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You know social media traffic is not sustainable because you never know when it can get shut down. The best example is Stumbleupon.
So, as a blogger, you should always make sure you are getting traffic from multiple sources so that if one goes down, you have other sources as a backup.
Google traffic is among the best one for sustainable traffic.
In this SEO for dummies guide, I will discuss everything related to SEO and what you should do to drive organic traffic to your blog.
But before I begin, let me tell you I am not a Pro in SEO.
I was just like you when I started blogging & did a lot of experimenting with SEO.
So whatever I will share here is based on my personal experience.
Here is my Organic traffic growth from search engine optimization.
As you can see, my organic traffic is growing slowly, and all I did was some basic On-Page SEO on my contents & blog.
So, if you are new to SEO and doesn‘t know anything about it, then this post will be really helpful for you.
>>Read Next: Best Free Online Video courses on SEO
WHAT IS SEARCH ENGINE ALGORITHM?
HOW DOES A SEARCH ENGINE WORK?
If you want to search for something online, what you do?
Type a keyword on Google, hit search and BAM, a list of page results show up.
Have you ever wondered how these pages are relevant to your keywords?
How does a search engine works that bring all these relevant results?
Well, actually a search engine works in three processes that decide which pages to show up on a search.
- Crawling – Crawling is a process by which search engines bots scan a website and collect details about each page i.e. titles, images, keywords, other linked pages, etc. In this way, they are able to find new information from each website.
- Indexing – After crawling websites, bots add these new pieces of information and pages on to the search engine results. This process is known as Indexing
- Serving Result – This is the final step where a search engine decides which pages to show up for the search query. For this process, it considers more than 200 factors and serves the result to the user.
WHAT IS SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION?
WHY IS SEO IMPORTANT?
SEO is important because it enables your post to land on the first page of Google for the targeted keyword.
If your post is ranking on the first page for a keyword that has 50,000 search volume/month, you will get more targeted traffic which results in more sales and sign-ups.
For example, if I want to sell a product that cures back pain, then I need to target a keyword that people usually types on Google for the same topic.
Suppose, that keyword is “Tips to cure back pain”.
Now, I need to create a post targeting the same keyword where I will give some back pain tips along with my main product.
By following search engine optimization guidelines, I can rank this content on Google for the same keyword which will result in targeted traffic (people having back pain) coming to my post.
Thus, I have better chances to sell my product & that’s how much SEO is important for bloggers and Online marketers.
WHAT ARE THE CATEGORIES OF SEO?
Following are the four categories of SEO.
- White Hat SEO – White Hat SEO is an SEO technique where you follow all the guidelines of the search engine to index your content
- Black Hat SEO – Black Hat SEO is just the opposite of WHS where you don’t follow the guidelines of the search engine and try to index the content with shortcuts or doing things against search engine rules.
- Grey Hat SEO – When you partially follow both white hat and Black hat SEO to index the content.
- Negative SEO – Negative SEO is a method done for other websites or competitors to bring down their rankings in SERP. Like building un-natural links focusing on competitor’s website.
TYPES OF SEO
There are basically three types of SEO:
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
- Local SEO
1. ON-PAGE SEO
On Page SEO refers to the actions performed inside the website or at website back end.
It relies on the following elements of your website i.e.
- Quality of code
- Technical setup
- User friendliness of the site
- Textual & visual content
While doing On-page SEO, all you need to concentrate on optimizing individual pages by targeting certain keywords. You can read more on On-Page SEO by clicking here.
2. OFF-PAGE SEO
Off-Page SEO refers to the actions performed outside the website.
It’s a method of creating website strength and gaining visitors by creating engagement on several online platforms.
Here are a few Off-Page SEO methods:
- Link Building
- Directory Submission
- Social Bookmarking
- Press Release Submission
- Web2.0 support
- Forum Posting
- Posting content on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram & Quora.
You can learn more about Off-Page SEO by clicking here.
3. LOCAL SEO
Local SEO is a great way to market your local business online by optimizing your website to local customers for relevant local searches.
In simple words, if you own a restaurant in New York and you want to attract customers from New York online, then you need to perform Local SEO on your restaurant website for Local Searches.
So, if anyone searches keywords such as “New York Restaurant” or “Restaurants nearby”, your website shows up.
You can read this guide to know more.
WHAT IS KEYWORD RESEARCH?
Keyword research is a method for identifying popular keywords and phrases people type in search engine for specific topics.
Researching keywords gives marketers an idea of how much competition they have and how much search volume it has. Thus they get a clear idea of whether or not to target them in their content.
To do Keyword research, there are many tools available online.
Some of them are free like Google Keyword Planner and others are paid.
I personally use KW finder because it is a great tool to find long tail keywords that are easier to rank.
This is something difficult to find in free tools.
You can read this keyword research guide where I discuss this in detail.
OPTIMIZE CONTENT FOR RANKBRAIN
RankBrain is a machine learning system that learns from user interaction which helps Google to sort their search results and rank content accordingly.
Hold on, you didn’t get it, right? Let me explain
Before RankBrain, Google algorithm was hand-coded by Google Engineers. These Engineers use to update Algorithm manually to improve its functionality.
