SEO is often a scary world for new bloggers.
Sometimes it feels as though there are more things you could do wrong than do right, but the primary goal has always stayed the same from search engines perspectives. They want to show the best results for the searches that people make.
So it’s up to you, the bloggers, to make sure you create the content that people are looking for – but as ever, there are more technical things that can also boost your organic traffic.
We look at some common SEO mistakes we’ve seen (and help fix) for bloggers in the past few years…
Not Owning Your Own Domain
And using .blogspot or .wordpress.
If you are serious about blogging, and want to make it into a long term (potentially full-time) endeavour – you need to own your domain. That means your blog is not an address that looks like this: http://myblogname.blogspot.com.
Using .blogspot and .wordpress is a great way to start and test out whether blogging is for you, to determine if you are willing to put in the time and effort to blog consistently.
But if you want to take blogging really seriously you need to own your domain! Free blog set ups do not do any favours for your SEO efforts.
To see it from Google’s (or other search engines) point of view… if you are serious about your website you will get your own name and host it yourself. And Google only wants to point to websites that are considered serious and trustworthy.
We recommend all new bloggers get their own domain and hosting setup right from the beginning. You can read more about how to start a blog in our guide.
Not Doing Any Keyword Research
Keywords form the basis of pretty much all SEO activity – knowing how many people search for a keyword can help determine how popular a given topic is.
In its simplest form, keyword research is market research. It tells you what people are most interested in around a particular topic in relative numbers. It also reveals the types of language people are using when they are thinking about those topics.
There are many tools out there (both paid and free) for finding potentially lucrative opportunities to drive more organic traffic to your site.
Some great tools to check out:
- Answer The Public – Free tool that is great for finding out popular questions around a keyword.
- Keyword Eye – A freemium tool that lets you find hundreds of keywords and analyse competition too.
- Infinite Suggest – Never-ending Google Suggest keywords, if you ever get to the end please let us know!
- KeywordTool.io – A very reliable tool which generates hundreds of associated keywords from your keyword idea.
A Three Step Quick-Look Keyword Research
- Decide on a topic/keyword idea, it could be broad (such as ‘bedroom ideas’) or much more specific (such as ‘how to decorate a small bedroom’).
- Using one of the tools above, put in the keyword and see how much traffic it gets. If this number seems low, don’t be disheartened, lower volume keywords are generally easier to rank for.
- Look at the related and associated keywords that the tools churn out, if you can also include some of these in your article you can end up picking up some longer tail keywords too.
Pro Tip: As well as looking at keywords and their individual traffic, you can take it to the next level and try and capitalise on growing trends. Using Google Trends, you can see how popular a keyword or topic has been or is becoming. The below graph shows the rapid rise to popularity of Hygge – if you see a trend start to grow, you can capitalise it and get in quickly and drive a lot of traffic.
Using Your Keywords Too Much
A short piece of advice for this mistake.
It can often feel useful to cram in your keywords that you’ve just discovered loads of times in your blog post to try and make sure you rank for it.
This is called ‘keyword stuffing’ and often leads to your blog post not being easy to read and sounding strange as your audience reads it. This can not only turn off your audience from becoming interested, but Google (and other search engines) often see this as trying to ‘game the system’ and will prevent you from ranking.
There is no hard & fast rule about the number of keywords you should use – but it should be natural in appearance.
Not Optimising Your Title Tag & Meta Description
Two basic elements of SEO that are often overlooked, even by the pros who are sometimes trying to be too clever.
A good page title is your bread-and-butter when it comes to SEO, it’s one of the first things search engines see when visiting your post. It should include your keywords as close to the beginning of the title as possible. (FYI: Your page title doesn’t always have to be the same as your post title)
Try to keep your title under 66 characters total, so that it doesn’t get cropped by search engines as this can cause less people to click on your post in Google.
A meta description is the additional text that appears in SERPs, letting readers know what the link is about. Whilst it does not have any effect on your rank itself it can improve the number of people who click through to your blog post from Google. The meta description gives searchers information they need to determine whether or not your content is what they’re looking for, and ultimately helps them decide if they’ll click or not.
In addition to being reader-friendly (compelling and relevant), your meta description should include the long-tail keyword you are trying to rank for, because it will then become bold when people search for it and lead to more clicks to your blog post.
Not Using Internal Links To Your Other Blog Posts
Inbound links to your content help show search engines the validity or relevancy of your content. The same goes for linking internally to other pages on your website. If you’ve written about a topic that’s mentioned in your blog post on another blog post, it’s a best practice to link to that page.
Internal linking has three main purposes:
- Aids in website navigation
- Defines the architecture and hierarchy of a website
- Distributes page authority and ranking power throughout the site
All being important for SEO, and the 3rd really sticking out.
A lot of guides on internal linking are quite overly complicated but there are 3 main elements to utilising internal links for greater SEO benefits.
