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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Mar 19, 2014

 Thank you for the auspicious writeup. This is one of the most incredible blogs Ive read in a very long time. The amount of information in here is stunning, like you practically wrote the book on the subject.

Judy Foster
Apr 08, 2014

I totally agree with you on the importance of page load speed for SEO. It's especially important for mobile users, as their internet connection isn't always reliable. Somethingelse to keep in mind is that the load time can be affected by the number of posts on your main page. According to Google, less than 10 posts is optimal to improve your blog load speed.

Spook SEO
Apr 09, 2014

Hi Elisa!I find this article of yours very interesting. Just like you, I also do believe that we should use descriptive anchor text when linking internally. We should also need to remember that we must never optimize our anchor text. Anyway, thumbs up for this excellent article and I am really looking forward to read more of your latest articles.

May 03, 2014

Great article and I particularly like the internal links to make the article sticky

Spook SEO
May 18, 2014

Elisa Gabbert, your post is providing the best techniques to write a blog post from a blogger who is not an SEO professional but love to write the things he like but your Do’s and Don’ts are for both SEO and Non SEO because I have seen so many SEO professionals that do not know how to do these things what to do and what to avoid. Nice sharing and a great post you have so keep writing for the people who are still suffering in their techniques and strategies.

May 22, 2014

Amazing post, very informative and helpful. Great content is the most important for me. Peolple only shares great content.

Ravi Dogra
May 27, 2014

I’m very glad to come here and read this its inspiration post for every blogger and I’ll keep mind your tips thanks for share with us.

May 30, 2014

yeah so you got alot of interation with this post hhaa!. Nice. great tips I will have to get better at my long tailed key words research!

May 30, 2014

nice post thanks 

mitra seo
Jun 03, 2014

thanks for seo learning, i think a great post

Jun 07, 2014

very useful information.. thanks for sharing

Jun 10, 2014

This is very true and practical. Great tips for all bloggers, Thanks for this. Cheers!

perontok bulu
Jun 15, 2014

Tips about seo from this article can help to make my blog better. thank you

Jun 21, 2014

I liked the article very much. There are many useful information.

Alex Taylor
Jun 23, 2014

Great postI just want to ask you a question that how long will it take for any site to become successful??

Clipping Path
Jun 28, 2014

This is my first time I visit here. I discovered a lot of interesting things. Thanks for the FANTASTIC post! 

john divramis seo
Jun 29, 2014

Great post! Thank you for sharing valuable information. Keep up the good work

Jul 03, 2014

Thank you, very userful article to me....

santosh kumar
Jul 03, 2014

Very Good article thanx really very helpful!!! every blogger dream is to make his blog the first result in the search engine results page but they fail due to lack of knowledge about SEO or due to improper SEO so here is a Google SEO Guide with top 10 best SEO techniques that changes your life style in to a successful blogger. 

Jul 13, 2014

that would be great lesson for beginners like me thanks for the brief explanation

Aug 04, 2014

I have hear about over-optimizing your anchor text before and still hearing now. I have learn somthing about it is Search engine land.But one thing, If I do it with my interal link how is this? will it also harm my site?

Aug 07, 2014

I found lots of interesting information here. The post was professionally written, I have learn something new from your blog. Elisa thanks for sharing such an useful seo tips...

Maurice Bernier
Aug 15, 2014

This is great Elisa and just what I was searching for to help with my blog's SEO.I've copy/pasted your do's & don'ts list  as a reference to make sure I put your tips into proper practice.Thanks for sharing!Maurice

azeem khan
Aug 27, 2014

I have seen so many SEO professionals that do not knows how to do these things what to do and what not to do. I amvery glad to come here and read this inspiration post for every blogger. Thanks for sharing such a nice article.

Saif Ullah
Aug 27, 2014

Thanks... your post is providing the best techniques to write a blog post from a blogger who is not an SEO professional but love to write the things he like but your Do’s and Don’ts are for both SEO and Non SEO because I have seen so many SEO professionals that do not know how to do these things what to do and what to avoid.

Sep 10, 2014

This is very very helpful post for me,thanks a lot for sharing.

Christopher Visser
Sep 15, 2014

This is really an awesome post. I would like to appreciate the admin of the site for posting this wonderful article.

Sep 30, 2014

Nice articles for people who think that they have  to be an SEO to be a good blogger. Great description about content , design, community building and Social sharing.Thanks for posting!!

Cheryl McClellan
Oct 20, 2014

Overall, I think the best way to get natrual traffic is the content. Using the title as bait and the header as an appetizer, the content will serve as the main dish.

John Pascal
Oct 21, 2014

I been reading a lot of articles and blogs regarding this topic, top 10 tips, top 5 essential techniques for SEO, this article is the one I find it covered the most essential and yet not too difficult to understand tips for SEO leaner. Thanks!

Dec 01, 2014

I justb went through your post it was realy good.Its my First visit to your site .I was always curious about this .This post is upto date i appriciate to this topic .Thanks for sharing .

Dec 05, 2014

Simplicity always good, that can for a blog or a website. Simple navigation helps people to find their needed things. And the other thing should be the content that also attracts the visitors to your blog.

Phoenix SEO firm
Dec 10, 2014

And content should not only be abudent but also quality. 

Dec 17, 2014

As Humming bird updates and google panda affect a lot onPR of website. Because of those algorithm many websites page rank go down. Also Google is so conscious about duplicant content. Google wants 100% original and relevant content.

Feb 16, 2015

Nice article. This help a lot of people to create good seo.

Florence Bell
Mar 24, 2015

The top SEO tips are very much informative for me. I have read the points and got a lot to know about it. Thanks a lot for sharing the blog. Keep sharing.

Striving Beyond
Apr 14, 2015

Really useful article! Thank you for some helpful pointers that I aim to integrate into my website.

May 18, 2015

I like this tips because it's easy to understand. I'm still new to SEO and content marketing. Thank you for sharing this. I hope others who are new to SEO can read this because it's really helpful.

Subodh Kumar
Jun 15, 2015

Before going to start optimizing your website, keyword selection is an impotent part and every man gets confuse on this part, I also but after reading your blog I am more confident. Give some idea on keyword selection for advertising.


Aug 05, 2015

Amazing article - very helpful. I am a newbie and was having a hard time with SEO because, like you mention above, it seemed very overwhelming. Thanks for making me feel more comfortable.

Claryn Bowell
Aug 05, 2015

Very nicely done! This is really very helpful to people who are just starting to get to know SEO.

Narendra Wetkoli
Sep 07, 2015

HI Elisa,Thanks for sharing Informative blog I like specific image part section.

Sep 14, 2015

Thanks for sharing useful information.

Oct 05, 2015

amazing tips article, thanks for sharing.

Koemsie ly
Oct 06, 2015

Thanks for you sharing! It is very useful for me to follow up.

Optimizare SEO
Oct 08, 2015

Very good article! Nice job!

Oct 08, 2015

Great post and very useful to me & newcomers.

Ella Barnes
Oct 26, 2015

Great suggestions! I really appreciate you taking the time to help out the people who just don’t know where to start! Cheers!

Nov 10, 2015


I've been working on SEO fields for so many years, and yes, blogs do need to be part of them. I find this post really useful in terms of flushing in the potential leads into your money site.

Thanks for sharing!


oDesk Live Chat
Dec 05, 2015

Dear Elisa Gabbert, thank you for your excellent article on Blog SEO Tips for Non-SEOs: 3 Things Bloggers that Aren’t Search Nerds Forget to Do. By the way, I don't understand the "Optimize Images for Search” facts. Keep the great writing skill up. Thanks again Buddy!