In this ultimate guide I’m gonna share my best 10 SEO strategies for 2021 to get more than 486,579+ traffic to your newly started blog or your old blog.
Blog SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is more important than ever when it comes to getting your blog posts noticed on search engines like Google.
Today, that makes SEO for bloggers one of the primary concerns worth dedicating a lot of time & effort to learning and implementing during your content creation process.
Now that we’re in 2020, a whopping 93% of online experiences start with a search engine, and for 92.04% of those users, Google is their search engine of choice.
For many content creators, blog SEO sounds incredibly complex. It’s easy to think no list of blog SEO strategies could ever make a meaningful difference. Others make Google out to be a grim reaper that hand-picks which blogs to let live, and which ones to deprive of precious organic search traffic.
Six years ago when I first started learning how to start a blog, I felt like that too—completely overwhelmed and not sure which blog SEO strategies would actually work, versus which ones would only waste my precious time. But in growing my blog to millions of yearly readers, I’ve learned that Google isn’t out to get you. The search engine giant actually needs you. They crave fresh, high-quality content that gives their users the best possible answers to the questions they’re asking.
And that’s what blog SEO is all about. It’s relating your blog content to the solutions people are looking for—and giving search engines the chance to recognize your relevant, quality content.
So, what if that’s exactly what you’re doing… but your blog still isn’t getting traffic? Employ these 10 blog SEO strategies, and it will.
These are the exact strategies, principles and blogging tips I’ve used to grow this blog from zero to 584,958 readers a month, and I’m going to show you blog SEO isn’t some mysterious, indomitable beast.
10 Blog SEO Strategies to Get 584,958+ Readers/Mo (SEO for Bloggers)
- Nail your keyword research
- Focus on user intent (not search engines)
- Take your time writing blog SEO-friendly headlines
- Use the right heading tags
- Optimize your page URL
- Be strategic with your links
- Craft an enticing meta description
- Optimize your images
- Ensure mobile friendliness and reduce page loading times
- Promote your content
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products and services I’ve personally used and stand behind. When you use one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me, which helps me run this blog and keep all of my in-depth content free of charge for readers (like you).
Let’s get started with what you should be doing before, during and after you create a post.
1. Nail your keyword research
The most fundamental element of all SEO strategies starts with learning how to do keyword research—and finding great keyword opportunities to rank for.
If you use too many of them, at best, your content sounds like it was written by R2-D2. At worst, Google thinks you’re keyword stuffing and penalizes your site’s ranking. Not good.
New blogs also have lower domain authority (when you first make a website) and thus don’t carry the same weight as older, more reputable websites. As a result, ranking for more competitive keywords can be challenging, and your efforts in promoting your blog will take more time to pay off.
If you’re a new blogger, the best type of keywords to try and rank for are:
- Low difficulty
- High volume
- High click-through rate
The goal is to find three to five head keywords (one-to-three word phrases) and one to two long-tail keywords (whole phrases people are searching for). Long-tail keywords have lower traffic and competition but are equally valuable.
And how do you find them?
Twinword Ideas is a (currently) free tool you can use. Type in a head keyword phrase you want to rank for. Then, see what the search volume is and how competitive it’ll be to rank for that term. Best of all, these blogging tools will give you additional keyword research ideas.
Because Keywords Everywhere is a browser plugin, it has the advantage of giving you related keywords and sentences people are searching for right from Google’s search engine results page (SERP).
If you’re looking to really level-up your keyword game, Ahrefs and SEMrush will take your SEO game out of this world. These are two ultra-popular SEO analysis tools, and you’ll be in good hands with either one.
The most significant difference between the two is while both are excellent keyword researchers, Ahrefs has the edge if you’re looking to analyze what backlinks your competitors have. This will come in come in handy when finding where your competitors are getting mentioned, so you can do the same!
2. Focus on user intent (not search engines)
Gone are the days when mentioning your keyword as many times as humanly possible is what got you ranked.
Google’s algorithms have wisened up, and today, it’s all about quality content and addressing user intent—what people are looking to find when they type a word or phrase into a search engine bar.
Thankfully, we don’t need Spock’s mind-melding abilities to discover what people might really be looking for when they search for something. Google has already figured it out.
Type your keyword into the search box and look at the “People also ask” and “Searches related to” sections. Clicking on a website and then pressing your browser’s back button sometimes also reveals a “People also search for” box beneath the clicked site. These are all questions and problems people are asking, and you can address in your post.
While you’re on the SERP, take time to look at how your competitors answered the user’s intent.
