Are you new to SEO? If you are a blogger, you’ve heard the term but not sure what it all means for you.
Whether you are blogging for profit or just as a hobby, people need to find your website and be interested in the content you publish. That’s how you grow your blog, create engagement, and convert readers into subscribers.
In this beginner’s guide to SEO, you will learn the fundamentals of search engine optimization and why you need it if you want to grow your blog.
Why SEO Matters for Your Blog’s Success
What if you create blog content that no one ever finds or reads? Would that be a waste of the time you put into writing it?
Getting traffic is at the heart of any blog’s success and search engine strategies are a key method to make that happen.
Many bloggers get traffic in various social media platforms and other sources like YouTube. That works. BUT …
This study from Conductor says it all. Organic search makes up 64% of website visitors.
This means that you are missing out on a ton of free traffic to your website. If you want to stay competitive and get found in Google search, learning SEO is a must.
How SEO Gets the Right Traffic to your Blog
There are two important elements of website traffic.
1 – Quality traffic. If you get a lot of visitors to your website that are not really part of your target audience, that would not be quality traffic.
For example, many bloggers are in blogging groups on Facebook. They participate in many commenting and share threads. On those days you might get a lot of traffic to your website.
But is that audience truly interested in your topic?
What if your topic is travel and the visitors from the group are interested in fashion, health and WordPress? Do you think you would have repeat visitors?
It’s an audience mismatch.
Getting quality traffic to your website means attracting people who are truly interested in your content and the products you offer. SEO is the key to getting quality traffic.
2 – Quantity traffic. If you did your search engine optimization correctly, you will start getting the right audience to your website. After a time, the more your content shows up in search results, the more traffic you will get.
I get the majority of traffic to my various websites from organic search. As a beginner, would it be worth it to you to learn a few steps to understand SEO better?
What is Organic Search Results?
When you do a search in Google, you get a list of results. These results are in two categories:
- Organic search results: are listings on search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms.
- Paid search results: also known as non-organic search results, these are ads that a website owner paid to appear in the search results.
The organic search results are a result of search engine optimization (SEO) methods. Here’s an example of paid and organic search results.
Click Through Rates by Search Engine Position
Are you ready to learn why you should strive to get on the first page of Google search results using SEO strategies?
There are many studies that show the click through rates for certain search result positions in Google search. These numbers changes year over year. You can check SEOProfiler for the latest.
You can see in the Click Through Rate (CTR) chart, the number one position gets about 33% percent of the clicks. Those websites are rewarded with high search engine rankings because the creator took the time to learn and implement SEO strategies.
As the Google rank position changes, you can see how the click through rate goes down. In position 5 for example, the CTR is only about 5%.
Where do you want to be in the results? Page 123 or page 1?
A Simple Introduction to How SEO Works
In this beginner’s guide to SEO, you’ll quickly see there are many attributes of search engine optimization. There are two main purposes for using SEO techniques:
- Increase your blog’s visibility in search results so people can find your content. People search Google 24/7 to get answers to questions. Wouldn’t you like your blog to be the one they find in search results?
- Make your website a better experience for people who visit regardless of how they got there. Even if readers happen upon your blog from a social media site, are they staying there? Are they repeat visitors? SEO can help with better navigation and engagement.
Search Engines Look at Blog Relevance and Popularity
As a beginner, there are two main elements that you should understand about SEO:
Relevance: When a user performs a Google search, the results are those websites that are most relevant to the user’s search intent. Google is not looking for a keyword repeated several times in your content. Instead, Google is looking at hundreds of factors that determine whether a particular website satisfies that user intent.
You may have heard the term “algorithm.” That is a mathematical set of rules or operations performed to determine which websites best match a search query.
Popularity: This means that the more popular a specific piece of content is, it must contain more valuable information that meets a user request.
If a blog post is at the top of the search engine for a given query, you can bet it meets both these requirements.
What does a Search Engine Look for in Website Content?
There are many factors to consider when it comes to SEO success in meeting the requirements to get found in search results. This list of ranking factors for SEO is comprised of the highlights that every beginner should learn to implement.
All too often new bloggers spend too much time fussing over the “design” of their website. People care more about the quality of your content and less about the design.
Focus on these SEO factors if you want to get traffic from Google search results:
1 – Blog Content Quality and SEO
You may have heard that content is King! It’s true. There is so much mediocrity on the Internet and users are bored with it. What type of content are you publishing for your target audience?
Before you ever write a blog post, you should do your keyword research to find out what your target audience is searching for. Then you can focus your content around the intent of the search query. Ask yourself if your content is truly useful or just another bunch of fluff!
Thin content just doesn’t rank well in Google. That is because people don’t find it interesting and it likely doesn’t answer their original query.
If you write 200 to 300 word articles, it likely falls in the “thin” content category. These are not considered high-quality content. As an SEO beginner, you should get it right from the start. Google favors long-form content that focuses on a user’s intent. that is at least 750 words up to 2,000 plus words.
That means Google is looking to match the intent of the user with the content, and not necessarily the specific keywords. The content is based on the keyword but doesn’t necessarily use it over and over.
2 – Content Relevancy
I touched on relevancy earlier in this article. Google strives to provide the best customer experience for every search query. That means showing the most relevant results to any search query. People ask lots of questions on the Internet these days. Your blog content should be answering these questions.
For example, a query of “is SiteGround web hosting worth it?” turns up several results that are not using that phrase over and over. Instead, the relevant content is answering the question.
3 – User Experience
Providing the best user experience is part of search engine optimization. Your website should be well-organized and easy to navigate. Fussing with all the bells and whistles of super cool design won’t get you ranking any higher.
Keep it simple and make sure all the content on your website is related.
Most people are accessing your blog from a mobile phone or device. Your blog design won’t look the same on these devices and content becomes the key factor as to whether a person will actually read your content.
