Want to 10x your blog traffic?

4 days to learn the fundamentals of SEO and grow your blog with free, consistent traffic from Google.

seo blueprint guide bloggers

SEO Blueprint: How to Rank and Get Your First 10K Organic Traffic from Google

leannewong-profile-2018

Have you been struggling with SEO for a while now?

If you’re looking for a step-by-step blueprint to get your first 10K visits from natural, organic search then you’re in the right place.

seo traffic guide

Today, we will be implementing 9 pretty cool SEO strategies I’ve tried and tested to rank on Google.

By the end, you’ll learn how to SEO optimize a blog you love and consistently attract organic search traffic month after month.

That said, as every niche is different and how long it takes to see the results of your efforts depends on how dedicated you are to try out a new approach.

If you’re looking to level up your SEO more, I recommend joining my 4-Day SEO for Beginners Bootcamp, where I share easy to implement SEO strategies to increase your rankings and traffic from Google.

SEO for Beginners Bootcamp blog post

#1. Choose a niche topic that has search potential

The first thing you want to do is come up with an SEO strategy by finding keywords to target and a niche to enter.

One common mistake when it comes to blogging is a lack of specificity. The tendency to write about everything and anything under the sun, in fear of missing out (FOMO).

Being too generic often leads to poor content and lackluster engagement from your readers.

Find a unique angle that targets a clearly defined audience group and a topic that best benefits them. That’s how you can gain clarity and get specific in choosing your blog topic.

Think about what impact/change your content will have on your audience.

Pain is more effective than benefit:

  • what problem will your content solve?
  • will your content provide more in-depth information?
  • will your readers feel relieved, less frustrated after reading your content?

When researching keywords, it’s worth checking who your competitors are and how saturated the market is.

There are some niches that are very, very, very hard to compete in.

But don’t let that discourage you just yet, because if there’s anything I’ve seen again and again – it’s that passion and hard work always win.

But what’s worse than a highly competitive niche?

It’s a niche that no one is talking about.

The last thing you want to do is spend half a year blogging about something that has zero to little search demand.

Discover the search demand for your topic and keywords

Find the search volume of your main topic and 8-10 related keywords. Brainstorm as many keyword variations as you can.

One good place to start is Google’s Keyword Planner tool.

keyword-planner-niche

There are 3 things we can look out for in Google keyword planner:

  • avg. monthly searches: shows you the number of monthly searches for that specific keyword phrase. Notice how adding a few modifiers to the keyword makes a huge difference in search volume.
  • suggested bid: shows you the cost-per-click that advertisers are paying for that keyword. This metric tells you how much a keyword is worth in terms of traffic value. It shows you how much money advertisers are spending on PPC for that keyword on paid search.
  • related search terms: this list of keywords by relevance is very helpful to brainstorm long-tail and related keyword ideas.

keyword-planner-metrics-seo

Note: you can only get the exact numbers for avg. monthly searches if you have an advertiser’s account – if you’re running Google Ads.

If not, you’ll get a range instead. And that’s totally fine because we just need to gauge how much search demand our keywords have.

Research your SEO competition

At this stage, you might also want to use a keyword research tool to analyze your competition.

SEMrush is an industry leading tool to find out who your competitors are, and what are their best keywords.

You can also use Ahrefs to do this. Both tools are competent for SEO competitive analysis. What we want to know is who are ranking for the common keywords as us and how tough of a competition they are (strength of domain authority, content and keyword positioning).

When it comes to SEO competitive analysis, there are 3 things we need to know:

  • who are our search competitors (not the same as business competitors)
  • how many common keywords they share with us in organic search
  • how tough of a competition they are
    • strength of domain authority
    • content quality
    • keyword position

Instead of diving into a full SEO tools tutorial here, I’ll point you to some great resources:

How to Use SEMrush for Competitive Keyword Research

Ahrefs: How to Do an SEO Competitor Analysis

Now if you don’t have the budget for these expensive tools, you can do simple competitive research by just analyzing the search results. Type in the keyword you want to rank for on Google and just analyze who is ranking on the first page. We can make a guess:

  • how authoritative is the top ranking website?
  • how many pages and blog posts have this website published?
  • does this same website rank for the majority of the keywords I want to rank for?

