If you are into blogging for the long run you should be focusing on SEO. SEO is what’s going to drive tons of traffic to your website while you sleep.
But here’s the thing, everyone out there is going to tell you to do a ton of things to improve SEO, like:
- improving keyword density in your content
- uploading your sitemap to Google
- improving your page load speed
- playing around with various SEO plugins
- increasing backlinks to your site
The Simplest trick is ‘Value’
Want to improve ranking? Think in terms of what’s going to best serve your user. That’s what Google wants and it rewards you when you best serve your users.
If any of those things that I already mentioned really worked what makes you think Google would take 6 to 8 months to rank a post?
If you already don’t know, Google takes around 8 months to judge what the user is experiencing on your post. Therefore, if any of your posts grow over time, you will see that the initial few months barely have any traffic.
Here, I will break down providing value to the user into concise points you can start working on right now.
It’s not just about how you place your text, headings, passage blocks, and images alone, but a ton of other things like:
- is the information provided on your blog post easy to implement by your reader?
- do they have the right and enough resources to actually help them in what they were looking for?
- is your post the right length?
- are you going beyond what everyone else is doing?
- is your content easy to compete with?
Now, I know you are looking into improving your SEO and you probably want all those magic tricks that will make any of your content rank on Google and start bringing you a ton of traffic.
The truth of the matter is that not EVERY piece of content can rank on Google. Google is getting smarter by the day. Gone are the days stuffing keywords in a blog post would get you a ton of traffic. Google is looking for quality and that will only come if you invest time and effort in researching before you give away the final draft of your blog post to Google.
3. Extra Resources
As an example, someone might come to your website to look for the best WordPress themes in 2021. Here’s what you can use in your research to give meaningful extra resources to your user:
- weather those themes are SEO-friendly (share page load speeds)
- weather the themes are responsive
- tell them if they can easily find the documentation for the theme
- let them know what others using the theme are saying about it
- share a few example websites
Related: Top WordPress themes for Bloggers
By doing all of this you are going an extra mile. This will take you time and effort and a lot of research, but imagine its value to someone reading your blog post.
Some resources you can share with your readers to provide even more value:
- Reference documents
4. Understand the query an actual user will use
Again, since a lot of SEO experts on the internet still teach you to use and work on Keywords, if you are worried about them and don’t know where to go, go nowhere.
Keywords are as good as dead. Google is looking for more. They want answers to questions people are asking for.
That also means you can rank for multiple keywords in a single post. It’s Google’s job to find the answers, your job is to give them in a nice, concise manner understandable to the human brain. Yup!
But this does not mean you don’t need to research before you post anything on the blog. You still need to know whether people actually are looking for what you are posting. Keywords might help there. But the overall concept of keywords and putting them in certain places out of duty inside your blog post just won’t cut it like they used to once. Or so it was thought.
5. Valid ways to promote your content
Building backlinks is actually violating Google’s guidelines that clearly state:
‘While links are used in ranking, using them to trick search engines into thinking that a site is relevant would violate our guidelines’. [Source: Google]
If your links are not super relevant, Google will simply drop your ranking. You need to find valid ways to promote your content and build authority. That could include:
- creating a Youtube channel
- hiring a marketing company
- write stats that people can share and reference back to your website
- create tables and infographics
- create quotes people can share with their audience
Now a lot of people will preach about backlinks and it’s because they do work in the short term but if (and it’s just a matter of when) Google’s powerful AI algorithm finds out what you are doing, there goes all your hard work.
Spend more time creating great content than creating backlinks. Google doesn’t want you to create backlinks now. That will happen on auto.
There was a time Google did not penalize backlinking but now it does and you are going to put in hard work only to do hard to your ranking.
Pro Tip: If you still want to have backlinks and want them organically, guest post on blogs and websites in your niche. This is not just a great marketing tactic but also brings valid backlinks to your website. Just keep it original and with the intent to provide value to the reader. Rest will happen on its own.
6. WordPress takes care of SEO
You really don’t need an SEO plugin to improve your website because according to experts at Google:
‘WordPress takes care of 80-90% of (the mechanics of) Search Engine Optimization (SEO).’
