This is a complete Google SEO guide for the absolute beginner.
I’ve written it in a no-nonsense no b.s. way.
I did my absolute best to write everything in as SIMPLE terms to understand as possible, and I’ve included only the most important things you need to know about SEO as a beginner.
Consider this your quick start SEO training guide.
Note: SEO is simply a collection of “best practices” to get your website ranked as high as possible. Nobody on this planet besides Google themselves can tell you with 100% certainty how SEO works. All we can do is apply SEO best practices that have shown to work in the past and continue to apply these techniques until they no longer work.
This blog post highlights the main things you need to know about SEO optimization.
Let’s get into it.
What is SEO Marketing?
SEO (short for search engine optimization) is everything involved in ranking as high as possible in the search engines. The three most popular search engines are Google, Yahoo, and Bing. But I’m going to be referencing Google only in this article because Google is by far the most popular search engine, and most of the search engine traffic to your blog will come from Google when you SEO your website.
Why is SEO marketing important
For your blog or website to succeed, you must get good quality traffic flowing to it. You also want large quantities of traffic too. The more the merrier. There are many places to attract quality traffic, like popular social media networks like Facebook and Pinterest. However, traffic from search engines – namely Google – is usually the BEST traffic you can get.
People search on Google to solve problems. They type in search terms like “how to lose weight” or “what is SEO” to find solutions to their questions and problems. As a blogger or business owner with a website, you want people to find your site when they search for keywords relevant to articles on your site.
The more visible your website is in Google, the more “free” traffic your website will receive, and the more money you can potentially make with your business/website. Being “visible” in Google means ranking in the top 10 search result for a given search. The higher you rank the more traffic you will get. Ideally, you want to be in the top 3 spots. They get the lions share of the traffic.
Traffic from Google is considered the best traffic (e.g. better than social media) because people searching for things on Google have been shown to be more likely to spend money.
Not only that, traffic from Google is considered “free”, because once you rank well and settle in to your position, you tend to stay put in Google’s top 10 with little fluctuation. The BIG benefit of this is that you will receive CONSISTENT traffic to your website every single day. Predictable traffic means you can generate steady predictable income every day. Traffic from other places like social media can be very fickle, coming in large spurts and fluttering off quickly.
The whole idea of SEO marketing is to get as many of your websites pages and posts as high as possible in Google’s top 10 rankings. The higher you are, the more traffic you’ll get. Traffic is the life blood of your website. If you have no traffic you’re website is dead (it won’t make any money).
Note: You want to create a website strategy where you are generating traffic from many different sources. Diversifying your traffic sources is very important. For example, if 90% of your traffic comes from your Facebook page, and your Facebook page gets banned for some reason, you’re in heaps of trouble because most of your traffic is now gone.
It’s possible to build successful websites without implementing any SEO strategies
You should know that some people have built very successful websites without using ANY SEO techniques at all. While that is possible, it’s truly NOT the way I recommend going.
Traffic from Google is so incredibly valuable that it would be a massive mistake to ignore it. You would need to be super amazing at internet marketing to build a website while ignoring Google rankings. If you’re going to be an amazing website builder/blogger, you might as well be amazing with SEO as well.
Also know that the online landscape is incredibly competitive and populated today. You have to do twice, maybe three times the amount of work compared to a blogger 2 years ago or so to get the same result. It MAY have been okay to grow a website without SEO a few years ago, but today, not a chance. You need every competitive edge you can get. You must learn and use SEO.
The basics of SEO can be learned pretty quickly. This guide explains the basics and it will be all the SEO marketing you need in the beginning. In fact, I don’t do much more than what I’ve shared with you in this guide.
Basic WordPress SEO tools
You’ll need a few SEO tools to make life easier. The following are WordPress SEO tools that are “must haves” for your website. If you are not using WordPress, there should be other plugins/tools that you can download which have similar applications.
1. Yoast SEO// Yoast is an SEO plugin that helps you write titles and meta information that show up in Google when people search for things. It’s imperative that you have a plugin like this. Yoast is my favorite and it’s free.
2. Google Analytics// You need to see your website analytics to see what blog posts are popular, where your visitors are coming from, how long they are spending on your site, and more. It will help you optimize your website. Google analytics is free. I prefer a paid tool called Clicky because it’s cleaner and way easier to use.