#2. Create SEO content that is keyword targeted and highly linkable

SEO Content is content that ranks well on Google. They mainly have two core attributes:

  • Keyword targeted
  • Highly linkable

Keyword targeting is meant to drive a higher quality and quantity of traffic to your website.

By ranking for keywords with high search volume drives high traffic to your website, and if those keywords are niche-specific, they could drive qualified traffic that drives conversions as well.

So that’s why we always emphasize the importance of SEO keyword research.

How to create keyword targeted content

Start with a keyword topic first. Think about the seed keywords of your blog post.

These could be 3-5 primary keywords which are broad keywords in your niche. Ranking on the first page for high search volume seed keywords would promise huge traffic potential.

Second, analyze the search results to understand search intent and how to create content that answers the user’s motive. What is Google telling you? Are the search results showing a strong transactional intent or informational intent?

What dominates the SERPs for a keyword gives you insight on the right type of content to create to target its intent.

Third, weave in related keywords and long-tails in your content and headings. This is part of on-page SEO and optimizing content and page structure for SEO.

How to create highly linkable content

A highly linkable content asset is able to attract backlinks and gain virality fast. These are viral content that people share and link to out of goodwill.

The number of backlinks and authority of those backlinks play a huge role in SEO rankings.

No backlinks = no rankings.

A key ingredient of a highly linkable asset is utility.

Highly useful and valuable content naturally gain shares and traction. These can be a huge ultimate guide to a topic that provides tremendous value or an attractive infographic that is easily shareable.

Both keywords and backlinks form the start of SEO optimized content.
SEO for Beginners Bootcamp blog post

In an ideal world, backlinks will come to you naturally. Because if you’ve got bangin’ amazing great content that everybody just can’t resist sharing, then you wouldn’t have to break a sweat building inbound links manually.

But that just doesn’t happen. Even if it does, it doesn’t happen every time you publish a new piece of content.

Content needs to be deliberately promoted to get in out in the world.

Backlinks are an important ranking factor on Google, if not the most important.

One of the most effective strategies for building backlinks naturally is using Egobait.

This strategy encourages people to notice your content and potentially share it with their network because you’ve featured them on your own blog.

Egobait Link Building: How to add value when you have nothing to offer

(a) Reach out to everyone you’ve mentioned in your article and featured their work. Send them an email saying, “great job, thanks for writing this amazing content, I absolutely love you” note of appreciation.

(b) Write a roundup post and find at least 5 influential bloggers in your niche. Give a short writeup about their articles that you’ve selected, and add your own take on it.

Make sure to also link to their respective blogs. Then, contact them individually through email, and mention them in a tweet about your blog.

The key here is to not ask for a backlink but to focus on promoting their content and build a relationship.

Start off small and look for bloggers, smaller editorial sites, and micro-influencers who are in a similar position as you.

Chances are they’d be very happy if you shared their content. This way you’ve built a relationship and got your blog noticed in a subtle way.
SEO for Beginners Bootcamp blog post

#4. Get your own domain name and self-hosted WordPress blog

The next step is to create your website:

  • Buy a domain name from Namecheap
  • Get web hosting from Siteground
  • Set up a WordPress blog

Having your own domain name and self-hosted WordPress blog is very low cost and easy to setup.

When it comes to domain names, one of the most frequently asked questions is – “what should I name my website?”

I’ll breakdown the most important factors when choosing a domain name and a hosting provider.

SEO Factors to consider when choosing a domain name:

  • Keyword in the domain name: make sure to include one keyword that is relevant to your blog niche.
    • Even though exact-match keywords in domain names are not as effective anymore, it still adds relevance to what your website is about.
  • URL length: pick a domain name that isn’t freakishly long. Google does prefer shorter URLs.

