It’s time to grow your organic traffic and get seen on Google. This guide to SEO for bloggers has everything you need to get started.
I’ve been blogging for over a decade. The insights here come from growing my own sites and doing professional SEO consulting for a range of SaaS brands.
Here are some of my results.
Let’s get into it. 🚀
SEO For Bloggers: 23 Quick & Easy Tips For More Traffic & Money
There’s a lot that goes into good SEO. Some of it is technical, while some of it involves core tasks like attracting backlinks from other sites in your niche.
But as a blogger, improving your SEO starts with doing things the right way when writing and publishing your posts. And the best part? This is totally within your control.
#1. Make sure each post has a main target keyword
To rank your blog posts, Google needs to know what your post is all about. Targeting a main keyword is the best way to make sure that happens.
Before writing any blog post, you should select a main target keyword, which the whole post is then geared towards. This is the main goal of what’s known as ‘on-page SEO’ – optimizing your blog posts to tell Google exactly what topic is covered in the post.
In the rest of these tips, we’ll learn how to do that.
#2. Choose that keyword carefully
OK, I know I just said “choose a main target keyword”, but it can’t just be any old keyword.
It has to be a) relevant to your blog and your target audience, and b) one that you’ve got a good chance of ranking for.
Long tail keywords are typically:
- More specific
- Easier to convert
- Lower volume
- Less competitive
All of that makes them a great choice when you’re growing a new blog.
Check out my guide to doing keyword research with Semrush for more tips to get you started.
#3. Check the keyword’s search intent
Getting search intent right is a critical component of SEO.
The job of your blog post is to give the searcher what they’re looking for when they type that keyword into Google (or Bing etc).
There are four main types of search intent:
- Navigational intent – the user wants to find something (e.g. “Facebook login”)
- Informational intent – the user wants to learn about something (e.g. “how to brew specialty coffee”)
- Commercial intent – the user wants to research a potential purchase idea and compare options (e.g. “best SEO tools for bloggers”)
- Transactional intent – the user wants to purchase a specific item (e.g. “buy MacBook Pro 14 inch”)
It’s not always clear which category a keyword falls into. That’s why the best practice is always to Google your target keyword and check what sort of posts are ranking in the top 10 results.
Doing that will give you a good guide for how to target your own post. For example, if the majority of the top 10 posts are informational guides, you’re unlikely to make a product comparison page rank in the top 10. It’s just not what the users are looking for (and Google’s job is to give them that).
Once you’ve clarified the search intent for your target keyword, you’ll have a clear idea about how to approach writing your blog post.
#4. Analyze your competition
Another important step is to always look at the competition for your target keyword. That can be as simple as Googling the keyword and examining the top 10 results. Or you can use an SEO tool like Semrush to take a deeper dive.
Here’s what I look at when analyzing the competition:
- Average word count
- Post format (are the top 10 results mainly full of “ultimate guide” style posts, mostly listicles, or comparison posts?)
- Typical heading structure (what H2 headings does every top 10 post have in common?) – the Detailed SEO Chrome extension is great for checking this
- Type of media used (for example, do they include video content, original images, and/or lots of tables/graphs?)
With this information in mind, I’ll have a good idea of how to build my own post.
Caveat: I never copy competitors’ posts (and neither should you), Instead, simply use the competitors as a framework for what Google is looking for, then use that to craft your own unique content.
Ready to dive deeper into keyword research? Grab my exclusive 14-day free trial of Semrush:
#5. Be sure to add unique value
Point number five builds on the above caveat. It’s important to include all the key ingredients in your post (i.e. the components that your page one competitors all share). But you also need to add unique value to the post.
For example, this could look like any of the following:
- Key insights from your personal experience
- Perspectives from other experts in the niche
- Insights from niche-relevant forums, Facebook groups, or subreddits
- Your own unique video or image content
- Original research, e.g. surveying your audience on the topic, or curating other research that goes beyond what’s easily found on Google’s page one (e.g. insights from academic journals)
#6. Highlight your expertise and experience
It’s no longer enough to simply copy and reword what’s ranking on the front page.
To have a better chance of ranking, Google wants you to demonstrate something called E-EAT (stands for Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness), which includes first-hand experience and expertise in the topic you’re writing about (read more about E-EAT).
So what’s the best way to go about this?
Well for starters, if you’re truly an expert on the topic you’re writing about, your expertise will usually be obvious in your writing. But to make it even more clear, you should use language that specifically references your experience and expertise.
Things like “in my personal experience”, or “when I achieved XYZ”, or citing specific results you’ve achieved, then proving them through images, video, or screenshots.
For example, I’ve included a screenshot of Google Search Console in the introduction of this post. This aims to demonstrate the results I’ve achieved through leveraging SEO on my blog – which speaks to my expertise in this topic.
#7. Place the main keyword in your title
Now we get into the nitty-gritty of arranging your blog post components for Google’s bots.
