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:
- Makes pages primarily for users, not for search engines
- Doesn’t deceive readers
- 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.