How to Get Traffic From Google to Your Blog. Blogging Tips
This is a blog post about how to get traffic from google to your blog. In this simple free guide I’ll take you through it step by step, showing you which plugins to install and then what action you need to take. It’s really not that complex to get traffic from Google and the other search engines, as you’ll discover shortly. It’s simply a case of following some simple instructions.
So you’ve got your blog set up, you’re starting to write posts, what you need to turn your attention to now is how to get traffic from google to your blog.
People will get to your blog posts via social media, if you share them on twitter and Facebook, Google plus etc., but by far the biggest source of traffic online is search engines, and the number one search engine by a HUGE margin, is Google. So the most important thing to do when it comes to getting traffic to your blog, is to get found high up on Google for relevant keywords.
You will probably have heard the term SEO, which stands for search engine optimization. SEO is what we do to blogs in order to get them found high up on the search engines for relevant search terms / keywords. When I say relevant, what I mean by this is that you need people to come to your blog who are searching specifically for things to do with the theme of your blog. For example, this blog is of course about how to start a blog, blogging tips & so on, so I want people to get to my blog via these kinds of keywords. There would be no benefit from being found high up on Google for “how to lose weight”, or “how to save money on medical insurance” even though this search term would bring traffic, it wouldn’t bring people who were interested in the topic I write about.
Doesn’t SEO Cost Money?
If you hire someone to do your SEO, then yes it will cost, but most bloggers do their own SEO – and DIY SEO doesn’t cost money. There are some tools that would help you a great deal that would be worthwhile investing in, such as longtail pro which is the tool I use to research easy to rank for keywords, but SEO itself just requires some of your time.
How a tiny bird is helping bloggers
There is a Google update called Hummingbird which was rolled out a few years ago. This update allows Google to focus more on the value of web content, and to connect it with the search terms that it is most relevant for regardless of how good a job has been done when it comes to keyword targeting and on page SEO.
This definitely doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do keyword research and on-page SEO, but it does mean that Google is a more level playing field when it comes to individual bloggers like you and corporations paying SEO companies to rank their websites for their targeted search terms.
It is for this reason that bloggers stand a better chance of doing a good job with DIY SEO than business people with standard websites promoting products or services, as these kinds of websites don’t tend to have the same going for them in terms of volume of content that blogs have, which means a case of pulling out all the stops on on page and off page SEO.
Step one – research keywords.
The first step for getting found high on the search engines, is to figure out which search terms you need to be focussing on. There is no such thing as “number one on Google”, there is only such a thing as number one for a specific search term, so the first step is to research which search terms you need your blog to be ranking for.
This isn’t just a case of finding which keywords are going to bring traffic, but it’s also a case of looking into how competitive the search terms are, and focusing on terms that your blog has a chance of ranking for.
Think of search engine rankings like running a race. If you want your website on number one of Google (or any other position on Google), there is already a website in that position that you need to overtake, and just like in running, you can’t overtake someone and hold the position if you’re not as fit as that competitor. A new blog trying to rank top of Google for a very competitive keyword is similar to a beginner sprinter competing with Usain Bolt! 😉
So you need to use a keyword research tool in order to build a list of search terms that are getting searches, and which are not too competitive for your blog to rank highly for them. As your blog gains weight on Google, you will be able to start looking at more competitive search terms to also rank for.
As I mentioned earlier, my main keyword research tool is longtail pro. I really like this tool, I just type in some “seed” keywords, and then longtail pro gives me a big list of keyword ideas, with a rating to tell me how difficult each search term will be in terms of competition, and how much traffic on average there is for each keyword. I can filter the ideas down to only low competition terms, and also by terms with a minimum number of monthly traffic, and terms which contain certain specific words.
This is what I use as my main inspiration for what blog post ideas. I have lists of search terms that are relevant to my blog and which I know the blog I’m working on is capable of ranking on google for, and I go through them for blog post ideas. if I can write a blog post with a title which is either identical to the search term or includes the search term, then I know I’ve got a good chance of writing a post which is going to end up ranking well and bringing in some traffic.
One thing I would say when you’re starting out, and your blog is new, is don’t worry too much about the amount of search traffic for any given search term, and think more about relevance. If there are search terms which are showing as low competition terms, and they’re relevant to your niche, and common sense would say that some people will search for these terms, then go for them anyway even if it doesn’t look like there is any traffic for the terms. Keyword tools show no data when there are low levels of traffic, but “no data” doesn’t mean no traffic, it probably means fairly small traffic – but when you’re starting out, low traffic low competition terms are good ones to go for. If you can find some low competition terms which have better traffic, then great, and as you go along you will tap into some keywords like this.
