The Mostly Blogging community has many strengths, not the least of which is diversity.
The readers are both self-hosted and hosted by a blogging platform like WordPress.com.
A reader even commented (to my joy) that the tips at this site are for bloggers of all experience levels.
This is why, when today’s guest author Tom Watts offered to guest post for us, I explained his tips needed to be for all bloggers whether they self-host or not.
How to Improve Your Blog’s SEO Without Money or Plugins
By Tom Watts
Most people don’t know how to optimize their blog for search engines, and when you look for information, pretty much all of them relate to self-hosted WordPress sites.
Don’t worry, I get it.
Not everyone wants to go “all in” spending money on their blog, and most people prefer to keep their efforts on free platforms like WordPress.com or Blogger.
If you’re reading this post, I’d guess you’re probably already on a free WordPress or Blogger site and want to know how to improve your SEO, right?
Most people will tell you to upgrade to WordPress.org – and most articles will only really tell you what to do if you’re able to install plugins to your site.
Well, there’s actually many ways you can improve your blog’s SEO without having to worry about any of that. All of the below tips apply to any kind of website or blog.
So here are a few key points to focus on to improve your blog’s SEO, as well as a little background on how each of them works.
Do Some Keyword Research
The first thing you need to know about SEO is keywords. So what are keywords?
Keywords are essentially any phrase that a person types into Google (or other search engines) to find results.
For example, someone looking for this post might type in “SEO for my blog” or “how to do SEO without plugins”.
However, not all keywords are searched the same time on average each month and different variations are more commonly used than others. For example, the keyword “SEO for blogs” may be searched for more times on average than “SEO for my blog”.
Luckily, Google has you covered. They already have all of this information on tap and ready for you to browse – you just need to know how.
Finding the right keywords is a whole article on its own, and we have 4 more points to cover, so here’s a link to a page where you can find everything you need to know about finding relevant keywords for free.
Try to find general keywords that you can scatter across your blog, as well as more specific keywords that you can include in relevant blog posts.
Including keywords in your page lets Google know what you’re about – but less is more. Try to avoid spamming or including excessive keywords in your pages.
As a general rule, try to include at least one keyword in every 100 words, and try to avoid using more than 3 in each 100 words.
Improve Your Heading Tags
Heading tags help to structure your page by including text of different sizes. However, Google also uses them to figure out what the most important information on your page is.
If you think about it, the title of your page should say everything a reader needs to know about your page before they even read it, right?
So Google takes one look at your title and says, “Okay, that’s what the article is about”.
There are 6 heading tags; H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6 (“H” stands for “Heading”).
H1 is the most important tag and should be used for your overall page heading. H6 is the least important and rarely gets used.
To implement a heading tag, you have 2 options
- Use the editor to assign a heading tag.
- Add it manually by adding HTML tags.
To add an HTML tag manually, all you need to do is place an opening tag, for example <h1> before the heading and closing tag after your heading, for example </h1>.
So your heading would look like this – <h1>THIS IS YOUR HEADING</h1>.
You should try to include your “main keyword” in your H1 tag, and also include some other tags, H2 and H3, with more keywords in there to break up the article and give Google more clues.
Put Alt Attributes On Your Images
Google has an image search function too. This search function works in pretty much the exact same way as the webpage search – with keywords and relevance.
So how do you put a keyword on an image? The answer is an “Alt Tag”.
When you add images to WordPress, Blogger or anywhere else, you’re also able to put descriptions, captions, and Alt Tags.
The Alt Tag is the keyword equivalent for images. If you include lots of images in your posts (which you should) then you should definitely be trying to get them shown on Google too.
If you have a very visual blog, if you’re a food blogger, or an art blogger or even a fashion blogger – Alt Tags should be at the top of your priority list.
Think about when you’re looking for images or ideas for images – where do you go?
I’m willing to bet it’s Pinterest, Instagram or Google Images.
Write More Content (But Make It Good)
Google also likes it when you give a lot of information, and I mean A LOT.
Studies have shown that longer content does better on Google.
The reason for this being that Google wants to show their users the best content available. Generally speaking, the longer your article is, the more information you’ve provided. More information means better answers, which means (normally) happy Google users.
However, making content long, just for the sake of making it long, is not a good idea.
Going back to the point on keywords, Google looks at ALL of the content, and the more content you add, the more keywords you’ll have to include.
This means you have to keep the content on the topic, otherwise, Google is going to mark you down.
In summary, write more if there is more to write. If you get to a point where you don’t feel you can add any additional value by writing more, then stop and keep the article concise.
Link More (And Encourage Links Back)
The final large part of SEO is backlinking.
There are so many factors that go into backlinking, and so I’m going to try to make it simple for you.
A backlink is essentially any link from a site to another site. In terms of SEO, backlinks are seen as “votes” for your site in Google’s eyes.
Think of Google as a popularity contest, and each backlink is a “vote” for your site to come out on top.
However, every link has a different level of power, and the effect it has on your blog will vary based on a few things;
- The quality of the site the backlink comes from.
- The power of the page on that site the link comes from.
- The relevance of the page on your site the link goes to.
- The anchor text (the text such as “see link here” or “click here for more”) that leads to a page.
There’s more to it – but this is a good basis to improve your understanding of backlinks.
So, there are two things you need to do.
The first thing is to start linking more to other people’s posts. Help other people to do well on Google, and also signal to Google what your blog is about by showing them you’re linking to other relevant blogs.
Secondly, you should encourage others to link back to you. You probably already ask your readers to comment and share your posts – and if not, why not? So why not ask them to also link to your blog if they have a blog of their own?
(Note: Mostly Blogging‘s Link Exchange is designed for the purpose of asking bloggers in your niche for a link to your site.)
SEO includes a ton of different “clues” for Google and there’s no one size fits all system. However, by following these best practices, you should start to see a rise in your Google traffic.
There are no set rules for SEO. Google doesn’t give you a step-by-step process on how to get their number one spot – otherwise, everyone would do it.
You don’t need to pay for SEO or install any plugins. SEO is possible without the use of plugins or spending any kind of money. Just work on the content you have, and you’ll start to see progress.
All you can do is follow best practices, keep up to date with changes or trends, and keep learning about new ways to improve your SEO.
Readers, please share, so other content creators know how to increase their chances of being found in search engines.
What do you do to optimize your blog for search engines? I look forward to your views in the comment section.