How Do Bloggers Use SEO to Attract Traffic?

Search engine optimization (SEO) can be confusing and overwhelming – even to experienced writers and bloggers! These simple, do-able tips will help you use search engine optimization to attract the right readers and increase your blog traffic. I gathered a variety of ideas and stories from experienced web writers, professional bloggers, and online content creators.

“It’s hard for me to believe that just a few years ago, I had no idea what SEO stood for,” says Jenny Evans, who writes and ghostwrites search engine optimization articles. “Now I try to explain the ins and outs of search engine optimization to my family and end up saying, “Oh… well… just forget it.” Did I ever think I would have such a good understanding of SEO? No way. But I learned like all web writers do – from my mistakes!”

Be willing to make mistakes. Get information – such as 10 Types of Blogs That Do – and Do Not – Make Money if you’re hoping to make a living as a blogger. Learn from other writers’ mistakes and successes. But forge your own path by trying different variations of what the “experts” say. Because guess what? Nobody really knows what they’re talking about. We’re all just trying things, doing some research, throwing stuff at the wall, and seeing what sticks.

If we can do it, so can you.

10 Simple Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips

The first tip is from me, a blogger who has been writing since before you were born. The next three SEO tips are Jenny’s three biggest mistakes she made while learning about search engine optimization. The next seven tips are from bloggers who have steady traffic, regular readers, and a healthy monthly income.

1. Be free to make SEO mistakes, edit, revise and start over!

What do you have to lose? Making mistakes with your search engine optimization is not a big deal. You may spend time learning and researching the best key phrases and words for your blog, you may even pay experts to teach you how bloggers use SEO to get more readers.

Keep it in perspective, fellow scribe. You are blogging. Let yourself make mistakes, choose the wrong SEO phrases, and write horrible blog posts that are clearly click bait (I’ve been there done that soooo many times!!).

Be free! Loosen up. You’ll learn how bloggers use search engine optimization the best way: by making mistakes and learning what works best for you as a writer, blogger, or content creator.

2. Don’t write whatever you feel like writing about

Every type of writing requires that you consider your audience, but it’s especially true with web writing. With SEO, the primary way readers find you is through search engines. You may write the best article in the world, but it will remain unread if no one is asking questions that will lead them to it.

To increase your blog or website readership, choose a topic that inspires you, and try to think like a reader: what do you want to know about the topic? What would you type into a search engine to find the answer? This exercise will help you find an angle for covering any topic you’re passionate about.

3. Identify target keywords before writing your blog post

New web writers often choose a topic, write an article about it, and then get to work trying to pick keyword phrases out of the text. While this may seem like a logical process, it just doesn’t work with web writing. Before writing, brainstorm a handful of keywords that would lead your article. Use the Google AdWords tool to find synonyms or related search terms. Narrow the list and write an article around those terms.

4. Don’t use SEO solely to blog for money

The almighty dollar is the basic motivation for most SEO writers, but it can’t be the sole motivation for writing. Don’t pick a topic you neither know nor care about, even if you think it’s a money-maker. Instead, choose a topic that interests you and write about the solution to a problem in that field – especially if the solution includes a product or service. Write for your reader. Use search engine optimization strategies and best practices so readers can find your information, services, or products.

5. Update your blog regularly

“Some people still forget that publishing regularly is, essentially, your main task as a blogger. If you don’t publish regularly, people will lose track of what’s going on with your blog, or even forget about you completely, which is not good for business. If, at some point, you get distracted and don’t publish a post for a longer while, just return to your everyday blogging like nothing ever happened.” – Jeff Bullas.

I more or less stopped blogging when I went back to university to get my MSW (Master of Social Work). At that point, I was earning about $100 per day from Google Adsense. My income dropped down to about $50 a day after two years of school. But, I took the above advice and just started blogging again. It’s not just about blogging regularly, though! If you want to make money, you need to pay attention to Google’s blogging tips. Google is generous and helpful with their search engine optimization advice; they really want bloggers to use it to attract readers and give them valuable information.

If you’re using SEO strategies to make money blogging, read 10 Ways to Make Your Blog Profitable.

6. Write a variety of short and long posts

“I didn’t realize content length affects traffic until I started to write really detailed posts. It wasn’t because I was trying to game Google or any social site, but it was because I wanted to write content that helps you. And I couldn’t figure out how to do that without writing really detailed content. The beautiful part about writing detailed content is that it ranks higher on Google. If you look at the results page on page one of Google, each site on average will have at least 2000 words of content. That just shows that Google really sees content as king. Just make sure you don’t fill your posts with fluff to reach the 2000 word content. Always write for users and never for search engines. It just happens that people prefer detailed content with actionable steps and it’s hard to do that in a few hundred words.” – from 11 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My First Blog.

I’ve clicked on hundreds of links from Google’s search engine results, and found blog posts that are less than 100 words long. So I’m not sure I agree with this blogging tip.