Step two – on page SEO.
On page SEO means optimizing the pages of a website, as opposed to off page SEO which is about getting other websites to link to your blog, and I’ll talk about that shortly.
On page SEO is very simple with the use of a fantastic (and free) plugin, called Yoast SEO.
In order to optimize every blog post, all you have to do is follow the Yoast instructions and correct any issues with SEO that it highlights, it’s that simple.
First I’ll talk you through setting up Yoast, and then I’ll give you a guide on each element of on page SEO.
To install Yoast SEO:
Go to “plugins” in the left hand sidebar, and click “add new”
In the search box on the top right of the page where it says “search plugins” type “Yoast SEO”
Click “Install Now”, and then once it has installed, click on “activate”.
You now have Yoast SEO installed, which is a really powerful plugin.
I tend to leave most of the settings to default, as the folk at Yoast know what they’re doing. By the way, Yoast was founded by Joost de Valk, a guy who really knows his stuff. To find out more about them see Yoast.com. They have many SEO guides and eBooks, some of which are free.
There is one thing I usually tweak in the settings, which is the automated title template. By default Yoast will create your page title for you by using your blog post title and then your blog name, and I prefer to just have the blog title as the post title without having the blog name at the end.
If you want to change this, once you have installed and activated the plugin, look for “SEO” in the left hand sidebar, down towards the bottom. Hover your mouse over that, and then click “Titles and Metas”, then click “post types”.
You’ll see that the default for posts is title, page, separator (which you can change in the settings to be – or , etc.) site description.
I delete everything after %%title%% – as I don’t want anything other than my blog post title as the main page title. The reason for this is that the page title is the top line in the Google snippet, so I don’t want anything automatically putting in at the end of this. I’ll explain the Google snippet in more detail shortly.
Using Yoast for on page SEO while writing blog posts.
Once you have Yoast SEO installed, on any post, scroll down to the Yoast section.
You will see a snippet preview. Under that, you will see a “focus keyword” box, and then analysis under this which tells you what is wrong with the on page SEO. You need to turn as many of these red and orange dots as possible to green, by reading what they tell you to do.
So at the moment you will see as I’m part way writing the post you’re reading, Yoast is telling me that I’ve not yet set a focus keyword for the blog, and that no meta description has been added. So I’ll fix that now…
You’ll see I have decided to focus on the search term “How to get traffic from Google to your blog” – so I have typed this into the Focus Keyword box, so that Yoast knows what term I am focusing on. This is what we call a longtail keyword or search term. It doesn’t have as much traffic as a search term like “increase google traffic” for instance, but it’s far easier to rank for a search term like this, and it makes sense to go for terms like this when your blog is new.
The analysis is also telling me that I’ve not written a page description, and that the focus keyword doesn’t appear in the first paragraph. If I hadn’t included the focus keyword in the page title either it would have flagged that up for me too.
The “stop words” one, I wouldn’t worry too much about. Stop words are mixer words such as to, the, a & anyone wanting to target higher traffic search terms rather than the longer tail terms may want to remove these stop words from the search terms they’re targeting, and target instead the higher traffic shorter versions of the terms. If you want to read more about stop words, you can read stop words in your focus keywords by Yoast.
I don’t think it is relevant to blogging as it is to other kinds of websites, and I think stripping out stop words in many cases will negatively impact on on readability, which is very important for blogs. For instance changing the page title of this post to from How to get traffic from Google to your blog, to get traffic Google blog wouldn’t make sense.
As I’ve just added an outbound link, that one will turn green shortly, and I’ll address some of the other issues too, just a sec…. Here we go
You will see I’ve not turned them all green, I’ve ignored the stop words one, also the keyword density is quite low, but I do this on purpose. When you’re focusing on long tail keywords like this, I find that ensuring the term is there in full once or twice early on in the post, is fine – other than this I just focus on writing the best post I can without any focus on trying to repeat the search term.
To start peppering a post with a long tail search term like this, would make the post strange to read. It’s not natural to include the full keyword often throughout the post, and readability is more important in my opinion than keyword density. What is natural is for parts of the search term to be found more often through the blog post, and you don’t really need to think about that as it will just happen naturally. For instance “how to” naturally appears quite a lot, as does “traffic”, “Google”, and “blog”, so as long as I try to include the full term early on in the content, and in the page title and description, and some of the alt image tags, I’m happy with that.
