Wouldn’t it be lovely if your blog or website could be one of the first results to be displayed in all relevant Google searches? Think of all that traffic, of all that exposure!
When it comes to blogging in particular, there is a huge focus on social media and for good reason. But I often feel that SEO falls lower down the priority list for many bloggers. As a result, a lot of bloggers are therefore missing valuable opportunities to increase website traffic. SEO is something we all know we should be doing, but it can be all too easy to ignore it and pretend it will sort itself out.
The reason for this is that SEO is undoubtedly a time-consuming process. It’s the reason that companies pay thousands of pounds per month for professional SEOs to do their thing. If you’re anything like me and blogging is an already-time-consuming hobby, then frankly we don’t have the time to dedicate every waking hour to working on the SEO for our blogs.
However, there are a number of quick wins to be gained from SEO. In this post, I share 10 quick SEO tips that you can implement right now. All of these recommendations are in line with SEO best practices and I never suggest anything that violates Google’s webmaster guidelines.
1. Set Up Google Analytics & Search Console
Whether or not you’re an uber nerd like me, data and analytics are super important for informing your blog strategy. SEO should always be data-driven. So without Google Analytics or Search Console, you’ll be SEO-ing blind.
Once they are up and running, you’ll have access to a whole host of swanky stats. From how people are using your site, to what they are typing in to find you. You can then use these insights to help shape your blogging and SEO strategy. Not only will this save you a whole host of time, but it’s also incredibly satisfying to be able to see the results when all your efforts start paying off.
2. Download an SEO Plugin
If you use WordPress then download the Yoast plugin. For other blogging platforms, download the equivalent if there isn’t already a built-in SEO tool. Just to be clear, these plugins don’t just magically improve your SEO once you’ve activated them. They facilitate SEO – in other words, they allow you to easily implement certain SEO best practices, without you having to play with some serious fire by dancing around in the .htaccess file. Tools like Yoast allow you to add meta data, set up redirects, create sitemaps and provide a fun traffic light system to help you optimise your pages and posts.
3. Write optimised Homepage metadata
The first step you should take is to update your Homepage metadata. This means writing a meta title (sometimes called ‘title tags’ or ‘SEO title’) and meta description. The meta title is very influential in terms of your blog ranking for a given search term. The meta description is crucial for increasing click-through rates to your blog once it is appearing in the results.
Of course you should get into the habit of writing metadata for every new page or post. But as a quick place to start initially, make sure you’ve got clear and targeted metadata for your homepage.
If you’re unsure of how to write metadata, check out my post on how to write metadata.
4. Set up a canonical URL
It may sound technical but it’s actually quite simple. A canonical URL is your preferred domain that you want the search engine to index. In other words, you may find that multiple versions of your domain URL exist. For example:
If this is the case then it could be causing you a duplicate content issue, as there are essentially several different versions of your website. You need to make sure that a canonical URL is set up and that all alternative versions of your website URL redirect to the main version. If you have a plugin like Yoast activated, then this should automatically be set up.
To check whether you have a canonical URL, view the source code of your website. To do this on Chrome, right click somewhere on a page of your website and click ‘View Source’. Then search for ‘canonical’ using ‘ctrl f’ or ‘cmd f’. If a canonical URL has been set up, it should look like this:
Also make sure that other versions of your URL, like the HTTP version, redirect to the HTTPS version. If it doesn’t, contact your web host and ask them very nicely if they’d mind setting this up for you.
5. Get an SSL certificate and secure your site
Google ultimately wants to provide the best user experience for those using the search engine and this means offering the safest experience. It therefore follows that Google will favour sites which are the most secure and don’t pose any threat to the user.
Be sure to keep your site updated and ensure you have a security plugin installed to help protect your site. You should also have an SSL certificate installed to ensure that your website users don’t get greeted with an off-putting ‘not secure’ message. Read my post on SSL certificates to learn more about this.
6. Submit sitemap to Google Search Console
Anything you can do to make the little Google bots’ lives easier will be beneficial to your SEO. Submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console will help Google crawl your site more efficiently.
First you will need to create an XML sitemap – again, most SEO plugins will create one for you. For example, if you have a WordPress site then go to the Yoast plugin > General > Features.
Click on the question mark next to ‘XML sitemaps’ and you can then click to see the sitemap. Simply copy and paste the URL of the sitemap into the sitemaps section of Google Search Console.
