Six months ago I decided to apply six simple SEO changes to my blog – and it worked.
Every blogger wants to get more blog traffic to either increase site income, or for author bloggers, to find more new readers and potential book buyers.
I have a foot in both camps, so I can attest to the benefits that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can bring in gaining organic search traffic.
Like most bloggers, I had it firmly in my mind that regular writing and publishing of new blog posts was how one went about building a blog’s reputation, and with that would come lots of traffic and new site visitors.
Thankfully, this worked quite well, so I have to say that there was nothing at all wrong with the plan.
My publishing schedule was three new articles per week, up until I made the decision to concentrate more of my time on learning and applying SEO practices six months ago.
With that decision made, I reduced my writing schedule to only one new piece of content per week, and it sometimes extended to ten days.
But I had things to learn. Once I started digging deeper into my WordPress SEO plugin, I started to understand how SEO worked and how and what I could apply to my blog. My focus moved from writing articles to wanting to know more about SEO.
Now six months down the track, was it all worth it?
Can I now say that SEO works?
You bet I can. Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools confirmed my success. My blog posts began appearing more and more in search results, which of course meant more traffic.
In the graph below, arrow one is at the time that I made the decision to implement SEO and started to reduce my posting frequency, so that slowdown of articles produced a plateau.
Arrow two is when my simple SEO practices started to take effect, after waiting for Google an Bing to index my changed pages.
What is SEO and what exactly did I do?
After boiling down all the SEO ideas I found from my research, I decided on applying only 6 super simple SEO practices that I knew I could apply quite easily to new as well as all my existing 350+ blog posts.
I didn’t use paid SEO tools. The free SEO tool on my WordPress site was sufficient for me.
My six new step by step on-page SEO practices:
1. Decide on a keyword or keyword phrase for a post. For this post, I chose Simple SEO Practices
2. Use the keyword or keyword phrase in my page title, subtitle, title tag and meta description and at least once or twice in my text.
3. Add an Image Title Attribute and Alternative Text to every image, and include the post keyword. For the image above it is simple SEO practices that work.
4. Use a subtitle marked as Heading 2 (H2), and paragraph headings marked as Heading 3 (H3).
5. Add internal links whenever possible.
6. Add external links when relevant.
To check my SEO on each new page, I used a free online SEO analyser to make sure I had done everything correctly.
The benefits of SEO started to roll in
Gaining new readers is what blogging is all about, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result, as the traffic I gained from SEO was almost all new users, or more precisely, new blog readers.
Another huge benefit of applying my SEO practices was that my search queries and ranked keywords jumped up enormously.
As you can see from the graph below, my ranked keywords really took off after I implemented the SEO changes.
It is hard to see in the image, but the arrow points to a total of 5,094 search keyword queries, with an average appearance on Google Search at position 17. When I last checked, I had over 500 keyword queries in position 10 or better.
One of the main reasons I wanted to get serious about SEO was that I sensed a drop off in social media activity, and especially on Twitter.
Over the same period, this is what happened to my blog traffic gained from social media. A little flatter, but still delivering reasonable traffic and new readers.
What’s my conclusion about my 6 new SEO practices?
They have worked exceptionally well and delivered a huge jump in traffic volume and click-through rate to my blog, but it has been a lot of hard work.
The six changes I made had to be applied to over 350 existing blog posts, so it has taken me months and months to work my way through (almost) all of my existing posts.
Now that I have updated almost all of my blog posts, perhaps I can get back to writing new articles more often, which of course is far more enjoyable.
But they will all now contain my new simple SEO practices.
Then I took an even bigger step forward
It is now more than a year since I wrote the first part of this article, so it’s time for an update.
While I was very happy with the result of my SEO changes, I knew there was more to learn about SEO strategies and content marketing.
Search engines like Google and Bing use complex algorithms that are not easy to understand, so I started searching for ways that I could get better search results.
What I learnt was that I needed access to better data than Google Analytics.
I needed help in finding better ranking keywords and the ability to track their performance. I also knew nothing about link building as a ranking factor, so I needed help.
I tried quite a lot of applications from different SEO companies before I finally made my choice.
Here’s the result. The first arrow is when I started using my six new SEO practices. As you can see from the steady progression, it worked.
The second arrow is when I started using a professional SEO suite. After only two months, the increase in organic traffic is clear and making steady traffic gains every week.
While there are a few very good SEO suites available, I chose Semrush because I could try the free version first. I don’t have money to burn, so I wanted to be sure what I was getting was good value in the long term.
It took me a few weeks to become familiar with how Semrush worked by using the free version. But once I was satisfied that it had all the tools I required, I opted for the paid version.
If you want to improve your SEO for your blog, I can only say that learning more and applying good practices will help you gain more organic traffic.
Should you be in the process of trying to monetize your blog, I can only say that tools such as Semrush make a huge difference to your earning potential from advertising or affiliate marketing.
You need a lot of traffic to make money from a blog. Understanding and using good SEO is the only way to steadily increase your number of blog visitors.
And, it works.
Related reading: How Do Bloggers Make Money And Can You Blog For Money Too?