5 Extremely Actionable SEO Tips For Beginners When Starting A New Blog
Last modified on 13th September, 2018
Are you an SEO beginner or wonder what you can do to improve your position on Google search results?
If you just started blogging (or working on an existing one) here are some SEO tips to help you out.
Getting the number #1 ranking was pretty easy 10 years ago. In 2005, I got a new website ranked on the first page of Google for keywords of my choice in my niche pretty fast, just based on the on-page ranking factors, without any external backlinks.
I hand-coded the website to sell a CD burner software that I developed myself. I was pretty hands-on with everything. Besides I had no money to pay other people to do it for me 🙂
I knew I was ranking with the right keywords because I began making sales within a couple of days the website went online. The best thing was I spent zero on advertising. If you perform a Google search, the website no longer exists. Oh, the good old days…
I hate to break it to you…
But getting number one ranking on Google in 2018 is very-very hard. However, there are a couple things you can do to increase your chances of appearing at least on the first page of Google.
If you just started your blog or website, follow these SEO tips to start off on the right foot. They are the exact SEO ranking strategies I performed on Sabahan.com as I get Sabahan.com ready for prime time 🙂
If you are a newbie and are wondering what is SEO. It stands for “search engine optimisation”. It is the practice of increasing the quality of your blog or web page content to make sure it’s ranked well on the search result based on what the search engine considers most relevant its users.
All major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have their own ranking criteria but in this article, I am going to focus on Google. OK let’s get started with the search engine optimisation tips number 1.
1. Focus on Writing Thorough and Extremely Helpful Content
Blogs that write about everything won’t rank as well as blogs that focus on one single niche very thoroughly.
Try to write a post that solves a problem your readers have. Go in-depth by breaking down everything your readers would want to learn.
For example, if you want to teach people how to start a blog, breakdown your post by creating separate sections and talk about the followings:
- Why you should start a blog
- Before you start you should…?
- What topics should your write about
- Which web hosting to host your blog
- What are the differences between WordPress.com, WordPress.org and Blogger?
- Selecting the right theme for your WordPress blog
- How can you make money from your blog
- Don’t worry because…
- How to make sure your blog will be successful
This naturally leads you to write very lengthy posts.
But that is OK because Google prefers longer post. In fact, the average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890 words.
My point is, you need to write very thoroughly and extremely helpful content that covers as many angles as you can for the topic. Include as much helpful information in one post as necessary.
Ideally, your post should offer much more than what your visitors initially asked for. It would have added the advantage of being very share-worthy on social media. Google will notice that and will rank your page higher.
How Google Hummingbird Update Rewards Helpful Content
In 2013 Google announced an update called Hummingbird where it prefers websites that focus on one single niche rather than those that write about everything and anything that took their fancy.
Google prefers pages with an in-depth answer and not just those that give you exactly what you type in.
For example, before Hummingbird, a search for “acid reflux prescription” would return pages like this. While it did give you what you type, it might not necessarily be the most helpful in treating the disease.
Now, Google will return pages such as this. The page contains information about the diagnosis your doctor might recommend, information about possible treatment, options for over-the-counter medication or whether you even need drugs.
Notice how thorough and helpful the page is and how it includes more information in addition to the prescription you asked for in your original query.
2. Optimise Your Title Tag and Meta Description
Having a good title tag and meta description is given since the beginning of search engine optimisation if you want to rank properly.
When you do a search on Google, each entry in the search result contains a link at the top which is the title tag and a description below which is called the meta description.
Notice when you search for the phrase like “make money online” and you don’t see the phrase “make money online” either in the title or description, you are less likely to click on that result? It’s because the result seems to be unrelated to what you are looking for.
So Google priorities results which contain the search term you are looking for because they know you’re more likely to click through. So make sure to include your preferred keywords in your title and meta description for some ranking juice.
Is it enough?
Simply including your keywords in the title and meta description is not enough. Make sure you also do the following:
- It has to flow in a sentence
- It should be easy to read
- It should evoke the reader’s curiosity and is appealing to read
- No keyword stuffing. Don’t just repeat the same keywords.
How to Edit Your Title and Meta Description Using Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin
You can change your existing or create a new keyword-focus title and meta description for your posts using the Yoast SEO plugin.
The plugin also comes with many other SEO optimisation functions but we are going to focus on the snippet editor, which allows you to edit your meta title and meta description in WordPress.
Once you have the plugin installed, just follow these steps to start optimizing your meta information on a post or page.
- Create a new post or select an existing post to edit.
- Scroll down to the WordPress text editor until you find the section titled “Yoast SEO”.
- Click “Edit snippet” (see image below).
- Edit the text listed under the “SEO title”, “Slug” and “Meta description” to include your keywords. Yoast will calculate the length of your text. Make sure the color-coded bar under each text box stays green.
- Check the “Snippet preview” and make your title, slug and meta description appear the way you intended.
- Once you are satisfied, click the “Close snippet editor” button.
Keep in mind that the updated title and meta description won’t be reflected right away in Google search results. There is no definite answer on how long will Google take to show the new content as it depends on many factors. It could take a few minutes to months.