7. Follow Google’s guidelines and best practices for blogging

I asked Google Webmaster for help building a good-quality blog. A good blog:

  1. Makes pages primarily for users, not for search engines
  2. Doesn’t deceive readers
  3. Avoids tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.

A useful self-test is to ask, “Does this blog or post help my users? Would I still write this if search engines didn’t exist and my blog wasn’t read?” – from Google Webmaster Guidelines. This is how bloggers use search engine optimization to attract traffic: they carefully and thoughtfully write blog posts that answer readers’ questions and solve their problems. The most popular blogs don’t sell. They try to help, serve, or inform readers in some way. And these bloggers use SEO to help them help their readers.

8. Don’t burden readers with sales pitches or ads

Yes, you want to make money from your writing or blogging. Of course you do – and you should! You put alot of time and energy into writing strong, informative blog posts to help readers, right? Professional bloggers – like me – have to include advertisements and sales pitches, or we wouldn’t be able to keep blogging. Bloggers need to use search engine optimization so readers find us. The most popular, successful bloggers balance monetization with value for the readers. For example, one of my favorite blogs is ArtsyShark. Carolyn Edlund is businesslike, professional, friendly, informative and helpful. And I know she makes money blogging! I don’t know if she uses SEO best practices, but she is a fantastic example of a professional blogger.

9. Know your target audience

My biggest weakness as a blogger is I don’t have a specific target audience. Well, for this blog – Writing Blossoms – my target audience is writers and beginning bloggers. But I also have six other blogs with very little focus. I just want to write! I don’t want to build a following, or have fans. I spend a lot of time on search engine optimized phrases and words, but not for the whole blog. I’m a post-by-post blogger. Also, I have a hard time responding to comments because my posts tend to encourage requests for relationship advice from readers….and I hate giving advice. So I’m not a good example of a traditional blogger.

But, one of the most important blogging tips is to know who you’re blogging for. This tip is from the ArtsyShark website: “A good website caters to its target audience. It’s also important to have your target audience in mind when planning your website’s design and architecture. Who buys your artwork now? Who might buy your artwork? Why do they buy your artwork? What are the demographics? What are the most important factors when designing a website for them to use?” – from Top 10 Mistakes Artists Make When Building a Website.

10. Invite comments (they’ll enhance SEO if they’re on topic)

“An important aspect of blogs is that they feature the writing of the blogger as well as the comments of readers. When you visit a blog, you often find a comment link under the text of each blog posting. Clicking that link enables you to read comments from other people and submit your own. Usually bloggers make their own comments in the posts on their site, but sometimes a blogger adds a response in the comment section because it’s a more direct way to address someone else’s comment.” – from Writing a Good Blog.

“The theme is your blog’s design, or how it looks. You need to love your theme because if you want to start a good blog, you’ll be looking at it almost every day! It should load quickly, run smoothly, and be simple and well laid-out. You can choose from hundreds of free themes for WordPress.org; I bought my theme from Solostream’s Premium WordPress Themes. If you buy a theme from a professional blogger, programmer or designer, he or she may be available for tweaks. And, many theme creators have a forum or even a comments section on their blogs to help with problems.” –

If you’re a beginning blogger and aren’t sure if you’ll get traffic, read Will People Read Your Blog? It Depends.

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24 thoughts on “How Do Bloggers Use SEO to Attract Traffic?”

  1. Thanks for this. You covered a few issues that I’ve encountered. SEO has been such an enigmatic concept for me. I needed the simple version. Thanks!

  2. A good blog is really the result of a good BLOGGER! And a good blogger knows their audience and gives them what they want (within reason) so that they look forward to your next post. It’s not about “using” search engine optimization strategies, it’s about creating a really, really good blog.

    Therefore, what makes a “good blog” in one industry, segment or niche may be totally different than what makes a “good blog” in a different industry, segment or niche.

    And remember this, some of the wealthiest people who ever succeeded at their “thing” broke all the rules and did it “their way”.

    🙂

    Great post.

    Kathy

    P.S. I disagree with the long post. I’ve gotten a lot of blogs to page one of Google in little time with relatively short posts. I know nothing about SEO to attract traffic. Make the point, give more than a facebook post but the main thing is to give your audience what they want.

  3. A good blog is also adaptable and flexible – like a good business! This doesn’t mean the blogger’s voice or personality changes. It’s the external circumstances that change, and a good blog changes with it. Switching to a mobile-friendly website is an older but still relevant example.

    Ironically, I don’t actually read blogs so I don’t know what type of blog I’d follow. My online time is spent blogging, not reading 🙂

  4. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    The beauty of these search engine optimization tips for new writers is that they are still current, five years later! That’s why bloggers and web writers need to stop chasing trends and “blogging best practices.” Instead, be consistent and steady in writing passionately and offering solid content to your readers.

