I need to be honest up front about SEO. It’s not my area of expertise. My Google traffic has risen well over the last 18-24 months across all of my businesses, but it has not yet exploded. As a result, I don’t want to try to wing it and end up giving you bad advice.

What I can do is tell you what I know has worked, then point you to the resources I’m using to learn. As I develop my skills, I will update this page with what I find.

WordPress SEO plugins

The first thing to do is make sure that you’ve for Yoast installed on your blog. I use the free version at the moment, and for now, I’m sure you can too.

When you install Yoast, it takes you through a number of steps to get your blog configured. It is self-explanatory and easy to follow and does a lot of the essentials for you.

It will:

  • make sure you’ve got a sitemap set up, and create one if necessary. A sitemap is a list of all of the pages and posts on your blog, formatted for Google to understand
  • make sure you’re using sensible names and descriptions for your pages
  • install some extra fields on the “new post” page so that you can customise the metadata for each post you write
  • setup google webmaster tools for you so that you can see the performance of your site over time
  • help you set up images for Facebook, Twitter and others to use when referring to your site (you’ve probably seen images appear automatically alongside links you’ve posted on social media before – this is set up by the website owner)

When you write new posts, make sure that you’re filling in the relevant fields in the Yoast section, and follow the advice on writing styles and keywords that they provide on a post-by-post basis.

Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin

Writing a blog headline

Picking a headline can be hard. You don’t want to write something that is too clickbait-y as it can be annoying to readers, but you do want to get people clicking.

Thankfully there are services to help you write a great headline. The one I use is CoSchedule Headline Analyzer, which analyses your proposed headline and suggests ways you can structure it better.

This is usually by looking at the kinds of words you’re using, and the structure of your headline, then comparing it to headlines it understands do well.

It’s easy to pick up and use. I suggest that you look to score at least 70 for any headline you propose to use.

Here is my before and after headline for this post, based on following the guidance from the Headline Analyzer. A massive jump from 26 to 70 with just a few extra words.

Writing a blog post headline
Before…
Writing a good blog post headline
After…

Using the long tail

The long tail is the phrases that people are searching for that are relevant to your niche but are not the most common.

While it can be tough to rank high in Google for competitive terms, these long tail phrases can let you target traffic that others aren’t going for.

You are better off ranking highly for a term that is searched a bit, than ranking low for a term that is searched a lot!

There are a few ways of finding long tail terms to search for. One is using a tool (such as SE Ranking, which I’ll talk about below) but an easy way is to start typing something into Google and see which auto-complete suggestions come up that would be appropriate for you.

In this example, while “writing blog posts” is going to be hard to rank well for, something like “writing blog posts in Evernote” is quite specific and is going to have far fewer results. We know it’s a term people are searching for because Google suggested it.

Google long tail

Tracking progress

You’ll put a lot of work into SEO, so you’re going to want to know how it’s going.

I use SE Ranking to monitor my rankings in multiple countries and for multiple terms. When I find a new keyword or phrase that I want to target I put it into SE Ranking, and then get weekly results on how I rank for that term around the world.

It’s much cheaper than the more famous competitors but provides a great service. Once you get blogging I strongly advise that you subscribe.

Check out my review of SE Ranking for more details.

SE Ranking review