How to Boost Your Traffic: The Complete Beginner’s Guide to SEO

By: | September 13, 2016 | Tags: , , | 44 comments

Improve Your SEO with this Beginner's Guide - Mostly Blogging

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to SEO

By Ken Marshall

SEO is hard. Plain and simple.

 

If you’re just starting your own blogging adventure, then it becomes the single most important thing you can do to grow your blog traffic and gain new visitors.

 

You know it’s difficult and really important, but I bet you’re thinking to yourself, “Yes, yes, that’s all good and well, but where do I start?”

Great question.

 

Search Engine Optimization can be a little tricky, and if you’re not too sure what it means, or why it’s important, check out this helpful SEO explanation. It is a discipline that takes a lot of people many years to master.

 

Thankfully, however, I’m going to boil down the mystery of optimizing your website into 10 easy to implement and highly effective steps that you can use on your own blog (after you’re done reading this of course).

 

Say goodbye to begging your friends for views, and writing great articles that don’t get seen. Let’s begin.

Download The Yoast SEO Plugin

 

Yoast is an amazing SEO plugin that allows you to easily optimize your WordPress site and get feedback on your progress.

 

From the dashboard you are able to edit:

 

  • The page title – The name of the post that shows up in search results
  • Meta description – Summary of your post that users will see in search results
  • URL Slug – The end part of the blog URL that comes after your domain name

 

Improve your SEO by filling in your Alt Text - Mostly Blogging

You also get an SEO score of how well you’ve done and advice on how to improve. Yoast takes all of the guesswork out of knowing if you’re optimizing your site properly or not.

 

To download the plugin:

  1. Go to your WordPress dashboard
  2. Find “plugins”, select “add new”
  3. Type in “Yoast SEO” into the search bar
  4. Click “Install Now” and you’ll be all set

 

Using Google’s Keyword Tool

 

A big part of SEO is optimizing posts, pages, and any piece of content for keywords. Keywords are targeted phrases that people are likely to search for around a certain topic. One of the first steps of any optimization strategy is identifying these bad boys. That’s where our good friends at Google come in.

 

They have developed an amazing tool called Keyword Planner.

 

It allows you to search any word or phrase and get data on how many people have searched for that term. As well as the location they were searched from and suggests other similar terms being searched as well.

 

Use it to find popular terms and ensure that there’s an audience for your writing before beginning.

 

Keyword In Title Tag + URL

 

Every page on every website on the internet has a title. Not everyone knows this, but you can change that title to be whatever you want. And more importantly, Google pays very close attention to your titles when ranking your site.

 

So, now that you know how to use the keyword tool, find a primary keyword to use for every post or page on your site.

 

Once you’ve found that focus phrase, include it into your page title/URL slug (at the beginning if possible), which you can easily do now that you’ve installed Yoast as well.

 

Not only will it help you rank better and get more traffic, but it will make users click on your site in search results because your title will seem more relevant to their needs.

 

Use Subheadings (H1s/H2s/H3)

 

Subheadings. They break up content and organize similarly themed parts of any post. In this case, “Use Subheadings” is one. They help users navigate your page more efficiently. But usability is not the only thing they are good for.

 

When it comes to search engines (Google especially)  they make a huge difference. Google’s dream in life is to return the most relevant and quality content to every user. Using subheadings communicates what is truly important about your content.

 

If you’re using a CMS (content management system) like WordPress, this is as easy as highlighting the text you’d like to use for the subheading, clicking on the “paragraph” drop down menu on your text editor and selecting the appropriate heading size.

Use Headings in your posts to improve SEO

 

Ideally, you’re going to want to add 4-5 to every post for maximum results.

 

Write Longer Articles (1500+ Words)

 

I know, I know. English 102 was a long time ago, and people’s attention spans are shorter than ever.

 

But many studies have shown that long-form, quality, and well thought out posts are shared more, rank better, and get higher amounts of traffic than shorter posts.

 

The magic starts to happen right around 1500 words. So if you’re trying to get traffic, writing more is the way to go.

 

Images + Alt Tags

 

Every post should have pictures. It helps break up your text and keep your reader’s attention throughout your post.

