted…Top Tips for a Peaceful Road Trip with KidsMy Profile

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  9. Alex

    So bookmarking this! It’s super helpful, thank you so much. SEO is a minefield, even when I think I’m doing it right I’m probably not. Will check out that free overview too 🙂 xx
    Alex recently posted…Who Do You Love? A Guide For Human BeingsMy Profile

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  10. John Adams

    Very useful post this. Even though I’m not a beginner, I’ve learned a lot reading htis. Thanks Nic and thanks Vicki.
    John Adams recently posted…A ‘Thirsty Fun Day’ ice skating with Robinson’sMy Profile

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  11. Chloe

    Hi, these tips are really helpful. I was not aware of Moz and Google keyword. I shall be looking at these. Thanks for sharing, Chloe https://pinkiebag.com/ #BrilliantBlogPosts
    Chloe recently posted…Review of Hovis Seeds Sensations BreadMy Profile

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  12. Sara

    This is very useful, thank you. As new blogger, I had hardly heard of SEO before starting, so I’m learning as I go, and posts like this are extremely useful! Thanks for sharing #BrilliantBlogPosts
    Sara recently posted…Let’s talk about the scary feeling of feeling scaredMy Profile

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  13. Barrie Bismark

    This was a very helpful post. I am very confused by SEO and all the information out there about it. Thatnk you for clarifying a confusing topic for me!
    #brillblogposts
    Barrie Bismark recently posted…“No”My Profile

    Reply
  14. Jerry

    I find the biggest mistake made by bloggers is not to focus on a keyword phrase for the post. I have used a tool called http://www.webtextanalyzer.com for some time now which shows me exactly what the word spread is for my post. Using this I can focus the post for the keyword phrase which almost always gets me decent rankings for that phrase.

    Reply
  15. amancay

    very helpful, will take some of these tips on board to improve my blog. Thanks for sharing Vicki
    amancay recently posted…Interview with the remarkable Nutritional Therapist Dr Amel SeghouaniMy Profile

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  16. Lucy Heath

    I am bookmarking this/printing it/stapling it to my office pin board – so desperately need to understand it all. I have done zero work on SEO because in all honesty I just don’t understand it! Thank you so much for being so generous with your knowledge Nic! xx

    Reply
  17. Kim

    I found this post really helpful thank you! I will be implementing some of these tips for sure

    Kim

    Reply
  18. Eb Gargano / easypeasyfoodie.com

    This is so, so, so super useful thanks so much Nic for sharing your fab tips and Vicki for featuring this piece on your blog. I’m doing quite a few things here but there are definitely quite a few to add to my ever growing to do list!! Eb x
    Eb Gargano / easypeasyfoodie.com recently posted…Greek Style Chicken TraybakeMy Profile

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  19. Caroline

    Really helpful info, thanks Vicki. I wasn’t aware of google trends so I will definitely be using that. I agree that yoast is an absolute life saver. #Brillblogposts
    Caroline recently posted…DIY Photo Snow Globe – Valentine’s edition.My Profile

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  20. Pen

    This is a brilliant guide and checklist. So good that I am going to print it. I am guilty of seeing SEO as a chore. Thanks Vicki. Much appreciated. Pen x
    Pen recently posted…January was a long hard slog, goodbye and good riddanceMy Profile

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  21. Laurie

    Some really helpful tips here. I’m definitely going to try and sort some of the hyper linking x
    http://www.vanityandmestyle.com
    Laurie recently posted…Zaful – Camel Cream And DenimMy Profile

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  22. Lucy At Home

    There’s so much information here! Thank you! I’m bookmarking 🙂 I use yoast but that’s as far as my SEO goes. I will definitely be checking out the keyword searches. #BrillBlogPosts
    Lucy At Home recently posted…Bloggers Bluff #14: OMG Its A GirlMy Profile

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  23. jodie filogomo

    I’m bookmarking this page and I have a feeling that I need this more than anything.
    I’m totally one of those that think about SEO as something I have to do. But it makes sense, that it needs to be better!
    jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com
    jodie filogomo recently posted…White Items as the BackgroundMy Profile

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  24. Susie / So Happy In Town

    Such a helpful post for someone like me as I’ve just started my blog and I don’t know where to begin with SEO. This has cleared up a lot and given me great guidance. Thank you. #brillblogposts
    Susie / So Happy In Town recently posted…The Pros And Cons of Mrs S.H.I.T.’s Dry(ish) JanuaryMy Profile

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