3. Keyword research tool// A keyword research tool finds keywords. I get into why this is important below. Google has a free tool called Google keyword planner, however it’s very basic. I use a paid tool called SEMRush.
How to SEO your website
Now comes the meat and potatoes of SEO optimization.
SEO can be broken down into two categories:
- On page SEO
- Off page SEO
On page SEO is everything you do on your website that help you rank well in Google. Off page SEO is everything you do to rank high in Google that’s off your website (mostly link building).
1. On Page SEO optimization basics
What’s on page SEO? On page SEO is telling Google what your blog post is about. Google’s MAIN JOB is to give their users the BEST result when people search for something in Google. That is the entire reason why Google exists. They are the most popular search engine because they are the best at performing this task.
YOU need to make it VERY CLEAR to Google what your blog post is about. When Google can clearly identify what your post or article is about, they can correctly index it in their search results, showing it to the right people when they search for your blog topic, and ultimately attracting the right visitors to your website.
On page SEO can be learned in just a few hours of reading. It will probably take writing a few blog posts to get the hang of implementing it. But overall, it’s really easy to learn basic on page SEO. Always, always, ALWAYS implement on page SEO. If there’s only one thing you do with SEO, make it on page SEO.
How to create an on page optimized blog post
These are the MAIN THINGS you need to do every time you write a blog post:
1. Keyword research
This is the MOST important skill in all of SEO. Keyword research is the art of finding specific words to base your blog post around. You don’t want to write “general” articles that talk about many different things. You want to write about a specific topic and get down and dirty with it. Google likes it when you write articles that cover a specific topic DEEPLY, and will likely rank you better for these types of articles.
An article that goes in depth about a specific topic is more likely to contain the solution for the thousands of search queries specific to the topic, compared to a general article that just brushes lightly on various subjects.
For example, this blog post is about SEO for beginners. I’m covering everything a beginner to SEO should know. This gives me a chance for this blog post to be found in Google when people search for various information related to beginner SEO.
Though keyword research is a BIG part of on page SEO, it’s not a basic skill you can learn quickly. Great keyword research takes time, practice, and trial and error. The thing about ranking well in Google is that it’s very competitive to rank in the top 10 for almost everything. Just writing an optimized on page article is usually not enough to rank you well.
Important: You want to find keywords to base your blog post on that you have a chance to rank for, that has good enough search volume, and that you can make money with it. This is the ULTIMATE skill of any SEO marketer, blogger, or content creator.
Just think about it……. when you can consistently find topics to write about (keywords) that you can fairly easily rank in the top 10 of Google for, and many people are searching for information about this topic, and when they land on your website, you make money from these visitors, you are GOLDEN!
It means your website can attract traffic and make money from it – with minimal amounts of effort. That’s just the bottom line. And that’s why keyword research is the most important SEO skill (it’s not building links like most people seem to think). And it’s why you cannot ignore SEO!
Note: These keywords exist. They are out there waiting to be found. It is truly like mining for gold in Alaska. Again, keyword research is the one SEO skill you want to be amazing at.
2. Create SEO friendly URL’s
You want your URL’s to be neat and contain your main keyword you want to rank for. I want to rank for many SEO related keywords in this article, but the main keyword I want to rank for is “What is SEO”. So I will write “what is seo” in my URL for this blog post.
You want to keep your URL’s neat and tidy because it looks better. I don’t feel you must include your entire keyword if it’s really long (this is just my opinion here). You can shorten it to keep it clean while keeping the most important words. For example, if the main keyword phrase you want to rank for is “how to drive free Google traffic to your blog”, you can shorten it to “drive google traffic”. Your URL would look like this: http://minthabits.com/drive-google-traffic.
3. Include your main keyword in your blog title
Your blog post title needs to contain your main keyword. This is likely the MOST important ranking signal to Google when they are figuring out what your article is about.
For example, I want to rank for “What is SEO” in this article. You will find “What is SEO” in my blog title. Also note that it comes FIRST. Google gives more weight to keywords that appear at the beginning of your title, so you want to try and put your main keyword at or near the beginning of your title.
SEO tip: You can rank for more than just your main keyword. One great way to do this is to include other keywords you want to rank for in your main title as well. Again, your title is the most important thing that tells Google what your article is about. So include the keywords you want to rank for the most in it.