Let’s start with the title (or H1 header). If you’re blogging on WordPress (and you should), the title will be very obvious. It’s the massive text at the top of the page. WordPress automatically classes this as an H1 header.
To make sure Google (and human searchers) know exactly what your blog post is about, you should always include your main target keyword in your title.
I like to use it at the very beginning, as I’ve done in this blog post (the main keyword is “SEO for bloggers”)
#8. Include the keyword in your meta description
Another important place to include your target keyword is in your meta description.
This is the short snippet of text that shows up underneath your blog post title in Google search results. It’s an important factor in encouraging users to click through and read your blog post.
Google doesn’t always show your chosen meta description in search results (as it often chooses its own chunk of text from within your post, instead of the one you prepared). Nevertheless, it’s best to optimize the meta description just in case.
#9. Get your URL structure right
Your URL slug is another important place to include your target keyword. When I say “slug”, I mean the text that comes after the dot com suffix (or whatever suffix you use).
For example, the full URL for this post is samanthanorth.com/seo-for-bloggers
“SEO-for-bloggers” is the slug. As you can see, I’ve used the exact match keyword here, nothing more. Even though this blog post includes 23 tips, I’d never include the number 23 in the slug.
That’s because I might want to add additional tips later on, which would mean changing the slug and breaking the URL.
#10. Use the proper heading hierarchy
It’s really important to use the heading structure correctly in your blog posts. I’ve seen countless posts with the heading structure all over the place. It’s pretty easy to get right, once you know how.
As I mentioned already, your title tag will be your H1 heading. This is the most important heading in the hierarchy. There should be only one on each page.
Next up, we have the H2 headings. These are important for defining the outline of the post. I normally make sure I’ve looked at competitors’ posts to get a sense of which H2 headings I need to include in my own post.
Once the basic ingredients are included, I’ll use additional H2s to add my own insights to the post. Think of H2 headings as the skeleton of the post.
After that, we have H3 headings. These are really useful for list posts, such as this one. I’ve used H3s for the titles of every numbered point in this blog post.
H3s are less important for SEO, but more for user experience. You can also use H4s, H5s, and H6 headings to continue the hierarchy down the page. I sometimes use H4s, but almost never use H5s or H6s.
Just remember to maintain the correct heading hierarchy, and you’ll create a blog post that’s easy to read – both by users and Google bots.
#11. Use your main target keyword in the first paragraph
Another important place to include your main target keyword is in the very first paragraph of the blog post. This makes sure the reader knows exactly what your blog post is about, but it’s also an important indicator for Google bots. So do whatever you can to make sure it’s in there.
#12. Answer search intent in your first paragraph
Remember search intent, right? We already know that the blog post has to respond to it.
Not only that, but it should also do so as early as possible. Don’t make the reader wait until close to the end before giving them what they came for.
For example, let’s say I’m targeting the keyword “best SEO tool for beginners“. The blog post itself could be a comparison of 10 different SEO tools, culminating in choosing which one I think is best.
But not every user will want to read the whole thing to get what they came for. If they don’t get what they came for quickly, they may decide to abandon the blog post altogether.
So in the introduction for that post, I’d include something in the introduction like “the best SEO tool for beginners is Semrush”. After that, I’d invite the reader to keep on reading to explore all the various alternatives in more detail.
#13. Include the target keyword in an H2 heading
Back to those all-important H2 headings again. I always aim to include my main target keyword in at least one of the H2 headings.
In a list post like this one, that’s easy to do. I use the blog post title to introduce the listicle, which naturally includes the main target keyword once again. Don’t keyword stuff, but use them judiciously.
#14. Use short paragraphs for easy readability
No one likes to be confronted with a huge wall of text. That’s why your blog posts should be nicely spaced out into one to 2 sentence paragraphs.
It makes life much easier for the reader, which makes Google happy. And when Google’s happy, you’ll find your posts moving up the rankings. 😉
Also, if you’re running ads on your blog (or planning to do so in the future) you’ll need short paragraphs to leave room for some ads in between them.
#15. Use bullet points and numbered lists
As well as using short paragraphs, it’s important to include bullet points and/or numbered lists anywhere where it makes sense to do so. Once again, this improves the user experience on your page and makes them more likely to carry on reading your blog post until the end.
#16. Include an FAQ section
Frequently asked questions (FAQ) sections are an important way to squeeze additional keywords into your blog posts. This is my easy process for finding useful FAQs to include.
- Google the main keyword in an incognito mode browser
- Scroll down until you find the “People also ask” section
- Harvest 4-5 relevant questions from the section
- Create an FAQ section in your blog post (usually towards the end)
- Use an H2 header to title the section (i.e. FAQs)
- Then use an FAQ plug-in (e.g. from RankMath) to add the exact questions from People also ask (it’s ok to copy-paste them)
- Finally, add your own original answers to each FAQ
#17. Add internal links both to and from the post
Internal linking simply means linking from one of your blog posts to another blog post on your website (in contrast to external linking, which means linking from one of your blog posts to a post on another website).
By adding internal links, you’re helping Google understand the structure and relevancy of your site. You’re also providing the user with additional information and (hopefully) keeping them on your site for longer.
Internal linking is a massively underrated aspect of SEO. I’ve seen massive improvements in rankings for some of my blog posts after adding more internal links to them.
In general, you should aim to do the following every time you publish a new blog post:
- Add 4-5 relevant internal links from your new post to other posts
- Choose 4-5 other posts on your site and link from those to your new post
#18. Link out to reliable sources
Now let’s talk about external links, i.e. from your blog post to content on other websites. Every blog post should include at least a couple of external links.
But you should be cautious with the kind of content you choose to link to.
For starters, I try to avoid linking to sites that compete directly with me in the search results (doing so would be counterproductive, as it would give them additional link juice and help them to outrank my post).
When choosing sources to link to, I focus on reliable news outlets, academic research, government websites, and large well-established sites in the niche.
This is good for my readers because it makes sure they’re only getting the best quality websites.
#19. Include original images
Every blog post should have at least a couple of images to make things more interesting. But you should avoid simply using boring stock photos (and don’t use photos you find on Google Image Search, because of copyright issues)
The absolute best option is to take original images yourself. But if that’s not possible (and it’s not always easy or even feasible for some niches), I like to use a paid image provider such as Canva Pro.
Canva Pro gives access to a huge library of royalty-free images. Using its clever design tools, you can easily combine and chop up these images in your own style – resulting in an original image.
Alternatively, you could even use the Canva AI image generator to produce something unique.
#20. Manually submit new posts to Google
When publishing new blog posts, there’s usually a delay while Google indexes the post. It’s essential for indexing to happen before the post can start ranking.
There’s a handy trick I use to manually submit new posts for indexing, rather than waiting for Google to find them automatically. To use it, simply head over to Google Search Console and look for the “Inspect any URL” box at the top of the page.
All you have to do is copy and paste the URL for your brand-new blog post into this box.
You’ll see a screen like the one below (although it will say the URL is not yet on Google). Just click the request indexing button to submit your post to Google for manual indexing.
#21. Track your growth
Any good guide to SEO for bloggers will tell you: don’t just publish a post and forget about it.
For best results, it’s essential to track the progress of your blog post using Google’s comprehensive free tools. Make sure your site is set up with both Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Google Analytics tracks all traffic coming to your site from all the different sources (e.g. organic, direct, social, referral, etc). Google Search Console tracks all site traffic coming only from organic search. Both of them are important for different use cases.
In the early days of your site, the best thing to do is track growth in impressions in Google Search Console.
You won’t see many clicks at first, not until your blog post rises high in the rankings. But growth in impressions is helpful to keep you on track and serve as a source of encouragement.
In the below image, you can see the purple line showing how my impressions have grown over time.
#22. Update existing content
Google loves fresh content, so it’s important to keep going back regularly and updating/improving your existing blog posts.
I like to publish “minimum viable posts”, just to get a head start on the indexing and ranking process. Once the post starts to move up the rankings (for example to page 3), then I go back and massively improve the post.
In general, here are a few areas you can focus on to refresh your existing content:
- Updating any information that’s gotten out of date
- Adding new insights
- Improving the title and meta description for better click-through rates
- Making sure the search intent is answered in the introduction
- Adding new images, charts, and graphs, to explain the points more clearly
- Bringing in new FAQs to bulk out the FAQ section and target additional keywords
#23. Don’t over-optimize
With all that said, you should also be careful not to over-optimize your posts.
If you follow the guidance in this post, that probably won’t happen. But you should avoid doing things like keyword stuffing (i.e. using the target keyword too often in the text), using it awkwardly, or using exact match anchor text too frequently.
You should also avoid buying backlinks from marketplaces like Fiverr, which could leave you open to the toxic effects of link farms. But that’s a post for another day! (Btw, Fiverr is great for lots of things, but buying backlinks isn’t one of them).
That brings us to the end of this jumbo list of SEO tips for bloggers.
I’ve mainly focused on on-page SEO tactics here. Those are typically the easiest way to move the needle on your organic growth, without the hassle of building backlinks or dealing with complicated technical SEO.
If you’re using WordPress for your blog (and I highly recommend doing so), it’s important to choose a theme that’s lightweight and good for speed. That will go a long way toward taking care of many technical SEO issues. I’d recommend Kadence, GeneratePress, or Astra.
What’s more, using managed WordPress hosting can help take the strain off when it comes to solving minor technical issues. I use WPX Hosting. Their excellent support team has solved many technical issues for me – saving me time while keeping me sane!