 

But there is a hidden gem (literally) behind every image as well.

 

Alt tags, or “alternative attributes”, are short descriptions you can write about an image so that someone who can’t load the image properly on their computer, or who is using a screen reader can know what that piece of content is about.

 

That’s not all, though.

 

Google actually keeps track of these alt tags, and uses them to make sense of your image and surrounding text. Using that amazing focus keyword you thought of in your alt tag is one of Google’s ranking signals, and can lead to visitors finding your site through image search as well.

 

You can add this tag by:

  1. Clicking on your photo in WordPress when editing your post or page
  2. Selecting the pencil icon (edit)
  3. Finding the “alternative text” field
  4. Enter in the desired text
  5. Pressing save

 

Filling the Alt Tags help you improve your SEO - Mostly Blogging

And viola! Better search visibility was never so easy.

 

Google Trends

 

Another wonderful gift from the awesome people at Google is Google Trends.

 

They have built a topic forecasting tool, that allows you type in any phrase or word and see how popular the term has been in the past, currently is, and is projected to be in the future. You can even compare it to other topics on the same screen to easily compare multiple keywords.

 

The SEO benefit here is to help you write about topics that people are actually searching for.

 

If an amazing post is written on the Internet with no one around to hear it, does it even draw in visitors?

 

Share Your Posts On Social Media

 

Annoy your friends and followers on social media.

 

That’s right. Every single post you write should be shared to your social media channels. Twitter and Facebook are the big two, but here are a few more sites that not everyone considers, that can pay huge dividends:

 

 

Not only can these sites drive massive amounts of traffic to your blog, but social media engagement can indirectly help rankings as well.

 

Use Variations/Synonyms of Keywords

 

Time to get just a bit technical. As time goes on, Google and other search engines are getting smarter. They are now able to perform what’s called Semantic Search to figure out what your blog or website is about.

 

All that means is if you say “big apple” in a post, based on the context around that term, they can determine if you’re talking about a city on the east coast or an oversized fruit.

 

One way this is done is through the use of synonymous terms within the text. So if you’re writing a post about millennials, you should also include the terms Gen Y, Me Generation, and other variations.

 

Google will reward you for showing your search to a wider range of people who are searching for those other terms because it will associate every variation as essentially being the same thing.

 

Links (Internal/External)

 

Last but not least, we have links.

 

There are two kinds of links you can employ in your content:

  • Internal links – Point to a URL within your own site.
  • External links – Send users to another website.

 

Here is how to use each and why it’s beneficial.

 

Internal Linking: Linking to other pages on your own site is one of the best ways to tell search engines which pages are important on your blog and which ones they should value the most.

 

For every post you write, incorporate at least one internal link to another post you’ve previously written somewhere within the content. Be sure to make the anchor text (word(s) that the link is placed inside of), something that is either an exact match, or very relevant to the title of the post that you’re linking to.

 

Outbound Linking: Outbound links might seem counterintuitive. Why send traffic away from your own site right?

 

Wrong.

 

Remember how I said that Google wants to give its users quality content? Well the whole point of external linking is to cite sources to back up claims you make in your writing.

 

If you use any sort of fact, statistic, or uncommon knowledge claim, link to an authoritative or popular website, and Google will reward that piece of content because it knows it can trust it.

 

So there you have it. 10 ways to SEO your own blog to get more traffic. Did you find this helpful? Were there any tips I missed? Comment below to let me know! Happy blogging everyone!

Bio:

Kenneth Marshall is currently the owner, editor, and sole writer for a pretty cool millennial lifestyle and career blog. He enjoys a good steak and being out in the sunshine. His job is to help businesses increase their web presence and get found by Google. So get in touch if you’re in need of an SEO. Thanks for reading!

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Readers, Ken took a complex topic and made SEO understandable. Please share, so other bloggers know just how easy getting found in search engines can be.

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    • Ken Marshall at 9:34 pm

      Hey John,

      I’m really glad to hear that you found the post helpful. SEO can be a little overwhelming at times, and my goal for the post was to make it as digestible as possible. Thanks for reading!