Picking a good hosting provider is the most important part of setting up your website.

To date, I stand by strongly with Siteground.

  • One-click WordPress installs
  • Free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate install 
  • 100% customer satisfaction, with a very effective customer support help chat who don’t rest until your problem is fixed for good.
  • Lightning-fast server load speed 

There are plenty of mixed reviews about Bluehost, but so far I haven’t seen one bad review about Siteground.

#5. Make sure your WordPress theme is SEO optimized

Picking a WordPress theme that is SEO optimized is just as important as getting a good hosting provider.

There’s a whole lot of articles out there already about this, so I’ll keep it brief.

Here are three of the most important aspects of an SEO optimized WordPress theme:

(1) Mobile responsive

Google announced in 2010 that site speed is a factor in its ranking algorithm.

After the 2015 Mobilegeddon update, Google has signaled that they will be prioritizing mobile-friendly websites when searches are made from mobile devices.

Meaning if your website is not mobile responsive, your rankings will hurt. This is really happening, folks.

Why?

Because more searches are done on mobile devices than on desktop. Nearly 60% more searches on mobile!

First, make sure you’re using a mobile-responsive WordPress theme.

Second, check how your site looks to Google with the Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.

(2) Fast load speed

One of the biggest factors in having a good user experience is how fast your site loads.

Ideally, you want to get it under two seconds, one second if possible.

pingdom-leannewong

(3) Supports rich snippets

Adding rich snippets to your site helps better communicate your website to search engines.

Rich snippets improve the appearance of your page listing on search results.

rich-snippet-food-blogger

The technical term is called schema markup.

Rich snippets are especially useful for food bloggers, product review-based websites.

Further reading: Beginner’s Guide: How to Use Rich Snippets in WordPress

Time-tested WordPress Theme recommendations

Genesis Framework 

  • Highly raved about WP theme, for its clean and modern code
  • Secure and advanced customization options
  • Fast load speed
  • Very expensive (starting price $59.95)

Divi theme 

  • Highly raved page builder plugin
  • Comes with dozens of website templates for easy setup
  • Costly ($89 per year)

WP Ocean 

  • Free
  • Easy to set up, plenty of options for demos
  • Compatible with many popular WP plugins

Generatepress 

  • Free
  • Lightweight
  • Secure
  • High performance and fast load speed

SEO for Beginners Bootcamp blog post

#6. How to make your page speed lightning fast with simple fixes

Increasing page speed is one of the hardest and complex aspects of technical SEO.

But its definitely a critical concern to rank well on Google.

Because page speed is officially a ranking signal on Google.

Here are four easy fixes that can drastically improve your site loading time:

1. Shrinking your image sizes

Use WP Smush or Imagify plugin for WordPress to compress any picture you upload automatically.

If you want to compress your images beforehand, check out TinyPNG or Optimizilla.

  • Another tip is to use JPEG files as they are smaller but not as high quality as PNG.
  • The best option is to use SVG files which can scale image sizes without loss of quality.

2. Use a plugin for browser caching

A popular free caching plugin is W3 Total Cache.

If you have some budget, investing in a premium caching plugin is worth it – I highly recommended WP Rocket.

3. Minify CSS and JavaScript

Omg, what is minification?!

Basically, minification removes unnecessary white spaces and characters from your CSS and JavaScript files.

To fix this, install Gulpjs on your server and you could also refer this Google guide to your developer.

If you’re using WordPress, Autoptimize is a free plugin that works really well too.

4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN delivers cached version of your website’s static content on its own servers based on the geographic location of the user.

So when somebody visits your web page, the static content is loaded from the sever closest to their location.

Static versions of your site are like images, CSS and Javascript files.

