Blogging 101: you don’t need to pay for SEO

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If you’re like me and want to increase your visibility on the web, you might be tempted to take advantage of those email ads promising instant visibility for a fee: search engine optimization. If you’re not familiar with the term, search engine optimization (SEO) is a service provided by individuals and companies that will put your blog or website and its articles on the top of Google and other search engines. But commercial SEO is expensive and unnecessary. You can optimize your own blog, using some simple tricks, and it costs nothing. All you need is a little patience.

I’ve written other articles about how to write a post people want to read, so here I won’t be focusing so much on how to write interesting and engaging articles, because that’s really another topic. Of course good writing and good looking posts are important, but here I’ll be focusing mainly on how to get the most out of things like social media share buttons, tags, categories, pingbacks/trackbacks, linking, and other tricks that generate maximum traffic to your blog.

1. The title is everything.
Make your titles short and catchy–and maybe a little sassy or controversial too.
This is really part of writing an engaging article but it belongs here because the title is SO important. Titles that are too long and sound like the title of a Ph.D thesis get ignored. It doesn’t matter how interesting or well written your article is. If the title is boring or pretentious, people assume what you have to say is boring or pretentious, and will skip over it. Try to be creative but not so creative your title has nothing to do with the article.

2. Use the Share buttons.
I can’t tell you how important this is. If you’re a WordPress blogger, the share buttons are available through the Dashboard, and include almost all the most popular and well known social media sites. You can also add your own, if the site you want a share button for isn’t available. Even if you can’t stand social media, other people reading your article will use the buttons and do your dirty work for you. I’ve had articles that reached 1K+ shares to Facebook, which would not have been possible without the share buttons. If the buttons aren’t there, chances are no one will bother to share them, even if they enjoyed your article.

share_buttons

3. Use tags and categories.
Be careful with this. I have a bad habit of using too many tags and categories per post. It’s best to choose tags that are relevant to the post, but are no more than one or two words long. Categories are more general and you should use fewer of them than tags. For example, if you wrote an article about why cats shouldn’t be declawed, the categories you would use should be something like: cats, animals, pets, veterinary medicine. The tags could be more specific–unethical veterinary practices, declawing a cat, pets, animals, cats, animal cruelty. It’s okay to repeat your tags and categories, but the tags would be more specific, while the categories are more general. The reason why tags and categories are important is because when someone is doing a Google (or other search engine) search, the tags will refer to your article so it will be listed on the search engine page. Using too few tags means your article may get fewer hits (because people use more than one word or phrase to search for something), but using too many isn’t good either (though I’m not sure what the reason is, and I’m guilty of it).

4. Post every day.
If you’re a serious blogger, you should write at least one article a day. If you only post once a month or once a year, people aren’t going to bother to keep checking your blog for new material (of course, not all bloggers care about visibility and are writing primarily for themselves and that’s okay too, but if you’re that kind of blogger, you have no use for this article anyway).

There will be days you can’t think of anything original or are just too tired to write, so then it’s okay to reblog someone else’s post, post a video you like, a funny or attractive photograph, a joke, a meme, or what have you. But make sure you do post original material often. People will lose interest in a blog that’s nothing but a compendium of other people’s material.

5. Use Twitter #hashtags.
Even if you dislike Twitter (many people do, because of the 140 character limit), if you want to promote your blog, every so often you should choose articles you want to promote or think may generate interest and post it to Twitter with hashtags. If your blog is set up to automatically share to Twitter (as mine is), you can’t add hashtags to the initial share, but later on you can reshare it and manually use hashtags. Hashtags act like tags, and will generate more traffic because when people search for a term using a hashtag, your article will come up in the list if you have tagged it that way. For example, an article about baking chocolate chip cookies could have hashtags like #baking, #cookies, #desserts, #sweets. Unfortunately, hashtags can be one word only, unless you put two or more words together as one, such as #chocolatechipcookie. You should do this only if it’s a term you think people will actually search for. #chocolatechipbananacookies probably won’t work. Keep in mind that due to the 140 character limit on tweets, you can’t use more than 2 or 3 hashtags, so choose them wisely.

Here’s what I do. Every few weeks or so, I pull up my stats page and check which articles are getting the most views and shares (sometimes the most popular ones surprise me!) Since these articles are already getting a lot of hits, I’ll reshare them to Twitter, this time using hashtags, to capitalize on the article’s popularity and generate even more hits. Also, if there’s an article I really like but it seems to be getting ignored, I’ll give it another chance by hashtagging it. Sometimes this works too, and the article suddenly gets noticed even though it didn’t the first time around.

6. Be a necromancer.
Every so often (but not too often!), you can give an old article new life by resharing it. You might want to do this for an article you’re especially proud of or ones that are already getting a lot of hits since those articles are resonating with people anyway. By resharing an article that resonates, your hits will reach the stratosphere.

When you reshare a post to Twitter, you should also reshare to other social media as well. On Facebook, be sure to set it up so anyone can see it, on or off Facebook, not just your friends. At the top of each post, there’s an option for this. The little globe means anyone on or off Facebook can see it.

