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The Comprehensive Guide to SEO for Effortless Traffic from Google
If you’ve been following the Blogging for Etsy Sellers Guides Series, you’ll know that we just wrapped up talking about promoting your blog to get more traffic coming in.
I debated on whether or not I should include SEO in that post, but decided to make a completely separate guide to it since it’s such a huge topic that tends to give people the heebie-jeebies.
I’m going to walk you through the three foundational pillars of SEO in this guide and how you can conquer each of them to create a strong strategy that will get you on the front page of Google like it’s nothing!
How It Works
You may have heard a lot about SEO, especially if you work digitally, but you may be wondering how exactly it works.
Google has developed a smart algorithm that ranks your website.
How they do this is by sending out little bots that crawl your website to check it for over 100 indicators that determine whether your content is valuable or not.
These indicators, which we’ll be talking about the big ones in this guide, include things like backlinks, domain age, traffic, and more.
SEO is the process of keeping those bots happy with what they find and point Google in the right direction when it comes to giving their users relevant information.
One thing people tend to forget is that Google’s entire purpose is to provide its users with the most useful search results. And what bloggers and website owners tend to do is create their content solely to make the bots happy, but forget that there is a human side that they need to cater to.
The absolute most important things you could do for SEO is to create extremely useful content that solves people’s problems. If you’re solving problems that people are searching for then ranking in Google is a no brainer!
So, before you get into optimizing your blog posts and pages, you may want to put your blog through an SEO audit to make sure you have a website that is set up to be properly crawled by Google.
There are tons of things you should look out for such as page speed, broken links, and more.
Corinne from Skinnedcartree has an entire blog series on how to complete a SEO Audit that walks you through step by step in a simple way!
Once you’ve completed those steps and are ready to write a blog post and get ranked for it, complete the following steps below.
Step 1: Write Great Content
Now you may be asking yourself, “What about keyword research?”
Don’t you worry, we’ll get to that.
The reason I put writing great content as the first step in your SEO strategy is that, as I mentioned previously, I’ve seen so many bloggers compromise the human aspect of their content to satisfy Google’s bots – which is the last thing you want to do!
You can always tell when a blog post is written purposely and solely to rank on Google, and let’s be honest, they kind of suck.
Whenever I write for my blog, I come up with a blog post topic, write a bomb ass blog post catered to my audience, and then go in and optimize my post with keywords.
You should never ever ever write a blog post to fit within a keyword! Your keyword should be researched to fit within your blog post.
I’ve found that this keeps your blog posts human-friendly, natural sounding, and does not hinder your chances of ranking on Google.
In fact, as Google continues to get smarter and smarter, it can even help you rank above someone who just stuffs their posts with keywords.
To write great content, make sure you accomplish each of the following:
- Write at least 2,500+ word blog posts – Google loves long blog posts. It’s a good indication that there is actually helpful and detailed content within the post, which will help you rank higher.
- Write detailed and unique content that helps your audience find a solution to their problems – as I mentioned before, you should be writing your content strictly for your audience, not Google.
- Use subheading, bullet points, and pictures to break up text – humans are lazy…help them stay focused on your content by giving them the ability to skim.
- Add a table of contents to long posts so your readers can easily jump around – this also gives you a boost with Google!
- Answer a question your audience has that not many people have addressed – I’ll get into this later in the guide, but my secret to SEO is to answer questions that my audience has better than my competitors!
- Craft Enticing Headlines – You’ll also want to add your keyword in your headline once you’ve picked one. The headline is mainly for your audience, however, as you want to convince them that this is the article that they want to click on!
Read our blog post on how to write and structure a blog post for beginners if you’re still unsure of how to write great content!
Step 2: Keyword Research
Next, you’ll want to do your keyword research.
The only purpose of having a keyword is to give Google a hint as to what your blog post is about so they can know what content is more relevant to certain searches.
This isn’t the only aspect to SEO, but it’s the one that’s most talked about.
I feel like keyword research is hyped up to be the golden ticket to the front page of Google – hence the hundreds of keyword research tools that you have to choose from.
Personally, I haven’t tried all of these tools, but from the few that I have used, they just aren’t worth the money.
