SEO Starter Guide for Content Writers and Bloggers

When I first started blogging a few years ago, I had no idea what SEO was. Not a clue.

I also didn’t know the tremendous value that SEO could lend my blog if I simply did a little keyword research, optimized my posts for those keywords, and shared my posts with others who would link to it.

But today, I am a much smarter writer and marketer. That’s why I want to share with you my SEO Starter Guide for Content Writers and Bloggers.

So, you don’t have to take as long as I did to uncover the potential of SEO for your blog of written content.

Truth is, 58% of your website traffic will likely come from Google.

So, if you want to ensure that people read your blog, then read on and let’s get our hands dirty with some SEO basics.

 

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

What is search engine optimization
 

I want to keep this definition simple because sometimes SEO definitions can become wordy and technical and thus unhelpful. Therefore…

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your content appealing to search engines like Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo.

This process includes two primary parts: on-page SEO and off-page SEO, which we’ll dive into a bit later.

Essentially, on-page SEO covers all the content-related and technical aspects of SEO that you have direct control over and off-page SEO covers all the content promotion and backlink acquiring for your content.

Both are necessary to make your content extra appealing to search engines.

 

What to Expect from This Blog Post

What to expect from this blog post
 

Above is an outline of what to expect from this post. We’ll quickly cover the value of SEO for you, the content writer or blogger. Then we’ll learn a little bit about how search engines work.

Next, I’ll walk you through some SEO fundamentals which will segue nicely into on-page and off-page SEO.

And finally, we will wrap this post up with 3 steps on how you can implement SEO in your blog writing right now.

Sound good? Good.

 

The Value of SEO for Writers and Bloggers

 

As I stated in the introduction, approximately 58% of your website traffic will come from Google.

Whereas social media tends to bring in roughly 3% - 5% of your overall website traffic.

This is quite a contrast because we see many bloggers focusing on social media for their marketing efforts and few focusing on SEO for their marketing efforts.

However, when we look at the data, focusing on search engine optimization provides a much higher return on investment for the blogger or content writer than social media marketing.

Moral of the story – focus your marketing efforts on SEO and less on social media and you will see a higher return in traffic and conversions.

 

How Do Search Engines Work?

How do search engines work
 

There are three primary tasks that search engines perform: crawling, indexing, and ranking.

You’ll need to understand these so that you can make your content more appealing to search engines.

Crawling

The first task search engines perform is crawling.

Google bot crawls millions of web pages daily. Google reaches your content one of two ways: by crawling a link on another web page that leads to your content or by manually crawling your content via submission through Google Search Console.

Whenever I post a new piece of written content, I like to submit it to Google Search Console immediately.

It may take a while before Google crawls my content via someone else’s link.

So, that’s what I’d recommend for you as well.

Indexing

The second task that search engines perform is indexing.

After Google bot has crawled various web pages, it then indexes those web pages in its giant repository of online information by categories, topics, and related information.

I like to think of Google as a librarian that constantly looks for and organizes information in its online library.

So, Google finds your content via its Google bot and then it stores a copy of it in its index to bring up for relevant search queries.

Ranking

The third and final task that search engines perform is ranking.

This is the task that search engine optimization attempts to influence.

When a searcher types in “running shoes” to Google, Google needs to determine which of its millions of web pages related to running shoes it should show that searcher and in what order.

This is where ranking comes in.

Ranking is still a bit of a mystery to SEOs but there is some consensus as to what ranking factors matter most. Factors such as a secure website, a fast website, optimized title tags, and several more are at the top of many SEO’s lists.

Optimize your website and blog writing for these ranking factors and you will zoom past your competition in the search engine results page.

I promise.

 

The Fundamentals of SEO

The fundamentals of SEO
 

Now onto the practices of SEO. I would group the four main functions of someone performing SEO into four categories: keyword research, content writing, on-page optimization, and link-building.

A bit more about each one below.

Keyword Research

One of the biggest mistakes I see bloggers make is writing content that no one cares about or is searching for.

This can easily be corrected by conducting keyword research.

Essentially, keyword research is the process of finding what terms and phrases your target audience is using when they search and crafting your content around those terms or phrases.

You’ll want to target keyword with a significant amount of monthly search volume but a low amount of competition – so, calibration is key.

Below are three of my favorite keyword research tools:

1.     SEMrush

2.     Google Keyword Planner

3.     Ubersuggest

Content Writing

Bum-ba da-bum! This is what you’re awesome at, so, I don’t think I’m going to spend too much time here.

Simply put, write great content that your audience will find relevant, authoritative, and valuable.

I would also recommend writing longer-form content over shorter-form content as it’s been shown that long-form content tends to rank higher in search results than short-form content.

This is because long-form content tends to answer a searcher’s query comprehensively and in detail.

So, write long, quality content. It’s good for users and it’s good for search engines.

On-page Optimization

I don’t want to spoil this too much because we will get more in-depth in the next section of this post, but there are certain areas of your content that you want to have optimized for search engines.

The preliminary keyword research that you conducted will aid in this on-page optimization.

Here are the places in your content you want to have your keyword or phrase so that it’s appealing to search engines:

·       Title tag

·       H1 header tag

·       Your body copy

·       Alt image attribute

·       URL

Get your keyword or phrase in these places of your content and I guarantee you will begin to rank for your terms.

Link-building

This, in my opinion, is the most time-consuming and oftentimes frustrating task of SEO.

Link-building is when you get others to link back to your content via a hyperlink (these are referred to as backlinks).