Aim to address the reader’s challenges better and make your post an even more useful guide for them.
- How long is your competitor’s post? Yours should be at least the same length.
- What resources can you add? Think videos, helpful websites, downloadable templates.
- What concepts can you explain better or expand on?
- If you were the reader, what would make the post more useful to you?
Writing a 10,000-word rambling blog post just because you think that’s what you should do won’t improve your SEO. But creating a targeted article that is a one-stop guide for the exact answers your target audience needs, definitely will.
Answer reader’s questions right, and you might even get a coveted spot as position #0 on Google’s featured snippet section.
Here are two of my featured snippets to give you an idea of how they appear and what Google likes to see.
First up, is my guide to starting a freelance business:
And next, we’ve got my ultimate list of side business ideas:
You’ll notice that while featured snippets answer the user’s question right away, more often than not, it’s too small to provide a complete answer directly within the box.
So, people click on your link to get the full story, and your article can get a major boost from this placement—making it a major blog SEO win.
3. Take your time writing blog SEO-friendly headlines
You also need people to click on your post because the more reads, shares, and likes it has, the more Google sees it’s what people want when they search for your keyword. Google rewards high click-through rates with better search rankings.
When it comes to learning how to write a headline, first and foremost, you’ll need to tell your reader how they’re going to benefit from your blog post.
And then you need to deliver on that promise.
For example, this post promises these SEO tips for blogs can get you hundreds of thousands of readers per month if diligently followed. And it can because it’s how I got my 584,958 readers per month.
But, if your title makes over-exaggerated claims and doesn’t live up to it with your content, it’s clickbait.
Avoid at all costs.
When you fail to keep your promise to the reader, it breaks the reader’s trust and hurts you more than it helps. Clickbait titles also cause higher bounce rates, which leads to lower site rankings for you.
The second step is to make your title irresistible to click on. The best titles are a mixture of proven formulas and a balance of common, uncommon, emotional, and power words.
Thankfully, the kind people at Co-Schedule created a headline-analyzing tool that factors all of this for you, tells you how likely your title is to get shares, and breaks down your score result.
Here’s how my own SEO headline for my ultimate guide to start a blog scores:
Scores above 70 are considered good and are great titles for social media sharing. Anything in the 80s is excellent and definitely winning headline when it comes to blog SEO.
From a blog SEO standpoint, your main keyword needs to be in your headline.
Titles get cut off in SERPs after 60 characters. There’s not really a compelling reason to have a title longer than that many characters, but if you do go over the limit—just be sure your target keyword is at the front of your title.
Yoast is an extremely popular (free) WordPress plugin that’ll help with SEO for bloggers who want to make sure your title and the content of your articles check all the right fundamental SEO boxes.
If understandably, you’re having trouble writing a catchy title that tells the reader the benefit AND is SEO-friendly, you can also create a separate SEO title to show up in search results using Yoast.
Click “edit snippet” on the Yoast section of the WP editor, then delete the automatic title tags there and write in your own SEO-friendly title that’ll do better in search results.
While your SEO title should still be compelling, you can play around with the structure.
For example, here’s my SEO title from a Google featured snippet:
And here is the title you’ll see when you click the post:
I use a different SEO title because my research suggests that in search results, it’s better to connect starting a blog with making money from blogging relatively early on in the headline—to clearly show what benefits readers will get from clicking my link.
4. Use the right heading tags
Heading tags (H-tags) are formatting options you can apply to the content of your post.
Rather than changing font sizes to emphasize headings, you should select your heading sizes from the menu.
Here’s how to select your heading formats in both the WordPress content editor and in Google Docs:
Correct headings are incredibly important for SEO.
Google scans them to discover the main point of your content, which makes them absolutely essential—especially for getting your on-page SEO dialed in properly.
Here’s how to properly use them, in order of importance, for search engine optimization.
Heading 1: Can only be used once and is usually reserved for your title. Include your primary keyword here.
Heading 2: These are the big ideas of your post. They are also crucial for SEO and are great places to work in both your head and long-tail keywords. Take a look at mine, and you’ll see I did exactly that.
Heading 3: These are the subtopics or smaller ideas that fall under your H2. For this article, it’s each of our 10 SEO tips for bloggers. You can add keywords here too.
Heading 4-6: Used to help with formatting and styling of your page. These have the least amount of SEO value.
It’s also incredibly important to include your main target keyword in the first 100 words of your introduction.
Your target keyword phrase and its variations should be sprinkled throughout the body of your article in a natural, conversational manner. As mentioned before, keyword stuffing just to get a few more mentions in, is something to avoid.