My main rule for my business is that I won’t pay for a tool or resource if I can’t get my return on the investment monthly, which I can’t say that I have found a tool that will guarantee my return.
Therefore, I take my chances with free tools and doing keyword research on Google.
Here’s how to do keyword research for free without using paid tools:
Ask yourself these questions:
1. What is people’s number one interest in my niche?
When thinking about blog posts to write, you’ll want to pick a topic that many people are interested in and something that they search about a lot.
If you have no idea of the topics in your niche that are the most popular, go to Google Trends to get some ideas. They have a great generator that allows you to search a topic and it will populate related topics and searches to help you get started.
2. What is something people want to know that they are actively searching for?
What this means is, how and what is your potential audience searching for to get this information? What questions are they asking? What are they typing into Google to find their answers?
Once you have these search phrases, you’ll want to use these exact phrases as your headline.
Why? Because you know that they work since people who want this information are actually typing these phrases into Google!
It’s important to note that you want ideas that you can actually provide a great and in-depth answer to. That way, when they see the title that they were looking for and click over to your content, they actually get some value!
Here are the tools/strategies I use to find keywords:
Answer the Public
Answer The Public pulls keywords from Google Autocomplete and divides them into questions, prepositions, and comparisons.
It’s the best research tool I’ve found because you can get a sense of the real-life questions your audience may be asking!
Go to google.com and start typing in a keyword to have Google complete the phrase. Whatever phrase you choose, make sure it’s a long-tail phrase (usually 3+ words) because those are a lot less competitive.
Another trick I’ve learned is that you can also use an underscore character _ anywhere in the phrase and Google will fill in the blank.
To see even more keywords in the dropdown, use plurals or different word ordering.
You can also drive additional traffic by targeting date keywords for time sensitive posts.
Example: seo guide 2019
Of course, this requires keeping the tutorial up to date, but it’s so worth it in the end because people like to know they are reading up-to-date information.
For competitive blog post topics, always select a very specific (long-tail) keyword.
Long-tail keywords are very specific phrases usually with 3+ individual words in the phrase.
They usually have fewer searches, which tends to scare some people, but they are way less competitive. It’s better to bring in less, more targeted audience members to your site than more general audience members!
If you’re not getting results with your SEO, you’re probably either targeting too broad of keywords or your content isn’t long/thorough enough.
3. How competitive is this keyword?
Your keyword is generally competitive if:
- It’s broad
- Top results have strong content
- Top results are populated with authority websites
- You see lots of advertisements from Google AdWords
- There are lots of search results (33.8 million is way too many)
Googling your keyword and analyzing search results is essential to your research.
You don’t want to spend all that time creating content for a keyword you’ll never rank for. If you Google the keyword and see the indicators I mentioned above, then you may want to choose a different keyword or get way more specific.
You can also see how competitive your keyword is with MozBar.
MozBar Chrome extension allows you to Google any keyword and see the DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority) of each search result. The higher the numbers, the more competitive the keyword is.
Use Moz’s Explorer to learn your website’s domain authority and try to compete within your range.
As you build your domain authority (by creating awesome content and getting links) you can start targeting more competitive keywords that have higher monthly searches.
New websites with low DA should target very specific, low competition phrases with low monthly searches.
4. How are bloggers answering this same question?
The best “keywords” that you want to pick are specific (long-tail) phrases with weak content in Google’s search results.
If you Google your keyword or question and see short content that doesn’t cover the topic extensively, you usually have a winner!
This is how you’re going to beat out the competition and make your way to the first page on Google.
Now that you have your keyword, you’ll want to focus on targeting multiple keywords. How you do this is by researching a synonym of your primary keyword, then incorporating both of these in your page title, SEO title, and meta description. You can also sprinkle your secondary keyword 1-2 times in your content. You do NOT have to incorporate both as full keywords (exact matches) otherwise your headline will look spammy.
Based on your keyword research, select the keyword you want to use for the page or blog post you want to optimize.
Remember: in general, you want to make sure each page targets only one keyword.
Step 3: On-Page SEO
Now that you’ve written your content and researched your keywords, it’s time to optimize your page so you can rank on Google.
On-page optimization is one of the three pillars of SEO (Keyword Research, On-Page SEO, and Off-Page SEO). If done together correctly, they help increase the number of site visits and, consequently, the number of conversions.
I want to reiterate that you want to write the content of the page or blog post without optimizing it for the target keyword. It’s better to write the content without worrying about the optimization process or the keywords you need to use.
This way, you will be able to produce content that’s more natural, focused on the users, rather than the search engines.
In order to follow this tutorial, you’ll need to have installed the Yoast SEO plugin, which is free to use, and is my #1 SEO tool!
The following are the steps you’ll want to take for the best on-page optimization:
1. Optimize the MetaData
The meta tags on each of your pages and blog posts are just as important as the content itself, so you should first make sure to optimize it before moving on to optimizing the content.
Start by optimizing the page title with your chosen keyword.
When you’re in the “Edit Post” section of your WordPress site, scroll down to the “Yoast SEO” bar (you will find it right after the box that allows you to paste/ edit the content).
Click on it if the bar is not expanded.
Then, you’ll want to optimize the title in the “SEO title” box by entering your desired SEO title (including your target keyword).
Yoast will help you determine if the SEO title is too long. As long as the bar underneath the “SEO title” box is green, you haven’t exceeded the 65-character limit.
If the bar gets orange, you have either exceeded this limit or the title is much too short.
Remember when I said the most important component of SEO is the human one?
If you go through all of the trouble of optimizing your content and have a crappy headline that doesn’t attract your potential readers to click, you’ll have done all of that hard work for nothing.
Run your title through CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to check its attractiveness and help you craft a compelling title.
Aim for a score above 70 on CoSchedule’s Headline analyzer, but don’t stress or obsess over it—it’s an automated tool and you should only use it as an indicator.
Next, optimize the URL slug.
Keep it as short as possible (4 words at the most).
Keeping it short makes it easy to understand and remember by users, but it also improves your SEO as well. Also, try to include the keyword in the URL as well because it will definitely help with the on-page optimization.
If your page has already been published for a while, do not change the URL, especially if it’s already ranking in Google or if other pages already link to it. Doing this would mean you are migrating your URL – and it’s best to avoid it in most cases.
Then, you should optimize the meta description.
You’ll want to include the target keyword in this description. Remember, the meta description should be under 230 characters – anything above that will be cut off by Google.
Same as with the page titles, keywords are not everything. Your meta description should be compelling and tell readers exactly what information will be provided on the page.
2. Optimize the Page Content
Now that you have optimized the metadata supporting your page or blog post, it is time to move on to optimizing the actual content on it.
First, you’ll want to make sure your page or blog post has one h1 tag.
Typically, your h1 will be the actual title of the blog post or page.
Try to include the keyword in the h1 heading, but do not force this. Again, it is far better to publish natural, rather than keyword-stuffed content.
Focus your attention on creating an attractive, compelling h1, rather than something that feels written exclusively for Google’s crawlers.
Blog Post Content
Now it’s time to optimize the content in the body of the page.
Try to include your target keyword in the first 100 words of the page or blog post.
In general, avoid including the exact target keyword more than 3-4 times/page.
You should also add synonyms to your target keyword as well. Not only does this help Google contextualize your content, but it also helps you avoid using the exact target keyword too many times.
Images and Videos
After you’ve optimized your blog post, go through and add images and videos to your post.
Not only is using media a great way to break up text and provide a better reading experience for your readers, but it’s also another way you can rank on Google.
Rename the image you want to upload into your page or blog title with a descriptive name.
For example, “img12345.png” is not a descriptive name, but “Etsy-marketing-tips” is a descriptive name.
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind when adding media files to your blog post:
- Always use the “-” sign to split the words in the image names
- To rename a file, right-click it, choose “Rename” from the drop-down menu, write the new name, then press “Enter”
- Do not include keywords in the file name unless they are actually relevant for your content
It’s also important to note that you should include descriptive ALT text for each of the images you upload into your page or blog post.
Make sure your ALT text is relevant and descriptive. You won’t want to include keywords in the ALT text if they are not relevant to the description of the photo.
Adding ALT text to your images improves accessibility. For instance, this feature can be used by screen-reading software applications for the blind or visually impaired.
