It can be intimidating if it’s your first time delving deeper into the internet, deeper than the usual shallow facade of social media or some of your favorite websites. Make that double for anything involving search engine optimization and blogging. Regardless of what you know, these are now a necessity if you want your business, website, or blog to grow. Just know that anyone always had to start somewhere and that it’s not a sprint. The internet is not going anywhere.
Luckily for you, others are kind enough to document their progress or share their trade secrets. These are from years of accumulated experience, trial and error, and in-depth analyses. There are ways to easily grasp what initially seems to be a complex subject matter so you can apply it in your work.
So if you’re a startup or new blood when it comes to SEO and blogging, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled tips for you to keep in mind for a smooth beginning.
What is SEO again?
Going by the usual results from Google usually doesn’t help you have a definitive and simple definition for SEO. Hence, let’s clear things up and make it simpler: SEO is what you do to your website or blog so people see it more on Google. (Well, usually it’s Google because who uses Yahoo! or Bing? Google is where the online market at – the majority of it.)
SEO is you making your website content as shiny as possible (figuratively) so that Google notices you better; in turn, people will notice your website better. Better SEO means more clicks, more traffic, and eventually, more revenue. The competition can be tight, of course. Others are also vying for the top spots and how you rank depends on your content or which of Google’s favorite words or keywords you used.
You can’t grasp SEO and ignore how Google works at the same time. To give you a brief idea of Google handles your queries: when you type your word or question, Google will scramble to give you results it deems best – you deserve it after all. Google gets to decide which one is the best based on its own algorithm, which is also partly based on user search behavior.
Other times it’s based on some parameters which Google can decide to change on a whim. Every now and then, Google will shake a few things up depending on which part of its algorithm is being taken advantage of. After all, their primary concern is to make the search engine experience as helpful as it can be for the users. At the moment, quality, original, or long content is preferred by the search engine instead of spammy or empty websites.
It also pays to try out some of your keywords in Google yourself to see how the search engine thinks when it encounters that word. This way, you are given a clear picture of how Google treats its users or even how they think.
Spend a little on your own domain
A little bit of capital goes a long way, even when it comes to blogging or your own websites. Having your own URL or domain makes you more detectable on the web. This can be due to user speculation where free and un-personalized domains appear less credible. The result is Google taking them less seriously. Hence, you shouldn’t expect your free WordPress or Wix domain to be as popular or visible.
If by some luck you did manage with using a free domain, chances are, you’re still handicapping yourself. So do your website or blog a favor, Mr. Krabs, and buy yourself a domain of your own. Even WordPress has some affordable packages. It’s an absolute win anyway since you’ll be able to customize the website a lot better, making your SEO and blogging appear more professional.
It’s a general rule in life and work but when it comes to SEO and blogging, having a focus is everything. We’re referring to keyword usage here and keywords are every bit as crucial to your content more so than you think. For those who produce written content, you usually have to write around your keyword so as to make it appear more natural.
As for your keyword choice, you’ll need to be clever about it. You’ll want to avoid using general words such as “relationships” or “internet”. Those branch out to their own world of meanings and sub-topics. They need to be narrowed down more; you can do this by either changing them or adding another word or two for a more specific meaning.
While it will make your keyword less competitive, you’ll have better chances at being more visible in Google whenever someone searches for that word.
Being selfish on the internet won’t do you any good. Sometimes, you will have to learn to coexist with other blogs in order to have better exposure. If the ones you’re cooperating with have better SEO than you, then all the better. You don’t have to outright declare your friendship with them, of course. Sometimes all you need to do is hyperlink or backlink back to their content.
A word of warning, however – you don’t want to do that to a rival blog or website. You’ll know they’re your rival when they use the same keywords and publish the same subject as you do. Anyone whose website has too much in common with yours is someone you’ll want to avoid giving exposure to. As for how to increase your chances of getting linked to, just make quality content or include rare (but trustworthy) tidbits of information. Exclusive content such as interviews, quotes, photos, or even videos also helps immensely in your SEO and blogging.
Find your niche
It may be tempting to include anything under the sun and discuss all your hobbies in your blog, but this is actually counterproductive. If you go from makeup tutorials one day and then suddenly feature movie reviews, you’re not only confusing your audience but also Google. You basically split your website niche into two or more obscure identities instead of a clear one Google can easily find.
Google prefers websites with a distinct identity. You want it to be one that can easily appear as a reliable source of information in a limited scope of subjects – unless you run a Wiki. Moreover, Google also loves to give users the most relevant search results. If your website or blog includes a host of other topics not related to one another, you might appear less relevant. Anyway, if you want to branch out to other themes, then simply dedicate another domain for it alone; it might be more expensive at the beginning, but it will be worth it in the long run.
Never underestimate social media
Organic searches and visitations to your website are great, but there’s no denying the power of social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube – billions of people around the world use it. Some even probably use it more than Google. As you can imagine, you don’t want to be missing some of that tremendous exposure chance.
If people like your content enough, they’ll basically do the sharing for you. While a lot of them might not even open or read it, them sharing it makes it more likely for others to check it out. As such, no matter what format your website or blog is, it’s important to have your own social media page and manage it well. That can even be a job on its own apart from your SEO and blogging.
For many websites and blogs, keywords are the… key, in having and maintaining a good SEO. Still, it’s time-consuming to correctly guess which keyword is the most optimal to use at any given time. That’s a job for machines and their software. Thankfully, there is countless software you can use to check which keyword to use. The best part is that you don’t even need to spend money on some of them.
Tools like keyword ranking trackers can make quick work of your keyword research. They also reveal plenty of information about your keywords such as how competitive it is, its cost-per-click, and search volume. You can then decide on which focused keyword to use. These tools basically do half the SEO work for you. Definitely, don’t shy away from using them among other tools to help you in your SEO and blogging.
First published in 2019; updated in November 2021