There are two types of bloggers in the world today: passion bloggers who treat their site as an online diary, and professional bloggers who aim to promote or monetize their hard work.
As a member of the latter group, know that you have a plethora of challenges and opportunities ahead that will determine your fate. This includes marketing your blog to attract more traffic from touchpoints like social media, display ads, and search engines.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an SEO expert to make your site visible in search engines. This is particularly the case when it comes to the core on-page optimizations that improve user experience, site crawlability, and indexability. It may not get the job done without off-page SEO, but it will surely get the ball rolling.
Below are seven simple ways to get started with on-page SEO:
1. Modify Your Permalinks
The first thing you need to do before you even publish posts is to use an SEO-friendly permalink structure.
A rule of thumb is to make it memorable and readable not just to web crawlers, but to human users as well. This means you should avoid using symbols and lengthy words that will make permalinks too confusing, cluttered, and less shareable.
Joost De Valk of Yoast SEO recommends ending URLs with the shortened version of the post name. It’s also acceptable to use category names as long as they, too, are short and descriptive.
2. Plan Internal Links
To index web pages in search engine results pages or SERPs, search engines like Google use web crawlers that discover relevant content from post to post. You can accelerate this process by optimizing your site’s internal link structure and connecting contextually relevant pages.
For example, if you have a post about email marketing, consider linking to a separate roundup of the best email marketing automation tools.
Just remember to weave the link in as naturally as possible using an anchor text. Simply pasting the naked link within the post is disruptive and off-putting to meticulous readers.
3. Get Post Titles Right
The post title is one of the most important on-page SEO factors you need to optimize. Not only does it affect the keyword relevancy of content, but it also gives readers an idea of what to expect – thus, making pages more clickable when they appear on SERPs.
To make posts more SEO-friendly for crawlers, don’t forget to include your target keyword within the title. It’s also important to keep it below 65 characters to make sure the full title is displayed in search engines.
While not necessarily an SEO factor, you need to make your titles as compelling as possible to encourage more clicks from search results once it appears there.
One of the best tools you can use for this is the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. It provides an aggregate score for your headline based on different factors.
4. Speed Up Your Site
While it doesn’t directly affect your search engine rankings, page loading speed significantly impacts other engagement-related SEO metrics – including dwell time, bounce rate, and visitor loyalty.
Why? Because users hate a sluggish site, especially if they badly need answers to their problems fast. In fact, 40% of online users will probably abandon your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load fully.
Some of the things you can do to boost page loading speed include upgrading your host, implementing web caching, and compressing your visual assets with a tool like WP Smush.
5. Optimize Your Images
Apart from compressing images for faster loading, you should also make them more SEO-friendly by modifying their title and alt text.
Similar to post titles, an image’s alt text must include your target keyword to show its relevance to web crawlers. Do this to at least one image per post but never too many times – unless you deliberately want to get flagged for keyword stuffing.
The image title, on the other hand, is mainly for the convenience of human readers. Preferably, it should still contain a derivation of your target keyword, but it must be succinct, useful, and relevant to the post’s topic.
As mentioned above, compressing the images you will feature on your blog is a must if you don’t want visitors to bounce away from your site.
6. Add Meta Descriptions
By default, search engines pull the first few sentences in your post for SERPs. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always make it readable or alluring for users.
For better click-throughs, add a brief meta description that explains what your post is about in 160 characters or less. If you use WordPress, the easiest way to do this is to use the Yoast SEO plugin.
7. Analyze Your Site
Finally, the key to successful SEO is to continue monitoring your site and the online search industry for changes.
After all, even the most seasoned SEO experts can’t rank a site overnight. Rather than following a preplanned blueprint and hoping for the best, you need to have an adaptive approach that evolves with time.
A great strategy is to integrate your site with platforms like Google Webmasters, which can provide holistic SEO monitoring to any site.
“Google Webmasters has lots of applications that provide great value,” says Paul Granger of Website Promoter UK. “Another fantastic and helpful tool that you can use with your SEO is Google Analytics.”
For beginners, Google Analytics may be too daunting for comfort. There are lots of options and features that you can play around with, which you can also get lost in. Not to mention, the data that you can unearth from that tool is endless. Therefore, you need to read this Moz guide to ease your way into using this tool.
For most new bloggers, SEO is a frontier that can push you to the limits. The only way to succeed is to take one step at a time – starting with strategies you can execute with the resources you currently have.
If you’re looking for on-page SEO tactics that you can do by yourself, without any additional investment, then the list above has got you covered.