SEO Starter Kit – What Bloggers Need To Know About Search Engine Optimisation

Hey, beautiful people.

I had the wonderful chance to meet the beautiful Maria (blog linked; check her out!) a while ago and we had a wonderfully fun day out in Brighton, eating cheesecake and chatting about blogging. (And slowly but surely murdering our long-suffering bank accounts.) As we both blog in different ways and drive our traffic through different sources, it was really interesting to chat to her – but it made me realise something: a lot of bloggers don’t know about SEO. (Oh – and I seriously need to figure out this Instagram stuff.)

Now, looking back at it, this makes total sense. Nobody hands us a step-by-step guide to blogging as you sign up for your WordPress account with all the information we need to know to flourish and prosper. I mean, that would be awesome. WordPress, take note!

But it doesn’t happen – and a lot of things I consider essential about blogging (like SEO, affiliate marketing, etc.) a lot of bloggers don’t even know about and vice versa.

But SEO is something absolutely every blogger should know about. SEO is a blogger’s best friend.

And, in all honesty, I’m actually pretty good at SEO – so I figured that I’d write a post explaining what it is, why you need it and how you should go about implementing it in your blog posts.

Beware: this post is long. I have a lot of advice, so bookmark it and return later – or maybe make yourself a cup of tea.

What Is SEO?

SEO (search engine optimisation) is the process of taking actions on your website and within your site content to allow search engines (read: Google) to find and rank your site. This then means people can find your site and your dreams of being being a successful blogger will be accomplished.

We’re going to use one example throughout this post, for the sake of continuity and ease of understanding. Let’s say you’ve written a post called “How To Set Up Your Travel Blog”. SEO is what’s going to get your post to the front page of Google so that when people search “how to set up a travel blog” your post comes up.

What Are Rankings?

Rankings refer to where on Google (or whatever generic, peasant search engine you use) your pages land. If you’re the top result, you’ve got #1 page ranking. Multiple factors effect your ranking – but we’ll get to those in a second.

So let’s say you’ve googled “making a travel blog”. These are the page results:

I’ve labelled the #1 and #2 ranked results.

What Factors Affect Your SEO Rankings?

Well . . . a damn lot of them. Google pulls up a lot of information about your website and your content before it decides whether you’re producing quality content or not. This ranges from the content of the post in question to the age of your website’s domain name.

But that’s not a very helpful answer; we’re going to go into way more detail in a minute. Before we talk about all the various factors, we’re going to split this into two categories: on-page SEO and background SEO. (Not technical terms at all, but just go with it.) On-page SEO is things within the content on a specific post like keywords; background SEO is things you do on the wider site as a whole, like backlinks.

NOTE
While there is a multitude of factors, not all of them carry the same weight. The algorithm (the bloody algorithm) is constantly changing and updating, so I can’t accurately say “well, backlinks are more important than metatags” – but I will note which techniques in my experience I’ve found more important than others.
This post is going to be dedicated to on-page SEO and how to optimise your blog posts for search engines while writing them. Before we get into it though . . . now we’ve mentioned the Google Algorithm, let’s explain that really quickly.

What is Google’s search algorithm?

The almighty Google has to have a method to sorting all the content on the web and deciding which things to serve you, right? Enter the algorithm. A massive cocktail of factors and variables that eliminates, categorises and sorts out content. Nobody knows exactly what this is, but what we do know is that it’s constantly changing.

That said, this isn’t too much of an issue. Why? Because all Google’s algorithm is designed to do is check quality.

It’s simple really – we all love Google because it’s good. We know it’ll find us a high-quality, accurate result to our query. Their entire business is designed around being high-quality; if they start moving shoddy content up the ranks, their reputation drops, someone else comes along and their market dominance is lost. Google’s algorithm isn’t designed to catch you out or only let slimy, soulless corporates dominate the web – it’s designed to ensure that the content getting picked up for the first page is high quality and therefore their customers are happy with their search engine. 

Which means that your main concern only has to be about quality. All of these things are just how Google measures that quality, but you producing thoughtful and inspiring content is a good start without even touching on the rest!

