The Ultimate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Guide
- Ahmed Safwan
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Are you still suffering from being ignored by Google and other search engines?
Do you want to get higher rankings in Google in order to get a lot of traffic?
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You have applied every piece of advice shared on all of the big blogs…
…but you still don’t get traffic.
You still read all the SEO blogs and apply their tips…
…and nothing changes.
There is a lot of advice, but you don’t know which to apply.
If you said yes to any of those statements, this post was created for you. When you finish reading this post, you will know just what you need to make your blog rank at the top of Google.
You’ll learn the top mistakes that most bloggers commit, plus you’ll get a step-by-step guide to optimize your blog from the beginning. So, read on!
What is SEO?
SEO is a short abbreviation of Search Engine Optimization.
According to Moz:
SEO is the practice of improving and promoting a web site in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines.
There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.
By optimizing your WordPress blog for SEO, this helps you get higher rankings in Google and of course more traffic.
(If you are on the fence about optimizing your posts for search engines, listen to our interview with Andy Crestodina to learn why you absolutely NEED to focus on it.)
How does Google work?
Google is a search engine. It’s paid just to display pages from all over the Internet on its search, at the proper time.
This is how Google gets money.
That’s why they want to provide a better experience for its searchers: because that’s the backbone of Google’s business, and naturally, they want to make more money.
Google created a lot of updates like Penguin, Panda and the exact match domain update. All these updates made higher-quality content appear at the top.
At the end of the day, Google and other search engines only care about website authority and user experience.
So, how DO you rank higher on search engines?
Now we come to the REALLY important question: how do you rank higher on search engines?
The simple answer is: create high-quality content, increase the authority of your blog and provide better user experience.
It’s simple, but it isn’t easy.
People commit a lot of mistakes (or sins, as Jon Morrow calls them), that prevent them from getting the top rankings on Google.
So let’s review the top mistakes that can prevent your blog from ranking higher on search engines.
1) Not Doing Proper Keyword Research
You’ve probably already heard that you must start doing keyword research.
But, most of the bloggers do it wrong. Here’s an examples:
You log into Google AdWords and check the keywords with a high number of searches. You find several keywords with high search volumes, and you decide to use them as your main keyword strategy.
But before choosing your keywords, you didn’t check your competition. You need to look at both the number of competitors and how big a player each competitor is. Even if the competition momentum is low, if a website like Wikipedia ranks on the first page, you can’t beat it.
Solution: Think about the keyword, then analyze the blog that is at the top of the search page. Check the page rank, and whether the authority of the root main domain (also called the root domain is low.) THEN you can go with that keyword.
You can start using tools like Moz or Long Tail Pro to help you.
- What to Do When “All of the Good Ideas are Already Taken” – Tips to Help You Pick a Niche by Pat Flynn
- Keyword Research for Web Writers and Content Producers by Jon Morrow on Copyblogger.
- Niche Ideas: A Proven Guide to Finding (And Validating) Your Niche by Jessica Glendinning
2) Ignoring Your Old Posts
Let’s say that your blog is full of high information posts. Are you sure that Google knows about them?
Even if Google DOES know, it may only appear on the 53rd page of the search results. Needless to say, these posts bring absolutely no traffic to your site.
Even so, don’t ignore your old posts. They are a great opportunity to help you make more money. They’ll also increase your authority in the eyes of Google, since you’re proving that you have a lot of high-quality content.
Solution: There are great ways to revive your old posts, but the most important thing you need to do is to start linking to them in your new posts. This will get Google’s robots to re-index your previous post and may make it rank higher.
- How To Interlink Your Blog Articles To Increase Traffic by Yaro Starak
- 3 Ways to Interlink Your Blog Posts Like a PRO by Rahul Kuntala
3) Your Core Design Isn’t Optimized for Search Engines
Say you have an awesome design that everyone likes. But, what if Google can’t understand anything on your blog because of your cool design? Wouldn’t it make sense to have an optimized design from the beginning?
A highly designed blog that is optimized for search engines can help you rank higher on search engines. Your main aim is to make Google crawl your blog easily and reward you for this. Having a well-designed blog that makes Google’s job easy is a must.
Solution: Have a highly optimized framework like Thesis and Genesis. StudioPress offers a lot of great designs that are optimized for search engines. You can choose a design, edit the logo and other stuff, and boom! You’re done.
4) Write for Search Engines, Not for Readers
This is another huge mistake that many new bloggers make. They write just for search engines, and not for their readers. They try to includes their keywords in an annoying way just to rank higher.
