Blog SEO Tips for Non-SEOs: 3 Things Bloggers that Aren’t Search Nerds Forget to Do


Here’s your “duh” of the day: You don’t have to be an SEO to be a good blogger. I bet 90% of search marketers read a blog or five that has nothing to do with search marketing, whether it’s a cooking blog, nail art porn or Andrew Sullivan.

Some of the best and most popular blogs in any given niche get high rankings and lots of links without thinking too hard about SEO. Instead, they focus on:

  • Great content: Popular blogs develop huge readerships primarily because the content is awesome; it’s that simple. (Here’s a reminder of the eight qualities that make great content great.)
  • Great design: Almost as important as great content is great design – your business blog needs to be both attractive and usable. High-quality photographs or illustrations are a big plus.
  • Community building: The best bloggers nurture an active, devoted following. New search engine traffic is nice, but they put most of the focus on the readers that keep coming back.
  • Social sharing: Good bloggers love their own content, so they’re not shy to share it around when they create something new. They put it up on Twitter, Facebook, etc. post haste. This gets the chain going so people can start reading, sharing, and commenting.

When you’re nailing it in all four areas, you’re doing a good amount of SEO as a matter of course. That’s because Google knows that by serving up your blog in the top of the results, its users are going to be happy.

But there’s still more you could do to make your blog even better. Here are a few tricks and blogging tips that search engine optimizers know and non-SEO bloggers frequently forget.

Add Internal Links

Don’t think of internal linking as “PageRank sculpting” or some shady-hat SEO thing. The main reason to practice regular internal linking is that it makes your site stickier.

If you write for CinemaFunk, you rank on the first page for “movie review blogs.” Good job! But let’s say, for example, that someone lands on your blog after googling “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints Review.” They find your movie review and read it with interest … but do they stick around and read anything else?

Blog SEO Best Practices

They might, if they really like your writing style – luckily, CinemaFunk has a sidebar with links to recent reviews and most popular reviews. This is a great tactic to reduce bounce rate, since new visitors might want to see other content that best represents what you do. There’s a problem with relegating all your links to the sidebar, though – they’re not clearly relevant to the article the visitor landed on, since they’re the same links site-wide.

This blogger missed an opportunity when he compared this movie to another movie that he has reviewed, Upstream Color, but didn’t link to that review:

Internal Linking Tips

Since this would clearly be relevant to the reader, it should really be a link. Don’t make the reader use your site search to find that review! And you know your own content better than anyone, so it should simple for you to find older posts to link to while writing.

Internal linking do’s and don’ts:

  • If you write a new post and realize you have nothing relevant to link to, do let that serve as a map for your next content pieces. For example, CinemaFunk compares Gravity to 2001, but the site doesn’t have a review of 2001 to link to. Why not post some reviews of classic films?
  • Do use descriptive anchor text when linking internally. Hyperlink the words “Upstream Color review,” not arbitrary words like “reviewed last week.” This tells readers what they’ll get when they click the link. There is, theoretically, a risk of over-optimizing your anchor text, but that’s unlikely to happen if you’re not abusing automation or buying links.
  • Don’t overdo it, obviously. Text with too many links is hard to read, and readers will just ignore them.
  • Don’t get so excited about internal links that you never link externally. Sometimes an external link will be the best resource for your readers. Also, when people click that link, you’ll show up in the referring sites list for that external site’s analytics – and that’s a great way to make relevant site owners aware of your existence.

Optimize Images for Search

Often, popular blogs in non-SEO niches will have really beautiful images and photography. For example, take Michelle Phan, who has one of the most popular beauty blogs. She has plenty of pretty sparkly images, like this one:

Blog Image SEO

If you right-click this image in Chrome and select “Inspect element,” you can see what kind of optimization was done on this photo:

Blog Image Optimization

You can see that the image has been made easily Pinnable – hover over the photo, and the words “PIN THIS” appear in an overlay. That’s great because Pinterest is huge for driving traffic to this kind of beauty/lifestyle blog.

Pinterest Optimization for Blogs

But more could be done here to optimize the image for search. The file name is a string of random letters and numbers. This isn’t readable by humans or search engine spiders. Further, the alt text doesn’t tell us what the image is either – it just refers back to the name of the post (“My Week in Photos”).

Blog image optimization do’s and don’ts:

  • Do use descriptive words in your image file names. Instead of 662gf…., this photo should be named something like purple-lips.jpg.
  • Do use your alt text to describe the photo. Use words that will tell Google what’s in the image. This will help it rank in image search results.
  • Do choose photos that are relevant to the topic of your post. That way, you can describe what the photo is using keywords that will help your post rank in the regular search results too.
  • Don’t use image file names and alt text as an opportunity for keyword stuffing. Cramming 20 words into your alt text (“purple lips sparkly lips purple lipstick purple glitter lipstick” etc. etc.) is unnecessary.

Long-Tail Keyword Research

Great bloggers tend to be really good at intuiting the topics their readers want to hear about – that, and/or they pay close attention to what their readers request in the comments. Often, blogging naturals just stumble upon great keywords. They might not even be using keyword tools; can you imagine?!

