A lot of blogs are people talking about things they read on blogs, rather than people talking about what they’ve gone and done, and this is quite prevalent in the world of SEO.
I’ve been working on SEO on and off for a few years. When I recently become interested in taking it more seriously, I spoke to a specialist at Neil Patel’s agency and learned the following:
The Four Pillars of SEO
Pillar 1: Site Optimisation
Your site needs to load fast. If you have a standard wordpress install, there will be a lot of work to do here to get the site optimised correctly.
WP-Optimise, Autopmise and Asset Manager can help with this.
Google PageSpeed Insights can help tell you what is slowing down your site.
GTMetrix can also give you useful information on what is slowing down your website.
You should be able to optimise so your site so that it loads fast, even on not so great hosting. Saying that, the better your hosting, the easier your job will be!
Make sure you have a sitemap that is submitted to Google Search Console and Bing (and Yandex if you want to).
The sitemap is a list of all the links to your posts, this helps Google “find” and file your articles faster.
The AIOSEO plugin for wordpress can make a sitemap – you have to sign up to Google Console to submit it.
If you don’t need to use WordPress, there is a new blogging platform called Ghost, that boasts being 1,900% faster than WordPress out of the box. You can find out more about Ghost here.
You’ll also want to make sure your images are well optimised.
This means that your images are:
- Compressed, so that they load quickly
- Have a relevant title, alt description, and filename – Google looks at this information to help determine what your articles and images are about
Pillar 2: Keywords That Convert
You need keywords for traffic that converts.
You want keywords that aren’t too competitive that you can rank for, that are also relevant to your niche.
For example, “free German lessons” might be a keyword you can rank for, but the people searching for it might not want to pay for your product.
“German lessons for business trips” might be something that people who will pay search for (I’m making up the examples but hopefully you get the idea).
Both Ubersuggest and AHrefs come with an academy and training to help you really dive into SEO.
Pillar 3: Great Blog Posts and Articles
The third step is to need to turn these keywords into great blogposts.
Having a strong command of English (or your chosen language) is necessary.
You need to be able to communicate your ideas effectively and clearly.
Here are some quick guidelines on writing:
- Write for people who are beginners to your chosen topic
- Keep sentences short – you can see on this post that I’m using a line per sentence
- Keep the text so it does not occupy a lot of space horizontally on the screen. This makes it easier to read. Newspapers have their text in narrow columns because it’s easier to read. Most WordPress themes will do this for you.
When writing your posts, you want to break the post down into sections, using the html H1, H2 etc tags. Using “Headings” in WordPress inserts these tags for you.
Internal and External Links
Google seems to like the occasional external link (a link to another website) in your posts.
Google also appreciates plenty of internal links – these are links to other articles and blog posts on your website.
When you use internal links, use a descriptive part of a sentence as a link, do not use, for example, the words “click here” as the link.
Google looks at the text that is used as the link to help understand what the page you are linking to is about.
So by having a descriptive piece of text as the link, you help Google more accurately understand your posts and articles.
Pillar 4: Domain Authority Score
Your domain authority score is based on the backlinks that point to your website.
These links can come from random people liking your posts and linking to you, or you can find websites that are relevant to your niche, and reach out to the owners, either using their contact form or email.
The bigger the site, the better.
For example, Wikipedia or CNN linking back to you will give you a better domain authority score than if some blog with 0 traffic links back to you.
Building your domain authority can take a lot of cold outreach.
The Final Pillar
The final part is hard graft.
It takes time and consistent posts to build up your SEO traffic.
And then you might get penalised with an algorithm update.
5 Step Guide to Building the SEO for your Blog
Step 1: Keyword Research
Sign up for a tool like Ubersugegst and research a list of keywords.
When you sign up to Ubersuggest, you’ll receive guidance on how to choose keywords.
You can put your competitor sites in Ubersuggest and see what they rank for.
Find some keywords you can compete with, and write a better article than your competitor has.
Step 2: Plan Your Articles
Using the keyword recommendations from Ubersuggest, plan a series of articles.
Have some images and use captions / alt description and name the file appropriately.
Be specific with your posts.
For example, “Ten Tips for learning German” is better than “Tips for learning German” is better than “Learning German”.
“10 tips for adults who want to learn German” is even better.
When you search for keywords in Ubersuggest of AHRefs, you will get multiple suggestions for variations on your keywords.
Use these variations as section headings.
If you are writing a longer article, consider having a “contents” section at the top of your article, so readers can find the section they are interested in quickly.
Your posts in general want to be aimed at beginners rather than advanced students.
Think about what other articles on your website you can link to.
Step 3: Write Your Articles
Now it’s time to buckle down and write your articles.
Use section heading tags and optimised images.
Have an external link and a few internal links. Google uses internal links to help understand what a blog post is about.
When using internal links, turn a phrase of words into a link, not just the word “link” or “here”.
Step 4: Work on Load Times
While you’re writing your posts, or after you’ve written your first few posts, start working on your blog load times.
This is a lot of trial and error and a big learning curve here.
The following tools will help you get those higher pagespeed rankings:
- Autoptimize – this helps speed up your code
- WP-Optimise – this helps enable text compression, image optimisation and a cache
- Asset CleanUp – this allows you to turn off big scripts that are loading on every page, when they only need to load on certain pages
If you are using Google Pagespeed Insights, try and get in the green. You don’t need a perfect 100, but a green score (90 or higher) will be google.
You may find you have to turn things on and off in the various settings in those programs, and run and rerun tests in pagespeed insights to see what works and what doesn’t.
Most changes won’t make a permanent difference or break your site, but it’s probably a good idea to take a backup first.
Step 5: Get Those Backlinks
If you are wanting to get a good SEO score, at some point you’ll also want to start creating backlinks.
This is a lot of cold outreach.
You can probably expect a 1%-3% return on your work here, so for every 100 emails you send, 1-3 websites will add a link.
AHRefs and Ubersuggest both have tools that help you find relevant websites that you can reach out to.
It can take a few months to start seeing results from SEO.
It takes time for search engines to index your site, and they tend to prefer older articles that are updated, to newer articles.
It’s also a very time intensive process.
I’ve seen recommendations for writing a couple of posts a week, but the cynic in me thinks that is to create overwhelm, so that you hire an agency to do it for you.
But it’s true that the more you do (keeping quality reasonable), the better your results will be and the more keywords you will rank for.
So do you what you can and set your expectations accordingly.
Your results will probably be skewed according to the 80/20 rule, with a few of your posts getting most of your traffic.
Bonus: Tips for Writing Articles for People That Hate Writing
Here are a few quick tips you can use if you hate writing articles, but still want to improve the SEO of your website:
- Hire it out. You can hire “content writers” on Upwork or Fiverr who will write an article on a specific subject for you. Be warned: While their article may be original, it will probably be recycling ideas from blogs.
- Dictate your article into a speech to text converter and then send the text to an editor. This is a fast way to work.
- Do a podcast and have someone transcribe it.