Just go get rid of the plugins you are using to do all the SEO magic. WordPress is doing most of it for you. There is nothing that smart these plugins are doing, at least most of them out there. All Google wants is a clear pathway to find your content, title, description, and a fast website and that is all there is. Why are we overdoing stuff?
That’s true for most of us out there. But for others, by others I mean large websites with specific purposes like e-commerce stores, you need to hire SEO experts to look after the really important stuff. But for others, bloggers, and small business owners, SEO is simple and you don’t quite need a plugin for that.
Fewer plugins can increase your website page load speed. Here are 10 other things that are slowing your website.
7. Keyword Density Vs. Semantic Search
A few years ago, more than a decade maybe, keyword density was a valid thing to do. I remember even writing a blog post on where to strategically place keywords in your post to rank better on Google.
I know you don’t want to read it, but for understanding, here is the post: How to strategically place keywords for better SEO rankings?
Now, Google got smarter and uses semantic search on your post to understand what it’s about. This simply means Google can understand the intent and contextual meaning behind the content you are posting. You don’t need to stuff your article with ‘best restaurants in city, state’. Google can understand if you write a regular piece of article on ‘where to eat in the city, state’.
8. Search Analysis
Now that keyword density doesn’t really mean a lot to Google, do we get rid of search analysis too?
Not exactly, you don’t need to search for the exact phrase or keyword people are searching for and use it in your post but you do need to look into a few things like:
- what is the search density around your search phrase
- is anyone actually searching for the topic
- are enough people searching for the topic
- can you beat the competition if you write on the topic
9. Improving URLs
No, you don’t need to stuff your URL with your keyword but it’s nice to convey a general idea to the user about what they are going to get on a specific page on your website.
Google likes simple URLs. Something like websitename.com/keto-recipes-weight-loss as opposed to websitenamecom/p=17309.
This is a feature WordPress already gives you. Read my post on changing your URL structure to improve SEO for a full tutorial.
10. How long does it take to rank on Google?
Someone fairly new to SEO might not get it when they are doing everything in the book and not getting ranked on Google at all. I remember when I started all this blogging thing, it was frustrating.
Imagine me following all the instructions by an internet SEO expert and crickets. Fast forward, a bit further in my quest to learn SEO I found out that it takes Google a while to rank your content. That could mean around 18 to 35 weeks depending upon how established your website is.
Then again, this is not a general rule. There are many other variables involved. So keep working hard, don’t let this wait stop you from working on other articles on your website. Do your best and let Google do its job.
12. Winning Snippets
Google is trying its best to be best at what it does best, giving you answers. Google introduced snippets from the websites directly on the search engine results page to give its users quick answers. You don’t just have to win a spot on the first page on Google but also that snippet.
So essentially your blog post writing process should look something like this:
a. Search analysis: Refer to the search analysis section of this blog post.
b. Researching content: Spend around 30 minutes to an hour just researching the content you are going to write. This will help you gather your thoughts together.
c. Writing: Write your first draft right after your research session. Give a simple answer to the question you are trying to target. Create subheadings and try filling in content under those.
d. Answer targets: This is where you target the snippet. Google likes to answer in the form of lists, videos, tables, or paragraphs. Make it concise and to the point, enough to even sound encyclopedic.
e. Forget about the post: Because we already discussed all you will get after so much hard work is crickets. You will start to see results in 8 months and sometimes even more. So, don’t wait. Start working on your next great post.
13. More Content is equal to More Traffic is Equal to Better SEO
Google wants you to give out content consistently and it likes when you have great content spread out on your website. Just one great article is not enough. Create a content plan and keep kicking in great content after great content. That’s what you started your blog for, right? I hope so.
15. Build Authority and Trust
Collaborations, outreach, and attending conferences are the best ways to build authority and create trust with your audience. That’s not it though.
For some niches, building authority and trust can be critical and crucial to the success of your website. Especially if you are blogging in the medical or finance niche, you really need to be a credited field expert for people to actually trust you. Audiences’ trust is what ranks you higher on Google.
So, if you’ve read so far I’m sure you understood the secret. It’s not in the technicalities. It’s not about some magic tricks. It’s not you. It’s just, plain and simple, QUALITY CONTENT. That’s it.
Quality content is the secret to SEO and no one talks about it. At least not enough. There is a lot of focus on things that matter only 1-2% while the secret lies in creating content that will get straight to your user’s heart.