These bloggers forget that they have to care about their readers the most! On a practical level, their readers are what drive the whole business!
However: if your readers don’t like your content, neither will Google.
How does Google know if no one likes you content?
If your bounce rate is high, or you have no likes, tweets, or comments, then no one likes your content.
Solution: Write your blog as if you are speaking to your reader. Then, try to optimize the post for search engines. Use Scribe to optimize your content after writing the post to make it highly optimized for search engines.
- SEO Advice: Writing Useful Articles That Readers Will Love by Matt Cutts.
5) You Are Still Using Blackhat Methods
Blackhat methods refer to a set of tactics that try to “game the system” instead of relying on high quality content and authorship.
I’ve said before that Google cares a lot about their searchers. They release updates to make their robots smarter and to provide their searchers with the best results. So why, in a system that increasingly cares about its searchers, are you still using these blackhat methods?
Solution: Don’t do keyword stuffing, spinning articles, or any other beat the system stuff. Focus on caring about your readers and getting high quality links instead.
6) Ignoring the Title Tag
The title tag is the title of your post that appears on the search engines results page.
Ignoring it can really change your ranking on searching engines, knocking you from number 1 down to number 20.
Yes, it really matters.
The title tag can be the headline of your post. But remember: Google (along with most other search engines) doesn’t display more than 70 characters on its search results page.
Solution: Create a small but attractive title that can capture searchers to click on your page. Remember to include your keyword in the title!
7) Lack of Consistency and Maintenance
Yes, Google cares about the blog that posts consistently.
But I don’t mean that you should post daily. I don’t suggest this, unless you have a big, engaged audience like Copyblogger’s, or Mirasee’s. The important thing is to decide how often you’re going to post, and adhere to it until you’re ready to increase – posting haphazardly, whenever you happen to feel like it doesn;t look good to your audience, or to search engines.
Solution: Try to post weekly, and then promote your post for the whole week. Try to keep this schedule. Publish at least two posts per month if you can’t write four.
8) Creating URLs That Don’t Contain Your Keywords
By URLs, I mean permalinks. A permalink is the part of your blog post link that appears just after your actual blog URL.
For example: the permalink for this post about how to make money from a small list, the URL is: https://mirasee.com/blog/how-to-make-money-from-a-small-list/
Having a non-optimized permalink can really negatively affect your search ranking.
Solution: Choose no more than 4 words for your permalink, and make them less than 30 characters. Use your keywords as your permalinks.
9) Buying Links
I mentioned earlier in this post that Google is always trying to make their searchers feel happier. So if you buy links instead of focusing on what your potential readers want, then you are trying to get Google to rank you higher regardless of the quality of your content.
PLEASE don’t do this.
You can learn more about why buying links is bad for SEO on Entrepreneur.com.
10) Focusing on Page Rank and Ignoring Author Rank
In the old days, those who had higher page ranks always got higher search rankings. Now, authority matters more than page rank (or any other single factor).
I think it’s clear from Copyblogger’s case study: Authority always wins the race.
If Brian Clark writes a piece of content about content marketing, is it the same when an anonymous blogger writes about content marketing?
Of course not, even if the second piece is better. Brian Clark is a great author that everyone loves to hear from.
Solution: Start to write epic content as guest posts for popular blogs to make your author rank higher.
- Has Google’s Author Rank Arrived? by Eric Enge
- How to Prepare for Author Rank and Get the Jump on Google by Mike Arnesen
- Want to Rank in Google? Build Your Author Rank Now by Eric Enge
11) Concentrating on Quantity of Links instead of Quality
Getting links is easy. But getting quality links can be very hard.
Do you know that a link from Copyblogger is worth 100,000 links from other new blogs?
On the flip side, if you get low-quality link, it won’t do you any good. In fact, it will harm you.
Solution: Start guest posting on big blogs. Create high-quality content and then ask for links from big bloggers. Who knows – you may get some!
- 7 Ways to Attract Lots of High Quality Links in the Age of Authority by John Jantsch
- The 3-Step Secret to More Quality Links in Less Time by Neil Patel
- Link Building: The Definitive Guide by Brian Dean
12) Your Site Speed is Slow
It really bears repeating: Google really cares about their users. Having a very low speed will really cost you a lot, since most visitors won’t wait around for your blog to load.
Do you know that Neil Patel got 244,923 visitors instead of 121,311 in just 30 days? Most of that was because he decreased the time it took his site to load by .5s. That’s really awesome.
Solution: Choose a good fast design. Have great hosting. And definitely check out how Neil Patel did it! Or, read this great article by Glen Allsopp on how to increase your pageviews when you increase your blog speed.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Optimize Your Blog for SEO (i.e. the Real Work):
Are you overwhelmed with all of the information you just read? Don’t worry! I’ve got you covered.
Here is a step-by-step guide to have a highly optimized blog for search engines.
1. Choose a Great Web Host & a Highly Optimized WordPress Design
Having a great host is really important if you want to rank higher on search engines. If your blog experiences a lot of downtime, Google won’t even pay attention to it.
After you have a great host, choose WordPress as your platform.
After you have WordPress, choose a good design like I’ve described above.
2. Optimize Your WordPress Blog for SEO
Next, you want to make your blog more optimized for search engines. If you have Genesis Framework or Thesis, then you won’t need to do all this stuff. But you may also want to check out these posts to learn more – maybe there’s a step that StudioPress overlooked!
- WordPress SEO by Glen Allsop.
- WordPress SEO by Gregory Ciotti. (Great for new to WordPress folks!)
- Basic WordPress SEO Tools at Your Fingertips by Kenneth von Rauch.
- The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites by Yoast. (Yoast is very well known for their WordPress SEO plugin!)
3. Do Keyword Research the Right Way
Keyword research is a fundamental process in order to find the keywords that you should target to get higher rankings. First, choose the right keywords for your blog. Then, find the keywords you’d like to target in a specific post.
It isn’t an easy step, but it’s not hard either. You can check CopyBlogger’s Keyword Research series for information on how to get started.
4. Create High Quality Content that Google & Your Readers Need
Now, we come to the most important step. You need to have content that Google will need (not just want, but need) to index.
This content must be high quality. Let’s all say it together: Google really cares about their searchers.
Creating compelling content that your readers and Google need is really hard, but you can certainly do it.
Think about a great idea, desire, or need. Then, try to create a post that covers your idea in the best way ever. Make it as helpful as you can.
You could also check out how Tom Ewer creates SEO optimized content for his authority site for inspiration.
5. Optimize Your Post for Search Engines
As I said earlier in this post, you need to write your content firstly for your readers, and then try to optimize it for search engines.
For this, you may need to learn some SEO copywriting.
If you really want to learn SEO copywriting, then check out Brian Clark’s guide to SEO Copywriting.
Also, you can get help from Scribe. It can help you to optimize your blog and do your keyword research. It will even tell you where to get links!
If you don’t know anything about this plugin, check out this Scribe review.
6. Borrow Some Authority
Google cares a lot about authority these days. And they will care more about it in the future.
So it makes sense to borrow some of the authority from popular blogs.
Start writing high quality posts and submit them to top blogs in your niche. Guest post more than you create content on your blog.
When you have a popular blog like Copyblogger, that’s the time when you start creating content only for your blog.
Until then, it’s all about guest posting.
7. Prove to Google That Readers Care About Your Post
Get more comments and shares to prove to Google that people really care about your post
You can create a Click To Tweet button in the top half of your post. Then, ask a question to get more comments at the end of your blog.
You can also ask top bloggers to tweet your posts or decrease your bounce rate. When a lot of people leave your blog, this means that a lot of people hate it and so will Google.
You can check this post on Mashable on how to decrease your bounce rate or this post by Ana Hoffman: Bounce Rate: 16 Ways to Make Your Blog Sticky.
8. Measure Your SEO Efforts
You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
SEO can lead you to a big increase in traffic and hence sales and subscribers. You need to measure all the efforts you spend optimizing your blog for search engines.
Check what really works, and start doing it more. Eliminate what doesn’t work, and focus on what does.
There are a lot of great tools to help you with this. Check out Kristi Hines’ great article 10 Premium SEO Tools That You Can Try for Free (or Cheap) to find some of these great tools for free or for small price.
9. Check Neil Patel’s Guide
Make sure that you take a look at Neil Patel’s advanced SEO guide. It contains a lot of amazing tips that are very advanced.
You can also learn about how to build good backlinks by following this guide on white hat backlinks.
You deserve Higher Rankings!
Yes, you totally deserve to be on the first page of Google. You also deserve to be the first result.
There is a lot of low-quality content that is ranked number 1 on Google.
But now you have everything you need to make your best content rank better on search engines and get the leads you want.
There’s no magic – just the decision and commitment to give this a go.
Take Action. You have what you need so don’t let anything stop you.
And then, wait for your rankings because they will be increasing quickly. Very quickly.