Ridiculously Simple SEO to Take Your Blog to the Top

How's the view from the top? -- Seriously simple SEO to make your blog soar!

Let’s talk about SEO.

Not the super technical bits, because those are confusing.

Let’s talk about what it really is so you can actually understand what the hell is going on.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. But maybe you already know that. What you DON’T know is what the hell that actually is. Seriously. What is it?

At its core, SEO is how likely it is that someone will see your blog come up in a search engine result.

Okay well let’s think about that for a second.

Imagine that you search for something in Google. What usually happens? For me, it’s something like this:

  • I type in my search.
  • I give some SERIOUS consideration to the first few results (like the top 3).
  • If one of the titles of the top results catches my eye, I click on it.
  • If those top results don’t answer my question, then I go back and look at some of the other results on the first page.
  • If I still don’t have my answer at the end of the first page of results, I search for something else. I revise my query because maybe I didn’t search for the right thing.

What can you take away from that information?

  • People look at the top results first.
  • People rarely go beyond page #1 of search results.

Once you understand that, you realize that “SEO” is all about ranking as high as possible on search engines.

If SEO is all about getting SEEN in search results, then that means you have to be in a place that people are likely to read and click on. That means page one. More specifically, it means the top half of page one. Ideally the first result.

But how do you actually get to #1?

The suspense is killing you, isn’t it?

There is no “trick” or “hack” or “technical method” for getting to the #1 spot.

There just isn’t. Period.

Yes there are a few small technical things you can do that will help, like having a catchy title, using keywords in your post, using headings, blah blah blah.

Yes that stuff helps. But to help you understand the REAL way you rank #1, let’s think about Google as a business.

What is Google’s goal?

Google is a search engine, right? So their #1 goal is to get answers to peoples’ questions. If someone types in “how to make perfect pasta” then goddamnit Google is going to find them the best damn article about making the best damn pasta. Google is going to scour the internet to find that one recipe that helped millions of people walk away with perfect pasta that they love.

Google wants to help you find the BEST and MOST RELIABLE answer to your question or problem.

So if you think about it like that, you’ll realize that you can’t use techy tricks to have the best content. No amount of stuffing “perfect pasta”, “perfect pasta”, “perfect pasta” into your post is going to create a real recipe for SERIOUSLY PERFECT PASTA.

Because it’s not about the words in your post—it’s about the results, right? Having the words “perfect pasta” in a blog post doesn’t give you perfect pasta. A really awesome recipe is how you get perfect pasta. And Google knows that.

That’s why SEO isn’t about “techy hacks” or even “keywords”. It’s about providing the best damn content you can.

It USED to be about the techy bits (like keywords and headings and stuff) because years ago, Google wasn’t smart. It needed you to put in keywords for it to understand what your page was about.

Now, Google is smarter. It doesn’t need a lot of help to figure out what your post is all about.

That’s why the #1 way to improve your SEO is to write great content.

  • Pick a topic. Not a general topic like “how to make money”, but a specific topic like “how to make 1 million dollars selling perfect pasta recipes on your blog”. Specificity rocks.
  • Then write the hell out of that post. Pour YOUR EVERYTHING into it. If you want Google to love this post then you need PEOPLE to love this post.
  • Love your post. Share your post. Get those other people who love your post to share it too.
  • If you prove to the world that your post is really seriously awesome, Google will recognize that. Google will see it as THE ANSWER TO PEOPLES’ PRAYERS and see you as the authority figure for how to make serious profit selling perfect pasta recipes. Even if your images suck and you forgot to fill in the alt text (sigh), Google will be like, “This girl ain’t got technical skills worth shit, but dude, she knows her pasta. Look at all the people who loved this post. It HELPS PEOPLE. Throw that post up there! TO THE TOP!”

Real, actionable steps to create great content.

If it’s all about making your post as epic as possible, then let’s go over a few tips to create some seriously awesome content:

  1. Be specific. I talked about this before, but I need to reiterate it. The more vague you are, the harder it’s going to be to compete with ALL THE OTHER VAGUENESS. This can be as simple as: “how to start a blog” versus “how to start a book blog”.

    Everyone and their mother is a blogger, but there are a lot less book bloggers. And realistically, if someone’s looking to start a book blog they’re probably going to include “book” in their search. So by catering your post to THAT SPECIFIC PERSON rather than everyone and their mother, you have a better chance of finding the right audience and having them love your post.

  2. Write longer posts. Data shows that a huge portion of the #1 ranking sites are LONG. They’re wordy. Like 1500 massive words.