What you can do to get crawled faster is by using Google Webmaster Search Tool which I am going to discuss in the next SEO tip.
3. Use Google Search Console to Rank In Google
Do you know that using this tool can help you rank number one in Google search results?
If you are not already a Google Search Console user, drop everything you are doing right now and sign up.
Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, it’s a free service by Google for webmasters. It allows you to check indexing status and optimize visibility of your blog or websites.
Give it a few days after you sign-up as it takes time to populate the data. One of the most important data you want to check is the Search Analytics.
Improve Your Blog With Search Analytics
The Search Analytics shows all the pages on your website that are getting you traffic.
Since I started reviving Sabahan.com from the dead recently, right off the bat I noticed several issues reported by the console that I need fixing.
Some of the queries Sabahan.com were ranked for have nothing to do with the niche the blog is in.
While those search terms used to bring me traffic, which was good for getting page impressions for my AdSense ads, the traffic they attracted were totally unrelated to my niche.
You see, Sabahan.com used to be a personal blog (it still is though) where I wrote about anything that took my fancy.
However, in 2018, things are different.
I need to put the SEO Tips #1 above into practice. So I will focus more on topics that are highly relevant to my making money blogging niche.
As tempting as it is for me to have as many pages as possible indexed in an attempt to boost traffic, it will only dilute the focus of my blog which could affect my search engine rankings.
My focus today is on search engine optimization techniques, better blogging and content marketing, building your mailing list, affiliate marketing and so on. So no more topics like the average IQ of the Australian aboriginal!
To fix this issue, I can either delete those pages or prevent Google crawler from indexing them using a Robots.txt file or via noindex Meta tag.
I won’t discuss these methods here because it’s not something you would normally do when you start a new blog.
Find Out How Many Times Google Shows Your Pages In The Search Results
You can also find out which of your pages or posts are getting impressions. What I mean by impressions is the number of times your page is shown on the Google search result.
When you do a search, you don’t always click through on a result, but when Google shows your post in their search result, it counts as an impression.
So from the Google Search Console, you can track how many people are:
- Seeing your listing (impressions)
- How many people are clicking through (clicks)
- How many people don’t click through (click-through rate or CTR)
- Your page rank (position)
So, why is this information useful?
I’ll explain in the next paragraph.
Use Google Search Console to Improve Your Click Thru Rate and Ranking
You are lucky if you get a 5% click thru rate (maybe 10% or 15% sometimes). Normally, most of your pages will get less than 5% CTR.
The cool part about Google Search Analysis is, they show you all the keywords that you are getting impressions for and your click-through rate.
You can use this information to improve your title tag and meta description as discussed in SEO Tips #2. Make them more appealing so that you get more clicks on your listing.
When Google notices your listing get more clicks than your competitor above you, they are going to rank you higher.
Because you are using user signals. These user signals tell Google what users prefer. If all the users prefer your listing over the listing above you but Google ignores that signals, then the users are going to feel that Google results are less relevant and Google don’t want that.
Use Google Search Console to Improve Your Content & Attract More Traffic
This is related to SEO Tips #1 about content thoroughness. Remember that you want to write an article that talks about everything under the sun for that particular topic?
What you can do is take all the keywords that you are getting impressions for and start adding them to your copy. However, you don’t want to just shove them in and have your content be keyword-rich.
As people landed on your pages and read your keyword rich page, they will bounce off immediately if your article does not flow naturally. So your writing has to flow naturally and be educational.
Use Google Search Console to Rank Number #1 In Malaysia (or The Country of Your Choice)
I mentioned Malaysia because that’s where I come from. 🙂
If you already have a country specific domain such as .com.my or .co.uk, Google already associated it with that specific country.
But if your site has a generic top-level domain, such as .com or .org, you can use the International Targeting feature to tell Google which countries are most important to you.
This is useful if your business serves a country specific-audience. So you will experience better results in the country that you are targeting.
It’s also a good idea if you want the local audience to notice you more as it helps you to stand out locally.
You may want to keep the box unchecked to target a global audience if:
- Your products/services can be sold anywhere.
- Targeting the United States is too competitive.
- You want the ‘global advantage’ but still want Google to associate your blog with a particular region.
For the third point, if you get more backlinks from your own country for instance, it signals Google to give some importance to you in your own country.
If you want to ensure your blog is not associated with any country or region at all, you can select Unlisted in the drop-down list.
This will tell Google that you’re targeting a broad, global audience or region, diminishing the importance of backlinks from any country.
Keep in mind that when you change your blog international targeting, it may affect your existing rankings as Google will need to reassess your blog using a new set of rules.
While the effect maybe temporary, I would only recommend doing this early on or when you haven’t got many high ranking keywords yet, just to be on the safe side.
4. Increase Your Blog Loading Speed
Focusing on offering great user experience is important because Google wants to rank content that is actually useful for users. One way you can achieve this is by increasing your blog or website loading speed.
A slow loading website will hurt your organic search performance as well as your business. According to Hubspot, a 1-second delay in website loading speed can reduce website conversions by 7%. The good news is reducing your average loading time has the opposite effect.
At the very minimum, you should aim to get your website loading speed to three seconds or below.