But now, RankBrain does all this work automatically in the background by reading searchers interaction with the keywords.
If they find out that the search engine result page for a specific keyword is not doing well, then RankBrain tweaks the algorithm automatically to bring more accurate result for that keyword.
There are two articles on the first page of Google for a specific keyword.
One is at number 3rd position (yours) and another article (competitor) is at 1st position.
Now, if people search that keyword and visit your competitors content just to find out that it isn’t engaging or doesn’t satisfy their need, then Google will decrease its ranking.
In the same way, if they check out your article and finds it to be an amazing one, then Google will push your ranking.
All this is done automatically by RankBrain by reading the activities of the searcher.
HOW RANKBRAIN DETERMINES THE QUALITY OF CONTENT?
RankBrain basically looks for these signals when users are interacting with the content:
- Click-Through-Rate – How many clicks your content gets on the search engine
- Dwell Time – Amount of time a user spends on a page from the search results before returning to the SERPs. Higher dwell time is better.
- Bounce Rate – Bounce rate is considered higher when readers visit only one page of your website before exiting. Higher bounce rate is a big NO.
- Pogo Sticking – Pogo sticking is when a search engine users visit several different search results in order to find a result that satisfies their search query.
If you write a post that has
- Amazing Headline so you get a good click-through-rate.
- Engaging content that sticks visitors for a longer time (Dwell Time)
- A good interlinking structure so that visitors visits more pages on your website. (Bounce Rate)
- Answers what visitors are looking for (Pogo Sticking)
That’s when you nail RankBrain with your content.
OPTIMIZE FOR VOICE SEARCH
This is a new feature that readers are taking advantage to search contents on Google.
The traditional way to search anything on Google is by typing keywords. But now, we can do the same by voice searching.
You just have to say your keywords and Google will bring you the results by reading your voice. Thus, you don‘t need to type anything.
HOW TO OPTIMIZE CONTENT FOR VOICE SEARCH?
The answer is simple.
Include questions in your content and answer them within 1-2 paragraphs.
Most audience uses voice search to find answers to certain questions.
If you search a keyword on Google, you can find a section known as “People also ask” in the search result where Google suggests a few questions that are related to that keyword.
You just have to target these questions on your content and answer them in 1 or 2 paragraphs. If you follow this routine, your content is ready for voice search.
HOW TO OPTIMIZE WORDPRESS SITE FOR SEARCH ENGINE TO BOOST ORGANIC TRAFFIC?
Till now, we have seen, so many things related to SEO which are very important to rank your content on Google.
But before you implement all this, you must make sure your website is SEO friendly to get the most out of.
And how will you do it?
Well, that’s what we will look.
1. CHECK OUT SITE VISIBILITY OPTION
The first thing you need to do is uncheck “search engine visibility” option on WordPress so that Google bots can find your website.
To do that, go to settings > Reading option.
Scroll down and check whether you have unchecked this option.
This option is only useful when you don’t want to index your newly created website on Google until it is ready.
There may be various reason for this like no contents, incomplete site design, etc.
2. FOCUS ON PERMALINK STRUCTURE
A permalink is a link to an individual blog post. On WordPress, there are various permalink structures that you can use on your website as shown below.
Out of all this, Post name and Custom structure are the best one.
If you have a personal blog, then the Post name structure will be the best choice.
However, if you have an e-commerce site, then Custom structure will be the best choice because you can include categories in your permalink.
Here is how both of them looks
- Post Name – www.yoursite.com/main-keyword
- Custom Structure – www.yoursite.com/category/main-keyword
3. INSTALL YOUR BEST BUDDY “YOAST PLUGIN”
If you want a plugin to guide you through all the technical optimization steps to optimize your pages?
Drop everything & install Yoast Plugin.
I highly recommend this plugin because it highlights every guideline needed to optimize a page for the search engine.
While writing any content, if you scroll down a bit, you can find a set of instructions by Yoast with a green & red dot.
A green dot shows you have implemented the step in your page whereas the red dot is just the opposite.
You can read this guide on how to install & set up the Yoast plugin.
4. ADD XML SITEMAP
A sitemap is a file that lists every page of a website to make it easier for bots to find all the content in one place. Thus, adding a sitemap is a great way to improve indexing.
To create a sitemap, you can use the Yoast Plugin which will automatically create a sitemap for your website.
You can refer to this guide on how to create & submit a sitemap for a WordPress site.
You can also check any website’s sitemap by inserting “sitemap_index.xml” at the end of the URL.
For example www.yoursite.com/sitemap_index.xml
5. ADD YOUR SITE TO GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
Google search console is a set of tools offered by Google. It helps website owners to track indexing status & check the visibility of the website.
You will be able to know what is working & what is not working on your website if you use search console.
If you have any questions on your mind such as
- Whether Google is indexing your content?
- What search term are readers using to find your content?
- How often your pages are clicked?
- Is there something wrong with your website?
Then you can find all these answers through the search console.
You can read this guide on how to add WordPress site on Google search console.
6. START DOING INTERNAL LINK BUILDING
Internal link building is a process where you link one page of a domain to another relevant page of the same domain.