    This is probably because longer posts tend to have more value. They dig more in depth and therefore solve problems more thoroughly. If someone is indeed looking for a solution to their problem, they’re going to want ALL THE INFO. More info = more value = more love for your post.

    That being said, don’t make your post longer just for the sake of it. Don’t fill it with waffle (I love waffles though). Instead, ask yourself this: can I add more REAL VALUE? If so, add it. If not, then don’t. You want to add more content if there’s more to say. You don’t want to add it for no reason (like just to rank higher—because then that’s a stupid way to try to trick Google and it won’t work).

  3. Solve problems. Not every single post has to solve a problem. Some posts can exist just for entertainment, and that’s fine. But when people are Googling for stuff, it’s usually because they have a problem they want to solve or they want a question they want answered. I don’t know about you, but most of my search queries start with “how to…”

    And what do you know.. my most visited pages on my entire blog also start with “how to”. Check them out:

    1. How to Choose a Good Blog Name (96,108 page views)
    2. How to Add a Drop Down Menu Navigation in Blogger (43,049 page views)
    3. How to add an Image Slider to Your Blogger Blog (28,387 page views)

    So if it fits in with your site, start solving problems. Answer questions.

    But if the purpose of your site is entertainment then this whole point proooobably doesn’t apply to you.

Good SEO means writing awesome posts and having a blog that PEOPLE love.

Don’t write your posts in a certain way to try to please Google.

Write your posts in a certain way to try to please PEOPLE.

If you make the people happy, Google will be like, “Party over here on Nose Graze! The people are FLOCKING!” and send you up to the top of the rankings so more people can party with you.

Go forth and start writing posts that HARDCORE ROCK!

Let me know what kind of “awesome post” ideas you have in the comments below.

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I'm a 27 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). I like to inject a little #girlpower into the WordPress development community by teaching women how to be coding badasses. more »

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43 comments

  1. Ashely, can I just say I LOVE this post??

    Basically, I feel like SO many problems can be solved by writing great content. Want a dedicated blog following? Write great posts. Want to develop excellent relationships with your readers? Write great posts? Want to monetize your blog? Write great posts.

    I didn’t know so much of SEO relied on good content, though! SEO has always been one of those “ew, that looks really hard, WAY too hard for me” kind of things, but you broke it down so well! It makes sense that Google wants to put the most thorough posts on top, especially those how to ones. I think so many people also worry about writing posts that are ‘too long’, but I find those are not only the kinds of posts I enjoy, but also the ones that will get ranked higher by Google.

    Awesome sauce post, Ashley!

    Aneeqah <3
    The Writing Hustle
    My Not So Real Life

    1. I’m so thrilled that you love it Aneeqah!

      And you’re totally right. You can solve EVERYTHING by just writing awesome content. Don’t look for cheats or shortcuts—just be awesome. Put your everything into it.

  2. I do not so much agree as the other commenters. I’m working in an online margeting agency and we actually create and implement those seo strategies (mainly with success). “Content is king!” is not said easily. It’s true. Good Content will be shared, but also, it’s about the technical bits and keywords. It’s about loading time and having a mobile page, it’s about the right keywords in the metadata, it’s about a good internal link structure but also about off-page seo (external links, social signs, boards, etc.). It’s about the whole package. You’re content can and must be good. Only good content will be shared naturally. But it also needs all that other jazz to be found. And on the one hand you’re saying that it’s not about the keyword, at the other hand your stressing, that one should be specific in title and the text – “book blog” is a keyword. Google wants its users to find what they are searching for. Google prefers for its SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) user friendly and informative results but it needs also signs for this friendliness through implemented short and long-tail keywords.

    Maybe I did add new information here, maybe I just told you something you already new – either way, I love to talk about SEO, so I got what I was looking for. πŸ˜€

    Greetings,
    Susanne

    P.S: Sorry for grammar and speeling mistakes: English =/= my mothertongue πŸ˜›

    Susanne recently posted: MonatsrΓΌckblick | September 2015
    1. The technical bits are really less important these days. Even Moz agrees.

      https://moz.com/blog/million-dollar-content This article takes a few sites that break all the rules (7.5 MB page size – UGH!) and still rank incredibly well because they’re geared towards what people are looking for.
      https://moz.com/blog/why-i-stopped-selling-seo-services-and-you-should-too This talks about how the SEO landscape has changed and you can’t just rank for keywords by implementing some technical bits.

      Create valuable content

      Instead of trying to jam those pages with links, create a piece of content that delivers what Google (and users) want. By creating value with your content, you open it up to earning social media shares and powerful links from relevant sites.