7. Check speed & mobile responsive
It’s widely known that page speed is an influential factor in SEO. Search engines aim to provide the best user experience for searchers. And if your site is taking too long to load then that’s not a good user experience. As a result, the search engines will not favour your site in the rankings – the last thing Google wants to do is provide a frustrating experience for searchers.
Having a mobile responsive site is just as important. Over half of all searches are carried out on mobile and if your site is not up to scratch then you could run into some serious visibility problems. The search engines won’t prioritise your site, plus users will likely leave and not return.
The first place to start here is with testing. You can test mobile compatibility using Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool. You should also spend some time browsing and navigating your site as a user on mobile. You may pick up on a few minor issues which may be hampering a smooth user experience.
There are a number of speed testing tools. My preferred choice is GT Metrix, but you can also use Google’s PageSpeed Insights. The trouble with these tools is that a lot of the recommendations are quite technical and not actionable without a developer.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of quick wins with page speed. Firstly, one of the most common causes of slow sites, especially amongst bloggers, is images that are too large. Images that you upload should not be larger than 150kb. Use tools like PicResize to resize images before adding them to your site. I’d strongly recommend going through old images and re-uploading a smaller size if they are too large.
Another quick win is to remove plugins that you are no longer using. Lots of third party plugins are not only potentially detrimental to the security of your site, but they often slow your site down. Many will be necessary for your site to run, but you’d be surprised how many are just sitting there unused. Have a quick look through and remove any which are not being used.
8. Fix broken links
Continuing with the good user experience theme, broken links are another area of onpage SEO which is pretty straightforward to address. Broken links are exactly what they say on the tin. It’s where you have linked to another page, either on your own website (internal) or on another website (external), but the link no longer leads to a functioning page.
There are a number of reasons why broken links occur. Sometimes it’s a typo in the URL, but often it’s because the original page has been deleted or the URL changed and a redirect not setup.
I use a paid tool called SEMRush to identify any broken links. But if you google ‘broken link checker’, there are a number of free tools you can use. Once you have a list of broken links on your site, simple go through and replace the broken link with a fully functioning one.
9. Update metadata for top landing pages and performing posts
Following on from the earlier point about updating the metadata on your Homepage. Once this is done, the next step is to update the metadata for other key landing pages on your site and top performing blog posts. Key landing pages refer to any pages on your site which have potential to generate organic traffic. For example, your contact page is not likely to generate organic traffic and is therefore not a key landing page.
Use Google Analytics to identify popular posts – look at those already performing well from organic search, but also look at those which are popular via other channels. Once you’ve identified a number of pages and posts to update, carry out some keyword research and write newly optimised metadata.
10. Disavow spammy links
Links to your website from other relevant, high quality websites are very effective in improving your SEO performance and gaining authority in the eyes of the search engines. This is because these links to your site act like endorsements or votes of confidence. A virtual thumbs up! Proactive link-building is a long and lengthy process. But without getting too deep into the ins and outs of link-building, there is one initial and important step you can take.
Unfortunately, sometimes the links back to your site can be low quality or spammy in nature. If you have too many of these links, the search engines may view your site as not particularly trustworthy. This could be very detrimental to your overall search visibility.
To check this isn’t the case, you can find out your ‘spam score’. This is a metric provided by Moz, which predicts how likely your website is to be penalised. You can check this using their Link Explorer tool. You’ll need to set up a free account where you can get 10 free queries per month.
If your spam score is below 5% then there is nothing to worry about and you can continue going about your day. If your spam score is between 5-20% then I’d start thinking about implementing a link-building strategy to improve it. If your spam score is over 20% then I’d suggest taking more immediate action.
If you find you’ve got a high spam score then you’ll need to assess your backlink profile and flag any linking sites which are highly toxic and look very low quality. Tools like Moz and SEMRush can do this for you.
Once you’ve got your list of toxic links, ideally you want to get the webmaster to remove the links entirely. But failing this, you can submit them to Google’s disavow tool. This essentially instructs Google to pretty please ignore those links. Do exercise some caution here though and only submit links you are certain are highly toxic. Otherwise you could cause more damage than good.
Totally hooked by this SEO thing and champing at the bit to learn more? Check out Moz, which has tonnes of free resources which are all presented in an easy to understand, jargon free way. Or have a read of some of my other SEO related articles: