I’m a blogger. That’s how I started.
Way back in 2009, I was fresh out of college. I honestly didn’t know what to do with my life. I knew I didn’t want to work as an employee for long.
The salary for an IT graduate here in the Philippines, even when you graduate from one of the top universities is just around $500 a month with around 30% taxes. You can get promoted after around 3 to 5 years, potentially doubling your salary to $1000 a month.
But that’s pretty much it.
I didn’t want to live like that and I started blogging, not because I saw it as another way of making money, but because writing was a passion of mine.
The first time I set up a blog, I named it “God and You” and I wrote about my faith, philosophy, apologetics, and even dating.
Soon enough I saw that no one was really reading my stuff.
I’ve founded four companies. SEO Hacker is my baby. It’s my first company. It was a blog where I would journal everything that I learned about SEO. After a while, people started sharing my stuff.
It grew into a services company and in 2010, I had to register as a sole proprietor company!
Workplays is a coworking space in BF Paranaque.
Qeryz is a software we use for conversion optimization. It’s free and you can embed it on your site so you can learn more about your audience!
Why Should You Do SEO for Blogs?
There are tons of traffic. There are billions of searches happening every day.
All the eyeballs that see you are very important because they’re already done with the discovery phase.
They know what they want. Now, if they find what they want, there is a high chance that they’re already going to buy, read, download, or convert into leads.
I love search traffic much more than what we get on social media.
This is because people in social media are at the discovery phase. They don’t really know who you are, what they want, or if they want to engage with you.
However, people who are already searching for something are already in the interest phase.
When I started my blog, I didn’t have a lot of visitors. Of course, I asked Google how I can increase my traffic. It kept telling me to do SEO.
I was an On-The-Job Trainee back then. I had to do a lot of things. I was hired to do SEO stuff, but I didn’t know anything. They didn’t teach me anything, the two people with me during the day shift didn’t know anything about SEO as well.
Everything that I wanted to know, I had to learn alone.
I studied. I experimented. I applied what I learned.
In time, I got to rank for a certain number of keywords. They were and still are very important to me.
This means a lot because we are able to get leads this way. These keywords are how our clients find us.
We had a steady increase in traffic. I started with blogs alone and that was enough to grow SEO Hacker.
It’s a blog that publishes two articles a week.
Recently, we’ve been publishing articles about SEO during the time of this coronavirus pandemic, a few case studies on how it affects certain industries.
SEO does not need to be complicated. It’s a discipline more than anything else. There is no magic behind it. I have no bag of tricks to give you. There are no tactics that will tip the scale to your favor.
SEO is an everyday discipline. You have to keep fixing and producing every single day for your effort to compound. When it does compound, your rankings will solidify in the future.
SEO is a zero-sum game. Only one can take the top spot. And the rest should settle for second all the way to last. The winner takes all.
The lower your rankings, the chances that you get the clicks are really low because Google is becoming so much better in identifying relevant search queries.
Strategies and Disciplines to Apply SEO in your Blog
One Keyword per Article
The first thing that you need to know is that you can only have ONE keyword or keyphrase in your article. A common mistake that I see a lot of SEOs and SEO-wannabes is that they write a long-form article and they try to make that article target three or more keywords.
That is not good.
Your entire post should only be targeting one keyword. It will be a lot of work because if you want to rank in this zero-sum game, you have to be laser-focused on your intent.
With that, landing pages that we make focus on just one keyword even if it’s 2000 or 3000 words long.
Be wary of your Title tag
A title tag is not the title of your article. The title tag is what you see in your browser tag. It’s also explicitly labeled in the source code on the header section.
When you see the title tag, that is probably what they are trying to rank for. It’s like a book’s title in the eyes of Google.
You have to be careful about what you’re going to put as your title tag because there can’t be a lot of words there.
Google will only show 70 characters before it shows an ellipsis. The ideal length of title tags is under 70 characters. Keep it pure and don’t put stopwords in.
The title tag is different from your H1 or your article title. The Article Title is what the users will usually see first. They’re different, but if you want to rank better, you want it put your keyword in both your title tag and your H1. You will want to add stopwords there for it to be journalistically sound. Just try to keep it as pure as possible.
You want to be consistent with your title tag and your H1. The same thing goes with your first paragraph, especially if your H1 loads above the fold. By above the fold, we mean it’s one of the things that show up first when you load a webpage.
