Hello there Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), or in other words, changing web pages to satisfy the magical algorithm of Google.
Learning SEO is a windy road that takes time, let’s go on this journey together, a guide to SEO.
Nat Eliason made an SEO course and wrote how to start a blog. I’ll be condensing these, plus adding my experience from web design and digital marketing.
This is my beginner’s guide to SEO for blogging in 2021. I wish I had this year’s ago. Well, my Dad did buy me a Google Search magazine a long time ago, maybe I should’ve just paid more attention, whoops, sorry Dad.
Disclaimer, I’m not an SEO expert nor do I claim to be. I’m simply sharing my experience and mixing in some other learning materials. This guide is geared toward a personal blog compared to an e-business.
Mindset to SEO
What is a search engine? Google Search is an example of one, but it’s not the only one. There are others out there, believe it or not.
Here’s a search engine in steps:
- A user types ‘search term’ e.g. kittens;
- the search engine looks through its database;
- shows search results e.g. web pages full of kittens.
Put simply, a search engine is a computer program that takes data and organises, or indexes data into a database. The data that web-based search engines index, are web pages, more on that soon.
SEO is the practice of making changes to a collection of web pages, or a website, to better rank on search results, a.k.a increase search rankings. Webpages are most commonly in the format of blog posts.
SEO is not a science, it’s a trial and error game as no one completely understands the search engine algorithms. No matter what the SEO guru’s tell you, no one is truly an SEO expert.
Simple, right? So webpages or blog posts are what search engines care about and index, this is the main focus of SEO. Optimizing the text and words, or your writing, for both human readers and search engines, or as I affectionally call them, robot readers.
For more on SEO mindset, read or watch How to Think About SEO and read or watch SEO Myths.
How do you set up your website and blog posts?
This isn’t a step-by-step guide, but I recommend using WordPress on a managed host like CloudWays. Build with Elementor, set up metadata with Yoast or All in One SEO. Then set up Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, optionally, use Google Workspace. Lastly, set up caching using Breeze and a CDN via Cloudflare.
For more, read Setting Up Your Blog for SEO or my Setup Your Own Website.
To write blog posts for humans and robots, nurture your writing skills.
Either you; 1) love writing, or 2) are new to writing/publishing online.
If you love writing, great, if you don’t, learn too.
The best way to do this is to write every single day. I have for over a year now, yes, full 365 days and counting. I finally love it.
Okay, so you love writing, or you will love it one day, now what?
Well, write for others.
What do you write about? Find the balance between, 1) topics you like or care about, and 2) topics people are searching for online, more on this soon.
If you’re focused on something you enjoy, you’re more likely to create quality content. But, if no one is searching for that content, what’s the use?
This does raise the difference in content, you can write for, 1) Discovery, 2) Community, or 3) Sales.
This guide to SEO is focused on discovery content, meaning, articles that people are searching for. If you’re writing for the love of writing or for a newsletter, then it’ll sit under the Community banner. Then there’s Sales, which as the name implies, it’s to simply sell.
How do you write about topics you like and care about? Build a process, I’ll share my Notion Template, it’s my process.
When finding, or choosing topics, there are three areas to consider, 1) things you know, 2) things you’re excited about, and 3) things you believe.
Now, are people searching for what you care about? More on this soon, I promise.
Focus on answering people’s questions. If you can answer questions or solve problems better than anyone else, you’ll find an audience.
If you’re writing about an existing topic, there’s most likely a lot of content, meaning high competition. If it’s a newer topic, it’s likely to have low competition.
You provide a solution, an answer to a question or what someone needs to know about something.
Keywords for SEO
Let’s turn our focus to the people who are searching for your blog posts, I told you I’d get to this.
What are they typing into that search box?
Those are search terms, or in the SEO world, keywords.
The term ‘keywords’ indicates the key words in your blog post match the search terms from users.
Let’s look into finding keywords, this is how to verify the topics people are searching for online.
- Step 1, to find the right keywords, either have an article written or an idea for one. For example, I wanted to write this blog post Guide to SEO, so that’s the keyword target.
- Step 2, use an SEO tool like SE Ranking or Serpstat to pick a top-level keyword and get ideas.
- Step 3, enter top-level keyword, then, filter and sort results based on, 1) Volume and 2) Difficulty. The goal here is to find high volume keywords with low difficulty. Filter difficulty by 0 to 30 and sort the results by ascending volume. Start with medium volume and low competition, this is considered easy. Then, over time go broad with large search volume and higher competition, this is more difficult.
- Step 4, set up a new spreadsheet and start building a list of easy keywords with low competition and some-what good search volume. This can take time and be frustrating, don’t worry. Do this as many times as you need. Build a list of 5-10 keywords for your post.
- Step 5, update or write your article to use these keywords, then, use your SEO tool to track your post with the new keywords. This is how you monitor how well your post is ranking.
For more, read or watch Find Keywords For Your Blog.
To rank well, write well.
Ranking focuses on search engines, or robots, whereas writing focuses on the reader or humans.
Find the balance between writing for these two. How? You guessed it, a good process:
- Step 1, set an article goal, which is usually to answer a question and provide the best answer making it complete; nothing left out.
- Step 2, write the character journey by identifying who the reader is, what they want and how your article helps them. Write a hook to capture the reader’s attention. Tell a half-told story, use questions, discoveries, arguments, unique illustrations or introduce topics.
- Step 3, research the current top results by searching your target keyword. Write a simple list of patterns like writing styles and terms used.
- Step 4, outline the topics. Write in order to think here, first drafts are supposed to be messy. The goal is to provide value, which means retain attention and show what you care about or your perspectives.
- Step 5, finish with a strong conclusion and Call To Action (CTA), this makes it actionable to convert.
- Step 6, rewrite and include internal links, high authority articles like Wikipedia and keywords.
- Step 7, write an attention-grabbing headline. The headline should include the article’s keyword.
- Step 8, over-deliver and provide free downloadables a.k.a freebies.
Some common terms and tactics you’ll see while researching SEO are not worth your time. Like having other websites link back to your website, this is backlinking and it isn’t required. Also, keyword stuffing is dead, don’t jam keywords into your posts for no reason.
For more on writing, read Writing Well, for more on ranking, read Write Content that Ranks.
Promoting, Metrics, and Traffic
Once you’ve finished your article, it’s time to share. This is known as promoting content to your audience. It doesn’t matter who to start with, just get an initial bump in views, so share with friends and family!
Next, promote to others, find SubReddits, Facebook Groups or Forums your ideal reader is hiding. Email people you think would be interested or send a blast email to your mailing list.
Over time, add structure to the site, update the post by adding links to new articles on old articles on your site. Use an SEO tool like SE Ranking to track keywords and rankings.
For more, read Promote Your Content, SEO Metrics and Double the Traffic.
So, that’s it, that’s your guide to SEO as a beginner 2021.
How are you learning SEO and growing your blog? How will you use this SEO guide?
Let me know by leaving a comment or reaching out via Twitter.
Show me your work, how you’re recording and sharing the journey!