When I first started blogging, I had no idea where I'd get my traffic from. I started blogging in 2011, and at that point, I was using the “scream into the void and hope someone hears me,” approach. Nevermind the fact that I was creating content on Tumblr of all places.
In 2019, I have changed a ton of aspects of how I get blog traffic. Now the majority of my traffic comes from Pinterest or Google. It's a nice space to be in. Today, I wanted to offer you some search engine optimization tips so you can create content that Google (and other search engines) love.
1. Submit Your Site To Google Yourself
One thing I wish I knew about when I first started blogging was Google Search Console, which is why this is at the top of my list of search engine optimization tips. Google Search Console is a free website that all site owners can use to submit their websites and get SEO statistics from Google.
Most search engines have a similar version of this website, but to be honest, I don't think you need to focus on those platforms too much. Most people use Google to search for content, you can add your site to Bing or Yahoo, but you will get the most bang for your time by submitting to Google Search Console.
Submitting your site is so easy once you have a sitemap. Once you know where your sitemap is located, it's as easy as going to Index –> Sitemaps on the latest version of Google Search Console. Once you are there, copy and paste the end part of the URL after the slash. So, not the full URL that includes your domain name. All sitemap URLs should include your domain name if you get the correct sitemap URL.
This screenshot should give you a clearer picture of what I'm talking about!
Once you submit your sitemap URL, it will take a few days for Google to index all of your URLs. Even after your URLs are indexed, you won't get a ton of traffic from Google right away. Google still needs to figure out what to do with all the pages you have shared.
2. Content Is King
The biggest search engine optimization tip I can give you is to write great content often. You don't have to have a million pieces of content on your site to start seeing small gains from Google, but you need to be writing content often.
Why? It gives Google more to crawl, my dear!
The primary purpose of your site may be to sell something else, but a good blog post will give people a reason to find your stuff on Google. It's tough to rank a sales page, not impossible, but hard.
Instead of ranking a sales page, create blog content that ranks, and then make your sales page easy to get to.
For example, on my freelance website Amanda Cross Co., the main purpose is to get someone to pay for my freelance writing services. I still post new blogs often on Amanda Cross Co., so I give Google more chances to push my website out.
Most bloggers are already pushing out content regularly, so this tip doesn't apply to you. Think of this as a pat on the back for something you are already doing well.
3. Interlink Your Content
When you interlink your content, it shows Google a few things: how to navigate your site and that you are an authority on topics because you have so many resources about a similar topic.
You should try to dig through your archive and interlink 2-3 pieces per post. Make sure the post are relevant and natural because your readers are likely clicking on these related links within your post.
Even if you have a sidebar that gives your readers content to read next as I do, you should still interlink throughout the content. Google doesn't count those interlinked pieces in sidebars and widgets below your posts. Instead, link within your content as much as you can (even if the content overlaps.)
4. Find Ways To Be Featured On Other People's Websites
Backlinks are crucial when it comes to SEO. Certain types of backlinks don't count as much as they used to, but beef up your backlinks across a variety of sources when you can.
- Guest post on other people's blogs
- Comment on other people's posts (this doesn't always count when it comes to SEO)
- Get interviewed or featured in some way on another blog
- Contribute to a roundup on someone else's blog
- Ask someone to link back to a blog you've written (build a relationship before you ask this question!)
One of the most impressive ways to get backlinks is through guest posting. Guest posting kills two birds with one stone, you get backlinks to your content, and you get in front of a new audience.
I've written a variety of great guest posts, like this post I did on the Chase The Write Dream blog about feeling overwhelmed in college or this post I did for Samanthability about writing a winning Upwork proposal.
Whenever I sit down to write a guest post, I am very particular. I want to make the best impression and go above and beyond each time. Your goal should be to produce a piece that is on par with the original content creator. Don't phone in your guest posts! Create posts that knock the blog owner's socks off every time. This will help you connect with their readers and get the blog owner to promote the post more.
5. Social Media Can Have An Impact
SEO is fantastic, but it takes time to develop. A post could take months to start seeing traction from Google, and that's okay! While Google is figuring out what to do with your content, your goal should be to increase the social shares on that piece. The correlation between search ranking and social media shares is unclear, but it doesn't hurt to promote your site while your ranking is being figured out.
Above all else, you need to diversify your blog traffic. You don't want to put all your eggs into one basket, y'all!
I use the website AddThis to create social share buttons for all of my websites. I love making sharing easy for y'all, and I love that AddThis is completely free. You can change the colors to make it more appropriate for your brand. I use my signature FD85BD pink for my AddThis share bar. You want to pick a color that blends in well with your branding, so the share bar becomes a part of your site instead of some random widget.
6. Yoast's SEO Plugin Is Amazing (But Not Everything)
Let's get one thing straight: WordPress is not the ultimate go-to when it comes to ranking. I ranked well on Google for many keywords, even when I was on Squarespace. You can rank on whatever site you are hosted on.