For example, if your website is hosted in USA and when a visitor from Finland visits your site, without a CDN, that user will have to wait for the server to load all the way from USA.

With a CDN, your website will be loaded from the server closest to the user.

Engage a developer to move static files from your website to a CDN and keep only the HTML file on your main server.

If you’re using WordPress, simply install a plugin like MaxCDN (Premium) or set up Cloudflare (Free CDN) on your WordPress site.

#7. Improve user experience factors

So far we’ve been focused on improving how our site looks to search engines.

Now we’ll look into how we can make our site appeal to humans.

What’s interesting is that improving user experience actually improve ranking performance.

Because Google just wants to serve up websites that are most relevant and useful to users.

When it comes to user experience, we have to prioritise mobile experience and site speed.

We’ve covered this earlier.

In this section, we’ll look at another important user experience factor: user signals.

User Signals: Dwell time, Bounce Rate, CTR

There’s a strong correlation between SEO performance and user signals.

Nick Forst, head of Google Brain implies the importance of dwell time with SEO:

Google is now integrating machine learning into [the process of figuring out what the relationship between a search and the best page for that search is]. So then training models on when someone clicks on a page and stays on that page, when they go back or when they and trying to figure out exactly on that relationship.

Okay, he’s saying that the longer someone stays on your site, the more relevant your page matches a query.

It’s no coincidence that the top ranking pages on Google also tend to have lower bounce rates and longer dwell time.

When it comes to improving dwell time and bounce rate, content is key.

How do you keep readers engaged on your site, instead of bouncing off without clicking on another page?

  • Answer their search intent by making your content solve their problem
  • Provide in-depth, long form content
  • Use images, infographics to keep readers’ attention
  • Make use of easy navigation (reduce distractions like pop-ups, broken links, poor site structure).

#8. Participate in online communities and comment on authority blogs

There has been significant backlash against blog commenting in the past few years.

For fear that they’ll get penalised by Google for low quality user generated content or links.

In terms of ranking signals, comments have no real effect on SEO.

Because blog comments usually have the attribute, rel=no follow.

This tells search engine bots not to follow that link, thus passing no link juice from it.

But commenting on authority blogs can be a great way to build exposure.

If you’ve been keeping up with industry news and authoritative blogs, try dropping a few legitimate comments about your thoughts on the article piece.

This helps get your name out there and engage with other contributors on the same platform.

When I first started blogging, I’d spend 2 hours everyday just participating in Facebook groups.

facebook-groups seo

Out of all the social media communities, I found Facebook to be the valuable in getting client prospects and finding valuable insights about my target audience.

These activities have helped me come up with new content ideas that resonate, and also land a few freelance gigs.

Facebook groups are also a great way to get targeted referral traffic to your blog posts.

facebook-opportunity-seo

When it comes to dropping your blog articles on Facebook groups, be very careful.

Do it in a non-desperate, non-spammy way.

Only drop your article where its 100% relevant, and when you’ve already warmed up to the group by participating for a week pro bono.
SEO for Beginners Bootcamp blog post

#9. Read, study and keep learning!

Lastly, keep at it.

I have a couple of SEO courses that can help (and free) – 4 Day SEO for Beginners Bootcamp and Free Resources Library. Hope to see you there!

How did you find the strategies listed here?

I’d love to hear how your journey with Search Engine Optimization and Blogging has been so far! Share your thoughts in the comments below!

leannewong-profile-2018

Author: Leanne Wong

Leanne Wong has taught over 5,600+ entrepreneurs and bloggers how to successfully market and grow their business online. 

Join 5,600+ others and receive full access to:

Leanne’s free digital marketing resource library: A growing collection of ebooks, checklists, strategy workbooks to accelerate your blog’s growth.

64 People reacted on this

  1. This is a great list of things to do. Never underestimate the onsite SEO. Building inlinks – links on your site that links to other posts and sections can greatly improve the overall SEO score and number of links and its free. Just have to check twice and don’t overlook linking opportunities.