- Internal links from your most linked to blog posts – these posts command the most authority on your blog (in the eyes of a search engine) and are therefore really powerful when trying to get other pages to also rank & grow authority. Add links from these blog posts to other blog posts you want to rank using the keyword you wish to rank for, if you are writing within the interiors industry, it’s probably common you use similar words/topics so it will just be a case of adding those links in.
- Internal links from your homepage – your homepage is almost always the most powerful page on your site in terms of links, as people most naturally link to bloggers homepages. Create a section on your homepage for ‘Top Posts’ or ‘Featured Posts’ and add in links to your posts that you want to direct more authority and boost their rankings.
- Regular links from your blog posts to other blog posts – you should always be thinking about internal links when you write new blog posts. If you have written an article about Scandinavian design, whenever you mention this in future blog posts, you should automatically add a link in back to that post.
Advanced Reading: The Seven Commandments of Internal Linking that Will Improve Content Marketing SEO
Forgetting to Build Links to Your Site
Links are the single greatest influence in SEO, they are essentially for making your site rank in Google.
There are many opportunities open to bloggers to get more links to their site, here are three of the main ones:
Guest posting – A link building tactic which has been abused somewhat in the past that it is often considered ‘spammy’ however actioned correctly guest posting can lead to some serious amounts of traffic as well as massive SEO value. For a complete guide on guest posting, check out this post. (Hint: you could start by writing for this very blog)
Create Mind-Blowing Content – Creating content that changes lives. That is content will literally explode the internet. Whether you discover a life hack that helps millions of people, inspire thousands to do something, or create a record breaking something-or-other. EPIC Content is revolutionary if you can pull it off and can even shoot you into instant stardom. Watch this video for how to get started.
Resource / Links Pages – This is one of the oldest traditional link building techniques around. Bloggers, websites, pretty much everyone has create resource pages at some point and they come in many shapes and sizes. From lists of blogs in certain niches, to links to helpful pieces of content in a particular industry. Check out this guide for how to go about getting your blog added to resource pages.
Bonus Tip: Whenever your blog gets mentioned on other blogs, websites, etc. – always reach out and see if they would be okay to add a link in. Normally people are more than happy to do this and not only will it help your SEO, it will also drive a few extra visitors from those sites to your blog.
Further Reading: How to Build Links to Your Blog – A Case Study
Installing Yoast SEO and Just forgetting about it
In almost every blog post ever written about SEO for bloggers, they tell you to install Yoast SEO, but almost none of them actually tell you about how to then use it to maximise your SEO potential.
So if you haven’t already, (and you are running a WordPress blog) go and install Yoast SEO.
The Yoast SEO plugin creates a content analysis tool on each of your posts, and helps you create an SEO-friendly blog post each and every time.
You start by choosing a focus keyword (you’ll have this from the keyword research you did earlier right?). The content analyser will then constantly review your blog post as you write it to make sure you use the keyword correctly and measures other elements affecting SEO such as:
- Create a unique title tag (which can be different to your blog post title) and meta description – we’ve gone over why these are so important, so it’s easier than ever to create them now.
- Calculating a Flesch reading ease score, which indicates the readability of your article – this is more important than you think as it can affect the length of time someone is on your site which has shown links to rankings.
- It checks whether or not you used your keyword in 5 important locations: the article title, the title of the page, the URL of the page, the content of the article and the meta description – so even if you forget, you can review the checklist and it will prompt you.
- The plugin also checks the presence of links in your article and the presence of images in the article – it helps remind you to add those internal links, alt tags, etc.
- Above that, the plugin also checks whether or not other pages on your website use the same focus keyword, to prevent you from competing with yourself.
If you write a relatively SEO-friendly blog post (based on the aspects that the Yoast SEO plugin advises) it will indicate this with a green bullet. Writing pages with green bullets will help you improve the chances of ranking the blog post.
Here’s how the Content Analysis may look:
Not Optimising Your Images
The interiors industry is a very image lead world with stunning room sets, iconic designs and inspirational location shoots – because of this, blog posts will often contain a lot of images.
Your imagery should always support your blog post’s content, and in doing so can really help your SEO because search engines don’t just look for images. Rather, they look for images with ‘alt text’.
Because search engines can’t “see” images the same way humans can, an image’s alt text tells them what an image is about – which ultimately helps those images be found in search. Alt text also makes for a better user experience, as it’ll display inside the image container when an image can’t be found or displayed.
Adding keywords to your alt text may seem minor – and it isn’t going to impact your search rankings as much as other things on this list. But it is worth the extra minute it takes to change the name from “IMG23940” to something accurate and descriptive, like “green bedroom ideas”.
WordPress make it super easy to add in ‘alt text’ simply edit an image in your post, fill it in and save.
If you can review the 10 common mistakes and ensure you are not committing the majority of them (or all of them if possible) you are well on the way to growing your organic traffic (but you already know that by looking at your analytics).
We know that SEO can often be confusing, if you have any questions please feel free to ask them in the comments…