The free Yoast plugin is also a great help here to make sure you’re hitting all the marks.
5. Optimize your page URL
The URL of your blog post is crawled by search engines and is an important way for them to figure out what your article is about. It’s an invaluable opportunity to include your target keyword phrase.
For example, in one of my most popular guides, How to Make Money Blogging (on the Side), I wanted to rank for the long-tail keyword, “how to make money blogging.”
To better optimize the article for blog SEO friendliness during the writing process, I made sure to incorporate the main keyword phrase in my URL slug.
I took out unnecessary words like “how” and “to” from my keyword.
You only need just enough words so that the reader knows what the link is about.
A few other blog SEO tips on selecting a smart URL are to only use lowercase letters to avoid duplicate content and keep the slug to less than 50 to 60 characters. The shorter your URL is, the better.
6. Be strategic with your links.
It’s a given that search engine website crawlers go through your text and look for keywords.
But, did you know they pay special attention to linked keywords? To them, linked keywords have more weight than non-linked words and phrases.
There are three types of links to use within your overall blog SEO strategy:
- Anchor Links: Links to other areas of the same post (like my hyperlinked menu near the top).
For longer posts, like this one, it can look like a table of contents. It’s an excellent opportunity to link to your main keywords early on.
- Internal Links: Links to relevant content on your site.
This not only helps readers discover helpful content, but it also connects your individual content pieces to each other in a related web that search engines can read, map out and assign authority to your content.
- External Links: Links to content on someone else’s website.
Linking keywords to strong pieces of content—think first page of SERPs or sites with high domain authority—boosts your site’s credibility through association.
While anchor links aren’t a must-have, you should always have a balance of relevant internal and external links.
Two to four internal and external links each, per 600 words, is a good rule of thumb.
7. Craft an enticing meta description
Meta descriptions are the text that appears after your headline in SERPs.
Google highlights the words in meta descriptions that are the same as what you were searching for. This helps the reader connect what they were searching with what you have on your site.
Yet another reason Yoast is terrific (assuming you’ve chosen WordPress—one of the best website builders—and one of the best WordPress themes to go along with it), is it gives you a chance to craft your own meta description for your blog post instead of Google selecting a snippet for you.
You’ll see the option appear after clicking, “edit snippet” in the Yoast section of the WP content editor.
What’s the recipe for an enticing meta description?
- 50-160 characters: This holds the reader’s attention and doesn’t get cut off in search results.
- Benefit for the reader is clear: The reader knows why they should click on you instead of the link below you.
- One to two keywords is included: This is so the keyword gets bolded to match the user’s search terms and to clarify what your article is about. Remember, your keywords must still be used naturally.
Repeatedly do this well, and your blog SEO will benefit greatly from putting in the work up front. And remember that as your traffic grows, you’ll want to considering hiring out for some more advanced SEO services that can help scale your best practices across all the pages of your blog—plus unlock some more creative opportunities to increase your key rankings.
8. Optimize your images
Many people forget that optimizing your images also gives you another big blog SEO boost.
Because search engines can’t “see” a picture the way you and I do, they look at the image file’s description—both the title and image alt text—to understand and categorize your images.
For more SEO power, rename file names of pictures uploaded to WordPress to something that’s short, includes an important keyword and is still descriptive.
This is especially important for your feature image because it’s often the one that gets pinned, shared and indexed into image search results.
For instance, you can name an image “before-after-blog-seo.jpg” when “blog SEO” is your target keyword phrase, and the picture could be a graph showing your blog traffic before and after it was optimized.
If you’re using a proprietary image you created, be sure to use your keywords in your alt text and keep your description to under 100 characters. You don’t need to do this with pictures you find on the Internet because they already rank for someone else’s keyword.
Before you get all keyword happy with writing your image alt text though, keep in mind that its purpose is to essentially describe the image to someone who’s blind—not to be a place for keyword stuffing.
Here’s what to look for in WordPress after uploading your images, to write titles and alt tags:
Reduce the file size as much as you can without compromising on image quality and ending up with a blurry photo.
Why does your image file size make a difference for your blog SEO?
Proper scaling and file size is critical to keeping your page load times low; because if people have to wait more than three seconds for your page to show up, they’re going to go “Bye, Felicia” on you. This is one of the most frequent blogging mistakes I see, so try your best to avoid it!
9. Ensure mobile friendliness and reduce page loading times
Have you ever been in a rush while grocery shopping and felt relief when there was an empty checkout lane…
And then remember how fast your joy was cut short when you realized you picked the one with the only cashier-in-training?
