9 Quick SEO Tips and Tricks For Blogs (Updated for 2018)
Last modified on 13th September, 2018
What are there the best SEO tips and tricks in 2018?
Most site owners have no idea what SEO is about, let alone the crucial steps they can easily take to improve their rankings in Google.
The problem is that SEO ranking factors are constantly changing.
What works today may not work tomorrow. Staying on top of the latest changes can be a real challenge.
The good news?
If you are reading this, you’ll learn the latest SEO tips and tricks for building big traffic in 2018.
I’ll discuss the dos and don’ts in search engine optimization to help you optimise your pages the right way.
SEO Tips and Tricks for 2018 (that Actually Work)
Viewed individually, each SEO tip or trick discussed below may only offer a small incremental improvement to your blog.
The power lies in combining them into one blog optimization strategy and sticking with it from day one.
While there’s no one size fits all which guarantee rankings, sticking with the fundamentals is a step in the right direction.
Your site should remain on Google’s nice list no matter what algorithm changes it throws at you.
For this to work, you need:
- A good on-page SEO practice
- Proper site optimization
- Great and useful content
- High-quality backlinks
#1: Optimize Your On-Page SEO
On-page SEO optimisation is such a necessary component in any SEO efforts.
In fact, it’s so important to get this right.
Otherwise, the remaining search engine optimisation tips might not be as effective.
For on-page SEO, you need to pay closer attention to the title tag, the meta description, page URL as well as the keyword density on the page (although this one not so much).
Try to place your target keywords near the beginning of the article. Then, sprinkle them throughout your article and make it looks natural.
Avoid stuffing keywords as you can get penalized for over optimization.
On Google search results pages, your entry would look like this:
Back in the old days before WordPress and other content management system was the go-to solution for website design, people used to edit the HTML source code directly to adjust the title and meta description tags.
For most people who are not familiar with HTML coding, I’m sure they all Greek to them.
Nowadays you don’t have to know HTML to edit the code behind. I’ll explain how later in this article.
Create a Unique, Exciting Yet an Accurate Title Tag
The meta title <title> of your page tells both visitors and search engines what your page topic is about. It is, in fact, the most important place to include your keywords.
You need to create exciting titles because you also want to incite the readers to actually click on them.
To improve your click-through rates, make your titles punchier by adding words that drive emotion such as:
- How To
- And so on…
Usually, Google only shows about 70 characters of the title, so make it brief yet descriptive.
Now, do you know that you can show two different titles, one for the search result pages and another one for your blog readers?
Now you do!
To edit your title for the search result pages, install the Yoast SEO plugin, then scroll down to the Yoast SEO section to find the SEO title text box.
Enter the title you want the search engines to show here.
For your actual blog post title, you can make it more personal/emotional because you want anyone reading your blog to stick around and read more.
Notice how I used different titles for each.
For the search engines, I am using the phrase “increase traffic” because people are more likely to search using that phrase.
Once the visitor clicks on my result on the search result page and landed on my blog post, they will see an emotion-focused title “explode your blog traffic”.
Pretty neat isn’t it?
That said, make sure that you have the main keywords in both titles. Or at least they must match one another very closely.
You don’t want the searchers to click on one title and then landed on a page that has an entirely different title.
Page Description Meta Tags
Your page’s description meta tag <description> gives the search engines a summary of what your page is about.
Description meta tags are important because Google might use them as snippets for your pages.
I say might because there’s no guarantee that Google will use the supplied description especially if it finds a more relevant section of your page’s visible text which matches the user’s query.
Also, some people say Google doesn’t use meta description as a ranking factor.
That said, adding description meta tags is always a good practice to ensure your pages are relevant to the topic. It’s a natural place to add some keyword phrases to encourage website searches to click-through to your website.
Avoid filling it with only keywords though. If your sentence doesn’t flow naturally, it won’t attract many clicks from the search engines users.
You can also use the Yoast SEO to edit your meta description and adjust the length as indicated by the green bar.
Yoast SEO is a great tool to help make your site search-engine-friendly quickly. It takes out the tedious part of manually optimizing a page.
However, don’t obsess over the green bullets and perfect Yoast score. The recommendations from Yoast are just that, recommendations. They are not rules.
Use Heading Tags to Emphasize Important Points
Heading tags are the <h1>, <h2> tags that you use to create subheadings in WordPress editor. Use them to break up your content into meaningful subsections.
If you are creating a long-form blog post, the heading tags will help you break up your content into digestible chunks.
Normally <h1> is more important than <h2>, and <h2> is more important than <h3> and so on. Replace the header tags with <em> and <strong> where appropriate.
Use multiple heading sizes to structure your content and make it easier for users to navigate around.
Normally you would use <h1> for your page heading and <h2>, <h3> etc for the subheadings.
Place relevant keywords sparingly. Your headings should help the readers understand what the subsections are all about.
Like your main heading, try to make your subheaders exciting. Make them concise yet descriptive.
Personally, I like to include emotional words where appropriate to draw the reader’s attention to the subsection.
Include Keywords in Your Images Filename and Alt Tags
When saving your images, try to use descriptive filenames.
For example, instead of using img29.jpg for your filename, you should be describing the content of the image and name it like best-wood-flooring.jpg. Separate each keyword with a hyphen.
The alt tags are the alternative text for your images which are shown if they cannot be displayed for some reason.
If a user is browsing your site using assistive technologies such as a screen reader, your alt tags will provide the information about the picture.
If you are using an image as a link, the alt text for the image will be treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link.
Like any other in-page keyword optimization, try to use short and descriptive filenames and alt text.
You can include your keywords in your alt text but avoid stuffing keywords or pasting entire sentences here.
To edit your alt text, select the image and click the edit button as shown below.
On the Image Details dialog, enter your alt text in the Alternative Text box.
Use Simple URLs That Convey Information
Your URL is another place to gain some SEO advantage over your competition.
While the advantage may not be as big as it used to be, it’s still an advantage you can’t ignore.
You can add your main keywords in your URLs while keeping it simple and short. Avoid excessive keywords in the URLs.
Google displays your URLs on the search results pages. So you should write them for both humans and search engines. Make it easy to understand what the destination will be about.
Ideally, you would want your URL to be like:
A few things to keep in mind when writing optimal URLs:
- They are case sensitive – seo-tips is not the same as Seo-Tips. Preferably, make all words lowercase.
- Use hyphens to separate words – eg. seo-tips-trick. Avoid underscores as those serve to combine two words together.
- Keep it short – Google will truncate your URL if it exceeds 512 pixels. So be sure to place your important keywords near the beginning. Matt Cutts the former Google engineer once said that anything after the fifth words in your URL don’t matter as much.
In WordPress, you can make your URLs more user and search engine friendly by updating your permalink structure.
To do so go to Settings > Permalinks then select Post name
Bear in mind that changing your permalink will break existing links.
This happens to me when I switched Sabahan.com permalink from Day and name version to the Post name version.
To fix this issue, you’ll need to create redirects to instruct WordPress to automatically redirects the visitors coming from your old URL to the new URL.
The one plugin that works for me is WP 404 Auto Redirect to Similar Post.
Use Keywords in Internal Links
When you are linking your pages internally, try to use the relevant keywords in the anchor text.
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink, normally the blue, underlined text like this.
It’s SEO best practices to include relevant keywords to the page you’re linking to, rather than generic text. The helps the users know what the page is about.
Again, you want to be clever about it. Your anchor text has to be balanced and must not look spammy.
#2: Include Numbers, the Year or Parentheses in the Title
The competition for some keywords is really fierce. But here’s a simple trick you can use to stand out from the crowd and improve your click-through rates.
You can add the year to your post titles.
For example, say you are writing an article about “The Best SEO Tips and Tricks”, kind of like this article you are reading.
Just by adding the year “The Best SEO Tips and Tricks for 2018 may weed out a lot of competition and make your content more relevant for users searching for the latest information.
This will improve your organic CTR (click-through rates) which is an important ranking signal.
If adding the year is not possible, you can add numbers, brackets or parentheses to the end of your titles instead.
- Top SEO Tips and Tricks For Blog (Updated for 2018)
- How to Create an Effective Opt-In Form (PDF Template Included)
- How I Got #1 Ranking (Step-By-Step Case Study)
- Social Media Prediction: Where Are We Heading? [Latest Report]
- You get the idea…
However, including the year means your content may appear outdated next year. So make sure to update the titles and URLs as the new year approaches.
#3: Get Your Pages Ranked Quickly
If you want your articles to rank quicker, make sure to register with Google Search Console.
This is a tool that you can use to monitor your actual rankings on Google search results pages.
Once registered, you’ll be notified if Google is having a problem indexing your pages and then you can take the necessary action to fix it.
To make sure Google knows what your whole blog is about, you need to submit a sitemap.