According to SEO experts, Search engine assigns page score (page authority) to each page which shows how well that page will rank on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
Google has never disclosed the factors which increase the page authority.
However, many SEO experts say that interlinking is one of the major factors that boost this score.
So, if you have a well interlinking structure on your site, you have better chances to increase page authority.
Additionally, it also helps in the following scenarios:
- They allow visitors to navigate a website.
- They help to establish a site architecture which allows Google bots to crawl easily.
- They help spread link equity (ranking power) around the website.
- Decreases bounce rate
- Improves session time
HOW TO STRUCTURE YOUR SITE BY INTERNAL LINKING?
Crawling is very much important in SEO.
If Google bots can‘t crawl your site, they do not index your pages.
If it is not indexed, it won‘t appear on Google.
This is the reason you should have a strong interlinking structure for a better site crawlability.
You need to make sure that if bots enter your site from one of your pages, it should be able to crawl your whole website.
Now, it doesn’t mean that you link all irrelevant pages.
Let’s take an example:
If I have a post about SEO and another post about Work at home jobs, will it make sense to interlink both of them?
No, because both of them are on different topics and visitors landing on work at home job post won’t be interested in checking out the SEO post.
Such type of linking can cause less session time and a higher bounce rate.
The main purpose of interlinking should be to engage your audience as long as possible on your site.
And it can be only possible if you link relevant posts.
Let’s understand this by following below steps
- First, find a high authority post on your blog. This can also be done for each category on your site. Like for the blogging category, it must be a “How to start a blog guide” post.
- Now link all the relevant blogging post to this main post by an anchor text. Make sure you are not repeating the same anchor text.
- Now do the opposite of the previous step i.e. link this post with all the relevant blogging post.
I know I confused you.
But don’t worry, check out the following image for a better understanding.
As you can see, the main post (How to start a blog) is linking with all the other 3 posts.
In the same way, all the 3 posts are linking back to the main post.
Thus, if bots land on any one page, it will be able to crawl on all of them.
This will also improve the ranking of your main post as it has relevant internal backlinks pointing at it.
You can learn more about internal linking by clicking here.
Another thing is, you need to make sure that each & every page on your website should not be more than 3 clicks away from your homepage.
For example, if a visitor lands on your homepage, then he/she must be able to reach any page on your site within 3 clicks.
For this, you can use navigational, sidebar, footer & in-content links.
Here is an awesome content on the same topic which will clear your doubts further.
7. NOFOLLOW EXTERNAL LINKS (NOT ALL)
Nofollowing a link means bots/crawlers can’t crawl the page linked with it.
For example, If I have linked a page B from Page A with a nofollow tag, then bots can’t crawl from Page A to Page B.
Now, the question is, whether nofollowing all the external links is good or not?
Well, the answer is both Yes & No.
It is YES in those cases if you are linking to the below sources:
- Affiliate Links
- Links to sites that are low-quality
- Irrelevant links
- Paid links
- User-generated links such as blog comments
It is NO in the rest of the cases:
- Interlinking your own internal pages
- Linking to relevant sites that are high-quality
Here is a good article by blogpros.com on Nofollow links that will briefly explain everything.
8. IMPROVE YOUR SITE SPEED
What you do when you land on a website & it takes forever to load?
You hit that back button and browse another one. Right?
Do you want this to happen on your website too?
No, because you don’t want to drive away your visitors.
So, what should you do?
Obviously, increase your site loading speed.
But how will you do it?
Try the following things:
- Use a fast & secure web host ( I will recommend SiteGround)
- Install a theme that is optimized for both speed & SEO
- Install a WordPress caching plugin such as W3 Total Cache
- Compress Images before uploading
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) such as Cloudflare
Also, Google prefers to rank fast loading sites better in comparison with the slow one.
9. TIGHTEN YOUR SITE SECURITY
Every day lots of websites are blacklisted by Google due to spammy activities & they won’t show up on the search engine.
Think about it, what if someone injects spam code on your site that redirects your visitor to a spam site.
I am damn sure your site will be blacklisted by Google and you don’t want that. Right?
That is why it is very important to keep your website safe & secure.
Personally, I use All in One WP Security & firewall Plugin which makes my WordPress site safe from malware activities & hackers.
Though websites can’t be 100% secured, still implementing such plugins on your site reduces the risk.
You can read this guide to find out how to install & configure this plugin properly.
Along with this plugin, I also use the Google Authenticator app which adds an extra layer of safety.
You can read this guide where I have shown how to secure WordPress site using Google Authenticator.
10. USE SSL/HTTPS
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer which encrypts the connection between the user browser & server to add an extra layer of security to your website.
SSL is basically indicated by a green padlock sign in the browsers address bar.
FINAL NOTE – SEO FOR DUMMIES 2019
If you made it till here, then congratulations!
Whatever I have shared here is just a small piece of information on SEO and there is a lot more to learn.
If you want to explore more, make sure to read articles from the below websites:
As an additional bonus, here are some free Skillshare video courses that you can take.
Before taking these courses, make sure to sign-up for a Skillshare trial plan using my link to get 2 months free subscription.
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