I’ll now take you through the various parts of on page SEO.
The page title looks like this in html: <title>How to Get Traffic From Google to Your Blog</title>
The page title is arguably the single most important element of on page SEO, because of the importance of the page title as a ranking factor, and as the first line of the Google snippet, which I’ll talk about shortly. Recent research does show that the page title tag isn’t as important as it once was, for instance it’s not quite as important now thanks to Hummingbird to include the exact keyword you’re focusing on, in the page title,. But still, the title tag remains one of the most important elements of on page SEO.
If you change the Yoast settings as I mentioned earlier, your blog post title will automatically become the page title. If you want to change it so that the page title is different to the blog post name, you can scroll down to the Yoast section and edit the “SEO Title”. For example, I want the page title of this post to have “-Blogging Tips” at the end, because all of the posts in my blogging tips category have this – but I don’t think this is the best way to end the page title when it comes to click through rate. So I scrolled down to the SEO title in the Yoast section, removed “blogging tips”, and added “step by step guide” instead, as I think this will lead to a better click through rate.
The meta description is another important element of on page SEO. As with the page title, it has dual purpose. As well as being a ranking factor, it’s also used as the bottom part of the Google snippet, and if you don’t set a description Google will automatically generate this part of the snippet, which can lead to a lower click through rate, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
I would always recommend setting a meta description, but I would recommend that you focus less on SEO when you’re doing this, and more on giving the visitor a better description of the blog post, to ensure not only a higher click through rate, but better metrics such as a lower bounce rate and higher time on page and pages per visit. I’ll explain shortly.
This is the name of the link. For instance the URL of this post is /how-to-get-traffic-from-google-to-your-blog/ I would usually make the URL exactly the same as the page title.
Internal and outbound links.
This means adding hyperlinks to other pages or posts within your own blog (internal) and hyperlinks to other websites (outbound). It’s a good thing to have at least some internal and outbound links. When it comes to outbound links, just ensure that you’re linking to pages which are relevant to your post, and which would be of value to the reader.
Alt image tags
If you click any of the images in your post while you’re editing, you will see an edit icon which looks like a pencil.
If you click on this, you’ll get to the edit page for the image, which looks like this:
The “alternative text” box is where you set the alt image text.
I wouldn’t recommend just setting the main keyword as the alt tag for every image. I would set an alt image text which desccribes the image well, and I would usually try to make sure that at least some of the images have the main search term in the alt image text.
Header tags are HTML markup used to distinguish header and subheaders from normal paragraph text. They start at H1, and end with H6. At one time it was thought that hierarchy was important with header tags, for instance that your main heading should be H1, followed by H2, and then H3 headings lower down. It’s no longer thought that this is the case, header tags are still an important factor for on page SEO, but you don’t have to worry about hierarchy. For example your main post heading can be H1, and all of your other headers can be H2 or H3, or you can have multiple H1 tags.
Having search terms within the header tags is known to be a search engine ranking factor, and recent research has shown that it’s still just as important. This doesn’t mean you need to fill your posts full of header tags though, just focus on writing for your readers first and avoid doing anything which you think might make the page look a bit strange or make it more difficult to read.
Blog post tags are tags that you can assign to each post to let the reader know what the post relates to. On the right hand side of the editing section when you’re creating your blog posts, you will see “tags”, this is where you can add tags to the post, separating them with commas.
Assigning tags to your blog posts creates tags pages, which can lead to an additional source of traffic to your blogs. I don’t usually see tags pages as particularly big traffic generators, and I don’t tend to see post tags as all that impactful to SEO directly, but it is thought that they can at least have impact on metrics such as bounce rates and page views per visit, which can have a knock-on effect on SEO, so it’s worth doing.
All I would say is just think of your readers when adding tags, don’t think about search engines too much. This blog post for instance is about seo, google traffic, on page seo, seo plugins and wordpress seo, so I’ve added these tags to make it easier for any visitors to find this post if they’re looking specifically for info on these topics.
The Google Snippet.
I’ve mentioned the a snippet a few times and promised to go into more detail about it, and as a man of my word, here we go ;-).
If you scroll down to the Yoast section in any of your blog posts, you will see the snippet preview, which looks like this:
You will notice that this looks like a Google listing, as this is what the snippet is, it’s what the listing for your post will look like on Google.