Uh – don’t pack up yet, love; we’re still touching on the rest of it.

I would greatly appreciate if you would Pin this for me.

What are on-page and in-content SEO practices and factors?

Glad you asked; a lot of your SEO considerations should kick in when you’re writing your content for multiple reasons:

  1. Google spiders (the bots that crawl your sites) will read your content and organise it according to that.
  2. High quality content boosts your overall site; once you start to become “known” as a high-quality site, you’ll start moving up the rankings overall.
  3. Google monitors on-page behaviour and factors that into rankings too, so interesting, engaging content (that in turn holds people’s interest and keeps them on your page longer, signalling your content is good) helps you rank just through being interesting.

Keywords – Keyword density, keyword variations, long-tail keywords

What are keywords?

Firstly – keywords or keyphrases are the exact thing you want people to type into search and find your page on. When you’re researching SEO, nowhere seems to have a clear definition of what a keyword is, so there you have it.

In the context of our travel blog example, a few keywords and keyphrases may be “travel”, “travel blog”, “set up a travel blog”.

Now, keywords have apparently been losing their power in recent years, but they’re by no means obsolute – unless you stuff them in. Google can and will penalise your site for spam and keyword stuffing is a very quick way to ensure you’re blacklisted and doomed to the 39th page of results . . . if you’re even included in the directory.

What type of keywords are there?

  • Keywords – singular words you’re targeting. Ex: “travel” “wanderlust”
  • Keyphrases – phrases you’re targeting. Ex: “travel blogging” “set up a blog” “start a blog”
  • Long-tail keywords – long-tail keywords are really long and targeted keywords that will bring in lower volumes, but more targeted traffic. EX: “how to earn money from travelling the world” “earning money on the internet while travelling”

How to use keywords like an SEO ninja

  • Put keywords in the right places – and use the right amount of them.

A good keyword density is 1-3% of your word count.

Remember, we do not want to keyword stuff. A good idea is to write organically (you’d be surprised how often your keywords crop up when you’re writing about a topic), check your post on my favourite (entirely free, non-sign up, non-download) tool WordCounter.net and see if you need to include any additional words.

On top of that, you need to think about the best places to put your keywords.

Post structure – headings, post length, readability

I feel like this is something a lot of people overlook, or don’t think is essential – but it makes a massive difference. The way you write and structure your posts can make them easier for Google’s bots to crawl and increase time on page. Here are my top tips:

  • Optimal SEO post length is 1,500-2,000 words. There have been so many studies proving this and, just in my personal experience, it’s 100% been true. Longer posts perform better in Google.
NOTE
Double edged sword alert: longer pages perform better in Google but you’re going to have to work twice as hard to keep them engaging. Remember, the algorithm factors in time-on-site, so if you’ve written a massively intimidating post that nobody bothers to read, this could work against you.
  • Use. Your. Headings. Okay, I know most of us overlook our headings (I was totally guilty of this a few months ago) but headings actually have different coding behind them than normal text. This code breaks your post into different hierachies, helping Google to understand what topics you’re covering. And it improves readability for people . . . which increases time on page and therefore page ranking. Also, they’re a fantastic place for keywords.
  • Spelling and grammar. Not to be a Nazi, but remember: Google is looking for quality. You don’t need to be writing essay-style posts, but awkward txt-speak, sentences that make no sense and writing that will just come up as “SPAM” . . . not going to go down well.

Media – Use of different forms of media like images, video, infographics

Honestly, I’m not sure if this is because of time spent on page, alt-tags or just the fact that people (and therefore Google) like multimedia, but making use of multiple types of media in your content is great for your SEO. Just make sure that, where possible, it’s tagged correctly . . . but more on that in the next section.

Metatags – ALT tags, metadata

Right, I will hold my hands up and say that I am terrible with this. At work, we have an outside SEO person who will come in, do back-end stuff and touch-up and tweak metadata if I haven’t bothered to, so I can focus more on just writing content . . . but it is a pretty important part of optimising your web content.