A sitemap is simply a file containing a list of your site’s URLs that you submit to Google and other search engines.
It helps Google and other search engines to include your site’s pages in their search results more easily and quickly.
The Yoast SEO plugin I mentioned earlier can help you create a sitemap.
Personally, I am using Google XML Sitemaps because it has the option to exclude specific blog categories from being included in the sitemap (I needed to exclude all my blog posts since 2006 from Google!)
Use Fetch as Google to Update Your Page in the Search Result
Fetch as Google in Search Console is a great feature that allows you to instruct Google to crawl your pages on demand.
Use it to see exactly what content Google download and if your page is redirected appropriately.
In addition, you can instruct Google to not just crawl but to submit to index by clicking the Request indexing button.
This is very useful anytime you update a page or you create an entirely new page. By request indexing, you can trigger the entire process to make your new or updated content available to searchers even faster.
#4: Make Your Blog Mobile Friendly
More and more people are browsing the web and searching on Google using a mobile device. Because of the smaller screen size, the desktop version of a site can be troublesome to view and use on a mobile device.
So it’s critical to ensure your blog design to be mobile ready.
It’s so important, Google has begun using a mobile-first index. If your blog isn’t optimized for mobile, it won’t rank as well no matter how good your scores are in the other SEO efforts.
Google also started to show the Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP (identified with a lightning bolt symbol) in the search engine results pages.
To create a mobile-ready site, the design has to be mobile responsive. Having a mobile responsive design means your blog automatically adjust to the screen size.
Fortunately, most WordPress templates are likely to be mobile friendly and adapted the responsive design requirements.
Not sure if your website or blog is mobile-ready? Don’t worry.
You can use Google’s Mobile-friendly Test to check if pages on your site meet the criteria for being mobile friendly.
You can also use the Google Webmaster Mobile Usability report to discover any issues affecting your site.
If your page is not mobile-friendly, you will get the “You page is not mobile-friendly” message on the search result.
There are many free WordPress templates that are mobile-responsive. If you want to stand out more, I recommend buying premium themes from sites like:
- Thrive Themes – this is the theme that I am currently using
- Themeforest – wide selections of premium themes for any niches at reasonable prices.
#5: Create Long-form Content
I’ve made a conscious decision to only publish long-form content when I decided to revive Sabahan.com from the dead in June 2018.
It’s a lot of work I tell you that. And if I had a choice I would prefer writing shorter articles and writing more often.
But in 2018, SEO no longer works that way.
If I want to improve my chance of ranking on the first search results pages, especially in the blogging, social media marketing, and SEO niche, I don’t think I have any other choice but to write long blog posts.
It helps that I am passionate about these topics.
Putting everything that I’ve learned into practice makes the whole process a fun learning experience for me as I got to see first-hand what works and what doesn’t.
Also, as a non-native English speaker, it gives me the chance to practice my writing.
Research has shown that publishing long-form content will help you rank higher.
Image credit: Backlinko
Aiming to write blog posts with 1800 words or longer is a good starting point.
Long-form content will increase the dwell time, i.e. the time someone spends on your site.
Noticed when you came across a 300-word blog post, you may skim or read it in 30 seconds or less then leave.
With long blog posts, there is more opportunity to include more comprehensive information about the topic (later I’ll show you how you can use LSI keywords to tell Google you have a comprehensive and helpful content).
This effectively reduces your bounce rate. Shorter bounce rate signals Google that users love your content and Google will rank you higher.
A bounce rate is when someone clicks on your Google result but then hit the back button quickly after arriving. Not good.
To view your bounce rate, you can use any analytic platforms or just log in to Google Analytics, then go to AUDIENCE > Overview
So what is the ideal bounce rate then?
Well, it depends on your industry and your goal for that page. Generally, the lower your bounce rate, the better
As you can see there’s room for improvement for my own bounce rate, but it’s not far from the industry average.
Creating great and useful content for the users will likely influence your blog more than any of the other SEO factors.
If you create great content, you may start attracting backlinks from other bloggers, improving your domain authority further.
When it comes to creating long-form content, your goal is to increase time on page, lower bounce rate and provide helpful content for the user.
As you get more organic or word-of-mouth buzz by creating good quality content, you should be able to build your site reputation with both users and Google.
#6: Use LSI Keywords to Improve Overall Rankings
Don’t worry, this is not as complicated as it sounds!
LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. LSI keywords are words and phrases that Google associates with your main keyword.