Use Pingdom & Google PageSpeed Insight to Benchmark Your Page Load Time
Go to tools.pingdom.com and enter your URL. Run your blog through Pingdom several times from different location to get the average loading speed.
It is important to have this benchmark because it allows you to track your progress as you made changes to your blog structures or implement improvements.
There are countless ways you can improve your blog loading speed. But one of the biggest factors that determine how fast your website actually loads is your web hosting.
I’ve used Hostgator before but as they moved their support from the ticketing system to chat, the quality deteriorates so much it forced me to switch my webhost.
If you are looking for a reliable WordPress hosting for your blog, you can check BlueHost.
In Pingdom, scroll down to the Performance insights section where you can see suggestions on what you can do to improve your web page loading time. Unfortunately, most of the suggestions are very technical for a newbie to implement.
The good news is there are WordPress plugins you can install that implement some of the suggestions without the need for you to tinker with the technical aspect.
In addition to Pingdom, you can also use Google PageSpeed Insights. Google will analyze the content of your web page for mobile and desktop, then generates suggestions to make that page faster.
So as a beginner without a technical know-how, how do you implement Pingdom or Google page optimization suggestions? It’s actually quite easy. Most of the suggestions can be incorporated easily into your blog by installing the W3 Total Cache plugin.
Install W3 Total Cache Plugin for WordPress to Increase Your Blog Loading Time Speed
W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular caching plugins for WordPress.
They claim to improve the SEO and user experience of your blog by increasing your blog performance and reducing download times via features like the content delivery network (CDN) integration and caching.
After installing W3 Total Cache plugin for Sabahan.com, right off the bat, I noticed the loading time decreased significantly.
It can be a pain to configure but the default options should work just fine if you’re not sure what to change. Also, make sure to enable gzip compression.
I am using the free version and have not found the need to buy the premium version which is quite pricey for US99 per year.
5. Use Google Mobile-Friendly Test to Make Sure Your Blog Is Mobile Friendly
For the majority of all traffic that is coming to your website in 2018, more than likely, it is going to be coming from mobile.
While there are exceptions to the rule such as for business-to-business (B2B) traffic, it’s not going to be that way forever.
So it’s still very important to make sure your blog looks good on mobile, that it is responsive and friendly on a mobile device.
So how do you go about in making your blog mobile friendly and responsive? The first step is to see how mobile friendly your blog is by using Google’s own tool that checks mobile friendliness.
Go to the Mobile-Friendly Test and enter your blog URL. Google will tell you whether or not your blog is mobile friendly.
So what should you do if your blog is not mobile friendly? You can hire a web designer to re-design your blog or website to make it mobile friendly.
Or you can head to Upwork.com to hire a freelance web designer to do it for you, which should be cheaper than hiring a company.
If you are using WordPress, which you probably are if you are reading this post. You can download many free themes or purchase any of the premium themes.
I’ve purchased several premium WordPress themes online. One place I’d personally recommend to buy premium WordPress themes from is Theme Forest. They have a pretty good selection of high-quality and good looking themes.
Just be sure that when making your purchase, the theme is responsive and mobile friendly.
Currently I am using the FocusBlog Theme by Thrive Themes.
While most other themes look great, are mobile responsive and a have a lot of features, they are not designed to help you sell more and convert your visitors into subscribers.
If you are serious about making money from your blog. I’d suggest using Thrive Themes because:
- They’re designed from the ground up to convert your visitors into buyers and get more newsletter subscribers, i.e. Their themes are conversion focused.
- Simple, clean yet highly functional design. All the best practices for web design lead to better user experience.
- They are feature-rich. You’ll love the amount of third party plugins you have to discard. Their call to action widgets, beautiful bio boxes, comments plugin and many more will help you achieve your blogging goal quickly.
- They come with pre-built landing page templates. You can design a professional looking landing page that actually convert in minutes.
- They help you get more subscribers with Thrive Leads. You can use popups, exit intent, timed scroll triggered, slides, 2-step optins and more.
- They offer frequent updates. New features are added all the time. Their themes have so much functionality already and are still growing in areas that business owners would need.
- Great support. Their support theme will actually respond to your issues quickly and go to your site to fix them too.
I could go on and on but, I suggest you visit Thrive Themes to see it for yourself.
Update: Thrive Themes recently announced that all their themes will be replaced with the brand new, visual theme builder.
Now you have read my SEO tips for beginners. It’s time to take action.
If you take these SEO tactics and implement them on your blog, I am pretty sure in the next couple of weeks you will start seeing positive results as I have for Sabahan.com.
Granted you may be busy and may not be able to implement all these SEO strategies in one go, so just pick one.
It doesn’t have to take too much of your time. Maybe you can sign up with Google Search Console, or start writing your first thorough blog post, or install the Yoast SEO plugin to start improving your title and meta tag description.
Implementing any of these tips ensures your blog or website is built on a strong foundation before you start creating even more thorough content or acquiring backlinks.
These are high impact SEO strategies which means they will affect your Google search rankings in a big way. So whether you are a beginner or an experienced blogger, give them a try.
Please leave a comment or share this post if you find it useful. Thanks for reading!