Set up accounts on other social media too, just to share your articles. I have a Tumblr account I never use other than to share my articles.

necromancer_concept_by_denjinprime
Credit: Necromancer / Deviantart

7. Link to other blogs or websites.
Not only will other bloggers like you (and maybe follow you back) if you give them credit or quote them in your posts, linking to their article generates a trackback or a pingback, which appears on their site under the article itself or in the comments section. The curious may click on the pingback, which will take them to your article.

8. Love your haters.
You might hate having haters (I sure do and will probably never be comfortable with it), but having haters also means your blog is getting noticed. Haters generate traffic. A controversial article will get noticed and that means more hits for you, and your haters and detractors might even share it too. My haters have actually unintentionally brought me new followers, so I do appreciate them for that. That doesn’t mean you should write something controversial or incendiary just to get hits (because that’s basically just being a troll), but it does mean you should be able to write about what YOU want, even if it’s an unpopular opinion or idea.

Since I run ads on this blog, I like to tell my haters that I make money off them every time they visit (it’s only pennies, and I don’t do this for the money anyway, but saying that usually shuts them up).

9. Self-generating hits.
If you do all or most of the above things, there probably will come a time when certain of your articles become self-promoting. That allows you to rest on your laurels a little bit (but only a little). An example is my “20 Songs About Narcissism” list, which was split into two articles so I didn’t have to put too many videos in the same article. If you Google “songs about narcissism” these two articles now appear at the top of page one! That wasn’t the case when I posted them. I think they were on page 16 or something. It happened because as those articles’ Google rank began to rise over time (due to my promoting them), their higher placement generated even more traffic, without my having to do anything. Since there are a lot of people apparently Googling songs about narcissism, and my articles are the first thing they see, they continue to get a lot of hits, and I don’t have to do anything at all to promote them!

So that’s basically how SEO works. All you need is patience and the willingness to pimp your blog in the ways I’ve outlined and watch your Google rank rise and the hits start popping like Jiffy Pop.

Of course, if you’re not patient and can’t do without “instant gratification,” you can always pay for SEO too.

Also see 12 Ways for Non-Lazy Bloggers to Get More Hits.

For even more of my articles about writing and blogging (and how to handle trolls and bullies), see “The Art of Blogging” topic in the header.

About luckyotter

This blog is my journal. I just choose to share it with the world instead of keeping everything inside my head. I'm a recovering Borderline and have also struggled with Avoidant Personality Disorder. I also have Complex PTSD due to having been the victim of narcissistic abuse for most of my life. I write mostly about narcissism, because I was the child of a narcissistic mother, and then married to a sociopathic malignant narcissist for 20 years. But there's a silver lining too. In some ways they taught me about myself. This blog is about all that. Not all my articles will be about NPD, BPD or other personality disorders or mental conditions. I pretty much write about whatever's on my mind at the moment. So there's something for everyone here. Blogging about stuff is crack for my soul. It's self therapy, and hopefully my insights and observations may help others too.
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14 Responses to Blogging 101: you don’t need to pay for SEO

  1. Fascinating read, you certainly won my attention with this insight and I’m pretty keen on this stuff

    Liked by 1 person

    • luckyotter says:

      Thanks! I love writing about blogging and haven’t written an article about it for awhile. I needed a break from all the articles about NPD and mental disorders.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t blame you sometimes it’s wise to change it up. But here’s a thought, you say blog everyday but as far as search engine indexing goes wouldn’t it be more wise to give a blog a rest for one day. I feel as if pushing content Constantinly would only slow down the process for the sake of obtaining exposure to new readers instead of the subs we already have, any thoughts?

        Liked by 1 person

        • luckyotter says:

          You might be onto something. I don’t know because I haven’t gone more than a day without writing something. I’m hooked! But yeah, too much content all the time might overwhelm some of your followers, especially if they’re getting email notifications. I’ve had to unfollow a few blogs myself because the constant emails were cluttering my inbox, even though I love their blogs.
          Of course, posting a lot of content hasn’t hurt Jason of HarsH ReaLity any, lol.

          Like

      • What do you think the best options are for promoting music? Its got to be somewhat similar to the art of visibility and blogging.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Good tips and I like the love the haters one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • luckyotter says:

      Someone actually told me that when I was being dogged by some bloggers who were furious about an article they disagreed with. One had been a friend too, but that article pretty much put an end to our friendship. I was all bent out of shape about it, but that reminder really helped. It’s true though–having haters means you’re getting noticed, and it’s not possible to not have haters if you have high visibility.

      Like

  3. Pingback: Reblogged From Lucky Otter’s Haven : Blogging 101: you don’t need to pay for SEO | Sarah's Attic Of Treasures

  4. Great tips! I’m just getting started and would like to boost my traffic. Regarding your point in # 5 about using Twitter hashtags, ” If your blog is set up to automatically share to Twitter (as mine is), you can’t add hashtags to the initial share. . .”
    There is a way to add hashtags on the initial post. In the share settings on the right of the edit post screen, near Publish, you can edit how your post will be shared. Default is just your post title, which is good, especially if you have a catchy title as you point out in #1. But you can add hashtags in there which carry over into all your connected sites. Once you publish, Boom! Your post on Twitter and Facebook along with your hashtags in one easy step.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: How Often Do You Post? | Godless Cranium

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