      Yes, those technical pieces help. It’s like a stacking game: the more little bits you add on, the better your chances. But ultimately, I think having really good content will take you the furthest.

      The main takeaway of my post is to write content that people will love. And yes a lot of those methods do relate to SEO, because if you’re specific with your content (book bloggers vs just book bloggers) you will attract people who relate to that content. And at the same time you will convey to Google what it’s all about (keywords).

      But the point is, you don’t write the post thinking, “Okay how can I make Google understand this..” Instead, you write the post thinking, “How can I write this for a specific person and solve all their problems with it?” It’s like optimising for SEO by optimising for people first.

      So I’m not saying the technical bits suck. I’m saying that if you write content PEOPLE will love, then you will naturally get link backs and social shares and also hit some of the keyword marks with Google.

  3. I love it, great article! It answered quite a few of my questions about SEO to be honest, to me SEO is like that dark monster that tries to help but… you’d rather not poke it in case you pee it off πŸ˜› lol. So I have the basics that’s it.
    I was still under the impression of using tags and the headers (I’m a little behind!), but this article is really good at explaining the truth!
    My favourite part of the article is your Google impression, she doesn’t know toffee about tech skills but she’s ace at pasta, *bump* lol.
    Thank you πŸ™‚
    Amy x

    1. Thanks for stopping by Amy!

      I know a lot of people are confused about SEO so I tried to be super real and down to earth about it. πŸ™‚ It’s something that’s constantly changing, so what was true two years ago could be completely irrelevant today. But now that search engines are smarter, making your posts awesome for PEOPLE will take you very far. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes that’s true. It helps to build up good authority. I think that also ties into the whole people aspect too though.

      If you just start a blog and create an awesome post, then let’s be honest… not many people are going to see it because your blog is brand new and you don’t have a lot of followers. So even if your post is in fact fantastic, people won’t know about it because YOUR BLOG isn’t super well known yet.

      But if you’ve been blogging for 3 years, you might have a great audience of people who read your posts and love them. That extra audience means more people to see how awesome your post is, share your post, link back to your post, pin your post, etc. And all those things create more social proof that your post rocks, which then leads to more traffic to your post and higher rankings.

      So I think it’s all connected. πŸ™‚

    1. Same here. Sometimes it’s tempting to be vague because you think, “I can reach more people that way!” But actually, by being vague it’s so much harder to compete and get people to find you. But people have specific interests and specific problems. So if you cater to specific people, it will be easier for them to find you, and you’ll be able to speak to them more directly which will make them relate to what you’re saying.

    1. You’re welcome Sue. πŸ™‚

      The SEO landscape is constantly changing. It used to be all about the techy stuff but that’s becoming less and less important as Google gets smarter.

  4. I wish I could show this to my English classes. I’m always telling my students how important it is to have a catchy title in the digital age, and it’s even more important to be a fun and interesting writer. Unfortunately, public schools — like the one where I teach — tend to have firewalls that block blogs. πŸ™ Otherwise I’d totally share this with my students as part of a lesson.

  5. ASHLEY, YOU’RE MY HERO!!! *bows down to your awesomeness*

    I’ve been tearing me hair when it comes to the concept of SEO ever since I started my blog. I was never techno savvy, and I am still often confused with the technical parts of blogging, so I had no clue about what the hell SEO is – Other than the fact that it sounded similar to CEO, which again, I have no clue about. I’ve been thinking that technical knowledge is needed if you want to be in Google’s good terms, so this post helped me a lot and cleared my mind! Now content, it’s something, I CAN control, so you gave me so much hope with this post!

    Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales recently posted: The representation of sexual harassment in YA
    1. Thanks for stopping by Mishma!! So many bloggers see SEO as this huge, techy, scary thing and I really just wanted to clear the air and show that it’s not a scary techy thing any more.

  6. Love this article! Love your writing style! I swear half the crap I come across related to blogging ends up being them trying to sell me something. Thanks for your FREE insight.

  7. I’m trying to learn more about SEO and this blog post is quite straightforward like someone said – no bullshit!
    What I’l also finding out is that people (and search engines) love How to posts – post where you may not be solving a problem, but you are teaching people how to do something – one of the most popular posts on my blog is one where I teach how to make a cat house using a cardboard box and a t-shirt. I get a lot of traffic from search engines to this post.

    Rosa @ Cat Lady Confidential recently posted: 12 Amazing Halloween Costumes For Your Cat

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