For example, if your topic was about cat food, some LSI keywords may be:
- “low protein diets”
- “vegan cat”
- “lean body”
These are related words which Google would expect to see in a comprehensive article about cat food. They are important because they give the context for Google to fully understand your page.
Google is moving towards machine learning (RankBrain SEO) to rank pages and no longer relying solely on the traditional on-page and off-page SEO ranking factors.
For example, Google now knows if you are searching for “vegan cat”, you probably wanted to learn more about vegan diets for cats.
So how do you find these LSI keywords for your topics?
A good place to start is the Watson Natural Language Understanding Tool
For example, when I entered the Wikipedia URL for cat food:
It returned all the important keywords ranked by relevance.
The second place you can uncover good LSI keywords is from Google’s own search result pages.
When you do a search, scroll down to the bottom of the result page to find phrases semantically related to your topic.
You can also try LSIKeywords.com to find related LSI keywords to your topic.
Now, if you are already a creating long-form content on a topic, you’ll have more opportunity integrating these LSI keywords.
That said, avoid adding LSI keywords just for the sake of including them into your content.
Your goal is to provide the best user experience. If these LSI keywords don’t make sense or don’t benefit your content then leave them.
In most cases though, you’ll find that when you sprinkle the LSI keywords in your long-form posts, you’ll confirm to RankBrain that your content is comprehensive and better all-around.
If you want to learn how LSI keywords can help you rank on Google, watch Rand Fishkin’s video below:
#7: Switch to HTTPS to Secure Your Site
Google has confirmed that switching to HTTPS gives a small ranking boost. It was first announced HTTPS as a ranking signal back in 2014.
Basically, HTTPS is the safer version of HTTP.
All the major web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox now show an insecure warning if your site isn’t HTTPS. You don’t want this, as it makes your site appears less trustworthy and people might avoid visiting your site entirely.
If you implement HTTPS for your blog, you’ll see the following when using Chrome.
Sabahan was using HTTP since 2006 and just recently I implemented the HTTPS. After the switch, I noticed a drop in rankings for many of my keywords.
Unfortunately, that’s a risk that you may have to take if you already have established keyword rankings.
Your rankings drop because when you switch to HTTPS from HTTP, Google considers you are using a different URL so you essentially starting from scratch again.
While it’s definitely a cause for concern, sooner or later you should regain all of your rankings back and traffic should return, provided that you implement HTTPS properly.
Some say it takes anywhere from two weeks to two months, with an average of one month before everything is back to normal.
For Sabahan.com it takes around 2-3 weeks for rankings to return to normal.
After you made the switch, check for broken links.
Be sure to redirect old URLs to the new HTTPS version. You would want to use 301 redirects. Improper implementation can cause further losses.
At the end of the day, I’d recommend implementing HTTPS as soon as possible for security, user trust and SEO ranking reasons.
For a step-by-step guide to switching to HTTPS from HTTP, check out this article.
#8: Speed Up Your Site
You page load speed, without a shadow of a doubt, is one of the SEO ranking factors.
With Google placing more importance on the mobile-first index, mobile should continue to be part of your SEO strategies.
Research has shown that roughly half of mobile users leave a website if it doesn’t load within three seconds. Don’t let your blog or website be part of that statistic.
Here are a few things you can do to reduce your loading time and speed up your site.
- Install W3 Total Cache
This is a caching plugin. It improves the SEO and user experience of your site.
- Smush Image Compression and Optimization
A WordPress plugin which resizes and compresses all of you images. Using smaller images ensure your pages load faster.
The other day I was watching Neil Patel’s video on YouTube.
He said the reason why he is successful is not that he was smarter or had more money than other people.
He just tests everything to see what works.
All these SEO tips and tricks for bloggers means nothing if you don’t take action.
If you want your blog to rank on the first page of Google search results pages, you’ll need to start implementing them immediately.
In fact, for each tip and trick that I shared on my blog, I made it a priority that I am also implementing them myself.
Keep in mind that blog SEO optimization is an ongoing process. Often it takes a few months to start seeing the results, maybe three, six even a year!
What’s important is you take the first step, starting today. The sooner you start the faster and the better your chance of ranking.
With these SEO tips and tricks up your sleeves, you are already ahead of the game.
Are you already using any of them? If not, what’s the one tip you’re going to try today?
Let me know in the comments!
PS: Download the SEO tips and tricks PDF below to help you optimize your blog posts quicker.