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7 Steps to Slay SEO – A step-by-step guide to SEO for Beginners

SEO has been a life-saver for my blog. I’m not the kind of person who can keep posting travel articles every week, let alone daily. I don’t travel that much, and I have a full-time job to look after. But I took some simple steps that helped me get traffic on an auto-pilot mode even when I was not posting anything new for months. So based on my own experience I’m sharing with you a 7-step-guide to striking the gold in SEO.

Pre-requisites to SEO

This post is for bloggers who have got their basic technical aspects sorted out for their blog. If you don’t know what I am referring to here’s a quick checklist.

  • Have Google analytics code on the blog
  • Have your sitemap uploaded
  • Have your Google Search Console configured
  • Know about site-speed, and how to check it 
  • Understand the meaning of SEO, Keyword, Keyphrase

SEO for Beginners – 7 Simple steps to follow

Step 1: Use Key Search to find Long-tail keyword or Keyphrase

In my previous article about blogging, I mentioned the importance of writing for your audience. When you decide on a topic, research on your focus keyword or keyphrase. For example, for this article if I want to optimize it for search, I cannot target the term “SEO”. This is because there are thousands of sites that are more authoritative in the domain of SEO and target the same keyword for their article. In order to rank in the first page, I need to target a less popularly targeted keyword. Something that is easier to rank for while also having a substantial volume of searches

This is where a paid keyword research tool helps. They give you long-tail variations of the topic you want to write on, the SEO difficulty score based on competition, the currently ranking posts for each of those keywords and the competitive scores of the sites that rank for them. they also display the estimated search volume of those keywords.

After much research on keyword research, I found Keysearch to be the most effective and affordable tool for this. You can opt for the Keysearch Starter Annual Plan payable annually or the Keysearch Starter Plan payable monthly.

If you don’t want to invest money yet, you can start with Ubersuggest – a free tool by Neil Patel or the Google ads keyword planner.

Step 2: Find search-intent for that Keyphrase

Finding the search-intent is very important. When I wrote a detailed article on a walking tour of Toledo, I thought I’d get a lot of readers through search. In this article I described my experience of walking in the streets and exploring the walled ancient city of Toledo, Spain. However, the article never did well on Google.

Reason being the mismatch of search intent and focus keyword. Turns out that when people search for the long term keyphrase “walking tour of Toledo” they are searching for a list of free or commercial walking tours that they can book. Not an actual virtual walking tour which I intended to provide to my readers.

Therefore, I had to later rewrite the article for a different focus-keyword which actually matched with the search-intent. You can see that when you read the article.

The ever-evolving search engine algorithms know about the search-intent better than you and I can guess. So, the best way to assess search-intent is by reading the articles that are already ranking for that keyphrase.

Step 3: Write the Best Content Ever on the chosen keyphrase

Now that you have selected your keyphrase and that it matches the search intent, time to write the blog post. And it’s not just any blog post. To rank at the top on Google, it has to be the best, most informative, most exciting article on that topic.

Google, Bing and other popular search engines try to show the best results to their users. Black-hat techniques like keyword-stuffing, getting backlinks through spamming do not really help. What helps is an honest and earnest attempt to write the best content ever, needless to mention – unique.

Step 5: Use Yoast SEO for inserting keyphrase in right places

Yoast is a great tool for SEO. It helps you to test the optimization of your post for your selected keyphrase. The paid version allows you to enter multiple variations of the keyphrase as well.

These are the key places in your post where you must have the keyphrases inserted. Yoast checks the draft and highlights if you are missing the keyword in any of the key areas. And it also shows your keyphrase density.

  • Must use the exact key phrase on your Title, meta-description and the first paragraph.
  • Use variations of the key phrase throughout the body of the text
  • Use the key phrase and its variations in the alt-text for images
  • Use key phrase minus prepositions in the slug

My thumb-rule is to check that I have used the keyphrase in the key areas, and in the body atleast once. Rest of the article I may sprinkle with variations of the key phrase but not exact key phrase. A paid version of Yoast will help you check that algorithmically.

Step 6: Build link-profile for your optimized posts (off-page SEO)

Now that you have published this excellent search-engine-optimized post, it’s time to build authority. Internally link your articles within your blog wherever you deem fit. Remember there is only one rule to decide whether to link to an internal post on your blog or not. That is, helpfulness to the reader. If you think that any related article on your blog will add value to your readers, then link them. 

Similarly, you can link to great posts on authoritative sites as well. This helps your readers and also makes you look more authentic in the eyes of Google. Last and the most difficult thing to do is get your post linked from other authoritative sites. What if Natgeo Travel links to the travel guides on my blog? Wouldn’t that be awesome? But for that the blog has to be exceptional and well-marketed on its own. Other ways to get backlinks is through guest-posting on websites sharing similar niche and requesting a backlink to a related and relevant post on your own blog.

Check out my own guest post on Blogchatter to know more about link-building.

Step 7: Track the performance on Google Search Console

Track the following on Google Search Console: the impressions received, page rank, clicks and queries you get those clicks for. not only will this help you understand how well your post is doing, it will also help you identify other opportunities to optimize your post.

Example 1: you can get new keywords from the queries you see on the dashboard. You can insert those keywords on your post to increase your ranking for those queries

Example 2: If your post started ranking in top 10 results but is not getting enough clicks, it may mean that you need to improve your title, description or featured image. Basically, you need to make your post more “clickable”

Example 3: If your post starts dropping in page rank for a particular query, it may be time to update your post with the latest information.

Example 4: If your page is ranking well for a keyword and getting sufficient organic clicks, you should take the opportunity to monetize the post. Sprinkle affiliate links, try putting in more ads as long as it doesn’t detoriate user experience, etc.

Weekly Prime Recommendations

Watch the movie Sita Raman on Prime one of the most riveting love stories I have seen in recent times

Check out the new episodes of Rings of Power on Prime

Currently grooving on Amazon Music : Bramhastra, RRR, and many more

Gear up for the Great Indian Festival Sale from 23rd September

Well, that’s all the gyaan I could give out for free to increase my own competition. But I really hope this post helps you budding bloggers. Do you have any additional tips to share? Feel free to comment here. Want to thank me? Just go ahead and share the post to help others out.

This post is a part of Blogchatter Blog Hop prompt-based challenge.

 

 

Sinjana Ghosh

Sinjana Ghosh is a full-time business professional with a penchant for writing and travel planning. Backpack & Explore is a journal of her travel stories and tips she collected from her experience. She is the author of the travel book “Postcards from India” which is available on Amazon, Flipkart and Notionpress.com

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5 Comments

  1. Geethica September 13, 2022

    Wow Sinjana, this is awesome. I learnt a lot about SEO from your blog post especially search intent. I am going work on all of the above pointers.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh September 13, 2022

      Thanks Geethica. Glad it helps

  2. Seetha September 13, 2022

    This post is super helpful, Sinjana. I have noted down the 4 points about the key places to have the keywords. Thank you for the gyaan 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh September 14, 2022

      Thanks Seetha! Glad it helps

  3. Jasmine September 14, 2022

    Thank you for this detailed post

    Reply

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