In most cases, your first paragraph is included in the content that’s above the fold. So it’s best for you to have your keyword consistently on your title tag, your H1, and your first paragraph—all of which are above the fold.
Keep in Mind All the Articles You’ve Written
Take note of all the articles that you’ve ever written so that you know which ones you can link back to in the future.
If you’ve noticed, my articles are always linked back to some of my older articles. That’s because when people see that article and they click the link they’ll find my older article. Google will give me plus points for that.
Internal links also pass link juice. Link juice is what Google sees in terms of relationships between websites. When I link to another website, that serves as a vote of confidence. That’s because I won’t be linking to a sketchy website because I’m not relevant to them and vice versa.
Internal links are links that I can control. If I link to my older assets, then that’s a vote of confidence to my older stuff. It passes the link juice to that article.
You would want that because you want all of your articles to rank higher.
If internal linking is too much for you, then you could use a plugin if you’re using WordPress. I use YARPP. It adds an algorithm that tries to identify any and all relevant blogs to the one that you’re about to publish.
You can look at it and you’ll find links that you can put into your blog. Bear in mind that the blog’s in-content links are more important than the YARPP links at the bottom.
That’s because Google doesn’t consider the content at the bottom as powerful. Anything found in the lower 50% below the fold matters less to Google.
Your URL must contain your keyword
This is a direct ranking factor.
As you search in Google, you should see that your URL is shown. It’s a click-through factor because people will not clean on any shady URL. The same rules apply. Keep it pure and don’t put any stopwords in it.
I suggest that whatever you have as your title tag, you put in your URL as well.
Write about stuff that brings more weight to your Keyword
2000 words is the best amount of words that you can write and publish if you want to rank in Google. It’s not easy writing 2000 words. Bear in mind that you should not just add more words for the sake of it. instead what you add must bring more weight to your article. You can use extra information like descriptions, FAQs, History, and Resources.
You should also write your keyword only once above the fold. Write journalistically and for human beings. If you have to repeat it. you should use synonyms.
Google generally doesn’t like it if people game their system. Don’t try to do so. Google is made for human beings, so write for human beings.
Make sure you have your author page and you’ll link to that on your author box. I personally have my Author site. I’m a public speaker and I have spoken all over the Philippines and some in Asia as well.
By linking to my author site, I put an effort to increase my expertise, authority, and trust in the eyes of Google.
EAT has gained more traction recently. It’s a guideline for searcher intent. I also link to my social media profiles so that Google can see that I’m a real human being and he has been publishing about Digital marketing and SEO.
It tells the world that I have the expertise to write about these things. Thus, He should rank better than most other blogs.
Interstitials are anything that hinders the user from immediately fulfilling his or her purpose. These are things such as pop-ups and scroll-jacks.
I have a scroll-jack on seo-hacker.com for the sole purpose of collecting emails for my list. But other than that, I don’t have anything else that will hinder my audience from reading.
Don’t put Ads above the fold. That’s going to damage your rankings.
Bear in mind that the Google Adsense team doesn’t work with the Google Search team.
The Google search team says that ads won’t help, While the Adsense team would say that putting ads will increase your CTR. In this case, always follow the search team.
I don’t have any ads above the fold. The ones that I have on my website is below the fold and all native.
I play the long game. Traffic is more important for me and I don’t plan on making money through my Ads.
So, if you want to rank better, remove your interstitials. Instead, just put something necessary for you. For me, I offer my newsletter through my scroll jack.
Put Ads Below the Fold
This is particularly for Google Ads. I’ve already gone into detail on this on the previous point so I won’t repeat myself anymore.
Make Sure your Meta OG is Setup Correctly for Shareability
The Meta OG is the Meta tag for social media shareability. This is where you want to make sure that the articles you write are shareable on social media. You don’t want it to look weird once you do so.
When people share it, the featured image should show properly for each social media platform. There are practices and plugins in WordPress that will help you optimize your Meta OG.
We have a team of developers who customize our meta OGs every time we publish an article. That being said, if you’re not that tech-savvy, you can easily use plugins to do it for you.
Facebook doesn’t like it when you share a link that makes people go out of Facebook. Your links generally will not rank high on Facebook’s newsfeed.