I decided to move to WordPress because of my love of writing sponsored content and affiliate posts. WordPress makes it much easier for me to handle nofollow links versus what I was doing on Squarespace.
But, let's chat about the Yoast SEO plugin. I use it sometimes, but honestly, I don't use it as much as I could. I think of it more as another hoop I have to jump through to get a post published if I am honest.
Yoast SEO does not make your site any better than going through the proper steps to optimize your website. Google is way smarter than it used to be and it's growing brighter by the day. Instead of worrying about getting the green mark on Yoast, know that you could do the same thing without it.
If you happen to be blogging on a place like Squarespace or Blogger, know that you aren't missing out.
Yoast SEO is based on repetition and putting your keyword everywhere, but you honestly don't have to do that. Trust that Google is smart enough to understand your content as long as it's well organized. Put your keyword in the right places like your title, in a header or two, in a few paragraphs, in your permalink, and in the alt description of your images and you're golden.
7. Optimize Your Images
I know that it's so easy to put up random images with no context. Labeling images is an extra step, but it something you should get in the habit of doing.
Google image search is still quite popular. You want to make sure your images land in the right place, especially if you take images yourself. I use a variety of stock photos and my own pictures on blog posts. I am all about that labeling images life, no matter what photos I use.
You don't have to go insane labeling your images, but just take a few moments to label everything with your keywords so that Google can pick up on that too. This will give your site an edge over other sites and another way for your blog posts to rank on Google.
8. Don't Use The Default Permalink
Default permalinks are a little bit messy. They can be lengthy for no reason, and this stops Google from genuinely understanding your content.
You don't need to include the date in your permalink. You don't have to add the incredibly long title in the permalink. Shorten it!
When you boil down your post, what are you talking about? I am using the permalink search-engine-optimization-tips. I could also use something like SEO-tips-beginners or even search-engine-optimization.
You want your permalink to be related to your actual blog post. If your default permalink is some random string of numbers and letters, fix that right away!
9. You Don't Need To Invest In Expensive Tools
There are many amazing SEO tools out there like Moz. Those tools are costly, and you honestly don't need them.
Using the free version of Yoast, doing Google searches, using the free version of Answer The Public, and even some of those expensive tools' free resources is all you need.
You don't need to hire some fancy company or tool to help you with SEO. Google allows everyone a seat at the table if you put the work in to produce stellar content.
One of my proudest moments was ranking on the first page for “SheIn reviews.”
Something told me to produce a SheIn review in 2018, and I am so glad that I listened to my gut feeling. I posted this in July, and it slowly built up momentum. Now it brings in hundreds of page views every single day, and I am proud of the work that I did on that post.
I am not a massive blogger with a big team. I am a one-woman show who decided to produce a random review that gets me thousands of views a month from Google.
10. Figure Out How Your Content Can Stand Out
Google ranks content that stands out. If I want to rank for a particular keyword or improve my ranking for a keyword, I look at the competition. What is ranking on the first page for this keyword?
With “SheIn reviews” a lot of the content that was ranking were these aggregate review sites.
Aggregate review sites are great, but sometimes you need one solid review with examples of SheIn clothing and an honest take on their clothes.
My review stands out because I took the time to answer all the questions that people have about SheIn such as shipping time, clothing quality, sizing, et cetera. I gave my spin on things, shared tons of images and other posts where I wore SheIn clothing. I worked hard to produce a guide that would be helpful to anyone wanting to get clothing from SheIn.
Don't stuff keywords down Google's throat. Focus on providing helpful content that people can relate to. I've gotten so many amazing comments on my SheIn post about how it was useful to readers searching on Google for SheIn reviews and that makes me a happy camper!
11. Make Sure That Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly
We live in an increasingly mobile world. You cannot get away with a site that doesn't look great on mobile anymore. Most websites look great on mobile in today's age, but it's important to check to make sure that's the case.
Look at my stats from February so far. Mobile greatly outweighs desktop viewers now:
A whopping 67% of my users come from mobile. That's not in a vacuum though. Most sites get a large number of mobile viewers these days.
Do you want to test your site for mobile-friendliness? Google has a tool that will help you test how mobile-friendly your site is.
12. Write For Human Consumption
Last, but not least, let's talk about the elephant in the room. Should you write for Google or write for humans?
The answer is simple: write for humans.
It's always great to have Google on your side, but at the end of the day, you need to produce content that your human readers can understand and digest.
Your job is to create a fantastic experience for your readers and customers, not Google.
Google will react to what humans respond to.
If your readers are loving your content, commenting on it, sharing it, and getting excited about how awesome it is, Google will follow. Google is an algorithm with at times confusing nuances. It would be impossible to serve Google what it wants all the time. Your site would be all over the place, and your readers wouldn't be attracted to your site.
Discover your voice and the voice that appeals to your readers.
We've come to the end of the road on this blog post.
I am so excited to see how you use these search engine optimization tips to excel as a blogger.
SEO takes time to build, but once you've established trust with Google, you can continue to bring in stellar traffic to your site.