Metadata is essentially what you’re telling Google your content is about; you write a meta description (this replaces what shows up in Search Engines too) and assign keywords or metatags to your post. For me, however, the real important thing is . . .

ALT Tags

I’m sure that with AI on the rise, soon Google will actually be able to “read” images, but at the moment ALT tags are what’s going to let Google crawl-bots know what’s going on in your pics.

ALT tags are a brilliant way to get some keywords in, describe what the image is about (very helpful for Infographics) – and, when someone Pins your image, your ALT tag shows up.

If you use Pinterest to promote your blog, then you’ll already know that Pinterest acts as kind of search engine. In the same way that we write content for Google to pick up and rank us on, writing a good caption on Pinterest makes it more likely that Pinterest will pick up your Pins and get them in front of the relevant people.

Basically, ALT tags are pretty awesome.

Oh – and we’ve all looked on Google Image Search from time to time, right? Well, ALT tags also help get your images on there.

I think that about covers it for the main things you should be doing to optimise your posts while writing them. Honourable mentions go to:

  • High-quality outbound links. Linking to high-quality content from reputable sources can help your posts.
  • Not too many ads – and no invasive ones. User experience is a big thing in the rankings, so if you have annoying ads, Google could penalise you for that.
  • Smaller image files. Time taken for your site to load is another big factor in the rankings (I’ll talk more about that in our off-page SEO post); massive media files can significantly slow your loading speed. Your image doensn’t need to be 4000px wide – who even has a computer screen that wide?

With that, I think we can end this mammoth post here. I genuinely hope some of you found this helpful; SEO is one of the biggest skills I think bloggers should develop (although if you’re a social media whiz, that’s another traffic-driving route to go!). Do you guys implement any of these practices? Did you even make it all the way through this post? What’s your favourite tip – will you use any of the advice I’ve shared? Or are you more of a social media traffic driver? Let me know your thoughts down below!

Peace,

Instagram // Pinterest // Twitter // Bloglovin’

82 thoughts on “SEO Starter Kit – What Bloggers Need To Know About Search Engine Optimisation

      1. Yep… as opposed to someone WANTING to tell something that doesn’t need telling.
        Just got in past 11pm cos a missing person asked to use my phone… and long story short got involved in making sure the little brat got.home. Police = fantastic. PSO’s…. concerning. Human services… still deciding. Average Joes… abysmal.
        Poor brass monkeys battling daily… I believe in the average Aussie because I give them hours anytime for free because they are great. I wish drugs and financial slavery would end

  1. hoiyinli – Fashion Design Graduate of UCA Rochester now working in Communications. I love to create and make art, bring ideas to life, write and read.
    hoiyinli says:

    This is an awesome post, Mia! I’ve recently touched upon SEO in the past few months and started re-writing my image files and carefully choosing my tags. Probably need to sort the ALT-tags out though but I think these little steps alone have helped a lot. 🙂

    1. Thank you lovely! And you’re probably right; any changes can really boost your posts 🙂

    1. Thank you lovely; I’m glad you found it useful!

    1. Thank you lovely – I’m glad it could help out! SEO is probably the biggest thing that helps me earn from my blog so I’m glad other bloggers can utilise it xxx

  2. So interesting to see this post, rarely see people talk about things like this and it is so useful for people who are new to it! I love reading posts like this which can help anyone to make their blogs better! x

    1. Thank you lovely! And exactly; I kind of thought all these things were common knowledge because nobody talks about them, then when I met with Maria I was like oh… well I can always write a post x

  3. Avant-garde – Hi I am Ritu… just an average girl who is a makeup & fashion enthusiast and who love playing with different looks and colors. Avant-Garde, is all about my personal ‘style and beauty’ journey and a way to share everything I know (related to Fashion and Beauty), with all of you with similar interests. I would be super excited if you will decide to be a part of my blogging journey :) Stay tuned!
    Avant-garde says:

    This is indeed a very helpful post… Thank you so much for sharing this 🙂 <3
    https://outfitsandmakeupblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/21/nars-x-man-ray-the-kiss-velvet-matte-lip-pencil-set/

    1. Thanks lovely I’m glad you enjoyed it

  4. Too. Much. Effort. 😛
    I never approached my blog from the perspective of search engines – I like the community aspect. In fact, it kind of irks me how people randomly stumble on my page and there’s zero interaction – who cares if they read my post? There’s no feedback loop in that case.
    I get it if bloggers are trying to parlay their blog view count / unique visitors into stats to demonstrate to PR that they have this sphere of influence but that’s just not my game! 😛

    1. That’s fair enough! I actually agree with you but that’s why I like SEO (sounds weird; hear me out). I love the community aspect of blogging but I love earning money through my blog… and I make my money through affiliate marketing so I’d have to be CONSTANTLY selling things to my audience to earn. But that’s just so annoying and spammy and I don’t want to do that. With SEO I only have to sell to those one time page viewers

    1. Ahhh it seems like it, but honestly most of it’s pretty natural once you get the hang of it x

      1. Aha fair enough! I learned most of this at work and over about a year, so I imagine all at once it would be like “woooooaaaaaah”

    1. Thanks lovely; I’m glad it could help!xx

  5. Sarah – UK – BLOG: https://vintagetearose.co.uk/ INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/vintagetearose/ PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/vintagetearose92/ 25 year old blogger from the UK. Beauty, Lifestyle, Style, Interiors, Book Reviews, Thoughts and more..
    Sarah says:

    I feel like so much of that went over my head, but I’m hoping to go self hosted soon so I really need to get my head down and figure all the stuff out! I will be coming back to this post with my brainy hat on later 😉

    1. Honestly. don’t worry – most of it SOUNDS totally difficult, but when you sit down and try it you’re like “oh…this is easy”. I think it just seems intimidating or difficult, but it;s all simple stuff….it’s just a bit of extra effort ;-; Good luck with going self-hosted lovely!xx

    1. Thank you so much lovely, I’m so glad you found it useful 🙂 x

    1. Thank you lovely! To be fair, I think a lot of people start off blogging not intending to need it, or maybe haven’t looked into it . . . although I definitely think SEO is something bloggers SHOULD know about 🙂 xx

      1. It took me a while to get the hang of it too, but it really can be extremely beneficial! Now I can’t imagine not taking advantage of it.

  6. I’m not sure if I’ve totally gotten it but, ugh I’ve been really needing a walk through all these SEO, blogging jargon. Thank you heapssss for this! I’ll make sure I’ll give this another thorough read!

    1. Honestly, I know it sounds weird, but try writing a new post and going through using the points.

      Find a keyword, then write some keyword phrases and a couple of long-tail ones.

      Section your post into say 4 main sections and write these out in Heading 2 (which is in your toolbar when you’re writing content 😉 ) If you need subsections within these, add in Heading 3.

      Start writing, make sure you’ve hit at least 1,000 words.

      If you’ve used images, just make sure the filename is something relevant and not IMG000002.jpg and add in a quick alt tag. (When you go to insert your image from the media library, the ALT tag option is to the left)

      It sounds difficult when it’s written as one post because it’s a big block of text (sorry! 🙁 ) but all the steps are actually really simple, so maybe jsut try them one at a time 🙂 xx

      1. Gahh thanks for the effort!!!! I will definitely try it out for my next post! Thank you thank you thank you!

    1. Thanks for reading lovely! I hope it was helpful! x

  7. K.M. Sutton – I am a country girl living on the Upper East Side of the concrete jungle. My friends call me a modern day Renaissance woman. I have dabbled in a little bit of everything, from being a yoga instructor to holistic chef, to skating coach, to glorified nanny, to student. I am a self admitted coffee junkie. A wannabe mermaid. A wanderluster who dreams of other countries. A fashionista who really does need a bigger bank account. But most important of all, I dream of living in a bungalow by the ocean and being a published writer (in style of course) sipping coffee in the morning and a martini in the evening. I love to meet my readers, so feel free to comment or email me. Happy reading!
    K.M. Sutton says:

    This is such a great post and so incredible helpful! Thanks for sharing beauty! <3

    1. Thank you so so much – I really tried to make it easy to understand AND informative so it means a lot! <3

      1. K.M. Sutton – I am a country girl living on the Upper East Side of the concrete jungle. My friends call me a modern day Renaissance woman. I have dabbled in a little bit of everything, from being a yoga instructor to holistic chef, to skating coach, to glorified nanny, to student. I am a self admitted coffee junkie. A wannabe mermaid. A wanderluster who dreams of other countries. A fashionista who really does need a bigger bank account. But most important of all, I dream of living in a bungalow by the ocean and being a published writer (in style of course) sipping coffee in the morning and a martini in the evening. I love to meet my readers, so feel free to comment or email me. Happy reading!
        K.M. Sutton says:

        You are very welcome and you succeeded beauty! Thank you so much! <3

  8. I have to read this a few more times, with some google searches and encyclopedic references to get all this blogging mumbo-jumbo… I just wanna blogggg…lol… my mind has really been blown with the ins and outs of blogging. I guess this only applies to if you want to make money blogging…?

  9. Wow! I’m surprised I made it through the whole post in one sitting! I was planning to bookmark it, but I wanted to know the deets! Very helpful. Earlier this year I was trying to understand SEO, and I kind of had a grasp on it, but this was much more incredibly helpful. I definitely need to use better use of ALT tags and headers.

    Natalie | http://nataliesalchemy.wordpress.com

    1. Damn girl – I couldn’t even write it in one sitting! I’m so glad this could help out… The great thing about SEO is that every little helps and Google is CONSTANTLY recrawling (plus you can resubmit pages through Google Search Console) so you don’t have to fix EVERYTHING at once 😀 xx

  10. hudapervez – Hi! I am Huda and this is my little space on the internet where I blog about all thing beauty & lifestyle! Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it! xx
    hudapervez says:

    I’ve heard so much about SEO but since I’m not self hosted I can’t use it yet! This was very useful I will definitely be coming back to this post when I start using SEO! I do want to know though how exactly had using SEO helped your blog?

    1. Of course you can! I’m not self hosted and I still utilise it 🙂

      So I use it less on this site (so far!) as it’s pretty new and I’m focusing more on building an audience, but on my old website I wrote gift guides and optimised them for search. When it came to christmas, people would search things like “gift ideas for teen girls” etc. and my guides would come up; all the links on them were affiliate links so people would buy gifts through them and I’d get comission 🙂 x

      1. hudapervez – Hi! I am Huda and this is my little space on the internet where I blog about all thing beauty & lifestyle! Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it! xx
        hudapervez says:

        Okay, I read somewhere that I couldn’t use it if I didn’t own my own website haha! But that’s awesome, this will be my next goal to start using SEO on my website, thanks for the useful post!

  11. Throughmylens – Currently living in the City of the Dreaming Spires..! A complete bohemian at heart. Come, get to know me through my blog posts.. Hop on board and join me on my journey to find all things beautiful! xx
    Throughmylens says:

    OMG you are a life saver! I had no idea what SEO meant and how to navigate it, this has been so helpful! *virtual hugs* xx

    1. Thank you lovely! I’m so glad this could help you out – honestly, SEO is one of the BEST things for growing your blog! <3 xxx

      1. Throughmylens – Currently living in the City of the Dreaming Spires..! A complete bohemian at heart. Come, get to know me through my blog posts.. Hop on board and join me on my journey to find all things beautiful! xx
        Throughmylens says:

        Aww thank you love, I must try some of these really useful tips now xoxo

    1. Aww thank you so much lovely! I hope you can come back to it and find it helpful 🙂 xxx

    1. Thanks lovely; I’m glad you enjoyed it x

  12. This is a really helpful and amazing post, especially for new bloggers! These tips will be really useful to implement!