  1. Dorian at 8:30 am

    Thanks for the post, very comprehensive.
    A little comment here, keyword planner is broken now. Google has made it so you can’t use it unless you have an active campaign for the keyword. They don’t give you the numbers anymore, just rough estimates.

    • Ken Marshall at 9:46 pm

      Hey Dorian,

      You are most welcome. I tried to provide the best value from the most top level perspective possible. So I appreciate the kind words.

      In regards to KP, you’re absolutely right. That, along with mixing keyword variation data has been quite frustrating when trying to gather keyword volumes. Thankfully, I use Moz keyword tool regularly as well and that has been a life saver. I decided to include the use of KP primarily so users could at least get some kind of an idea about which keywords could potentially be of value or not. Thanks for your input!

    • Janice Wald at 8:31 am

      Hi Dorian,
      Thank you for writing me. I agree Ken’s post was comprehensive. As far as your observation about the rough estimates, that’s more than I would have had otherwise. I am also exploring Soovle which is suggesting keywords for me especially longtail keywords.
      Janice

    • Ken Marshall at 9:48 pm

      Greetings Green Diva Meg (fantastic name btw),

      It’s very flattering that you plan on using the post as a resource. Thank you for reading! If you have any further SEO questions or need any further clarification feel free to get in touch!

  2. Sarah Harris at 2:50 pm

    This is perfectly timed. I work at a university and just asked one of the marketing professors if I could sit in on their class when they are teaching SEO. Now I can learn and not worry about falling asleep in class! THANKS!

    • Ken Marshall at 9:50 pm

      Hello Sarah,

      You are very welcome! I am pleased to hear about this happy coincidence. SEO really is my passion and I’m glad this post could serve as a bit of inspiration for you. (:

    • Janice Wald at 8:29 am

      Hi Sarah,
      I have my Masters degree. I got it so I could teach education. Now I just want to teach blogging and search engine optimization. LOL. Your comments made me feel I could do it. 🙂
      Janice

    • Ken Marshall at 9:54 pm

      Hey Elizabeth,

      I’m glad that you enjoyed it. And I 100% agree about Yoast. In my earlier days as an SEO it was the most important tool in my arsenal!

    • Kenneth Marshall at 8:23 am

      Hi Curmi,

      Those are both excellent thoughts to ponder. As in SEO myself, I see the industry trending towards an increased focus on Mobile speed, overall user experience, and in-depth content. With Google’s machine learning and AI becoming ever more prevalent and mixed into their algorithm as a whole, and mobile device users growing at a much higher rate than desktop, we can expect to see a boost in search visibility for sites that provide that for users.

      On the other hand, I also think all digital marketers, but especially SEOs, need to understand that their strategies need to be more comprehensive, and inclusive of strategies from other disciplines. Simply relying on an on page optimization or even a good backlink strategy will not prevail in 2017.

  3. Anjali Desai at 9:21 pm

    One should put this in the notice that duplicate content and low-quality content will never help you out in driving traffic to your website.
    The SEO venture is all about generating unique, engaging and valuable content that targets specific keywords so that
    other people will promote it on social media platforms.
    And, yeah coming to the meta tags, they should be descriptive enough to encompass the focus keyword associated with your services and Yoast plugin is very good at it.

    Cheers, buddy!!!

    • Janice Wald at 4:41 pm

      Hi Thanks for writing to tell me the guide helped you. Much appreciated! May I ask where you found the post? On the old side now. I always wonder. Thanks again for writing.
      Janice

  4. Rahul Bansal at 12:55 am

    Yoast is one of the best SEO plugin for WordPress users. It is a complete plugin and can implement almost every ON PAGE points to make your website complete optimized.

    • Janice Wald at 9:51 am

      Hi Rahul,
      I appreciate you writing me today. Thanks for recommending Yoast and contributing to the discussion that way.
      May I ask you a question? This now rather old post received a lot of traffic today. I am always curious why that happens. Do you mind telling me where you found the article? Thanks!
      Janice
      Janice Wald recently posted…Inspire Me Monday Linky Party #138My Profile

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