If you’re just that good at giving the people what they want, I support you. But even if you don’t use keyword tools to get your initial content topic ideas, it’s a good idea to use them to find long-tail keyword variations on your topic of choice. Using those long-tail terms in your content will help you rank for a wider range of keyword searches.

Unfortunately, Google no longer offers an external keyword tool to people who don’t have an AdWords account. But there are lots of other ways to find long-tail keywords – for example, by using Google suggest:

Long-Tail Keywords for Blogs

Here’s a random blog post that I grabbed from my Feedly reader: “Five Books on French Cuisine.” Taking a quick look at Keyword Planner, we can see that “French food” has almost three times the search volume of “French cuisine.”

Long-Tail Keyword SEO

So “French food books” or “books on French food” or “books about French food” would be good keyword variations to include here. (The phrase “French food” appears once in the post, but that’s not a long-tail term.)

There are lot of other ideas here too: “traditional French food,” “French food recipes,” etc. Seeing these terms before you start writing might change the way you approach the post – you might decide to write a few different posts, one on books about traditional French food or the history of French cuisine, another on new French cookbooks, and so on. Or you might decide to write a longer list, divided up into subcategories. Then you could put all those long-tail keyword variations, like “Easy French Food Cookbooks,” into subheadings on the page.

Long-tail keyword do’s and don’ts:

  • Do use long-tail keywords as a way of building out your content. Doing long-tail keyword research may make you realize that you can expand on a point you had forgotten.
  • Do use long-tail keywords in subheads, image file names, your meta description … not just the regular text.
  • Don’t long-tail-keyword-stuff. You can use long-tail keywords in your content without making it obvious that you’re doing it for SEO purposes, as in this old joke:

Blog SEO Joke

BONUS: A Few More Blog SEO Best Practices You May Be Forgetting

Do you optimize your URL structure, so that the URL clearly communicates what the post is about? Some blogging software just assigns a random URL string, rather than keywords, as in this URL:

Do you moderate comments, and respond to all the legitimate ones?

Do you make it easy as cake for people to share your content? We’re talking prominent social buttons!

If you’re in the business of blogging but not in the business of SEO, take a good hard look at your blogging practices. You might be under-optimizing your content.

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Nov 28, 2013

hey Elisa,the all steps are beautifully categarised by you, it's good.But, i think you forget to add one thing in it, that is "user friendly website".This is also the part of the seo.Thanks.

Nov 30, 2013

Thank you for this.. this is a big help.. specialy seo beginners like me..

Nov 30, 2013

Hi Elisa,
I believe that some blogs are popular and with high rankings in search engines because they have great and quality content. If we really want to boost our traffic and have more visitors, I guess we need to have good articles with high quality. This is one of the best tips I think people doing SEO must consider.

prasad de silva
Dec 02, 2013

most of the time i did not care about the image titles and alt tag. but this article make e to do it. thank you for grate post. keep it up.. good luck

Dec 02, 2013

Its very thought full tips which surely helps to increase traffic.

Dec 03, 2013

 Hi Elisa,The article is really innovative and informative.It provides a lot of information.SEO is an important tool to make your site get good rank in search engine and optimize the chance of visibility towards your targeted customer.Thanks for the update.

website design agency birmingham
Dec 04, 2013

Hi Elisa. Great post! I think image optimisation is something people still dismiss- speaking from personal expereinece far too many websites hardly acknowledge image optimisation. I think a post like this is a great way to get clients listening!

Dec 04, 2013

This is very good content I really appreciate I am here. Yeah content, design and social sharing is the best way to increase traffic and sales.

irctc pnr status
Dec 05, 2013

These are excellent tips. I am going to add images to my blog posts and also work on redesigning the blog.

Dec 05, 2013

Really great stuff !!Tips are really awesome with do`s and don`t .Although i m using internet links wherever necessary and image optimization since i started my blog.But the good stuff like this attracts to read complete....Nice!! 

Dec 07, 2013

Wow!!! Lots of great information in the post. I am glad I came here. Thank you for the info.

Dec 09, 2013

Hi Elisa,Your blog is really good.Very thoughtful and excellent tips.Thanks for sharing this helpful guideline.

Keyideas infotech
Dec 13, 2013

Really, informative article it will help us to improving our SEO knowledge. Thanks for sharing this post.

Michael Bian
Dec 13, 2013

Great post and very useful tips one must adapt.

Kiran Sulebhavi
Dec 16, 2013

This blog is really helpful for a blogger who don't know anything about SEO. Bloggers can learn here How to optimize your blog and images on it? This is guiding article for newbie blogger.

SEO company India
Dec 17, 2013

Great post! The fact that you means someone is reading and liking it! Congrats!That’s great advice. 

Goed Vindbaar
Dec 17, 2013

Thanks... All the tips are helpfull. Keep up the good work Wilco

Dec 18, 2013

Thanks for your tips. I i ageed that Great content,Great design,Community building,Social sharing will have great role in SEO.

aneesh ahmad
Dec 19, 2013

Popular blogs develop huge readerships primarily because the content is awesome; it’s that simple.great post this blog content.

