How to Optimize for SEO & achieve a High Google Ranking for your Blog or Website?
It is no use writing a blog post that no one reads. So what can you do about it? How can you improve the Website ranking or Google ranking of your blog or website?
One way is to optimize your blog post or website for SEO so that search engines can find your blog post or webpage and list it on their search results pages so that people can see it.
What is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a way of letting search engines know what your blog post is about and also telling them why it is good enough to be listed on the top of the search results page.
When optimizing your blog or webpage for SEO you will have to start with keywords.
What is a Keyword with an example?
A keyword is a word or a phrase that you enter in the search box of a search engine when you search for something online.
Let’s say you were searching online for ‘shoes’. So you head over to Google and type ‘shoes’ and press enter to get your list of sites related to shoes. In this case, your keyword is ‘shoes’.
Similarly, you could use the key phrase ‘shoes from Nike’ if you wanted to specifically search for shoes from Nike.
For effective SEO you will need to know the exact keywords or phrases that people use when they are searching for a topic or subject that is related to your niche or blog post and then build your article, blogpost or webpage around those keywords and phrases.
Organic traffic or traffic coming to your blog posts from search engine result pages [SERP’s] is the biggest and the most important though not the only source of traffic to your blog.Optimizing your blog posts for SEO starts with choosing the right keywords. Click To Tweet
Choosing the right topic & keyword for your blog post is crucial for SEO to improve your website ranking.
11 SEO Tools to Improve your Google Ranking.
But how do you know what are the most popular keywords or phrases that people are using for online searches?
More importantly how do know ‘how many‘ people are using that keyword or phrase i.e. the search volume?
You would also want to know how many blogs or websites are already ranking on Google or other search engines for your chosen keyword against whom you will have to compete i.e. the competition.
Ideally, you want to choose a keyword that has a large search volume and has relatively less competition.
In the real world, this is impossible because any keyword that is hugely popular will naturally have a lot of blogs & websites dedicated to it – but you will have to strike a balance.
Once you have identified your keywords you will have then start to build your blog post around them.
But where will you get this data?
This is where tools like SEMRush can help.
Below is a snapshot of a report from SEMRush.
It shows the total search volume for your chosen keyword or phrase, by country [the USA in this case] The average monthly search volume for the chosen keyword in this example is 3600 searches/ month. Globally it is 8400 searches/month
The keyword example [of the long-tailed type] used here is ‘Lose weight without exercise’.
The SEMRush report also shows the keyword difficulty, variations of the keyword with volume, related question types & related keywords with their respective search volumes – all useful metrics to identify the best keyword for your blog that can help boost your ranking on Google.
This is a wealth of information to help you hone in on optimum keywords which will help you optimize your SEO and to get your website ranking higher in search results.
Check out SEMRush here. This is the most important & must-have tool for a professional blogger.
Without it, you’ll be simply shooting in the dark.
Now that I have the Keywords, What do I do next to achieve a better Google ranking?
Using Keywords for SEO
Once you have identified the keywords and its related LSI keywords, you have to use them in your blog post to achieve maximum SEO impact.
Use the targetted keywords in,
Headings & Subheadings [H2 through to H6],
Right in the very beginning or starting paragraph of your post,
The main content [Thumb rule: 0.5 to 1 % of the total word count],
File names of images &
Just keep in mind that the keywords or phrases should occur naturally and should not seem forced.
Though opinion is divided on the number of times a keyword should be included in the content, the general consensus is that the occurrence should be around 0.5 to 1 % of the total word count.
Do not indulge in ‘keyword stuffing‘ [i.e. packing the content with too many keywords] as it will appear unnatural, undermine user experience and in a worst-case scenario could land you a penalty from Google.
Link out to Influential Websites.
Link out to influential websites through outbound links that point from your blogpost outwards to other blogs or websites. This has a positive influence on your SEO and hence your website rankingLinking out to influential Websites has a positive effect on your website ranking on Google and other search engines. Click To Tweet
There are many reasons to do this.
- SEO is all about user experience and outbound links from your blog will be helpful to your readers who may want to get a deeper insight into a particular topic or subject by pointing them to relevant content from authoritative sites. [Just remember to have the new page open in a new tab so the reader can come back to your site easily after they are done]
- It helps search engines understand your niche by looking at sites that you are linking out to.