Oh, the agony.
That’s what waiting for your blog post to load feels like for your reader—and it’s even worse when your blog gets crawled by Google too.
People won’t stick around if you keep making them stare at blank pages, and the major search engines don’t like it either. Loading times and mobile responsiveness affect your blog SEO and user experience, so make sure to pay attention to this major factor when designing your overall blog layout.
If your blog isn’t mobile friendly, then you’ll need to either hire a professional or choose to use a mobile-friendly theme (like OptimizePress), or install a specific WordPress plugin to help with that.
If your page load times needs work, you can start by:
- Optimizing your images
- Removing any non-essential plugins (WordPress blogs only)
- Changing to one of the best hosting plans to speed up your site
The simple fact though, is that it does cost some money to blog, and you’ll likely have some of your own budget constraints. Depending upon your situation, you may need to choose from only the cheapest hosting plans, budget-conscious shared hosting options or even free hosting plans that come with some restrictions on the speed front. If so, then that’s ok. Blogging is a long race, so you can afford to upgrade your hosting later on down the line after your site begins generating revenue.
Your ultimate goal is to eventually get your pages and posts to load lighting fast—ideally in less than two seconds (or faster).
10. Promote your content
When you’re new to blogging, you can feel like you have so much catching up to do with your blog’s content.
You just want to write, write, write… and write some more. But if you’re looking for more traffic and to improve your domain authority…
You should be spending 20% of your time writing and the other 80% promoting your content.
Here’s how to promote your blog content in order to achieve maximum blog SEO results:
- Writing guest blog posts: Getting published on someone else’s blog gives you a chance to get a link back (aka backlink) to your blog. When someone else vouches for your work, it shows Google you must be providing quality content and rewards you with better search rankings.
- Networking with other bloggers: If you’ve been smart and learned to pick a niche to blog about where you have some expertise (or connections), other bloggers can be your best friends when it comes to helping spread the word! Employ intelligent blogger outreach practices to send them an email about being a guest their podcast, accepting a Q&A style article from you or joining forces to do a joint YouTube video series together.
- Sharing new content on social media: People aren’t going to be checking your site daily to see if there’s updated content. Make everyone’s life easier by sharing and promoting posts on social media. You never know, you might luck out and go viral.
- Continuing to promote older posts: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. Take what you have, update it, improve it and re-share it with a few different titles to see what gets more social media attention.
- Promoting content via your email list: Your newsletters and welcome-series emails are incredible opportunities to not only practice your blog email marketing chops, but to link to relevant content your readers don’t know about, missed, or forgot. Your email list will be particularly important when it comes to promoting freebies (like an eBook you wrote) and content that’s designed to monetize your audience (like my Bluehost reviews compilation, for example).
- Pinning blog posts on Pinterest: Pinterest is an excellent supplement to Google, especially while you wait for more organic search engine traffic. You may find that Pinterest traffic isn’t as reliable as Google’s, but because Pinterest’s algorithm isn’t as sophisticated, it’s still a whole lot easier when first starting out to rank and drive tons of traffic to your site. Pinterest Traffic Avalanche is an excellent course to look into for learning much more on this subject.
While each of these actions is important and contribute to getting the traffic you crave, don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking you have to do everything, every day or else you’re not going to get the blog SEO results you crave—take your time to thoughtfully create a blog business plan that leans on your own strengths & experiences, consider posting to a blogging job site if you need to hire some help, do your research by reading relevant blogging books, consider taking blogging courses to further your knowledge and commit to continual learning.
Pick two things to focus for the month (or even the quarter).
Work some of the other elements of your blog SEO strategy in when you have the time.
When it comes to blog SEO, you’re in it for the long-haul.
I wish I could say you can implement all ten of these blog SEO strategies today, and immediately see a virtual stampede of people rushing to your blog to devour every single word you’ve ever written.
But… the truth is, you could become an SEO expert with your blog content and still not see much of a change in the very beginning. It’s probably not you.
It can take as long as six months (or even longer) to start seeing results.
But once you do… your blog growth can be more explosive than your wildest dreams.
And once you do get 584,958 readers per month—because if you hustle hard at perfecting your blog SEO and creating great content, you will. Just don’t get complacent. Keep learning, take the right blogging courses and read the right blogging books to advance your skills and improve your blog SEO strategy.
Regularly take a good, hard look at your blog SEO and content analytics every three to six months.
Dig deep to see what’s working, what’s not—and what can be improved.
Above all, keep your audience in mind—and ask yourself what you can do to make your content even better for them.