Want to get found in more Google searches? Want to grow your blog in a fast and sustainable way? Want to grow your blog in a way that DOESN’T take up all your time and energy? Then you need to check out these 11 easy ways to boost your blog’s SEO.
I have tried many, many ways over the years to grow my blog: writing great content, improving my photography, social media, Pinterest, YouTube, photo sharing sites, blogger outreach, email marketing…
Want to know the best, most reliable way I have found to grow my blog? The way I have found that actually takes the least time and yields the best results? The thing I have implemented that grew my blog from 14,000 monthly page views to over 160,000 in just 10 months?
SEO – that’s what!
By learning everything I can about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and then putting it into practice I have grown my blog and my income exponentially. But the great news is SEO doesn’t even take that much time! It’s nothing like the hours and hours we bloggers have to put into social media if we want to see any kind of serious growth.
And the results are so much better, so much more reliable and so much more sustainable too! Once I’ve done the work, it’s done. And I keep on reaping the rewards day after day, week after week.
Plus, there’s no silly games. Everything I do for SEO purposes also benefits my readers and makes my content and my website better for them too. I don’t have to faff around with crazy memes and silly jokes and documenting cringeworthy aspects of my day. I don’t have to spend hours and hours a day ‘liking’ pictures of other people’s cats in the vain hope that I might get a few extra page views out of it.
So how do you do it?
Well, SEO is a BIIIIG subject and quite honestly, I could write a book on the subject (maybe I will one day) BUUUT I know your time is precious and right now you probably don’t want to read a whole book on SEO (though I really recommend you do if you can find the time – it’s well worth it). So here are 11 easy ways to boost your blog’s SEO.
1. Write great content your audience actually wants to read
This should probably be tip number 1, 2, 3 and 4. Because this is at the HEART of great SEO strategy. Think about what search engines, like Google, are in the business of doing. They want to provide the BEST service for THEIR customers.
Who are their customers? People who are searching for stuff. If you write great content that people actually want to read, that people are actually actively searching for, Google will send them your way. If you write rubbish content, or things that other people are just not going to be interested in then, even if you implement every other SEO tip under the sun, you are not going to get on page 1 of Google.
A huge part of SEO is about user experience (UX) – if a search engine sends traffic to your site and those people have a great experience on your site, spend a long time reading and interacting with your content. Google will send you more traffic. If they have a bad experience on your site and immediately come back to Google to search again, the opposite will happen. Google wants to connect its customers to great content that is relevant to their search. So, write great content.
It used to be the case that to do well on Google you used to have to post 3 or more times per week. But that’s not true anymore. In fact, it is far, far better to post 1 piece of GREAT content per week that 3 or 4 mediocre pieces.
And it’s not just about the words you write, it’s also about the photos and graphics you use. The better they are, the more people are likely to want to spend time on your website and enjoy your content.
One of the best things I ever did for my blog, was learnt to take good photographs – it has made a huge difference to my SEO. Even now, when I go back to an old post and update the photos, I see a huge increase in my Google traffic – almost straight away!
2. Give your audience more of what they love
This works so well. Look at your most popular posts and create more of the same. So for example, I noticed that my Roast Chicken Leftovers Curry was doing well over on my food blog Easy Peasy Foodie, so I created Leftover Chicken and Egg Fried Rice – and guess what? Leftover Chicken and Egg Fried Rice is now my fourth most popular recipe, with OVER 20,000 VIEWS IN THE LAST 3 MONTHS! I also created Easy Chicken Rogan Josh and Easy Chicken Korma – both of those recipes are consistently in my top 10.
How does this work? Well, there are a couple of factors. One is that if you keep people on your site longer (because they are clicking through other similar content that interests them), then it sends signals to search engines that users are having a good experience on your site.
The other is that by writing good posts on a particular topic, you build up ‘topical authority’ in that area. So, for example, if I already have a selection of popular posts on roast potatoes and a I write another one, Google recognises that the previous posts I have written on the subject are good so this one is likely to be good too, so boosts my latest roast potato post. As I have said before – search engines want to provide their customers with the best answer to their search query. If the search engine knows I have provided good information on roast potato posts before, it’s going to assume my latest roast potato post is going to be good too!
3. Do keyword research
Can’t emphasise this one enough. If you don’t do this yet – DO IT! Find a Keyword Research Tool you like (I use the Keyword Tool at SEOBook, which is free and very easy to use and Ubersuggest, which goes into more depth), then type in the keywords for the post you were thinking of writing.
So, let’s say for example, that I decide I want to make a recipe on Easy Peasy Foodie for ‘blue cheese, kale and mushroom salad’ (yuck, yes I know – for illustration purposes only, I promise!) So, I type those keywords in to the keyword tool on SEO Book and guess what? No one is searching for blue cheese, kale and mushroom salad – crazy! So, I know if I create that recipe, I am unlikely to get any page views from search engines.
But let’s broaden the search a bit and instead search for ‘blue cheese salad’ – aaaaah now we have LOTS of searches. Now I can sort this by clicking on the arrow next to US Monthly or UK monthly (annoyingly it does those separately, so you might want to look at both). And I can see some great ideas for recipes here: ‘blue cheese, walnut and pear salad’ gets lots of searches, as does ‘blue cheese and steak salad’ and ‘blue cheese potato salad’ looks to be the most popular search of all. So now I know if I create one of these salads I have a much better chance of getting some search engine traffic. But wait, keywords is only half of the equation, you also have to look at your competition…
4. Check out your competition on Google
Just because something gets a lot of searches, doesn’t mean Google is going to send them all your way! Because, guess what? There are some much bigger players out there who, if they have a post on the same keywords as you, will rank higher. So, if you want to do well on Google, the trick is to find something that gets a decent number of searches but has relatively little competition from the big players.
How do you do this? Simple! Type the keywords into Google and see what pops up!
So, let’s try it. If I type in ‘blue cheese, walnut and pear salad’ into Google, let’s see what pops up…hmm I see the BBC, Delia Smith, Genius Kitchen, Delicious Magazine and Epicurious – all big players that I don’t stand a chance against buuut I also see some blogs and websites I’ve never heard of before – if they are getting on to page 1 then maybe I stand a chance too.
Let’s try another one: ‘blue cheese potato salad’. OK so again I get some big players on page 1: the BBC, My Recipes, Tesco, Genius Kitchen, Epicurious, but also a few smaller ones. And it’s a similar story for ‘blue cheese and steak salad’. So now I have 3 great ideas for recipes, that I have a really great chance of actually getting on page 1 of Google for. All of which have way more chance of getting good Google traffic than my original ‘blue cheese, kale and mushroom idea’!
The real gold dust is of course when you find something that gets a decent number of searches, but little or no competition. Particularly if there is NOTHING that comes up with the exact keywords you type in. So, just as an example, if I type in ‘blue cheese, steak and kale salad’, none of the results are for ‘blue cheese, steak and kale salad’. I get ‘blue cheese, bacon and kale salad’; or ‘kale and steak salad’; or ‘steak and blue cheese salad’. But no ‘blue cheese, steak and kale salad’ – this, my friends, is gold dust because, if I create a ‘blue cheese, steak and kale salad’, I am highly likely to rank number 1 in google for that search.
Because remember, Google is in the business of providing an excellent result for their customers. If someone types ‘blue cheese, steak and kale salad’ into Google, Google will want to send them to a recipe for ‘blue cheese, steak and kale salad’ NOT a recipe for ‘blue cheese, bacon and kale salad’…because that’s not what their searcher wanted!!
And, even better, over time if I do well for that longer search term, Google might start sending me traffic for more popular search terms too – like ‘steak and blue cheese salad’.
5. Write great titles
So, you can go away and create an amazing, totally delicious steak and blue cheese salad, write a really great post and illustrate it with some amazing photos.
But none of this is going to matter if you don’t then use those keywords in your title (and indeed lots of other places in your post – more about that later).
If I create that wonderful post and recipe, but then call my recipe ‘Auntie Mabel’s favourite salad recipe’ or ‘super crazy summer potluck salad’ or something else random – guess what? Google’s not going to know that this is a really great answer to the search for blue cheese, steak and kale salad – and neither will your readers for that matter.
So, all that great keyword research will have been for nothing. And I won’t get any of that lovely Google traffic. So, for goodness sake: PUT THE KEYWORD IN THE TITLE! It may be boring, it may be ‘not your style’. But if you want to rank well on Google you need to call your salad exactly what it is ‘Steak and Blue Cheese Salad’.
BTW – I know I am using a recipe post as an illustration here – it works for all kinds of keywords and blog posts, not just recipes. It’s just recipes is such and easy and tangible way to see this come to life.
But that’s not the end of the matter, oh no! There’s so much more you can be doing!
6. Optimise every post for SEO
So, you’ve done your keyword research, you’ve created a really good quality post that you know your audience will love and you’ve used the keywords in the title – yay!