- It shows search engines that you are a serious blog by linking out to influential websites [and not spammy sites]
- A research carried out by marketing firm Reboot clearly showed that outbound links to authoritative sites did have a positive impact on SEO and website ranking.
- By linking out to other blogs in your niche you can build relationships with other bloggers in your niche and they may even reward you with a backlink [ If you ask nicely 🙂 ].
Add Internal Links
Unlike external links [outbound and backlinks] which are directed from or to a website or blog which is different from the source, internal links both start and end on the same blog or website.
What is an Internal Link?
An internal link is a link from any page on your website to any other page on the same website.
Internal links are important for SEO because they add structure to your website or blog and are useful to both your readers as well as search engine bots to understand the relationships between the various pages of your blog or website.
Internal links also help both humans and search engines discover content and posts.
They help distribute page authority. Suppose a page is ranking well in search engine results, as a result, has a higher page authority any page that it links to will have a positive effect on that page as well.
Long-form Content and Website Ranking.
Does Long-form content really mean a higher Google ranking?
In this present era with short attention spans, one would have believed that shorter posts would be the norm. Not in the world of SEO.
it is the common belief that In the world of SEO and for ranking on Google, that long-form content rules.
A study was done by serpIQ some years back [which went viral] and it was found that blog posts that were listed in the top 10 in Google rankings always featured long-form content having on average of 2000 words or more.
As this graph illustrates.
However, Google [see video below] themselves have said that the length of an article or blog post has no direct impact on website rankings and what matters is the quality of the content itself and how much value it provides to the reader.
So does long-form content help in improving website ranking? We believe it does.
But not simply because it is long-form. I mean you could rustle up a word salad containing 5000 words [or more] and it would count for nothing in terms of SEO or website ranking.
But long-form content does matter because it means that the article is well researched and in-depth and provides value to the reader.
Long-form content also means more opportunities for using your keywords, linking to other authoritative websites and even backlinks to your site from other websites and blogs.
Moreover, articles or posts containing long-form content [2000 words or more] is shared 4 times more on social media compared to shorter posts or articles thus indirectly affecting your Google ranking.Articles or posts containing long-form content [2000 words or more] is shared 4 times more on social media compared to shorter posts or articles. This has an indirect effect on your Google ranking. Click To Tweet
This has been confirmed in various researches like the one below conducted on over 9000 articles on BuzzSumo and The Guardian.
Quality Content for Website Ranking.
Quality content should the backbone of any SEO strategy to achieve a high Google ranking. All other steps that you will undertake for SEO optimization will amount to nothing if your content is not of optimum quality.
So how will you identify if your content quality is good?
Well, the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog throws some light on this. Here we list the key takeaways.
- Your content should be trustworthy. Back up your ideas and statements with facts and figures. Link out to high authority sites and sources to back up your claims.
- Make sure that your readers find your content to be genuinely useful and informative.
- Your content should be original. Do not copy someone else’s work. Copying is not just bad for SEO but is also unethical and illegal.
- Deal with the topic in detail. Don’t just state the obvious. Dive in deep. Articles that have ‘shallow’ content will not cut ice with Google.
- Edit your content well and ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
- Your content should be well structured and easy to navigate so include a table of contents and internal links to help readers navigate easily and effortlessly.
- The title of your article or post should be descriptive and give the reader a good idea of what the post or article is about and deliver what the title promises.
- Include contact details and author information. This helps build trust.
- Truly good quality content has three characteristics (E-A-T) i.e. Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.
Building backlinks is the magic wand of SEO and the most difficult to create.
A backlink is a link that is pointing to your blog or website from another blog or website
Backlinks are important for SEO because they pass on authority from the link source to the target.
Google considers backlinks to be an endorsement from the source website that the target website is authoritative enough to be considered as a referral source.
So the more ‘endorsements’ or backlinks you get the better the chances of your website ranking higher. Backlinks from higher authority websites are more valuable and those from lower authority or spammy websites may even harm your rankings.
Backlinks from high authority websites will have a positive impact on your Google ranking.
Imagine you have a blog dedicated to International News and Opinion and the New York Times 😉 [just saying] decides to use a statement or statistic from your website on one of the articles on their webpage and links back to your page. That would be one hell of an endorsement and a hell of a backlink.