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this post! I really learned a lot even though I’ve been blogging, on and off, for quite a long time. I’m definitely going to use these tips. Thanks again for sharing! xx

  14. Thanks for sharing, really informative post that’s useful for not only blogging but websites in general. It seems to be tough keeping up with what google is doing with its algorithm but all the advice here is a great guide and place to start! Thank you

  15. Miel – Currently in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Miel is a 20-something lass from the Philippines who aspires to travel the world and become a great writer someday.
    Amielle says:

    I didn’t know that even image file names can be something for SEO. This is so helpful. Thank you!

  16. Rohit Sharma – Hi, I'm Rohit Sharma from India, son of a priest. Since 2017, I started blogging, I love to share my knowledge with others. I love technology, but here I am telling an article on WordPress, SEO, etc. I only expect one from you, and that is your LOVE. Please give your love.
    Rohit Sharma says:

    Here lot’s of information about #SEO I really like this post personally.

  17. The Blogging Entrepreneur – Hi! I'm The Blogging Entrepreneur and welcome to my blog! :D I'm a business owner and an investor in cryptocurrency while I'm in college. Know what's inside of the mind of an entrepreneur everyday of his life. :D
    The Blogging Entrepreneur says:

    Thanks for sharing! Nice post!

  18. Todd Watts – West Palm Beach Florida – Hi, my name Todd Watts, I'm an 80's nerd, self-employed Internet Marketer living in West Palm Beach Florida. My passion and work background is direct sales, marketing, and web development. I started my journey into the digital marketing space in 2003.!
    Todd Watts says:

    Nice post and like your writing style! By the way, I love long posts, gives a variety of angles to a subject. I think the most important part of SEO is the purpose, the content. Providing good information people can find, just like this article.

  19. ShiningPoornima – Every once in a while my thoughts just overflow and turn into words. When I am not talking about them I am writing them down. I have a theory on everything and they change everyday. My blogs are derived from my other hobbies of running marathons, dancing several styles and designing my own garments. So follow my blog if you want to get engaged with an eclectic soul!
    ShiningPoornima says:

    Thanks a ton!!!

  20. fromdiamwithlove – Hi! I'm Diam, a 24 year old Ohio native who lives in Florida and is obsessed with all things travel! I've explored 30 states, 10 countries and many many islands all while knocking big adventures off of my bucket list! I hope to inspire you to start searching for travel deals (theres tons) & remember, you don't have to be rich to travel!
    fromdiamwithlove says:

    This was perfect! Truthfully, this was the best SEO prep I’ve ever read. It was really helpful and very in depth. I appreciate it so much

  21. Woow,this is awesome post. a complete guide update for SEO campaign.. Thanks a lot for sharing

    1. Thanks lovely! I’m so glad it could help 🙂 x

  22. Computer and Mobile Tips – Computer and Mobile is a learning blog that talks about web development & designing. Our Team Cover Tutorial About WordPress, SEO, Make Website, Increase a Web Speed & Ranking, Android Apps Development and also Email Marketing, Computer and Mobile tips & tricks. https://www.computerandmobile.com/
    Computer and Mobile Tips says:

    helpful post , thanks for sharing
    https://www.computerandmobile.com/

  23. Thank you very much for your insights on this topic. I certainly do not know yet about all of these topics, as I am still learning much about blogging, and your article is quite helpful and instructive. I appreciate it!

  24. Noor_87Khan – I love writing. I have so many thoughts in my mind that sometimes i feel like my mind will brust open. I like writing about all everything ranging from horror to romance and thriller, si fi.
    Noor_87Khan says:

    Very helpful…i have recently started my personal blog and was wondering, what I should do so that more and more people can read it…this post helped a lot.. thankyou

  25. phoenixagencyca – Phoenix is a Vaughan Digital Marketing Agency. We offer data-driven​ inbound marketing services. We service the GTA. Call us to receive a free consultation
    phoenixagencyca says:

    This has been the best I have read so far. Really well written and explained. It should be really helpful to anyone who is new to SEO.

  26. SAVING JOYFULLY – Toledo, Ohio – My name is Andrea Joy and my blog Savingjoyfully.com was created to help others save more money and live a more joyful life on a budget.
    SAVING JOYFULLY says:

    Great post and very helpful

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