The Basics of SEO: It’s Not That Scary (promise!)

I’ve mentioned SEO a couple of times within my blog help posts and most of you say you don’t really understand what it is. Enter this post! I’ll try to explain things in the simplest way possible.

Before we begin, I just want to say that I am not an expert when it comes to SEO. I also do not care about SEO for my blog, so you know, take my advice with a grain of salt. Also, this post gives you some basic & decent SEO practices. There are more including site security, speed, dealing with comments, etc, but these tips are a good place to start.

Most of the technical advice is for WordPress users (the non-technical is for anyone). For Blogger users, I’ve included a few resources at the end of this post. I’m not familiar enough with Blogger to explain any technicalities.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it’s what page you’ll rank on when someone uses Google. Does your blog show up on page 1 or page 10 when someone Googled a keyword? If your blog’s SEO is properly set up, it’ll rank higher, which means more traffic for you!

SEO isn’t just a “check this box to make SEO work!” sort of thing, it’s a series of steps you’ll have to make when writing content. You know the post I wrote about 5 Things You Should Do Before Hitting Publish? Well, those 5 things would turn into a few more if you include SEO, but don’t worry, it’s really not that much more work!

Let’s talk about that!

  • Make sure this box is unchecked because you want search engines to index your site.

  • Make sure your URLs are SEO friendly by selecting the right permalinks (in settings) and ensuring it uses necessary keywords (in the post editor).

As a further example, you want your URL to look like

http://www.yourblog.com/how-to-draw-horses
not
http://www.yourblog.com/?p=442

  • Add an XML Sitemap. These allow search engines to find all of your content easily. The plugin Yoast does this automatically for you, then add it to Google. This doesn’t rank you higher, but it makes it easier for search engines to find your content.
  • Install a plugin. The most popular one would be Yoast which will give each of your posts an SEO “score”. You can easily edit meta descriptions and check keywords using this. Keep in mind, though, that it’s not just an install & done process – you still need to do the work when improving SEO for posts.

  • Utilize Yoast plugin. It’s clear and to the point, so it’s the best way to check you’re doing things right. It even gives you a preview of how your post will look on Google.
  • Keywords. A keyword (or phrase) is what your post is essentially about. You want to choose one based on what the content is and what problem it solves for the reader. Once you choose it, use it throughout the post. Some places to include it:

– URL of the post
– Title of the post
– Meta Tags and Description
– Throughout the content

  • SEO Optimization for images. When uploading a photo for a post, do these things:

» Name it correctly before uploading. So, the file name should be something like the-life-fantastic.jpg NOT 900jkls3.jpg

» Resize before uploading. Don’t upload an image that is 1200 x 1200 to then reduce the size via code to 300 x 300. Change the size before.

» Compress your images using a plugin like Shortpixel or a site like Compresspng.com. This reduces the file size of your image without changing the quality of it.

» ALT tags. Basically, this is the description of the photo is for some reason the photo isn’t loading – the reader will still know what that photo is of.

  • Internal linking. Meaning, link to yourself. Find opportunities to link to other posts you’ve published. It gives you a higher authority ranking, which is good for SEO. So, try to link to older posts a few times throughout.
  • rel=”nofollow. This is a code snippet to include when linking to other blogs or websites, not your own. Basically, when you link to someone else and don’t include the rel=”nofollow” snippet, its takes some of your Link Juice. You want to receive more juice than you give away for better SEO ranking. So, make sure you include that when you don’t want to give any away.

Without the snippet:
<a href=”http://www.thesite.com”>The Site</a>
With snippet:
<a href=”http://www.thesite.com ” rel= ” nofollow”>The Site</a>

  • SEO means where you place on Google. Which page does your blog show up when someone googles a keyword?
  • Install Yoast to make it 100x easier for yourself.
  • Name your photos right & include ALT tags.
  • Link to yourself, don’t let Google follow a link that isn’t to yourself.
  • Use keywords throughout your post, the post title, and the URL.

Resources for Blogger users


I hope this helped some of you. As mentioned earlier, I’m not an expert and this doesn’t cover everything but I hope it gives you a good starting point if SEO is something you want to work on with your blog.

If you already make sure you do all of these things, do you have any other tips for people that I didn’t already mention?
Or, do you now see why I don’t bother with it?  😆 

  • I don’t bother with SEO either (but then again, I’m on WordPress.com, so I have to upgrade and pay money to actually get SEO). It’s just something that I’ve never really cared about! And I also get search engine traffic every day, and I’m not even trying, so I feel like I’m doing something right??? 😂

    • Well, SEO can be done without some fancy plugin because it’s also part of the way you structure your posts & include keywords. so you can do SOME SEO stuff on .com but the “scores” and other things you’d probably have to upgrade – I’m not sure, though, I’ve always had a self-hosted blog >.< BUT DON'T EVEN WORRY. I don't care about my SEO. I don't have the SEO plugin installed. It's too much work and like you said, people are finding me so I'm doing something right lol

  • Haha SEO’s always been a bit of a mythical unicorn for me. I do my best to follow all the guidelines above, but sometimes I forget, oops.

    • It’s still kind of a mythical unicorn to me too lol Some people are super good at it, and I just don’t care >.<

  • Can I just talk about HOW ABSOLUTELY LOVELY YOUR BLOG IS MOLLY? Because I’m totally in love with the design!

    I love how you’ve simplified SEO – I don’t really pay much attention to it but I definitely will. I’ll be checking out the Blogger resources right away

    • AW THANK YOU!!! <3333 😀 That means so much!

      I don't really pay attention to my SEO so if you find it annoying, definitely don't force yourself! It just helps with traffic, really. haha

  • Honestly, I have a self-hosted blog and I still think WHATS THE POINT? hahah I haven’t had any problems with people finding my blog, I don’t have any income coming from it either, so it’s just kind of a waste to me. I don’t even have the Yoast plugin installed. BUT some people want it, and some people had questions, so I still try to help out >.< haha

  • SO HELPFUL, MOLLY! I have the SEO plugin for almost a year now, and it is awesome! Thank you for explaining SEO in such a clear way. Super smart lady. I’m loving your blog a lot. Nice to meet you!

    • Aw, thank you! I’m glad it was helpful 🙂

  • So I have Yoast. But I usually give up, tbh. Because some of the changes it wants me to make just don’t apply to my post, you know? Like it gets all salty about nonsense that doesn’t apply to a book review hahha. BUT I didn’t know about the no-follow thing either! I mean, I don’t think I will change anything because I make zero dollars from my blog so who cares? I think it’s probably important if you are like, making money maybe? BUT I am super glad you wrote this post, because at least now I feel like I know more if I ever do want to use it!

    • YES. Sometimes I’m just like STOP yelling at me your changes make NO SENSE. (Which is partly why I don’t have it anymore). I just don’t like bothering with SEO in general. Like you said, I don’t make money either. Maybe if I did, I’d care, but now it’s just a pain!

  • Thanks for the tips Molly! I’m rubbish at SEO but you’ve made it sound quite simple, and I’ve already made some changes 🙂 I’m gonna try the ‘no follow’ thing next!