As I mentioned earlier, the title becomes the top line of your Google snippet. The description is shown underneath, with your URL in the middle.
Because the title and the description are used to create the Google results listing, it gives them dual purpose – to tell Google what search terms your post is relevant to, and to convince visitors to click on your link instead of one of the others on the page. You see, Google isn’t just a list that you need to get to the top of, it’s advertising. If you think of your listings as ads, just like with Google paid ads (Google Adwords) you will realise that it’s not just being at the top that is important, it is having an effective ad while will pull in visitors.
If you consider the page title as the headline, and the description as the ad body, then it would be obvious why your page title shouldn’t just be keyword | keyword | keyword, and why your description also shouldn’t just be a list of keywords, because even if this did lead to an increased ranking (which it wouldn’t in these days of a far more advanced Google), a high ranking is useless if it doesn’t get clicks.
Click through rate / CTR
You should use Google Analytics, along with Google search console (formally Google Webmaster tools) and also the wordpress jetpack analytics, and I’ll create a separate post for you to help you to get these installed and talk you though using them effectively. When you start to look at your stats, one of the most important areas to focus on is click through rate, or CTR as it’s usually abbreviated to.
When you look at your stats, you will see impressions, clicks, and CTR. Impressions are the number of people that visited the page that your listing is on, within the given timeframe, clicks is of course the number of people who clicked through from Google to your blog, and CTR is the percentage of impressions which resulted in clicks.
The image above is a screenshot of part of my Google analytics reports for one of my blogs. 420 is the number of impressions for this particular keyword in the past 30 days, 179 is the number of clicks, and 42.62% is the CTR. I consider this to be a VERY high click through rate, it means that nearly half of the people who ended up on the page that my blog post is listed on, clicked through to my blog post instead of the paid ads on the page or the other nine organic listings on that page.
This isn’t a number one listing either, it’s currently number two, and there are two adwords listings above it. The reason this post is doing so well with CTR for this term is that as well as a high ranking, the title and meta description are doing a very good job of convincing the folk searching for this keyword, that this post will provide them with what they’re looking for.
I wish all my CTRs were like this, sadly they’re not, but one of the things I’m continually doing on my blogs is tweaking the title and description with a view to increasing overall click through rates.
Targeting very relevant search terms is one of the best ways to to ensure good click through rates, which as I mentioned earlier I do using longtail pro . They do a $1 trial, it’s well worth you having a look at, after the trial it’s $37 per month, and this comes with free membership to the longtail pro longtail university if you pay yearly. Right now while you’re just getting started, it would be a good idea to try to use completely free keyword tools such as the Google Adwords keyword planner, which isn’t as good as longtail pro for digging out longtail keyword ideas, but it’s free. It would be worth you taking the $1 trial though in order to get some of your first keyword research done for cheap.
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day!
I reckon it took at least three ;-). Joking apart, I spent some time in Rome and it’s amazing – if you’ve not been I’d recommend you plan on going one day. But seriously, it must have taken eons to build the rome which still partially remains after such a long period of time. I can’t be sure, but I would bet that they achieved this by building one day at a time, with consistency and by never giving up.
This is what we need to do when it comes to blogging. Don’t think about all the work that lies ahead of you, or it may intimidate you into procrastination. Instead just think about the next small task, get that done and then move on. I have my name own for the London Marathon next year, I do quite a bit of running but I’ve never done a marathon before. If I get in, my tactics all the way through the training and then for the marathon itself will be to only think about the 100 metres ahead, and to never let myself dwell on the total amount of miles ahead. I’ll think about the finish line ahead only when I can see it, until that point I’ll be focusing on only what I can see ahead of me.
When your blog is brand new, just think about writing the first few blog posts, and doing the best job you can on them with keyword targeting and on page SEO, and think about getting your first ten or so organic visits from Google, and then raise your sights from there. Take it from me, before you know it you’ll get to the stage where you’re looking at the 1,000 visits per month stage, then 5,000, then 10,000 – and you’ll look back and see just how much you have done and how far you’ve come. Just keep going, don’t be impatient and don’t allow yourself to get disheartened. Many would-be successful bloggers people give up on blogging before they’ve even really started, I hope that like me you’ll really enjoy it, and that you’ll just keep going, until one day you suddenly realise that you’re a successful blogger, doing something you love and getting paid for it! 🙂