It’s good to make including internal links to other pages within your domain a habit as you continue to write for your blog.
This is not only another way to tell Google what your blog post is about, but it also helps you bring more traffic to your blog posts from other posts your readers are reading.
Try to include at least 2 or 3 links to relevant related content that’s already published on your site.
To do this, select the words you want to create a link on, click on the “Insert/Edit link button”, and paste the URL you want to link to.
This is a bit of a controversial step in the SEO community.
Linking to other authoritative sites that Google already trusts can give your site a boost of relevance and ranking.
Our advice is to always link to authoritative sources of information or pages that are already ranking very well on the search results for your target keyword.
Some bloggers are hesitant to do this because they feel like they are sending their traffic away to their competitors. In my opinion, if I’m writing content specifically for my audience to help answer their questions as best as possible, it makes sense to link to other bloggers who have answers that I don’t!
Let’s face it, I don’t know everything (I wish I did).
So, if there’s a crucial step that my audience needs to make but I’m not an expert on it, I’ll give them additional resources to experts that I know and trust.
And guess what? My audience doesn’t leave and never come back, they stay because they enjoy my content!
You shouldn’t be afraid to lose traffic that you don’t have already. If it gives you another chance to rank on Google and help your audience, I say it’s worth it!
To add an external link, follow the same steps as described above for internal links.
And that’s it for on-page SEO!
After you’ve edited your post and completed your page optimization, you can now go on to hit “Publish”!
Step 4: Off-Page SEO
Now that your blog post is out there and available for Google to crawl, you’ll want to focus on off-page SEO, which are actions that you take outside of your website to impact your ranking.
This helps improve the perception of your website’s popularity, relevance, authority, and trustworthiness.
In a nutshell, it’s another way for Google to know your site is legit and worth putting in front of their users.
Search engines use backlinks as indications of the linked-to content quality. So, a website with a lot of valuable backlinks will usually rank better than a website with fewer backlinks.
Here’s a list of different types of links:
- Natural Link – this is a link that is created naturally without the website owner having to go and generate them. For example, a blogger links to one of their favorite tools.
- Manually Built Link – this comes from asking other people to share your content, which means other people will be linking to your website
- Self Created Link – these links are given directly by the website owner, such as commenting on other blog posts, adding a link to an online directory, or posting on a forum.
To my knowledge, no type of link is rewarded higher than the other, but you should definitely have a good mixture of backlinks to help your rank on Google.
There are also other activities you can do that is considered off-page SEO to help improve your search ranking position:
- Social media marketing
- Guest blogging
- Linked brand mentions
Pro Tip:If you’re just starting out and need to start generating some backlinks for your website, go to this Backlink Checker Tool and enter the URL of your competitor.
You will be shown the number of backlinks for that domain, the websites linking to that domain, and their domain authority.
You can then go back and contact those specific websites and send them the link to your blog post. If they liked the content of your competitor, they will most likely like your content as well!
Just whatever you do, DO NOT purchase backlinks from anyone. This is a recipe for complete disaster and will ruin your relationship and trust with Google.
If you’re interested, learn more about why you should never buy backlinks!
SEO for Bloggers
That’s all there is to it!
SEO is often depicted negatively and something that should be bloggers absolute main focus, however, it doesn’t have to be!
I absolutely love writing free and useful content for those small business owners out there, so I make that my priority.
Having that be my main focus while steadily ranking up on Google has paid off big time over the last few months, so I want to encourage you not to stress over it!
Write what you would want to read if you were in your readers shoes and things will fall into place.
New to the Series?
This blog post is apart of a 5-part blog series made up of mini-guides to walk you through the entire process of starting, managing, and growing your blog for your Etsy shop!
We don’t hold anything back in these guides…by the time you’re done reading through them, you’ll know absolutely everything that we know!
I really hope you enjoyed this SEO for Bloggers Guide! Let me know if you have any questions or concerns in the comments below.
- Do you have a specific SEO strategy that you swear by?
- What do you think of SEO after this blog post? Easier than you thought or harder than you thought
- How long have you been blogging? Did you just start or have you been doing this for a while?
Until next time,