  5. It could also be that you simply do not have enough backlinks. You should use a tool like Traffic Travis to view the competition for your keywords. If you are matching your competitors for backlinks, check your external links to ensure that you have not linked to a dubious site.

  6. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comments — the more I hear, the more ideas I get for writing about search engine optimization! If you have any questions, feel free to ask…
    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..Choosing the Best Web Host for Your Blog – 9 Tips for Bloggers =-.

  7. i am a newbie in Search Engine Optimization but i think that the submission of articles in article directories is one of the best ways to gain backlinks. ~

  8. Very good points. I think it is difficult for us all to realize how much effort goes into developing solid content.

    – John
    .-= John´s last blog post ..3 Things That Should Make A Small Business Owner Thankful =-.

  9. Thanks for your comments, everyone!

    Nancy — I agree that content is most important. Many businessowners don’t have the time or ability to write their own articles, which can be great for copywriters and writers 🙂

    George — I’m still bad at search engine optimization in that I tend to use too many keywords. Striking the right balance takes time and practice.

    Teresa — that online meta tag analyser tool sounds like a great way to make sure your posts are effectively optimized! Is it a free service?

    Satrap — you’re right; Google is always evolving, which does make it hard to know how to write blog posts that’ll actually be found. But there are certain things that it’d be best to stick to (eg, making sure your key phrases are words readers actually search for, titling your blog post accurately, etc).

    Thanks again for your comments — I love hearing from you 🙂

    Laurie
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..How to Get Money to Start Your Business – Suze Orman =-.

  10. search engine and things related to it are always evolving, so its kind of hard to stick with the same plan as you always have to adapt to new rules. specially with google. any way thanks for the post.

  11. The “What would you type into a search engine to find the answer?” is, I believe, key in helping your client’s site be more easily found, and I also agree with identifiying keywords before starting on the article.

    Once an article on a client’s website is live, or I have loaded an article to my own website to check it before giving it to the client, I use an online meta tag analyser tool to check relevancy of the meta title, meta description, and meta keywords, related to the content of the article and then, using the results, sometimes tweak my meta tagging to better suit the article’s content. sometimes I need to change the content here and there too, but not often if I wrote the article only after first deciding on which keywords should appear more than twice in the article. I’m usually not happy with anything less than 90% relevancy.
    .-= Teresa Schultz´s last blog post ..How to avoid copyright problems and write using your own words =-.

  12. Incredible, I learned a lot about SEO and Man, this thing’s getting better and better as I learn more about internet marketing. Also as part of my ongoing mission to find the absolute best tools to make money, this is without a doubt at the top of my list.

  13. Nick @ Brick Marketing

    It is very important to really have your keywords lined up before hand and always write for humans first and search engines second. If the thought process does not exist in your article it won’t get picked up anywhere credible.

  14. Hi Laurie,

    Hmmm. I guess I need to chew on this one a bit. There has to be a balance between key words and writing naturally. Some folks are able to strike this balance and others make it painfully aware that they are writing for SEO.

    Maybe it is a skill that can be learned, but maybe not.

    I gotta think about it.

    George
    .-= George Angus´s last blog post ..New 10K Challenge Day =-.

  15. nancy @ princetoncryo

    Interesting insight.
    I would like to make an addition to this – many business owners are so concerned with increasing their site rank that they do not bother about the content. Writing good content is the key and if the website owner really wants to promote the business online, then he/she must hire a professional to write the stuff.

  16. Very nice and valuable tips. Really great. It very helpful to my kind of begginer in SEO. Thanks for sharing this tips with us.

  17. Thanks for your comments — I love hearing how different writers do different things! And, how you tackle something like search engine optimization doesn’t necessarily make you a good or bad writer…we all just do what works for us.

    I pick my topic, ensure my keywords are “good”, and then write the article. I’ve tried writing based on high-paying keywords alone, but don’t find it works well. Better to keep writing what you’re interested in, create a series of articles, link them all together in a nice thick spiderweb, and persevere until you start seeing results (ie, higher blog readership).

    Thanks for this guest post, Jenny — it’s a great article.

    Laurie
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..The Key to Success for Female Entrepreneurs – Coco Chanel =-.

  18. Although it is great to be passionate about what you are writing about, and genuinely interested in your topic, a good SEO writer can write many different kinds of copy, Short copy or long copy, can be successful in their writing. Some of the SEO writers that may be copywriting just for the money and not personal interest are most likely writing SEO because it is one of the many tasks that their job entails. This does not mean that those writers are any less good at what they do or how they write.
    .-= Johan´s last undefined post ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  19. Great post! I learn something (or am reminded of something I should not have forgotten) every time I stop by.

    Suzanne
    .-= Suzanne´s last blog post ..Pet Safety and Protection Act of 2009 =-.