If you are trying to grow your business in 2021, SEO is something that you need to put into your plan. Without SEO, it will be difficult to drive traffic to all of that great content you are creating. For a beginner, this might sound like something technical and complicated, but these 16 SEO tips and tricks will help you get your articles found and drive traffic to your site.
What Is SEO and Why Does It Matter?
The first step to reaching readers and potential customers is to get them in your door. On the Internet, this means convincing Google or another search engine to present your content to them as a potential item of interest. SEO stands for search engine optimization and refers to a set of techniques to help Google know that your content matches the information the searcher wanted. When the information is a match, Google will present your article to the searcher, and hopefully, they will click through to your content.
SEO is about improving your search engine rankings because you are much more likely to be seen if you are on the first page than on the 134th. The closer your page matches the intended search, the higher in the page rank you will be. The world of SEO continually changes as Google finds better ways to provide relevant searches. These SEO tips for beginners are a few actions that you can take to start getting the results that you want quickly.
16 SEO Tips and Tricks
First, you need to know that SEO is divided into on-page and off-page SEO. Off-page SEO refers to things like page load speed, mobile-friendliness, user-friendliness, and ease of navigation. If your only role is as a writer, then you are only concerned with on-page SEO and how to write your article so that it is optimized. Here are a few actionable SEO tips for how to write an SEO optimized blog post and improve your rank.
1. Find the Right Keywords
Your first task is to make sure that you have terms in your article that match the words that people use to find articles, products, and services like yours. To find out how people search for businesses like yours, you can use any number of keyword research tools to give you insight into how your audience thinks. You should make a list of the primary terms that they use most often and secondary keywords that they use frequently, but that will not be the main focus of your plan. This list of primary and secondary keywords is like a road map for your SEO strategy.
2. Develop a Content Plan
Now that you have your list of primary and secondary keywords, you need to create a plan for how and when they will be used. This plan should include how often you plan to post articles with certain keywords, and you should have a general guideline for how they will be placed. Developing a keyword strategy can be compared to a savings account. Every time you write an article, you have to put a little bit into the savings account and it will add up over time.
3. Don’t Overuse Keywords
In the early days of blogging, people soon caught on that they would rank higher if they had a high frequency of certain keywords that they wanted to rank for, so they started using tactics like filling areas of a white background with white text containing the keywords just to increase their rank. Google caught on to this, and now, if you include keywords in a frequency that appears to be an attempt to fraudulently increase search rank, Google will drop your rank, or might even delist you. Between one to three percent of any one keyword is considered the standard. You should also try to make the keywords sound as natural as possible.
4. Use Videos and Optimize Them
Now, we know that video content is more likely to get someone to click through than just words on a page. However, you must make sure that your video is optimized and will load quickly. You also want to make sure that it does not have considerable lag time on most networks. Google places a high level of importance on user experience, and users now have high expectations for things like video loading and quality.
5. Use Keywords in Titles and Section Headers
Google thinks that if you included a keyword in the title or section header, then it must be important to the article. You should try to include at least one primary keyword in the title, and a mixture of primary and secondary keywords in the section headers throughout the article. Use headers to break up the content and make it easy for the visitor to scan and find the information that they want quickly. Headers should give your article structure and lead the reader on a logical path through the information.
6. Include Tags and Meta Descriptions
Many beginning bloggers skip the tags and meta descriptions when they are posting their blogs, but this is a big mistake because Google places high importance on them for deciding which search queries are a good match for you. You should always include primary keywords in your tags and meta descriptions. Meta descriptions should only be about 150 characters, so make sure that you choose your words carefully. You want to grab the reader’s attention and entice them to click through on the article.
7. Use Short Paragraphs
Using short paragraphs comes down to making the article easy to read. Longer paragraphs might be appropriate for your Ph.D. thesis, but a wall of words will quickly turn away visitors to your page. If people visit your page and then click out quickly, Google thinks that there is a reason for it and will drop your rank. A good rule of thumb is to have no more than five sentences in a single paragraph.
8. Internal Links
Another good SEO practice is to use internal links to other articles on your blog. Google will crawl through the links, and if it sees that other links have the same keywords, it will decide that this is the main focus of your blog and will tend to place it higher. Google tries to build a profile of what your entire blog is about. The more articles you have about the same topic, the more focused and authoritative you will seem.
9. External Links
External links that go to other websites can also help you establish yourself as an authority page. However, there is a caveat that you must make sure the pages you linked to are authoritative and high quality, too. If you link to a personal blog that has a lot of broken links, then it will hurt your rank. It is always a good idea to try to stick to .gov, .edu, .org, and major commercial sites when choosing outside links.
10. NoFollow Links
If you have internal pages like a contact page, autoresponder, or content that would not help build your rank, you might want to consider making it a nofollow link. This is a setting that you can choose when you upload your link to platforms such as WordPress. Google looks at the entirety of the information on your page, and you don’t want non-relevant information to be counted in the total mix and work against you. A nofollow link tells Google not to include information on that page in deciding where to rank your page.
11. Include Longer Articles
If you go back a half-decade or more, the trend was for articles between 300 to 500 words. Readers still like information that they can digest quickly, and this remains a popular article length. You should also include more in-depth articles of around 1,500 to 2,000 words and feature articles that provide more information and establish you as an authority on the subject. You should always strive to be better than your competition and better than the standard information that comes up in the search results.
12. Focus on Quality
When writing your articles, you should always focus on quality from the perspective of the reader. Including keywords that make you rank is always a good idea, but if you have awkward wording throughout the article that sounds unnatural, you will lose your audience, and they will click out quickly. Search engines tend to place a higher emphasis on articles that are user-friendly and written for humans and not robots.
13. Design for Mobile
Today, most users will access your site via a mobile device. In the latest update, Google placed a higher emphasis on pages that are optimized for mobile users. Take a look at your graphics and every part of your website from a mobile device. If it does not load properly or is just one long scroll, you will quickly lose your audience and your rank will drop.
14. Make Navigation Easy
Having a well-designed menu and using breadcrumbs gives your readers a clear path to navigate around the site. User-friendliness will make them want to stay longer and will please the Google bots, too. You should look at your website from the standpoint of a user and ask yourself if you would consider reading this site or if you would bounce out quickly.
15. Do Competitor Analysis
One of the best ways to develop a content plan is to visit your competitors’ websites and see what strategies they have used. What keywords did they use, and how did they use them? How is the strategy working for them, and how do you think that you could improve it on your own website? You can learn a lot from your competitors, and you should make the most of this valuable, free resource.
16. Conduct Regular Audits
You need to start with a good content plan, but the world of SEO is a dynamic environment and continually changing. You need to set benchmarks and revisit them from time to time to see what is working and what is not. Your future SEO decisions should be guided by data and analysis. If you have not done so already, you should hook your website up to Google Search Console so that you can keep track of how your SEO campaign is working.
Keep in mind that SEO is a long-term strategy, and anyone who promises to get you quick results probably will not be able to deliver. Building up keywords and quality content takes time, but your consistency will eventually pay off. If you put these SEO tips and tricks into practice, you will begin to see your page rank climb and your traffic increase. If you are building a new website, you have an advantage because you can optimize it from the very beginning. You can use this article and our Ultimate SEO Checklist to make sure you are off to a good start.