Dec 19, 2013

Sounds like I have a lot more work ahead of me. Thanks for helping me stay on track with my SEO!

Dec 20, 2013

Hi,I do think this is an excellent blog. thanks for sharing this information i will consider these points while doing SEO.

Dec 20, 2013

Thanks for the valueable information. Good list.Very nice article, exactly what I was looking for.

Dec 24, 2013

i am new to the game! what is the best way to go about getting links?

Dec 24, 2013

hi, i just want to ask a question, as a beginner, if i have to decide what tool to buy first (because of short budget) The Best Spinner  or ScrapeBox, which one would you reccomend to buy first? which one would be more useful when starting from scratch a website? i know they are for different thinks and they make different tasks, but as a beginner, which one would be more useful?Thanks for your support

Stefi Jain
Dec 26, 2013

Hi,It is really a great post and i have learned so much from your post. I will work on my blog well and wish it will help me a lot.

Dec 27, 2013

Thank you for sharing this. I am a beginner to SEO thing and there are so many things I have to learn and this is avery quick start of learnings for me. The Do's and Don'ts really gives me more informations. 

David Black
Dec 30, 2013

I'm glad I read that just for the idea of adding 'Pin This' to my images - just have to figure out how to do it!Do I need to do it from within Pinterest or just add a snippet of code?Thanks

Dec 30, 2013

is there any one who can guide me about me why page ranking is very low

Jake Tyler
Jan 01, 2014

This is a great topic that you have covered here and i really enjoyed the Tips. Thanks for posting this informative post. Keep writing and happy new year.

Jake Dickson
Jan 02, 2014

do you think i need to publish blog in my business site ? it's locksmith site, so i dont know what to write thier...

Jan 08, 2014

However I still see a lot of stuff being ranked based on junk links and no guest posting or social sharing...etc.

Jan 13, 2014

Nice article..thank you for sharing...

Jan 16, 2014

Good post, Anyone can use all tips to blog.Thanks

Michael Bian
Jan 17, 2014

Great tips one must adapt.

Stephanie Riggs
Jan 18, 2014

Some people just focus on quality contents and don't pay attention towards the design of website. Your information about content and design of website is very helpful to understand the value of design. I am happy to read your tips for optimization of website. Quality contents is the priority and good design is very necessary to attract readers and allow him to share on social medias with friends. In 2014, stop doing irrelevant spam linkbuilding and focus on the contents leads to top position.

Irfan Ahmad
Feb 04, 2014

Fantastic tips  Elisa,Adding a compelling page title, synonyms in meta description, and some eye-catching image with alt tags can make a lot of difference to any websites's search engine optimization.

Feb 10, 2014

Thanks for the great suggestions! I'll be using some of this information! Much appreciated :)

Todd Kron
Feb 10, 2014

I think the long tailed keyword is key. I have met writers that just flow the work out, and I do not want them to change what works for them, but to have a bit of method in their madness. Knowing before you start the creative process what terms are key and crafting your work to include those in a way that does not detract from your talent is the balance. You want to open as many doors as you can with your content marketing, and each long tail is a new possability for traffic from a pre-determined "in demand" term from search.

Feb 10, 2014

Informative article, discusses how the long tail works for SEO.Helpful for bloggers who don't know how to optimize their blogs. 

Feb 13, 2014

i wouldn't go as far as renaming all the image files. the gain is tiny (if there is any) and the work can be huge. the best tip for images is to use a short descriptive alt text on ALL images.urls should be as short as possible. normally something like and for categories something like /cat/shortnameofcategory/ 

James Miller
Feb 14, 2014

Great post admin! i lilke post and appriciated to your thoughts on this topic ...keep it up !

Feb 18, 2014

Thank you so much sharing valuable tips elisa. I have tried to build a links for my free wordpress blog in web directories. But some are rejected so plz reply whether it is possible to build backlinks in directories.

Feb 23, 2014

I understand the benefits of a good blog but lack the ability to sturcture for the best results. This has been very helpful and gives me some direction now. Thank you.

Trent Hanover
Feb 25, 2014

Thank you so much for sharing this very informative blog...i would like praise you for writting for such a fabulous things..! 

Feb 28, 2014

Good post and nice information.seo service in chennai

Adam Sand
Feb 28, 2014

Those are good SEO tips. original site

php development
Mar 01, 2014

Great post,Thank you so much for sharing this very informative blog.

Sushma Gupta
Mar 05, 2014

Its a very excellent post. The points and tips included in this blog are amazing. It is really a very heloful blog for me. I like reading this post. Thanls a lot for sharing.

Phill Jason
Mar 05, 2014

Great post,you have shared very inspiring tips for blogging and from seo point of view these points will help in gaining traffic as well as gaining good backlin.As in blogging we should use an informative post through which we can easily pass some knowledge or information to the visiotr,if we help him in understanding the thing clearly than he willl agin visit our blog,from this we will have less bounce rate also,Thanks for sharing such an inspiring tips with us.

Mar 14, 2014

nice informations. I will try to implement it. thank's