Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Blogs

Written by Newspaper Humor Columnist & Social Media Expert

January 5, 2023
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Blogs

Companies that want to improve their search engine ranking need to do several things to their website to make that happen. Some are complex and require a knowledgeable webmaster; others are very simple and something you can do with very little effort. This is called search engine optimization, or SEO. And people who do this are called search engine optimizers, or also SEOs.

There are basic steps to take, like using keywords in the title of your website and its many pages; using keywords in the alt tags of your photos; writing at least 300 words per page, but preferably more than 800.

There are advanced steps to take, like making sure you have a sitemap of your website, ensuring all your photo sizes are less than 1 MB in size, and hosting your website on a dedicated server so it loads quickly. (If you don't know how to do any of those, ask your webmaster to help.)

One of the biggest steps you can take is to have a blog on your website. Your blog will improve your site's SEO.

What Does Google Look for in a Website?

Google likes to see that a website is updated and changed fairly frequently. They want to know that you keep your website up-to-date and filled with new information.

Remember, Google's entire mission is to give its users a valuable and useful experience. And they can't do that if they keep sending people to out-of-date and broken websites. They want to send people to sites with the latest designs, follow the best practices, and contain the latest information.

So they look at things like the frequency and recency of a website's changes. That is, how often do you do it, and when is the last time you did it?

Several years ago, I knew someone who owned a camping site and had a website that wasn't seeing very much traffic. It wasn't even ranking within the top 200 pages for several of his chosen search terms.

So he began making a few changes to different pages on his website — just minor changes to the text each week. Like changing "week" to "seven days," or "sleeping bag and tent" to "tent and sleeping bag." Little things like that.

And it paid off!

After several weeks, the page began to creep up in the ranking. After six months, it was in the top five results. And after a few more months, it was the number one site for his chosen search terms.

Google Wants You to Provide Value

Google Wants You to Provide Value

The problem with this guy's strategy is that these changes didn't really help his customers. The website didn't provide value. That is, it didn't tell people about the best time to visit, how to survive your first camping trip, or what kinds of animals could be found in the area.

Blogging could have done all of this. It could have made the regular, frequent changes the website needed just by publishing one article per week. And it could have provided value to his customers by giving them answers to any questions they had.

This is the benefit of blogging, and hopefully, you have started doing it for your own company so you can both improve your search engine rank and establish your industry expertise. A blog can be an excellent lead-generation tool and bring in potential customers.

They could be looking for a simple answer to a question, they could be searching for a solution to a problem, or they could be buyers, and they're trying to decide which option is the best one. Think of all the reasons you do web searches. Chances are, when you find answers to your search questions, you found them on a blog page.

The History of Search Engine Optimization

Of course, blogging has its own SEO techniques that can help your website, and they can help your individual blog articles rank higher on Google, too.

First, we need to discuss what does not work. These are techniques that used to work, and some people will still tell you that you absolutely must do them. But they're wrong. These old techniques do not help your search engine optimization. In fact, some of them could cause you to lose ranking positions or even be de-indexed altogether.

Before 2012, these were the techniques you had to do if you wanted to rank well.

  • Pick one unique keyword or key phrase per article.

  • Use that keyword in the headline of the article, preferably near the front.

  • Use the keyword in the meta description and meta keyword tags.

  • Use the keyword in the first four words of the body copy.

  • Use the keyword 2% of the time in the article, or two times out of every 100 words. So you had to use it 12 times in a 600-word article.

  • Use the keyword in the alt tags of every photo.

  • Write new articles for every variation of the keyword. For example, you would have to write an article for "cloud provider in Israel" and "Israel cloud provider." And an article each for "best cloud provider in Israel" and "Israel's best cloud provider."

  • You also needed backlinks — links from another site to your website. And if possible, make sure they have keywords in them.

Don't Cheat on SEO. Google Can Tell.

Things are different these days. Google got tired of all the people cheating, so they changed many of the rules and stopped counting a lot of the things that people used to trick the system.

Things like "keyword stuffing," which means cramming as many keywords into a blog article as possible. You would see things like, "If you want free blogging tips, download this free blogging tips article for 30 free blogging tips." But the goal wasn't to get human readers, it was to trick Google's search engine bots, which really didn't care what the words said. They only wanted to see keywords and a lot of filler.

The cheaters would also publish blog articles with only 30 - 50 words in them — this was called "thin content" — and a link that said, "Click here to read more." If you were lucky, that link went right to the complete article. But more likely, it went to another page with the same 30 - 50 words and a link that went to another page, which went to another page, which went to another page. . .

Google stopped using all of these techniques to determine a page's Google rank. Now you could no longer cheat at SEO, and you had to be very good at blogging. And thousands and thousands of websites plummeted in their rankings, many of them even being de-listed and kicked off the search engine entirely.

It sent professional SEOs into a panic because all of their clients suddenly lost their high positions and lost money. A few content marketers actually improved their ranking because they hadn't been cheating in the first place. But the rest of them fought hard to recover from that day.

That doesn't mean the tactics listed above aren't important. They still are, but they don't actually improve your search rank anymore. It just means you won't get beat by someone who used a keyword 12 times in an article when you only used 11.

Google Has Gotten Smarter, Which Makes SEO Easier

Now, Google has gotten a lot smarter, which has made SEO for blogs much easier.

For one thing, Google understands language better and can tell when keywords are being used. So you no longer have to write articles for "cloud computing in Israel" and "Israel cloud computing." Just using those three words somewhere in an article is enough.

You also still need keywords, but only to help Google understand what your articles are about. It's more like telling a librarian where your book should be shelved, rather than trying to get it shoved up to the front of the library.

Finally, backlinks are important, but not backlinks from just anywhere. They have to be from websites related to the subject of your website. That is, our cloud computing website can't have a backlink from a men's fashion website because they're not related. But a link from a cybersecurity blog would be ideal.

So How Do You Do SEO for Blogs?

To start with, use WordPress for your blog and your website. WordPress is now a content management system, and it is used by at least 27% of all websites in the world. That makes it ideal for most company websites, especially if you're going to be sharing a lot of written content.

There are also hundreds of thousands of designers around the world, which means you can easily find someone to fix your problems and make changes without being tied to an expensive web designer who will overcharge for their services.

Second, WordPress gets a lot of its functionality from plugins. Rather than coding a particular function or feature into your blog, you can get a WordPress plugin for that.

A favorite SEO plugin is one called Yoast, which is made in The Netherlands. (I like it better than All-In-One SEO.) It will tell you how well you have optimized each of your blog articles and web pages. It can tell you whether you've used your keywords effectively and the right number of times. It looks at whether you have keywords in your photo alt tags. And whether your meta description is the right length.

There are other SEO plugins, but Yoast is widely used around the world and has been installed more than five million times.

The New Rules for SEO for Blogs

New Rules for SEO for Blogs

Whether you use Yoast or All-In-One, you still need to follow some of the practices listed above, but they're slightly different than what we did 10 years ago. And there are new rules about what you should and should not do.

  • One keyword/key phrase per article, but it doesn't have to be exact. That is, "Israel" and "cloud computing" don't have to be right next to each other every time.

  • Put a keyword somewhere in the headline and meta description.

  • Use the keyword in the first paragraph, not the first four words.

  • Use the keyword 1 - 2% of the time in the article.

  • Use at least one photo and put the keyword in the alt tags.

  • Have an outbound link to another website.

  • Have an internal link to another page inside your website. Like this one about best WordPress plugins for writers.

Next, write blog articles that are at least 800 words long. People used to believe that readers wanted short articles, but this is not the case anymore. People don't mind long articles as long as they are thorough. That's why this article — and several others on this website — are more than 2,000 words long.

That's because readers want as much information as they can find on important topics. And also because Google loves written content. Remember, it wants to provide value to its users, and short articles are less valuable than long articles.

That doesn't mean every article has to be 800 words or more. It's hard to stretch some topics into 800 words without sounding boring. But most of your articles should be at least 800 words or more.

Your Content Has to be GOOD

Write articles that are about your company's focus. This is more than just writing about your keywords; it's about following the theme of your company's website. If you have a marketing firm, don't write about the local restaurant scene. If you have a construction company, don't write about classic cars.

You should be writing about issues that affect your industry anyway, because it's how you build your expertise. But you want Google to know that your website is only about that industry. If you write about a wide variety of topics, Google can't get a firm grasp on what you do, and you'll waste a lot of effort that could be spent trying to improve your search ranking.

That doesn't mean you can't ever write about restaurants or classic cars, but every article that is not about your company's focus is energy that could have been spent on improving your search rank.

For example, on our blog, we write about cloud computing, ecommerce, web design, email marketing, and WordPress. Why? Because we are a cloud hosting provider that hosts ecommerce companies and WordPress sites, and our customers need to know about things like graphic design and email marketing.

Final Thoughts

Search engine optimization isn't that difficult, it just takes a lot of effort to do it well. If you can create a lot of content, follow the basic best practices, and avoid any kind of cheating or trickery, you can improve your website's search rank.

Just write interesting articles, follow the basic best practices, and publish a new blog article at least once a week. If you can do this, you'll see positive results that will increase overall traffic to your website.

At Verpex, we also host our own WordPress hosting and Managed WordPress hosting, so if you'd like to use the leading content management system in the world, we can certainly help.

Frequently Asked Questions

How web hosting can affect SEO?

If you choose a web hosting company that isn’t that good, your site will load more slowly for visitors. Besides providing a bad user experience for your visitors, search engines also penalize slow sites, which makes your rankings in results go down.

Do DIY blogs make money?

Yes, DIY blogging can bring you are steady income. There are several effective and proven methods to monetize your DIY blog and earn some real money.

Do I need a blogging strategy?

You will achieve rocketing success if you’re able to create an efficient blogging strategy. Make sure you create a great content strategy for your fitness business.

How do I produce high-quality content for my blog?

To create amazing content for your fitness blog, you will need to do proper research and take your time. Write fewer posts, but make sure that the ones you’ve written stand out.

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