Even though they said that they’ve deprecated their old algorithm, they haven’t publicized any new one. Their algorithm will make you rank very low especially if you don’t optimize for shareability by ignoring your meta OG.
Check you Schema Markups
You can check these schemas at Schema.org. Schema is something that Google has adopted for them to help understand the web better because by using it, you’re essentially making entities out of your websites.
This is not a direct ranking factor. But it does affect how people see your pages.
For example, when you see star ratings in a SERP, that means that page has a specific schema markup. Whenever you see a knowledge graph pop out, there is a schema markup.
Though it’s not a direct ranking factor, it is still a click-through factor.
If you don’t have a site map right now, there’s are plugins on WordPress called Sitemaps.xml and Yoast that will automatically generate a site map for you. it will also automatically ping Google whenever you publish a new post.
Sitemaps are important to search engines because they use sitemaps to crawl your site thoroughly. Sitemaps also dictate also when they would come back. They can ping the crawler to come back weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
I’m not talking about an HTML sitemap for people. I’m talking about an XML sitemap. An XML sitemap doesn’t really make much sense when you read it because it’s coding. The only purpose of it is to make sure that Google crawls everything on your website.
I use GoogleXML on my website. It’s a plugin that I use. It takes a load of work away from me and my team.
Avoid Accepting Guest Posts
If you must, make sure that you use the UGC or sponsored tags for outbound links. Guest posts from other webmasters would usually link back to their site or their asset.
Guest Posts are good for you because they can bridge the gap between times when you run out of ideas. Some webmasters are willing to pay, so that can be an extra income for you.
We don’t accept guest posts in seo-hacker.com, but we do accept in seo-hacker.net. That’s because seo-hacker.net is my company site. I don’t personally write there but we do have a community of guest posters that publish their articles there so that we have more content there. We do link them back to their site and we tag them as UGC or “user-generated content”.
Applying the UGC or sponsored tag is the same as applying the no-follow links.
No follow is slowly being disrespected by Google in a sense so make sure that you always use the UGC or sponsored post tags for every outbound link that the guest post puts in.
Post about up and coming blogs
This is a great way to earn links. If there are blogs that are new and promising, If you see them having some nice community interactions and engagement, that’s a good sign that a website is growing really well.
All you have to do is to contact the webmasters and ask them if they would be willing to accept one of your guest posts.
As I’ve mentioned, SEO is a discipline more than anything else that it needs to be a consistent practice. There are no tricks to it. You should post at least once a week.
Make sure that when you write an article, you should make sure that you keep your title tags and H1 pure, put your keywords in your URL slug, make sure that there no stopwords, do internal linking.
Do all of these disciplines to make sure that Google comes back to your site at least once a week. That means that you’ll have a good crawl budget.
A crawl budget is how many times Google will dedicate to crawling your website. You do want more crawl budget.
When Google frequently crawls your site, the things that you add, or change will always be up to date in their database!
I know that 2000 words are a lot of work even if it does bring more weight to your site. If you can write 800 words at least, that would be enough because that’s sort of like the midzone of what we writers can do every week.
Share your posts in relevant communities
Even if it’s not a direct ranking factor, who knows, there might be someone who picks it up and puts it in their blog where they’ll link back to you. that’s another point for you.
Build your email list
I mentioned my interstitial earlier. When you go to seo-hacker.com you will see that I am just trying to collect emails. The number of emails that we have is around 11,000. It updates real-time so you will see it once you go to seo-hacker.com.
We’ve been building the email list for a decade now. The 11,000 digital marketers we have there are pure. Every one of them has come to seo-hacker. I do not buy a list of emails.
All of those people signed up for my email list.
Build your list, because as digital marketers, we always say that “the money is in the list”. The gold is in the list.
Whenever we have a new article, we blast it to that 11,000 people, they read it and go back to our site. That’s plus points to us again. That’s good behavior points for our blogs as well.
These are some of the things that we have always done for both my website and our clients’ website.
We have 60,000 per month, something that we built up for a long time. It was not achieved overnight.
It has dipped a little bit because of the coronavirus, but we’re still at roughly 52,000 to 58,000.
87% of that number comes from google searches.
We do track our rankings using SEranking. This is our main, go-to software for our rankings. It’s the most accurate so far.