The trick is to always write excellent SEO headlines but at the same time you want to create headlines that appeal to human beings (in other words, they make sense). Just as important, you also want to create headlines that attract attention and encourages click throughs. So writing these crafty SEO and human friendly headlines is another skill you will want to master as you learn to build a successful website online.
4. Include your main keyword in your article body
You want to use your main keyword in your article a few times at least. It’s likely you’ll end up using it many times without even consciously thinking about including it. Google spiders will crawl your article to figure out what it’s about. It looks at keywords in your article to figure it out. You want your main keyword in your article to make it clear to Google what it’s about.
Back in the day, everyone was going paranoid on what the ideal amount of times your main keyword should appear in your article. In fact, people over-optimized keywords on their articles (wrote down keywords too much) so excessively that Google began punishing these sites by stripping their rankings away.
I think some people still obsess with this. But nobody knows what is they ideal keyword ratio. What I do is simply have my main keyword appear at least a few times in my article. With everything else that I do to search engine optimization my article, Google has never not figured out what my article is about.
But will creating articles with the ideal ratio of keywords to other words make me rank better in Google? MAYBE. But nobody knows what the ideal ratio is. And even if you did know, it could easily change tomorrow. So I don’t fussing over an SEO detail like this.
5. Create headlines and sub headlines that include important keywords
You’ll be creating headlines and sub-headlines to organize the flow of your article. You want to include your main keyword and related keywords you want to rank for in your headlines/sub headlines. Your main headline (blog title) is the most important headline as I stated above. Your sub headlines are less important, however, including keywords in them will also help Google determine what your article is about.
SEO Tip: Nobody knows how much you should optimize your sub headlines. For me, I include my main keyword in one sub headline at least, and include other keywords I want to rank for in other sub headlines. I don’t overdo it. It gets sprinkled in wherever it makes sense. I always do my best to craft headlines that read well to humans.
6. Include at least one image in your article
Images break up walls of text in your article and also make your blog more visually appealing. Images also add context visually to your post and make it more memorable too. You want to include at least one image in your article. There was a study I read that also showed that images can help you rank better in Google. Including media like a video can help too.
7. Optimize your images
When you add an images to your article, you will need to optimize it. Google does not know what your image is about (they can’t read pictures). To tell Google what your image is about, you add text to the meta data.
When you add an image in WordPress, the two main places you want to write information in is:
- Image title
- Alt text
There are a bunch of ways to go about optimizing your images. Ultimately, you want to include your main keyword and related keywords in your image title and alt text. How much and how often? Hard to say. But I always include text related to my blog topic in every image.
How I optimize my images: I vary how I include the keywords I want to rank for in my image titles and alt tags. I also vary the text as well by including additional words.
For example, I could use the following:
- What is SEO
- How to SEO my website
- SEO for beginners
- This is the best way to SEO a website
- SEO guide for beginners
- SEO marketing
- SEO basics
- SEO tips
The above are words I made up that relate to the topic of this blog post and they are also keywords I found when I performedd keyword research for this blog topic.
There isn’t a specific way I include these words in my images. I simply sprinkle them in randomly. I don’t know how Google decides how relevant an image is, and neither does anyone else. So what I do is tell Google in various ways what the image is about with related keywords in the image title & alt text, and let them do what they do with it. From what I can see, this has worked well.
8. Use LSI keywords & related keyword you want to rank for
LSI keywords are closely related synonyms to your main keyword.
Related keywords are words words/topics that fit closely with your main keyword.
Your blog post can rank for many many many keywords beyond your main keyword. In fact, getting massive Google traffic from your blog post doesn’t usually come from ranking highly for your main keyword. It comes from all the long tail keywords and related keywords your article is ranking for.
For example, this blog post could rank for words like “SEO tips for newbies” or “What is on page SEO”. Though these keywords are not in my main title and are not in my sub headlines, and I may not even write those keywords exactly as they appear in this blog post, I could rank for them because they are closely related to the main topic I am talking about.
To give me a chance to rank for all these related keywords (there will be thousands, if not tens of thousands of them since SEO is such a big topic), I will want to add LSI keywords and closely related keywords in this blog post (which I of course will do).
To find LSI keywords and related keywords, use a keyword tool! Keyword tools show you closely related seach terms. And use your brain! for example, SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. So I will want to write “search engine optimization” at least once in this article. I simply sprinkling LSI keywords and related keywords everywhere within my article body.
How exactly Google decides what to rank me for is up to them and their algorithm. But I give myself the chance to rank for as many things as possible when I include these specific words.
SEO tip: Don’t over optimize your keywords. It’s excessive to write the same keywords too often. Google may see it as trying to “game” them. If you do it enough, they could punish your website by dropping your rankings for the specific article, or worse, for your website as a whole. I usually just make sure I write a related keyword once and that’s it. If I naturally write the keyword again later, or even several times later, then that’s how many times it will appear. I don’t fuss about keywords in my article more than this. This is how I make sure I don’t over optimize keywords I want to rank for.
9. Link out to other websites and link internally
Articles that tend to rank well typically have external links and internal links sprinkled throughout the article. You will want to do the same. The main thing you want to do is link to articles/websites that are RELEVANT to your topic.
If you wrote a blog post about things to do in San Francisco, linking out to a website that offers guided tours of San Francisco or a blog post about the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge are both highly relevant websites to link to. You want to make sure every link you create is relevant. You also want to link internally to related posts on your website too.
How many internal and external links should you have? There is no answer to this. Successful posts that rank well in Google could have a few links or 50+ links. My opinion is to include a few external and internal links at a minimum. Just make sure your links are relevant and that they are helpful to your reader. If that means linking externally 30 times in one article then yes, that’s what you should do.
Off Page SEO optimization Strategy
Off page SEO is everything you do outside of your blog to raise your search engine rankings.
Off page SEO optimization is all about building backlinks. That’s the name of the game here. It’s what virtually everyone obsesses about. When people think about SEO, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is building backlinks.
What is a backlink? A backlink is a link that points to your website. For example, if you wrote a blog post and linked to this article you’re reading now, you would be giving me a backlink (yes please do!)
Why are backlinks so damn important? Links are the single most important ranking factor Google uses to determine how relevant your blog post / website is.
Essentially, the more (quality) backlinks you have, the better you will rank in Google. A blog post that gets a lot of backlinks tells Google that this is a useful article that should be ranked high. in Google’s eyes, If a lot of websites are linking to a specific blog post, the blog post must be relevant and good, and Google will be inclined to put it higher in their search engine rankings.
Most blog topics you write about will not appear in the top 10 of Google for the main keyword or related keywords you want to rank for (unless you find a really low competition keyword). But by building backlinks to a blog post you want to rank for, you can possibly rank in the top 10. So that’s why backlinks are so important and why SEO experts and website owners go all crazy talking about back links and new back linking techniques.
Not all links are created equally. This is what you need to know about quality of backlinks
Different links have different “weight”. Some links are super powerful. When you get them, you shoot up in Google rankings fast. But some links do little to nothing for you.
Google says they have over 200 ranking signals they use to decide how they rank pages in their SERPS (search engine). Backlinks are the most important ranking factor.
You want to build lots of links and lots of high quality links. However, it’s quality over quantity EVERY TIME with backlinks. You are much better off focusing your time building a few high quality backlinks instead of building 50 low quality backlinks.
Anatomy of a good backlink:
Anchor text of a link// The text used to describe the link is important because it tells Google what the link is about. For example, someone linking to this blog post could write “beginner SEO guide” as the anchor text. That would be a highly relevant way to describe this blog post. And it will encourage Google to rank me for the keyword “beginner SEO guide” and closely related keywords to that. People abused this a lot back in the day and got slapped hard. You want to vary your anchor text A LOT when you link build. If you over optimize your anchor text, you could be penalized by Google.
Relevancy of where link is coming from// A link from a low carb article that links to another low carb article is a highly relevant link. A link from a plumbing article to an article about colors of lipstick is not a relevant link at all. When you link build, you want to build links from relevant websites and articles.
In context link// The strongest link you can build is an in context link. An in context link is a link that appears somewhere in the body of a blog post or article. These are the hardest links to get typically, which is probably why they carry more weight.
How many other links appear in the article where it comes from// Articles pass link juice through the links that exist on the article. If there are just a few links in an article, all the link juice is spread to just a few links. Contrastingly, an article that has 50 links on it will have it’s link juice spread over 50 links, making each link less powerful. You want to try and build links from places that do not link out a lot so you get as much link juice as possible. However, a link from an article with 50 links on it is better than nothing at all. So still get a link like that if you’re able.
The authority of the page the link comes from// Some article will pass on zero link juice to you even if they link to you. This is because the authority of the page is little to zero. Some pages have very high authority and when you get a link from this page, they give you tons of link juice, shooting your blog post up in the SERPS (search engines).
High authority articles have many links pointing to it. That’s why it’s powerful and authoritative. You want to try and get links from these authoritative sources. They are of course much harder to get. But quality over quantity – every time. It’s worth working for.
The authority of the domain the link comes from// Websites have different authority with Google. Back then, Google used Page Rank as a measure of how authoritative a website is. They have discontinued that for a number of years no. These days, most people use MOZ DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority) as the main indicator of how authoritative a domain or page is.
A link from an authoritative domain, like a government organization (.gov sites) or a website that has high domain authority (50+ DA) will automatically be weighed more heavily than a website with small or low domain authority.
How many times a domain links to you// Links have diminishing returns. The first link is weighed a lot, but the second, third, fourth, and so on links from the same domain will be weighed less and less. You want to be building links from as many different domains as possible.
Follow and No Follow Links
Links can be follow and no follow.
Follow links are regular links. They pass on link juice if there is link juice to be passed. No follow links are links that have been tagged “no follow” which mean they do not pass on any link juice.
Follow links are easily more desirable and sought after. But here’s the deal with follow/no follow links. Google knows what a heathy link profile should look like for a specific type of website in a specific niche. They have analyzed millions and millions of websites, from the real authority websites that attract links naturally to the shady websites that built backlinks unnaturally.
A website with a healthy backlink profile is a website that has both follow and no-follow links. To say no-follow links have no value is not true. They build a healthy link profile that Google wants to see. While I wouldn’t work very hard to get a no-follow link, I absolutely will take them if it means little work is involved.
I personally feel no-follow links have some ranking factor involved. Technically the link itself does not pass any juice. But building them seem to help increase rankings from what I’ve seen.
Link building strategies
The one SEO thing people who have been doing this for awhile obsesses the most about is link building. People get so hung on learning about a new link building strategy. SEO guru’s sell big ticket courses on just this topic alone.
But I’ll level with you right here. Don’t buy into that. You don’t need 100 ways to build a backlink. You don’t need any new link building technique or trick.
What you want to do is use tried tested and true link building techniques that work. And rinse and repeat.
Basic link building techniques to start off with
1. Guest posting
A guest post is when you write an article for another website to publish. You leave a link back to a page on your blog in the guest post. So when the guest post is published, you’ve built a backlink!
Guest posts have been around since forever and they continue to be effective ways to build links. What you want to do is make sure you write guest posts for RELEVANT websites. So if you’re a blog about fashion, writing guest posts for other fashion blogs is highly relevant.
I recommend guest posting as your main way to build backlinks in the beginning. In fact, guest posting can be something you do for years and years down the road for your blog. It’s a solid way to grow your blog’s overall authority as well as put your blog in front of other people’s audiences, earning you new readers.
2. Skyscraper technique
This technique was made popular by Brian Dean. The skyscraper technique is when you find resource pages that are relevant to your website, and write content on your blog that would fit well in it. Then you email the owner of the resource page to let them know you’ve created a great resource that you wish to have included in their resource.
For example, you are a travel blogger and you find lists of “best travel bloggers” blog posts on the internet. You can email each owner of the list and ask to be included in the list.
Another example is if you are a personal finance blogger and you find list posts of ways to save money. You could write a blog post about saving money on groceries and then email each blogger who owns list posts of ways to save money to ask if they could include your article about saving money on groceries.
Your success rate will likely be fairly low. Perhaps 5-10% of bloggers will accept your request. 10% is pretty high actually. So don’t get discouraged when most website owners don’t even respond to you. It’s normal. This is definitely a numbers game.
3. Become an expert at something
This isn’t a link building technique per se, but you want to become an expert in a certain area. Being an expert means people naturally want to link to you and your articles without you doing anything more. Pick one thing that you really want to be known for and talk about it a lot on your blog.
4. Link swaps
This is when you link to someone and they link back to you. These links are less powerful because they are easy to get. Some people frown upon them and don’t recommend it. I personally feel it’s okay as long as you don’t perform too many link swaps. Otherwise it will look unnatural and Google may penalize you.
5. Collaboration posts
Collaboration posts are excellent ways to get quick backlinks. A collab post is when you write a little blurb for a blog post. For example, a travel blogger is creating a list of 20 tips for first time travelers to Prague, and they are looking for travel bloggers who have visited Prague to chip in with a tip. This usually requires you to write a 200-300 word blurb. And you get a backlink to your site too. So it’s a quick and easy link.
Backlinks from collab posts don’t typically have a lot of link juice because there are usually dozens of links that exist on the blog post. However, it’s a pretty quick way to build a backlink. Facebook groups are great places to find collab post opportunities. Find groups related to your blog topic to join for opportunities.
Black hat SEO & White hat SEO
You can separate link building into two types, black hat SEO and white hat SEO.
Black hat SEO are techniques that increase your Google rankings by cheating Google. For example, buying links is very black hat. Google wants websites to earn links naturally. However, that’s very hard and takes a lot of work. People and businesses with a budget may purchase links to increase their rankings. It happens a lot. Google hates it and will punish you if they deem you guilty of fabricating your links.
Back in the day, up until maybe 2-3 years ago or so, back hat SEO was enormous. People gamed Google like you wouldn’t believe. People could build crappy websites with little to no value and rank in the top 10 of Google easily by building shady links and buying links.
So Google worked really hard to change their algorithm to solve this problem. They started to punish websites that had unnatural backlinks and anchor text. A lot of businesses/websites died overnight. And Google is always tweaking their algorithm to make it better and harder to game. Which is why nobody can ever tell you with 100% certainty how SEO works. Not even me. All we can do is perform “best practices” that are working now, and adjust our SEO tactics as Google changes their algorithm.
White Hat SEO is building backlinks naturally (and other SEO behaviors that Google approves of). Basically though, it’s not paying for links. In a perfect world, Google would want websites to not link build at all. To attract links completely naturally. But that’s never going to happen. How is a new website ever supposed to get noticed and rise in authority? It would be incredibly difficult without link building. Most people will consider guest posting and techniques like the sky scraper method as “grey hat”, which is somewhere in the middle of black and white hat.
Where to get SEO training
I will be creating a SEO training guide some day down the road. This article is a great beginners guide that explains the overall skeleton of how SEO works. My SEO training guide would go into more detail and provide a more step by step approach.
For now, there are lots of SEO guru’s out there to learn from. I don’t really look at myself a GURU. I’ve had a lot of success online and I blog about it to help others. That’s more of how I look at myself and what I do on this blog.
A few great websites to learn from are:
Creating a SEO strategy for your website
If you’re learning about SEO for the first time here, there’s A LOT of info to take in. Read this article over a few times over a few days to help digest it.
I want to share with you my overall SEO strategy:
1. I find keywords to base my blog post on
Every blog post I write has a main keyword that has been researched. Ideally, it’s a keyword that is low competition, has a decent search volume, and is hopefully monetizable. A keyword research tool will help you find topics to blog about and it tells you how many people are searching for each keyword every month.
Keyword research is not negotiable in my opinion. It’s the one SEO superpower you want. You can do everything else really poorly, but if you master keyword research, you will likely still make some money with your website. That’s how critical it is.
2. I write a great article worth linking to that is SEO optimized
Writing a great article is a baseline requirement. There are so many blogs out there pushing out content on the same thing you blog about. Writing a half ass article will never get you noticed in a meaningful way. You want to be creating one of the best, if not the best article on a certain subject. This will help you attract links because it’s a good article worth linking to.
Your article also needs to be optimized with on page SEO. Every time. There is zero exceptions or excuses here. With an optimized blog post, you at the very least have a chance to rank in Google’s top 10. A non SEO optimized article has no chance to rank in Google. Unless you are talking about purple elephants from mars, which nobody else is blogging about, you’re not ranking in Google.
3. I promote the article by link building and on social media
The first step in promoting my blog posts is to promote them on social media. Pinterest is my main social media platform I try and get a lot of traffic from. If my blog post goes viral on Pinterest, it almost always helps me rank better in Google as well. In fact, many of my blog posts that have gone viral on Pinterest have appeared in the top 10 of Google without me building a single back link to it.
4. I wait and analyze the results
You don’t rank in Google right away. Especially if your blog is new. It can take 6 months, 12 months, or even 18 months before you see results or before your rankings start to settle in. I believe Google mostly does this because this is the best way to prevent people from gaming them. They will not reward you with high placement in their SERPS right away (not typically anyway).
I wait many months before deciding what to do next. Sometimes even a year or more. I try and get my blog posts a lot of social media traffic, especially viral traffic on Pinterest. This usually boosts my rankings for my blog posts, which gives me a better idea of how well I can rank in Google.
I will only work on a keyword/blog post if I feel I can get it to rank highly in Google with not a ton of work, and only if I feel I can make money from the keyword. Otherwise I spend my time elsewhere.
You want to rank in page 1 of Google (top 10). Being on page 2 is basically the same as being on page 10. Hardly anyone looks beyond page 1. So it’s imperative that you get there. Again, if I don’t feel I can rank on page 1, I don’t bother working any harder on the keyword/blog post.
SEO Ranking signals
Google says they have over 200 ranking signals.
It doesn’t make sense to pay attention to all of them. Besides, they don’t tell you what most of them are anyway. It makes much more sense to pay attention to the MAIN ranking signals. This article highlights all of them. It covers the most important things Google looks at when they decide how to rank you.
General SEO tips to increase SEO rankings
With all of the above basic SEO best practices, I want to share with you some more optimization tactics that are important to helping you rank as well as possible.
Write longer blog posts
Longer blog posts tends to rank better in Google. If you look at the top 10 of Google, you usually do not find cheap articles that are 700 words or less. These articles typically have 2000+ words. You want to be creating content that is longer than the average blog post length. Try and aim for 1500 words minimum. I’d say 2000+ is ideal.
Longer blog posts also lets you write down more keywords you can potentially rank for. If you cover a specific topic in depth, you usually end up writing a lot of words anyway. Google wants in depth topics because they answer questions better than a general article covering several subjects. Remember, Google’s job is to give the BEST result for a given search term. Longer in depth articles do just that.
Increase your site speed
Your site speed is an important ranking factor. The faster it loads the better user experience for visitors. Nobody wants to wait longer than 1 second for a page to load. Nobody wants to wait for pictures to slowly load. Do everything in your power to make your site load as fast as possible. Google will likely rank you better.
Keep visitors on your site as long as possible
The longer people stay on your blog post or website the better. Clearly, your post is useful if people are spending several minutes or more on it, clicking through links you have placed on your site, and browsing around your website – compared to someone visiting and then clicking the back button right away.
I’ve noticed many of my best blog posts are also the ones where people spend a lot of time on it. There is a direct correlation with time spent on site and higher Google rankings. So do everything you can to keep visitors on your website. This starts with writing a helpful article that solves problems and has depth.
Write for your readers first, but keep SEO in mind
I struggle with this one a lot, so I’m still working at it. The main thing you want to do is write for readers first. After all, real people are reading your blog. You want to create content FOR THEM, but also implement on page SEO. Sometimes my headlines and text on my blog posts do not read as smoothly as it could. This is because I want to include specific words in certain places but I am not able to streamline it in nicely. But, for the benefit of ranking better in Google, it’s worth it.
What I recommend is to write your article fully without any SEO in mind. And after you’ve written it, go back in and insert keywords wherever it makes sense. I find this is the best way to write great articles that look as natural as possible, while fulfilling on page SEO requirements.
Local SEO tips
If you want to target local SEO search terms, then you want to target keywords that people use from a specific area.
You would be interested in local SEO if you are a company providing products/services in a specific area. For example, a plumber in Boston would want to rank for keywords that only matter to people in Boston. This plumber wouldn’t really care if they are found by people in Canada.
To perform local SEO in this example, you’d want to target words like:
- 24/7 plumbing Boston
- Emergency plumbing Boston
- Best plumbers in Boston
- Boston plumbers
And that’s my SEO guide!
If you have any questions at all about SEO, hit me up in the comment section below! I will be continually improving this guide as SEO changes and as I learn new things. Your comments will help me do that. So please ask questions and make comments! Thanks so much!!