Another SEO ranking is mobile friendly. Use the Google’s Mobile-Friendly test to make sure your blog meets the requirements or it can be penalized in search results.
4 – Internal Linking for SEO
Linking within your own website can help boost your blog’s SEO. It’s simple concept.
A link in a post on your website leads users to another post on your website with relevant content. Use anchor text to make it obvious to a user why they should click the link.
A best practice is to link to content that is not on your Home page. For example, if you created a post a few months ago, link to that to get some Google juice going.
Internal linking helps your SEO in the following ways:
- Readers stay on your website longer.
- Helps Google to crawl your website.
- Helps boost your search engine ranking for keywords.
Video: Internal Link Building for SEO
5 – Site Authority Helps with SEO Search Ranking
High search engine rankings include high quality sites with useful content that has return visitors. You have to ask yourself if that describes your website. Be honest.
These types of websites are so helpful, that when people find them, they breathe a sigh of relief.
How many times have you searched Google only to hit your back button over and over because the websites are not useful? It happens! And those websites will never gain high authority.
Don’t be that blogger.
It’s all about your content. The higher the quality of the more chance you have of becoming an authority site. That means delivering exactly what your visitor is hoping for.
Repeat after me: high-quality content is the key to search engine optimization and better rankings in Google.
6 – Optimize Images to Improve Search Engine Optimization
Google indexes many elements in your blog post, including the images. Be sure to describe your image in the fields for
- Alt Text
Google’s image search is a powerful engine that can drive traffic to your website.
Another SEO image tip is to rename your image before you upload it to WordPress.
For example, instead of IMG50345.jpg, rename it to seo-for-beginners.jpg (if that were your topic.)
7 – Write Compelling SEO Optimized Headlines
Writing compelling headlines can boost your website traffic. If your content appears in search results, is the headline capturing the attention of the searcher?
That’s the question to ask yourself!
Fortunately you don’t have to be a writing whiz to come up with SEO friendly and compelling headlines. There are number of tools that you can use for free.
You can read more about creating headlines that get attention here.
Final Thoughts about a Beginner’s Guide to SEO
Getting found in Google is the best way to drive traffic to your website. You can be sure that this traffic is high quality because your content fulfills the searcher’s query.
In this beginner’s guide to SEO, I gave you several things to consider to make your website content search engine friendly. The most important of these is doing your keyword research and creating high quality content that serves both search engines and people.
If you build a solid SEO foundation through the suggestions in this post, you can definitely get found in search results. It takes time and patience when it comes to your website’s search engine optimization. You’ll get the benefit of more people visiting your website through search engine results in the long term.
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Thank you Lisa! I’m just starting SEO and it is so overwhelming! I need to go back to basics, use keywords and fix images for example! I’ve been stressing out over CSS stuff, editing my .htaccess file minimising scripts, it’s so complicated! Anyways thanks, I needed this!
Lisa J. says
You are welcome! I hope you got some value here. There really is no point in stressing over CSS stuff. It’s not that important compared to writing AMAZING high-quality content, which should always be your main focus.
If you have questions please do visit again and reach out.
I am still experimenting on SEO. I have not hired anyone to promote my blog. I stopped sharing on Facebook groups for more than a month just to see if I would still have traffic and luckily, I still got a few clicks.
This is excellent. Thank you so much. I am a new blogger who kind of understood seo but not to this extent. You really clarified some of my questions. When using “keywords” are they words that are similar throughout or do you have to put the keywords in a specific place such as a tag?
👑Courtney – http://www.themoneydoll.com
Lisa J. says
Glad you found this SEO beginner’s article helpful! The keyword should be used in the headline but as I mention in the article, your content should focus on user intent. Google is not looking for a keyword repeated several times in your content. Google determine whether your content satisfies that user intent of their search query. Hope that helps.
These are great tips! SEO has been a great help for my traffic, and it’s amazing how many bloggers don’t know anything about it.
Lisa J. says
I agree with you Kate! So many bloggers are completely focused on Pinterest for traffic. The problem with that is if their account gets cancelled or they don’t have time to pin all day, they will lose that traffic. Google traffic rocks! Glad you are using SEO!
Richard Petrillo says
Great tips on the basic guidelines for SEO. It’s interesting how over the years things have changed while at the same time, the most important things you have covered here have remained the same.
Image optimization and internal linking are two of the key elements you cover in this post and are often overlooked by so many people. Great job on the video explaining things too. Very helpful! Thanks for always putting out such great and useful content!
Richard Petrillo recently posted…Isagenix Business Opportunity – Consider These 5 Things Before Joining Isagenix
Lisa J. says
Thanks Richard! You brought up a great point about some SEO things change but the basics are always the same! High quality content is actually fairly new. Remember the days when Google search results ranked a lot of junk just due to keywords? Those days are thankfully gone!
Thank you for writing an in depth article on SEO! I’m new to blogging and I find this part so confusing. Thank you for explaining in clear English.
Lucy recently posted…An Inside Guide to Medieval Genoa
Lisa J. says
Glad you found it helpful Lucy! Reach out if you have questions.
Silver Maze says
This is great beginners guide! I recently learned the basics of SEO for my job and this would have been very useful!
Lisa J. says
Thanks! So glad you enjoyed it!
Loved your tips! I’m more of a front-end digital marketer–writing, social media, PR–so providing specific screenshots like filling out ALT text for images was incredibly helpful. Thank you!
This article is so great. I’m brand new to blogging (only 3 months). After reading this, I learned that I was doing my alt text image descriptions all wrong. So, thanks for the tips! I have the Google Search Console and my organic traffic is basically zero. So this is really going to help.
And, I’m looking forward to learning more – just signed up!
So glad you got some value from this post.