Writing & Blogging

How To Use SEO To Stand Out + Free SEO Checklist

As bloggers, many of us are always looking for ways we can increase our blog traffic. Who wouldn’t want more eyes on the content that we take so much time to produce? One of the great ways to get traffic is through utilizing SEO. While I’ve been incorporating this into my blog posts for probably 3+ years, I really focused on it last month. The success of that focus inspired me to explain more about it, share some of my favorite tools, and to make a free checklist to help you use SEO in your blog.

Looking to get more traffic? How about having your blog stand out from the crowd? In this post I explain what SEO is and why you should use it, as well as the tools to help you manage your SEO and I give you a free checklist to see how you're doing.

What SEO Is

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it means pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The goal is to optimize your site for search engines to find you. In my mind, there are two ways for bloggers to utilize this: for their blog overall and for individual posts. For example, this blog’s official title is Kate the (Almost) Great | Boston Lifestyle Blog. This way, whenever anyone searches for a Boston lifestyle blog (or even just a lifestyle blog), I will hopefully come up. I also try to use keywords to describe the blog and my topics. I don’t include anything that isn’t descriptive of me or this blog; I just try to use specific phrasing. In individual posts, I choose keywords that fit the topic I want to write about.

Why Bloggers Should Care

Do you want your blog posts to be found online? Do you want them to be found on Pinterest? If the answer to one or both of these is “yes,” then you should care about SEO. The big thing for me personally is Pinterest. Yes, Pinterest is a search engine! In December, Pinterest brought me 12% of my traffic. In January, it was over 53%. The only thing I changed in my Pinterest strategy was more focus on SEO. Pinterest is for more than pretty pictures; it’s a search engine. If you’re not taking that into consideration, you’re losing out on blog traffic.

SEO is an amazing way to take your blog or website to the next level. Search engines like Google are used every day by people all over the world. If you’re not taking advantage of that, you’re missing out.

Sharing the tools I use to find SEO keywords and manage my SEO in my blog posts, as well as sharing advice from SEO experts.

Tools for Managing Your SEO

Adwords Keyword Planner – This is an amazing tool to find SEO keywords. Once you log into Adwords, click the the wrench icon and then select “Keyword Planner.”

How To Use SEO

Once you’re in the keyword planner, there are multiple options to help you select your keyword. My preferred method is to choose “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category.” In the “product or service” box, I enter whatever my topic for a proposed post is. For example, for this post, I entered “search engine optimization.”

How to choose an SEO keywords

This then gives me a variety of options to choose from, and it also gives me a variety of information about the terms. Here is what it looks like:

How to choose an SEO keywords

I then focus on average monthly searches and the level of competition for each option to decide what I will go with. For example, I want to use a term that is searched regularly, but not one that faces a lot of competition. I look for a term that has a medium of level of competition because (to me) that means that people are regularly searching for it but there aren’t soooo many other options out there that my post would get drowned.

Yoast SEO – This is a plugin for self-hosted WordPress that helps you use your keyword often enough that your post will show up in search engines but not so often that Google with think that you’re trying to play with the system. You enter the keyword you’re using for that post and it provides tips to improve your score for that post, the score being their own way of indicating if you’re using SEO in negative or positive ways. The plugin helps explain if you’re using it too often or too little, as well as if you’ve used that keyword before or not. I don’t use this feature for all of my posts, but I try to use it for 50-75% of them.

How to use search engine optimization to make your blog stand out + free checklist to help you incorporate it yourself. Click To Tweet

From the SEO Experts

While I’ve gotten the hang of SEO over the years, I’m not an expert. There’s a free checklist down below from me that you can use, but other than that, I’m not going to explain exactly how to incorporate it into your blog posts. To be completely honest, if I were to do that, I would be regurgitating information that I’ve learned over the years from other people. I’ve figured out what works for me (see checklist below), but it’s best that I share tips directly from the people who know this stuff better than I do.

SEO for Beginners: How To SEO Your Blog Post by Beautiful Dawn – Exactly what it sounds like. If you want to incorporate search engine optimization into your blogging, this is an amazing explanation of the ways that you can do it.

Anatomy of a Blog Post with Great SEO by kristi murphy – Also self-explanatory. If you’re the type of person who learns both from seeing explanations of best practices, this post is for you! Not only does she explain how to get keywords (probably better than I did here tbh), but she also shows you exactly where you can use SEO in your blog post to set you up for search engine success.

How To Do SEO Keyword Research for Your Blog by Nerdy Organized – In this blog post, Michelle breaks down not only how to do research but also when to do it. Then she explains one of the other ways to do keyword research (aka differently than how I do it). And then – as if this wasn’t enough – she also explains how to use your keyword in blog posts.

So there you have it. Let’s consider this a masterclass in search engine optimization, okay? And if you don’t have self-hosted WordPress or are just overwhelmed by all of this, I made a free checklist for you to help you figure all of this search engine stuff out.

Free SEO Checklist

What tool to increase blog traffic would you like me to focus on next?

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    […] Search engines (10.99%): I’ve been trying to ramp up the SEO in general this year, and clearly it’s paying off a bit (see the Pinterest point above). I’m not at the point where my posts how up on the first page of search engines all the time, but I’m getting there. | How to use SEO for blog traffic […]

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