What is SEO and How Does it Work?
When I first started blogging, I got tired of hearing about SEO in a quick hurry. It seemed overwhelming, and I had a million other things to learn that seemed way more important.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it is really important — more important than most things new bloggers spend their time on. It’s not their fault. All the other shiny things are WAY more fun! I’ll attest to that right now. But I’ll tell you what, learning SEO tips and tricks will pay off over and over again!
Google will find and index your blog easier, and send you traffic faster, if you put some effort into SEO right from the start. Bing and Yahoo are also search engines, but Google is the king as about 80% of the traffic comes form Google. They have a common goal to serve their people well.
Searchers are their people, and as you can imagine, Google probably gets a million trillion visits a day from searchers. That’s not a number, but it gives you the big idea. Google (and its minions) want to send people to the right place when they have a question or need help.
Search engine traffic is much more valuable compared to social media traffic because they are actively searching for solutions. Therefore, they are much more likely to convert into profitable customers.
Google bots are constantly crawling the web in search of the best content to provide the people. No one knows exactly how Google puts sites on the front page, but there are some clues. And good SEO practices will certainly help. Complicated algorithms and Google magic are behind the rest of it.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure here.
The Magic of Keywords
Keywords are simply the words and terms people use to search for whatever they’re looking for. If I type in “how to ride a unicycle,” I get the following result on the SERP page (Search Engine Results Page).
As you can see, I’ve pointed out with red (very squiggly) markings, the keywords that came up as a result of my search. A keyword sounds like it’s just one word, but the term actually means one or more words (or a phrase) that someone might type into a search engine when looking for information.
Google also gives us alternative terms and search questions (queries) that have been used to search the topic. These related terms and queries are a gold mine for finding great keywords to optimize our blogs and posts for SEO.
The Best SEO Blog Tips for Beginners
These tips will help your overall site to be more Google and user friendly. For now, we’ll just tackle some simple changes you can make on your blog’s website to optimize SEO. We will learn how to optimize posts and other things another time. Let’s get started.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide, I’d recommend this SEO ebook by Debbie Gartner. It’s a game changer and super reasonably priced.
SEO Optimizing for Your Dashboard
**This first SEO task is best done with a brand new site where you haven’t published any posts yet. You can still implement this SEO tip if you have published posts, but I URGE you to read this guide about the proper steps to take so you don’t end up with a lot of broken links!
#1. Set up your blog’s permalinks correctly. This is how your posts, blog pages, and all other content on your site displays in the URL box at the top of your computer screen (the https://www.blahblahblah).
In a new WordPress site, the default option is usually check marked. You do not want the URL showing up as www.yoursitename/?y=223. You want to go into your dashboard and choose the option that shows your site name and the title of your post or page.
Go to Settings, then choose Permalinks, and click by “Post Name” to reset this permalink structure. Don’t forget to click save changes at the bottom. This simple change is a major SEO best practice for your whole site and every post you publish…. moving on.
If you’re not on WordPress, make sure your permalinks look good. If they need changing, contact tech support and ask how to best do that without causing harm to your established links.
If you’re an established blog and want to use this SEO blog tip to change your Permalink structure, you may want a tech savvy person to do it for you. Grayson Bell over at iMark Interactive is great, and he doesn’t overcharge for tech help!
#2. Install Yoast SEO optimizing software (plugin) if you’re in WordPress. Weebly, Squarespace, and other platforms will have their own SEO optimizing tools. Yoast is THE go-to SEO plugin for blogs. It offers easy SEO tips within your posts to optimize for keywords and readability etc.
Go into your dashboard, click on Plugins, then click Add New, and type in Yoast SEO in the search bar on the right. It will most likely show up as your first choice, select it and choose activate.
#3. Make sure your search engine visibility box is on the right setting. You want your site to always allow search engines to index it/your blog. This may be the quickest SEO blog trick to use — just check this important setting, and you’re on your way!
In your dashboard, click Settings, then click Reading, and at the bottom you’ll see “Search Engine Visibility.” Make sure that box that says “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is NOT checked.
Make Good Use of Keywords
#4. Consider a keyword in your domain name and/or title of your blog. Definitely not necessary — but worth mentioning, to get a little SEO benefit. It’s a pain to change your domain name once you’ve got a well-established blog, but if you’re just starting out, you might consider it. This isn’t to say that an unnatural, keyword-stuffed domain name is a good idea…not so!
If you’ve chosen a tight niche (a travel blog about one city or one country, for example), it may make sense to add that primary focus word into your domain or blog name. Always do this in a natural way — i.e. “theparisexperience.com” is natural, and “parisguide.com” is possibly too “commercial” or spammy in nature.
If you focus mainly on budgeting, then maybe a title or domain with some form of the word “budget” makes sense. It will certainly give Google a big heads-up on what your blog is about.
Again, if you can do it naturally, and it fits with your brand goals, it’s worth considering. Blogging and SEO go hand-in-hand, but user experience is king. This takes priority over a keyword in your name every time!
#5. Use keywords in your blog’s description or tagline. For WordPress users, you’ll find the Tagline box in Settings, then General, and it will be right under your Site Title. It asks you to explain what the site is about. Here’s what I have in mine:
“Start a business or blog, improve productivity, and simplify money and home life.”
You could also put something like “Blogging about XYZ…” or “Blog about XYZ” etc. Use keywords that will be found in the content of your blog so Google will have more hints to send people your way when they’re looking for great stuff about “XYZ.”
This technical stuff can be confusing. Hang in there, this next SEO tip is the halfway point. =)
#6. Use keywords when you’re setting up your categories and menu topics. The term “find your zen” may not be as effective as “wellness.” Avoid using quirky wording and terms for menus and categories; use clear keywords that accurately describe your content, instead. If you really want to learn about keywords, check out this amazing SEO course. It only opens up 4 times a year, but you can get on the email list (and his free intro course), so you don’t miss out on the next opportunity.
#7. Use the footer area (very bottom of your page) of your website for extra SEO optimization. You can insert a little blurb about your blog or its mission. *Don’t be unnatural, or use the same phrase as your blog tagline.
Google is very smart, and frowns on trying to game the system with excessive keywords and terms used over and over again. You want to be natural and descriptive — this gives readers a little more insight into the focus of your blog. What makes them happy, makes Google happy.
Depending on your theme and platform, you’ll need to find how to edit your footer. You can always try YouTube…it knows everything!
Improve Your Readers’ Experience with Other Simple SEO Tips and Tricks
#8. You’ll definitely want to make sure your site is mobile responsive. This is no longer optional. And, considering that 70-80% of traffic is mobile you’ll need to make sure your site works well and adapts itself for mobile screens.
Google is a stickler for user experience, and this is a huge part of that. Most people browse the internet on phones and tablets these days, and your site and/or theme must look good on small screens.
Google is great with helping bloggers optimize for SEO, and offers a super easy way to find out how responsive our blog is. Type your URL into Google’s test site here.
#9. Your site’s loading speed is a big deal to people and therefore a big deal to Google. It’s one of those SEO blog tips you definitely shouldn’t ignore! If you have dozens of oversize images, too many plugins (or resource-heavy plugins), or a hosting service that performs poorly…among other things, your site may take a long time to load.
Type your site’s URL here for Google’s PageSpeed Insights and see how you score.
You should know that speed is a ranking factor when it comes to SEO. You definitely want to be under 2 seconds.
Here are some of the most common solutions to improve site speed:
- Optimize images and use a compression tool such as ShortPixel. Shortpixel works way better than Smush (which I used to use). Smush compresses around 5-7% and and shortpixel 45-50%+. I bought a one-time plan for just $20 and it should last around 5 to 6 years.
- Upgrade your hosting (If you’re a new blogger, I’d recommend SiteGround (see below); if you’re more advanced and getting 100,000+ pageviews a month, I recommend BigScoots. Good hosting can shave many seconds off your load time.
- Use a CDN (which caches images). Some of these are paid, some are free. But, both are challenging to set up (and yes, I messed this up on my own site once). If you use BigScoots, they will do this for you for free. Or, contact Grayson Bell. He can help with site speed and other technical questions.
- Reduce plugins. Plugins can be great at times, but they slow your site down (and can cause conflicts with other plugins which can slow your site down further or even cause it to shut down (yes, it’s happened to me, and it isn’t fun.
- So, only use plugins when you absolutely need to and eliminate ones you don’t. This will vary from site to site, but one of most common mistakes I see is the use of If you have Jetpack, ditch it today!
- Jetpack is a MAJOR resource hog and slows down your site a LOT. Also, if you are using it for analytics, DON’T. The data aren’t accurate. Only use Google Analytics. Period.
- Anything found in Jetpack can be replaced. Nothing is critical. Check out this article from Tracie Fobes on why Jetpack is so harmful to your site and what to replace it with.
**A quick word about web hosting. There are several huge names out there, so I won’t pretend you don’t know about the biggest one (or two). I will say that they are NOT all equal in service, quality, or speed.
Since #9 and #10 in this post can be affected quite a bit by who you use, I’m going to come out and say that I switched both of my sites to SiteGround this year. They have 5 major data centers around the world to deliver your website’s files to your visitor’s browser in no time.
They also provide free SSL security certificates (which is next on our list) to all customers, and they renew each year for free. I’ve never had another problem with my site being down, and switching to their hosting was free and easy.
My readers get a discounted rate with SiteGround (because I’m gladly an affiliate) in case you’ve had any trouble with your hosting service.
Okay….on with the next SEO trick.
#10. Make sure your site has an SSL certificate (in the URL you should see “https” instead of the old format “http”). This stuff gets a bit complicated, but over the years it’s become easier for hackers to gain access to payment information and other sensitive identity stuff.
HTTPS is a more secure, encrypted means of websites communicating important information to each other. It ensures safety to your customers and audience members, and makes Google very happy. Changing over to an SSL secure site is one of the easiest SEO optimizing tips to implement.
Also, Google gives preference to sites that are https and downgrades sites that are not secure.
Page Linking SEO Tips and Google Analytics for SEO
#11. In all of your posts, your About page, Resources page, etc. — link to other relevant posts on your site. Aim for at least 2-3 links to other posts or areas of your site. Your About page is especially good for this.
It’s often the first page a reader sees, and you want them to stay on your site for a while. So direct them to some of your most popular content and keep them longer.
This can be as simple as: “Related Content:_____” or “More on this topic _____”, and link to that post. Page linking lets Google know that your topics are related to and relevant to each other. This is a great SEO practice.
Soon, you will also want to begin building external backlinks to your site (i.e. links from other sites to yours). This will really accelerate your SEO growth. Check out Debbie’s Easy backlinks for SEO ebook. She explains why backlinks are so important. And, more importantly, she shows you how and where to do it.
#12. Connect your site to Google Analytics. This doesn’t directly affect your SEO, but it’s the best tool out there to evaluate if your SEO keyword tactics are working, where your traffic is coming from, what they’re interested in, how long they’re staying on your site…and the list goes on.
Having GA added to your site is invaluable information, and will help you perfect your SEO game over time. Here’s a YouTube video to show how it’s done.
Ain’t nobody got time for me to explain this one. It’s not hard, I promise. Yoast makes it so easy, you can almost do it with your eyes closed!
You’ve made it through all 12 SEO tips! I’m hoping these tasks won’t take much longer than 30 minutes to apply. Some things may already be done for you — some you may have already figured out.
SEO is the only dependable way to accomplish lasting and steady traffic. And Google traffic is more buyer focused than social media traffic any day of the week! So don’t ignore SEO… it’s really important!
- How I earned over $22,000 on my blog in April
- Can you still make money blogging in 2019?
- Easy On-page SEO
- Easy Backlnks for SEO
Blogging resources to jump start your blog traffic and income
- Amazon – I love affiliate marketing on Amazon. For the last 2 months, I’ve been earning over $7,000/month just from Amazon. Here are 2 super helpful Amazon ebooks that allowed me to leap frog my previous results.
- Cracking the Code on Amazon – This is for beginners and really covers the types of articles you should be writing to drive Amazon commissions It’s for beginners.
- Niche Post Conversion Strategies – Seriously, I think this is the best ebook/course I’ve ever taken. I can not recommend this enough. You will not find these tips anywhere else. It skyrocketed my sales on Amazon.
- PINTERESTING STRATEGIES: – Pinterest is one of the easiest and most effective ways to drive massive traffic to your blog, especially if you are just starting out. I generally get 140,000 to 180,000 pageviews a month from Pinterest. If you want a jump start on how to use this amazing platform, check out Carly’s course. It is simply awesome. She is so down to earth and straightforward, and you’ll see that in her writing. I LOVE this course (it was formerly an ebook, but now it’s new and improved.
- SEO – As you know, I’m hugely into SEO and it has been the key to my success. I generally get 300,000+ SEO pageviews per month, and this traffic converts much better than Pinterest and other social media channels (especially when it comes to affiliate marketing, products and email sign ups. I estimate that every pageview from organic traffic is worth at least 3x as every pageview from Pinterest! Yes, 3 times as much! And, it’s much steadier, more sustainable and more passive. Check out my 2 SEO books.
- Affiliate marketing – I love affiliate marketing and have been earning over $7,000/month just from affiliate marketing. I highly recommend Carly’s affiliate marketing course. It’s amazing and half the price of some of the bigger bloggers’ programs…and I think it’s much better, too.
- Email marketing – Learn from the master, Jennifer Maker. She has over 100,000 subscribers in around 2 years. She’s an incredible teacher. Her ListLove course is amazing. Or get started with her FREE email course here.
- Sponsored Posts – Sponsored posts can be a great way to supplement your income, especially during the first few years. Many just don’t even know where to get started or how much to charge or how to create a media kit or where to find the best sources. Well learn from a master, Tracie Fobes. She’s been doing this for 10 years! And, she charges well over $2,500 + per post. Her course comes complete with a media calculator and templates to set you up for success. Check out Sponsored Success here. If you just need the sponsored post calculator, you can purchase it a la carte here.
- Getting started/setting up your blog – If you’re a very beginner and need help in just setting up your site and getting everything set up, check out Tracie Richmond Fobes’ FREE intro course. She goes over all that critical stuff at the beginning that no one seems to cover, but everyone needs to know such as site structure, how to set up google analytics correctly and google search console, which plugins to use (and which to avoid). She is a wealth of information. (and she has may other courses that are soooo good).
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