  2. Found you through Google. You know your stuff. FYI. You are as eloquent as Neil Patel. Where you find those words.

    I blog about forex trading. Dry as Sahara desert but I model my headlines and context from Neil Patel. Don’t mind I model yours.

    What can I do with Pinterest? Spy on competition?

  3. Thank you for sharing this great write up. I came to know about some unknown things which I am seriously missing with my SEO. It is really hurting my rankings. Need to work fast on those things. Thanks for your valuable insights.

  4. I’ve bookmarked this post to share it with two of my blogging friends. There’s just so much valuable SEO information here, I’ll be referring back to this again and again. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. So much to learn! SEO is the one thing I kinda hate about blogging as I don’t really understand much about it! I think my SEO on my blog must be pretty dire to be honest – eeek! x

    1. Indeed there’s a steep learning curve when it comes to SEO – content, links, technical; it could get overwhelming really fast. But patience is key! Take it one step at a time, try to get familiar with 1-2 elements first and slowly gain more experience. See if that works for you 🙂

  6. This sounds like a great resource for people just starting out! I wish some thing like this had been around when I was getting started. Thanks for this great post!

  7. These are all such great tips! I neglected SEO for way too long with my blog, but I’ve noticed my pageviews really improving now that I’m focusing on it more and using some of the tips you mentioned.

  8. Wow what an amazing post! These tips are so helpful especially to a new blogger trying to get traffic to her sight and improve SEO 🙂

  9. I’m so glad SEO has evolved over the years. It used to be so hard to write good SEO articles where the SEO wasn’t so obvious. While it can still be a challenge, you can find your niche and create relevant, searchable content.

    1. Thank you, Evelyn! SEO is at its heart – understanding how people think and search. A bit of art and science, which makes it somewhat challenging but incredibly exciting. Let me know if you have any questions along the way 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Nicole! Keywords are the foundation of SEO and can provide great insight into search demand. Glad these strategies have been helpful for you 🙂

  10. Wow, there’s so much information to unpack here. There are a few things that I’m currently doing in terms of SEO but a lot of things I need to start to implement. Thanks for providing such a detailed list!

    1. Hi Amanda! I find that SEO is really an art and science – cracking its code is no easy feat. But patience is key to most of SEO and online marketing, keep at it and the results will come. Hope you found these tips useful, Amanda! Feel free to drop me a message if you have any questions along the way 🙂

  11. This is the most informative, well written post on SEO I’ve seen yet. I’m actually walking away from this feeling like I have a real plan. In fact, it feels similar to how I like to be write for my own blog. IS THERE A COLLAB IN OUR FUTURE? ?

    Anyway nice work. I’m returning to blogging after a long time and this is a really good refresher.

    1. Thank you, Stephanie! This blueprint guide is actually one of my most comprehensive guides – so I’m really glad these strategies have been helpful for you, my dear. Certainly open for collabs and opportunities to work together 🙂

  12. This is such a helpful post! I always feel like I’m just skimming the surface with SEO so this is a great post for me to see what else there is. I especially liked the Keyword Planner and Egobait bit so will be trying some of that next 🙂

    1. Awesome, Kristin! SEO can be challenging at first but once you familiarise with the concepts and optimization technicalities, everything gets much easier. Feel free to drop me a message about your progress!

    1. Absolutely! SEO is one of the most cost effective marketing solutions and I find it is both an art and science. Let me know if you’ve got any questions along the way, Kasey!

    1. You’re right, Sami. There are no shortcuts to mastering SEO but the benefits are incredibly rewarding! Definitely a long term investment and I believe if you keep at it, the results will come your way.

    1. That’s great, Kristen! I’m actually quite happy with how this one turned out – wanted to include as many actionable steps as possible to ensure you’d get the results from SEO. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away 🙂

    1. Thats awesome! Can’t wait to hear your results and how these steps have worked for you. Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

Leave a Reply:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *