Optimizing blog posts for search engines is something I avoided doing because I thought it’s a lot of work. To put it plainly, I was just lazy and intimidated. But this was when I was totally green and didn’t know the importance of having a self-hosted blog. For the longest time I wrote health content that was only good for my eyes. It was creativity over SEO.
This had to change when I decided to actually blog for a living.
What stood out the most for me though, was SEO. Search Engine Optimization.
Every reputable blogger in my niche emphasizes on how they got to where they are mostly because of optimizing their content for search engines.
Another thing. You cannot fully engage in optimizing your blog posts for search engines if you are using a free blogging platform. Any serious blogger will tell you that SEO tools are abundant. But only on self-hosted blogs.
What does this tell you?
Let me just expound. If you are on WordPress.com, go to you dashboard and try adding any plugin. What dialogue did you get? You were certainly prompted to upgrade to a premium blogging platform. That’s the thing.
The best SEO plugin in the market right now is YOAST. It is only available to WordPress.orgers.
We have talked about having a self-hosted website, mentioned Yoast for SEO but have forgotten one thing.
Google Search Console.
Google Search Console is the foundation of all your SEO planning. If your blog does not appear on Google search right now, it is because you have not verified it with Google Search Console.
To set up your GSC simply follow this link with your Google account.
All set? Good! We can now carry on with how to get your blog posts found by Google and other search engines.
This is the best plug in for SEO at the moment. You have probably heard of it and maybe activated it already. If you have, simply skip this. If you haven’t added the plug in you can do so in these simple steps:
- On your dashboard, hover over to Plugins.
- On the dropdown, click on Add New.
- Search for Yoast.
- Download Yoast
Now that you have this plug in, proceeding with your SEO strategy is now permitted.
How to make your blog posts friendly for search engines
- Determine what your keyword will be.
This will require you to have user intent in mind while doing your keyword research. A keyword determines the direction your entire content will take. Only choose keywords that have high search volume—keywords that help readers solve a problem.
For instance, as a new blogger, what search terms would you use if you wanted to learn more about SEO? Maybe, ‘What is Search Engine Optimization?’ or ‘how do I ensure Google finds my blog posts?’
Or maybe, you want to travel to South Africa. You’d probably use search terms like ‘Five Star hotels in Capetown’. You would not just use a vague search word like ‘hotels’.
As a blogger, you should put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Solve their problem.
Thankfully there are FREE tools you can use in your efforts to perfect your keyword research. Here is a list:
- Google Correlate
- Google trends
- Answer the public
- Keyword surfer
- Google Search Console
- Bulk keyword generator
- Google correlate
- Keywords Everywhere
- Keywords Sheeter
I personally love Keyword Sheeter. See the list of keyword ideas it gave me for this post.
While doing your keyword research, look for search terms with low competition but high search volumes. Going for keywords with high search volume and dominated by authoritative bloggers in your niche would mean waiting long for your content to get ranked by search engines. So go for popular search terms with low competition.
- Adding ALT TEXT to your images.
This is an important post element that search engines pay attention to. ALT text simply means alternative text. It is also known as Alternative Attribute.
Alt text plays an important role in describing what the images in your content are for. They also appear when images don’t load correctly or when a user browses with images turned off.
When uploading images onto WordPress, on the right, you will see a box containing boxes with ALT text, caption, display settings and advanced options. The alt text box is where you key in the description.
Note that you may have two types of images on your posts. The kind that’s to be shared on social media and the kind that just supports your content.
Images meant to be shared on social media should have longer descriptive ALT texts than the images meant to only support the post.
Lest I forget. When saving images in your computer, use keywords in their titles. Avoid something like this: SCREENSHOT1 or IMAGE001.PNG.
- Edit the Yoast SEO snippet.
Remember the Yoast plugin we activated a while ago? Now is the perfect time to use it.
It’s usually at the bottom of every blog post you edit and looks like this.
The Yoast snippet is useful in not only analysing how optimized enough your content is, it is also good for ensuring your work has good readability scores.
Once you click on Edit Snippet, the first thing you will see is the SEO title.
Sometimes you may want your SEO title to be different from your blog post title. Many bloggers do this but I prefer to have them the same because of the paranoia I have for broken links, if they’re a real thing in this case.
Next, you will see the slug section.
This contributes to the url of your posts. It’s usually automatically populated with the title of the post you are working on. This slug box gives you a chance to edit how the url to the post will look like.
For example, the title for this post is Beginners’ guide to SEO: Search Engine Optimize your blog posts the right way in 2020. When you check the url, you will see optimize-your-blog-posts-for-search-engines. Short and sweet!
Keep in mind that you can edit the slug any time, but please do the editing before publishing a post, to avoid redirects and broken pages.
Also, ensure that your focus keyword is incorporated in your slug, to make your blog posts SEO friendly.
Next, the Meta description.
The effect this has on making or breaking your SEO efforts is significant.
When people directly search for your blog or stumble upon it organically, they will see your blog post title and the Meta description.
The Meta description basically allows you to describe in 150-160 words what your blog post is about. It is a perfect chance to add your focus keyword to it in order to tell Google what the post is all about.
If you do not fill in the Meta description box then Google will pick an extract from your blog post, which is fine but hey, don’t be lazy!
As you fill in the Meta description box, note the bar that turns from orange to green, signalling you have the right number of words in it. If it turns red as you type then that means Google will truncate some of it. Ensure the green is constant.
Next in the focus keyword box, just add the keyword we have talked so much about.
Once the snippet area is done, you will see an Analysis dropdown.
Click on it to see your SEO results thus far. The coloured circles serve to tell you to how friendly your post is for SEO. Strive to have more greens, fewer oranges and zero reds.
At the topmost corner on the right of your blog post, where you’re supposed to click publish, you shall see Yoast indicating the SEO status of your blog post. If it reads GOOD then you’re good to go.
Except you are not.
- Go all in on Internal linking
This is when you link your older posts to your newer posts. Writing your own blog posts gives you the power to add more internal links within your blog. I mean, considering how hard it can be getting other bloggers to link to you.
When thinking of the next blog title to write about, you can be guided by posts you have done before so that the linking can be as natural as possible.
As a beginner all these can seem such hard work at first but it gets easier once you get the hang of it. I like telling people not to be lazy. When it comes to blogging, applying passionate perfectionism on your SEO strategy is important as it will all pay off one day.
What challenges are you facing so far in your SEO efforts? What SEO win would you like to share with the world? Let me hear in the comments section.
Loved what you read? Sharing is caring! Pin this image to your Pinterest profile.