Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about optimizing your blog to rank high in the Search Engine Results and thus increase overall visibility. Apart from unique contents and site design, it’s one of the most important aspects of blogging.
Basically, what you are trying to achieve here is to figure out On What ‘Keywords’ you want the visitors to find your site and how to optimize the said ‘keywords’ to rank high & relevant in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Simply put, everything begins with what you have carefully chosen as “Your Keyword“. An example of mine are Blogging Tips for Beginners and Blog for Beginners which currently ranks #2 and #1 respectively.
15 SEO Tips for Beginners
If you are new to blogging concept and SEO in particular, I’ll like to share with you 15 SEO Tips to help improve your site’s ranking in the Search Engine Results, all without the usual jargon.
1. Keywords in <title> tag
One of the most important factor to rank high in your chosen keyword is to have it – your keyword – inside the <title> tag. The <title> tag is what appear in the clickable link on the search engine results page. In what I have came to learn is that what appears in the beginning is more important than what comes next.
To give you an idea, let’s take a look at 2 of my chosen keywords – Blog for Beginners & Blogging Tips for Beginners, as the former appears first follows by the latter, naturally Blog for Beginners appears higher than Blogging Tips for Beginners. However, this may not always be the case as other factors such the competitiveness of the keywords are equally important. What I’m trying to say is that you always put your Primary Keyword first.
Now if you are on WordPress, I’d recommend use of an indispensable Platinum SEO plugin to help you optimize your <title> without messing up your theme code.
2. SEO-Friendly URL
By default, WordPress set the permalink structure as
www.domain.com/?p=12 which is a big NO NO for Search Engines Optimization (SEO). It doesn’t actually gives any indication to the robot what the url is all about.
In what I have came to learn, the optimal URL structure, according to Matt Cutt with his SEO tips, would be to use only the post title as part of the URL and don’t include the post date in your URL. Not only it is human-readable, more importantly it gives the maximum SEO benefits. How to Optimize Your URL For Search Engines.
3. Proper Use of Keywords in (<H1>, <H2>, <H3>)
Don’t expect the search engine to figure out which are the headlines – it won’t. Instead, use your keywords in the <H1>, <H2>, and <H3> tags to provide clues to the search engine. A good buddy of mine, PB has revealed The Best SEO Tricks Ever that shows you how to optimize your keywords within those headlines.
4. Keywords in Image <alt> tag
Indeed images speak a thousand words but Search Engine Spiders don’t read images, they only read the <alt> tag which is the textual description of the image. Hence, it is important to always provide a meaningful description of an image with your keyword within the <alt> tag. Why you should care with the image ALT attribute.
5. Anchor Text of Inbound & Outbound Links
What is Anchor Text? It’s the word within a hyperlink. Here’s an example, About Yan Susanto, in which “About Yan Susanto” is the anchor text. Not only it gives your readers an idea of about the content of the page you’re linking to, more importantly it tells search engines what the page is about. Used it wisely, it will boost your rankings in search engines, especially in Google. As a rule of thumbs, avoid using “click here” for an anchor text. (See the outbound links on #2 and #3)
6. Origin of Inbound Links
Besides the anchor text, it is your duty to ensure that the sites that link to you is not from bad neighbourhoods. The theory is that it’s better to have one inbound link from a reputable site (generally speaking, sites with greater Google PR are considered reputable) than to have one hundreds links from untrusted sites. Simply said, who links to you does matter.
It’s also important to note that inbound links from sites of similar niche has far more credibility in the eyes of Search Engine than that of unrelated ones. Where Do You Get The Best Quality Inbound Links?
7. The Power of Internal Linking
One important element of SEO that is often overlooked is Internal Linking which, in layman term, means the process of linking to other pages of your site within your archives. I can’t think of a better way to reactivate and rejuvenate the old and buried posts in your archive than to link them internally in your recent post.
You shouldn’t underestimate the power of internal linking in the distribution of your Page Rank – if any, to your internal pages and in helping to improve your search engine results. Link building is never enough without proper internal linking.
8. Links from Directories
I’m not a fan of free directories as IMO having tons of links from PR0 directories is useless and it can even be regarded as link spamming, but being listed in DMOZ Directory, Yahoo Directory and similar directories will certainly boost for your overall ranking. However, it is almost impossible to get into DMOZ without much of a credibility – and some says ‘certain form of connection from biased editors’. Still it’s one of those things that is worth your while.
9. <Description> metatag
Though metatags are becoming less and less important, there are two metatags that still matter in SEO, these are the <description> and <keywords> metatags. Both are still important from a human and search engine perspective. <Description> metatag is what you use to describe your site. In fact, this description is what the visitors see when your site appears on the search results. How to Create The Perfect Meta Description For Google (& Searchers)
10. <Keywords> metatag
While you are it, fill your <Keywords> tag with relevant keywords. Relevancy here means that every word within <Keywords> metatag must somehow appears somewhere within the body text. If not, it can be penalized for irrelevance and considered bad for your ranking. What’s The Best Keyword Meta Tags Formula?
11. Use of Robots.txt for Duplicate Content
Basically the purpose of creating a robots.txt file is to improve site indexation by telling search engine crawler to only index your content pages and to ignore other pages (i.e. monthly archives, categories folders or your admin files) that you do not want them to appear on the search index because it may lead to duplicate content issue.
If you are using WordPress, Syed Balkhi wrote a must-read Robots.txt Guide for WordPress – Avoid Duplicate Content.
12. Use of Sitemap
While Robots.txt instructs search engines which parts of your site to exclude from indexing, a Sitemap tells search engines where you’d like them to go. From a search engine perspective, sitemap is useful for better and faster indexing while a plain HTML sitemap with the use of plugin provides ease of navigation for your visitors.
As such, it is not uncommon to have 2 sitemaps of which one is created for human – your visitors and the other for search engine robots.
- For Search Engines – You can create a Google Sitemap online and add your Sitemap to your Google Webmaster account or if you are on WordPress, install Google (XML) Sitemaps Generator which will generate XML-Sitemap supported by most of the search engines.
- For Your Visitors – Clean Archives Reloaded generate a list of your posts sorted by months for better navigation. To see an example, have a look at my archives page.
13. Site Accessibility
Another fundamental yet often neglected factor that might affect your site ranking is the issue of accessibility. Often your site may be unaccessible due to broken links and wrong use of robots.txt that may cause your pages not indexed by Search Engines.
The solution: Broken Link Checker for WordPress will check and detect both internal and outbound links that don’t work and notifies you on the Dashboard of any broken links.
14. Keywords in First Paragraph
Put simply, search engines scan and expect that your first paragraph will contain the important keywords for the article. Make sure your keywords appear in the first paragraph of your content. If you do notice, in the first paragraph of this article, I place two primary keywords, SEO and blogging as part of my keyword optimization.
15. Keywords in Footer
Well, the first impression and the last impression usually makes the most remembered impression. A simple SEO trick of placing a link to your main page with your keyword as an anchor text could have a positive result in your search engine ranking.
SEO is never intended to be a one-time effort. No success can be achieved overnight. It takes a lot of patience, commitment and the know-hows to succeed. All the above tips when applied may not push you into #1 but it will surely bring you one step closer to #1.
The key to SEO success is persuading search engines that your site is relevant in any search query. There are no hard and fast rules to SEO, it all boils down to the right mixture of quality content and quality inbound and outbound links with proper keywords optimization.
Good luck with your SEO. If you have any opinions or feedbacks, send them my way. I’m all ears.