This may be an extreme example but you get the idea.
The reverse is also unfortunately true and if a spammy website decides to link back to your website or blog then that might negatively affect your SEO and consequently your Google ranking. So you will have to keep a lookout for these and ‘disown’ them.
5 ways to build great backlinks
- Posting guest articles on other blogs or websites and linking back to your own
- Including original images or infographics in your posts so if anyone wants to use these they will link back to you.
- Reach out to other bloggers in your niche and pitch how your content can add value to their website and ask them to link to your blog.
- Create a ‘Best of’ article. Example: If your blog is about ‘Health and Fitness’, then you can create an article listing ‘The Top 10 Health and Fitness Websites’. Contact each of these websites and inform them that you plan to create such an article, seek their permission to include their website in the list and ask for a backlink to your post.
- The reverse of the above. Check for such articles in your niche and ask to be included in it.
Other than the above you can also create backlinks through;
- Social media by creating a Facebook or Twitter account.
- Posting comments on other blogs that allow a link back to your blog or website.
- Answering questions on Quora or Reddit and leaving a link back to your website.
However, the last three would mostly be ‘nofollow‘ backlinks which may not directly affect your Google rankings but could have an indirect effect by increasing traffic to your blog and potential exposure to site owners who may want to link back to your site.
What is a ‘Nofollow’ Link?
A ‘nofollow’ tag is used to indicate to search engines that the link is not endorsed and that search engines should ignore that link.
Image search makes up 27% of the total searches on Google. So it makes a lot of sense to optimise your images for SEO and get a leg up in Google rankings.
Properly optimised images can show up in Google Images search results and lead a visitor to your page.
Use the alt tag and the file names of images to include keywords.
The ‘Alt’ tag is basically text which will show up in place of an image should the image not be loaded by the browser for any reason.
It serves as a brief description of the image itself. It is also useful for people who rely on screen readers to browse the web.
Include your keywords in this description to optimise the Image for SEO.
The image file names should reflect the keyword itself or related keyphrases.
Example instead of naming the image file as ‘image1.png’ use the name ‘Google ranking versus content.png’
Use Schema Markup
Until recently if you searched Google for any information the below is what the search result would look like.
Let’s say you wanted to search for ‘Motorcycle maintenance tips’
This was a combination of your site title, post title, page URL and metadata.
But nowadays if you were to search for exactly the same thing you will most likely see something like this.
This is an example of what Google calls ‘Rich Snippets’ in search results and is the result of the website making use of Schema Mark-Up.
Similarly, if you were to search for a recipe you may see something like this.
What is Schema MarkUp?
Schema markup is a special code which is a result of a collaboration between Google, Yahoo, Bing & Yandex which can be incorporated into your website or blog. It provides a means to provide clear information to search engines to better understand and interpret the various parts of your content. More information can be found at schema.org.
How to Use Schema MarkUp for SEO?
Head over to the Google Structured Data Markup Helper and follow instructions. WordPress SEO plugins like Yoast or RankMath also have Schema Markup Blocks incorporated in the WordPress editor to help you add Schema Markups to your Website pages or Blogs.
Schema Markup may not have a direct effect on your Google Ranking but it makes your search results look better, takes up more visual space and therefore, makes it more clickable.
It also increases the chances of your blog or webpage showing up in voice searches.
As schema markup is a fairly recent development, most of the older websites do not have this incorporated in their webpages so you may just get a slight advantage as the percentage of websites using schema markup is low.
Improve Page Load Speed
While there are numerous ways to optimise page speed one of the basic measures is to use a good hosting provider like Hostinger.
Make your Blog Mobile Friendly
Over 60% of Google searches happen from mobile devices and the use of mobile devices is increasing every day.
So it makes sense that your blog should be optimised for mobile devices for it to rank higher in Google rankings.
One way to ensure this is to use ‘responsive’ themes with WordPress like ‘Generate Press‘ or ‘Astra‘ which automatically adjusts to screen size so your blog looks great not only on a desktop but also on mobile devices.
The below pictograph summarizes and lists the 11 best SEO tools to improve your Website ranking and get your blog ranking on Google.
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