Well done – give yourself a virtual high 5…buuut there’s so much more you can be doing. To give your post a really great chance of getting the maximum amount of traffic from Google. How? By optimising your post for SEO. How? By putting those keywords in lots of other strategic places…
- In your first paragraph
- In the URL
- In the alt description of your images
- In the meta description (see the next point about the Yoast plugin)
- And scattered a few times NATURALLY throughout the post
Note that important point ‘naturally’… a long time ago the way to rank well on search engines was a technique called ‘keyword stuffing’ – a technique which relied on putting your keywords in to your article as many times as you possibly could. DON’T do that! Those days are long gone. Remember that thing I said above about user experience – that is so much more important. A post with the keywords stuffed in unnaturally over and over again is not going to result in a nice experience – so don’t do that!
Another good idea is to also add a few complimentary keywords into the post – again NATURALLY. Other keywords people might use who would really like your salad – things like ‘best steak salad’ or ‘healthy steak salad’ or ‘great steak salad for potlucks’ or ‘easy steak and blue cheese salad’ or ‘grilled steak and blue cheese salad’ – all of these should help you do well for variations on your keyword. And you can use the keyword tool to see what keywords have a good search volume in them. Just make sure you weave them into the post in a natural and readable way that is beneficial to your reader and improves their user experience rather than a clunky and distracting way.
REMEMBER: if you have to choose between keywords and user experience, always go with what’s best and most helpful for your readers, because it is your readers who you are ultimately writing for NOT search bots!!
Sounds a bit tricky, need some help on this? Well it’s lucky, because there is a great FREE plugin that you can use to make this so much easier…
7. Get the Yoast Plugin
If you do not have the Yoast Plugin GET IT NOW! I consider it one of those essential plugins that ALL self-hosted WordPress blog should have. (Sorry if you are hosted or not on WordPress, but I don’t think it’s available for you – but do check to see if there is something similar that you can get…or maybe it’s time to think about switching your blog to self-hosted WordPress #justsayin)
So, what does Yoast do? It does a whole bunch of amazing things to help your SEO…
First of all, it analyses your post and lets you know if you’ve managed to do all the things I mention in point 6 above. Second of all it analyses the readability of your posts (also an important factor in SEO). With both of these things it has a traffic light code so if you get the green light then you know you’re on the right track!
Thirdly, Yoast gives you a snippet preview – which allows you to see how your entry will look in Google. It also lets you change the URL, title and meta description (the short intro paragraph) to be just right for Google.
Yoast will also allow you to verify your site with the major search engines, including Google and Bing and link your site to the major social media platforms.
Finally, one of the best features of Yoast is that it automatically generates a sitemap of your website, which updates automatically as you add new content, and lets search engines search engines know when it’s been updated.
8. Build internal links and backlinks
Another way to boost your SEO and page views is to build internal links and backlinks. Backlinks are links from other blogs and websites that link back to you. Having lots of links pointing at your website helps build your ‘authority’ and tells search engines that you have content worth reading…but they can be hard to build.
Some people get obsessed by backlinks, but in reality, they are only one part of SEO. Do everything you can to build good quality backlinks, but don’t obsess about them.
Ways to build backlinks include participating in roundups and blogger linkys/link parties, guest posting and contributing to articles written by other bloggers, brands and online publications.
It takes time to build backlinks, but by participating in the blogging community and willingly participating when people crowdsource for roundups and articles, you will slowly build some good backlinks. And the bigger and more popular your blog becomes, the greater the opportunity for backlinks becomes, so it’s a virtuous circle. Though often it’s something you don’t have much control over, sadly.
One thing you do have control over and should be doing as often as possible is internal links. Internal links are simply links that link from one post/page on your site to another. So, if you have written an article on ‘how to rock Pinterest’ on your site, you could link to all the other Pinterest posts you have written or your Pinterest category page.
Internal links are good for your readers – pointing them to more helpful content; good for your page views – if you can persuade every reader who arrives on your site to look at just one more page, you’ve doubled your pageviews; and internal links are good for your SEO too, keeping your audience on your site for longer and telling search engines there’s good stuff on your blog and your readers are having a good experience.
So, make sure whenever you write a new post, to look for ways to add internal links into that post, either at the end of the post to point them to more similar content or dropped in (NATURALLY) in the main text of your post. And when you put those internal links, make sure the anchor text (the text your reader clicks) is keyword rich too. Don’t make your anchor text ‘click here’, make it: for more information see this post: ‘top Pinterest tips’.
9. Make your site easily navigable
In very much the same vein, another thing you can do to boost your SEO is to make your site easy for your readers to find their way around and find what they are looking for. Not only do search engines like this, but your readers will thank you for it too, and of course making it easy for people to find their way around will help boost your page views too. Take a long hard look at your site and ask yourself, ‘is it easy to find stuff’. Can people find the search bar easily? What about your category pages? Are your menus helpful? If you run any linkies, can people find the latest one easily from your home page? And one thing it’s super important to have is a category index (or recipe index if you are a food blogger). It is a really great way to help people find what they are looking for or just browse. A category index is simply a helpful index of all your categories: you can see my Productive Blogging category index here and my Easy Peasy Foodie recipe index here as examples. If you have a good theme you may find there is a category index page included (check your theme documentation) – it’s one of the reasons why I love Restored 316 themes* so much – their category index pages are so good and so customisable too. Alternatively, there are some good category/recipe index plugins available.
A good way to check if your site is easily navigable is to ask other people. Remember you know your site like the back of your hand and can probably find anything you want, but other people do not find it so easy. So, ask some kind friends or blogging mates what they think.
10. Make sure your blog is optimised for mobile
This is a biggie! You MUST have a mobile responsive site if you want to do well on search engines. It is likely over 50% of your page views will be on a mobile device, so if your site looks clunky on mobile, or worse still your site doesn’t even have a mobile version, it may be time to buy a new theme – one that is mobile responsive! Google recently announced that from 2018 it would be prioritising mobile responsive websites in its search results, so if your site does not look good on mobile you are going to be missing out on lots of Google traffic and potential page views!
11. Improve your site speed
This is a big topic and quite technical, so I am not going to go into this in great detail, but basically the faster your site, the better it will do in search engines because guess what? A faster site gives a better user experience.
So, do everything you can to ensure your site is running as fast as possible. Sometimes it may mean moving webhosts. When I moved to my current host SiteGround* I noticed a significant improvement in my site speed and consequently Google traffic. Site speed can also be improved by deleting any old plugins you don’t use any more, installing a caching plugin (if you use SiteGround it comes with their SuperCacher plugin which is super easy to set up) and making sure the images you upload are not too large.
To test your site speed, go to Pingdom, type in your URL and hit start test. Don’t be alarmed by all the random stuff, just see how fast your site is loading. Every second you shave off your site speed will improve your SEO, page views and of course – user experience!!
Extra bonus tip for recipe bloggers
If you are a recipe blogger there is another HUGE thing that you MUST do in order to improve your SEO and that is, you must have a recipe plugin. This is a special plugin that turns your recipe into language that Google can understand and use in its searches.
If you have a good recipe plugin, this will give Google the extra information it needs to feature a photo of your recipe, how long your recipe takes, the calorie content of your recipe and the number of stars your recipe has got from reviews. Giving all this information will dramatically improve your ranking on Google and consequently your traffic from Google.
I recommend the WP Recipe Maker Plugin*, which is brilliant and has massively increased my Google traffic. There is a free version, which will give you the basics, and a paid for version which will give you extras like nutritional info and the ability to switch between US customary and metric measurements (or any two measurements you choose). If you can afford it, I really recommend the premium version as it is incredibly good value and will pay for itself eventually.
So there you have it: 11 easy ways to boost your blog’s SEO. Please don’t be overwhelmed. I realise it may look like you have a lot to do, but in reality, all of these things are very easy to do (if I can do them, you definitely can!) and will become second nature to you as you get used to doing them.
Some of these things (like improving site speed, making sure your blog is mobile responsive and installing the Yoast plugin) are basically one offs. You do them once and it’s done, and you don’t have to worry about it much.
Other things (like internal linking, keyword and competitor research, and ensuring your keywords are in your title and all through your blogpost) will simply become part of your blog writing routine and you will hardly notice yourself doing them after a while.
And the best thing of all is that the results of working on your SEO are long lasting (unlike social media!), the more you do, the better your blog performs and the more traffic your blog gets. And if you keep writing great content and optimising it for SEO you will keep doing better and better in search engines and gaining more and more authority and so doing better and better – it’s a virtuous circle – and so much more enjoyable than the huge peaks and troughs that come with social media traffic!
A handy SEO Checklist…
Fancy a quick and easy to use checklist to help make sure you’ve optimised every post for SEO?
Download my Blog Post SEO Checklist, print off a copy and use it to check each blog post to make sure it’s as good as it can possibly be!
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*This blog post contains affiliate links, this means if you click on a link and go on to buy the product I recommend, I will get a small commission, but you will not be charged a penny more – thanks in advance!