These backlinks signify to search engines that your content is relevant to the topic that it’s written about and that it’s authoritative, which search engines like a lot.

One can see results from simple on-page optimization but if you really want to see your posts dominate the SERPs, then begin to build backlinks to your content.

You will gain tons of traffic from not only referring domains but also search engines.

More on backlink strategies a bit later.

 

On-page SEO Basics

 

As I hinted at earlier, there are several pieces of your content that you want your keyword or phrase in.

As a recap, those places are:

·       Title tag

·       H1 header tag

·       Your body copy

·       Alt image attribute

·       URL

Here’s a closer look into on-page optimization for these pieces of your content.

Title Tag, H1 Header Tag, and URL

I’m going to group these three together because the practice is essentially the same.

Simply put, you want to include your keyword in your title tag, H1 header, and URL. Make sure your keyword is as close to the front of your title/header/URL as possible.

Search engines give more weight to words that are at the front of a sentence than those that are at the end of a sentence. Also, don’t sacrifice your quality content for keyword optimization.

Google will understand if the keyword your optimizing for is “running shoes” but your title tag has just the word “running shoe” in it.

Google is smarter than we think sometimes.

Don’t worry.

Body Copy

Obviously, you will want to include your keyword in your actual written content.

How much though?

Yoast, a popular WordPress plugin for SEO, recommends a keyword density of 0.5% - 3%.

So, if you write 100 words, then at most, 3 of those words should be your keyword.

There is some debate around whether search engines take keyword density into consideration when ranking web pages or not.

I personally don’t believe much in keyword density.

My rule of thumb is to include a keyword throughout the copy strategically and never, ever overuse it.

Search engines can sniff out this kind of behavior from a mile awhile and they’ll dock you for it.

So, use your keyword in your body copy appropriately and strategically.

Alt Image Attribute

The alt image attribute is the descriptive text that you assign to an image on your web page.

SEOs do this because search engine crawlers cannot see what an image is, so they rely on descriptive text to determine what the image is about.

So, the alt image attribute is another opportunistic area where you can place your keyword of phrase.

Again, the rule of thumb is to not “stuff” your key phrase in the image attribute but to describe it accurately with your keyword in mind.

 

Off-page SEO Basics

Back in the early 2000’s, it was relatively simple to build backlinks to one’s blog.

However, with the dawn of social media, users are now more inclined to share blog posts on Facebook or Twitter than link to them on their own blogs.

This is good for social media marketing but not so good for SEO.

That’s why, in the 2010’s, link-building has become so valuable to SEO.

But because of its value, it has become increasingly competitive and time-consuming.

So, to help you save time and resources, I’ve curated three backlink strategies that you can implement with little to no content.

 

I’m sure there has been plenty of times when you’ve read a blog post and you’ve stumbled upon a link to another resource.

You click the link and uh-oh! It’s a broken link.

This is where the broken link strategy comes in.

Once you find a broken link on another blog post, create a piece of content that would replace that broken link and email the webmaster of that blog.

Let them know that they have a broken link on their blog and offer your link as a replacement for their readers.

Typically, most bloggers are appreciative of this type of approach and it tends to work well.

Use a tool like Screaming Frog SEO Spider to help identify broken 404 links on a target website in a more efficient manner.

 

The idea behind this strategy is simple and you have seen it utilized tons of times.

To execute on this strategy, all you have to do is curate a list that your target audience cares about.

For example, The 10 Best Places to Visit in Minnesota or The Best Marketing Agencies in Minneapolis are great pieces of resourceful content.

These pieces of content tend to be widely shared and looked at as authoritative.

Start small by creating a top 5 or top 10 piece of content that your audience would care about and then begin to share that on your social channels and with other bloggers you know.

You’ll be surprised how effective these posts can be.

 

This strategy is exactly what it sounds like.

People love original research and are more likely to link to your content if you’ve conducted primary research. Why? Because they are linking right to the source of the information.

Conducting original research isn’t easy but it certainly is worth it.

Not simply in backlink terms but it can also be useful for your overall business model.

When I collect customer data, I like to use a tool called Typeform.

It’s free, looks great on mobile, and makes gathering data a breeze.

Compile some original research, write a post about it, and share that post with your network. I anticipate it will do exceedingly well.

 

3 Ways You Can Implement SEO in Your Blog Writing Today

If you’ve made it this far in the post, I honestly commend you. It takes some effort to read 2,000 words!

So, good job on exercising discipline and allowing your love for knowledge to propel you to the bottom of this web page.

As a reward, I want to give you three takeaways that you can implement in your blog or content writing as soon as you leave this post.

Here they are:

1. Do keyword research

Like I said before, this is the #1 mistake I see bloggers and content writers make. They don’t do keyword research. See what kinds of words or phrases your target audience is using online and incorporate that into your content.

2. Write titles and meta title on all your blog posts

You’re going to then want to take those target keywords and incorporate them into your blog titles and meta descriptions. Title tags for search engines and meta descriptions to entice users to click on your content when it appears in a search results page.

3. Write at least 500 words of content

For every blog post you write, make sure the minimum word count reaches 500 words. You don’t want to risk your content being thin and you want to give both search engines and readers something to peruse. I aim to write at least 500 words of content every time I post and remember longer-form content is always better than shorter-form content.

 
 

If you want to talk more about SEO, feel free to email me. I’d love to chat and get to know more about you.

 

If this is overwhelming and you want someone to take care of your SEO for you, hire me on retainer.