If you have just started your lifestyle/fashion/food blog, let us, first and foremost, congratulate you. Welcome to the blogging community!
You are now officially a part of the Hunger Games crew so let the games begin!
What do we mean when we say “Hunger Games”? Well, being a blogger is just like being a part of this ruthless show ー there are numerous competitors with pretty much the same capabilities, all trying to survive in the woods of search engine results pages (SERPs). So, you are either going to be one of the best or get forgotten and lost like the rest.
That is why starting a blog is something you need to take seriously if you want your voice to be heard.
Now, if you have been blogging for a couple of weeks, you know that visitors/followers aren’t just going to come to your blog as soon as you snap your fingers. Besides the fact that you need to create relevant and quality content to attract them, you also need to do everything that’s in your power to make finding your blog easier. More precisely, you need to make sure search engines recognize your blog.
You are going to do so by paying attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
SEO is a process that consists of improvements you make on a website and in content to ensure you get traffic “freely” or organically. You can do these improvements on a page (on-page SEO), off-site (off-page SEO) or by going through the technical part of the website, and making improvements in the code, site architecture, design, etc.
The good news is that there are tools that can help you optimize your website. More importantly, there are FREE SEO tools that require you only to invest your time, not your money. So, in the following text, we are going to mention six free SEO tools (and one plugin) that are so easy to use.
But, before we get to explaining how these SEO tools work, we want to give you three tips on how you can get in the SEO game and
Tip 1: Choose an SEO-friendly WordPress blog theme
Why go through all the trouble of setting dozens of SEO parameters by yourself when you can choose a theme that is built to be SEO-friendly?
Before you buy a theme, you need to know that a well-designed, visually pleasing theme just isn’t going to cut it. In the world in which Google sets the rules, a theme must be adequately coded so your site can load fast, be mobile-friendly, responsive and have cross-browser compatibility. Yes, you need to keep in mind all these elements if you want your blog to get recognized by Google. Luckily for you, having a well-coded theme means that you have built-in security. Everything you need in one place!
As we have mentioned in the post on how to choose the right premium WordPress theme, having a mobile-friendly design is not the same as having a responsive one. When your site is mobile-friendly, it means that the content will appear smaller and be functional when users view it on their smartphones. A responsive website is the one that adjusts to the user’s needs and devices completely.
So, before you decide to buy a WordPress theme, check if the theme you like has all the SEO elements we previously mentioned. No free SEO tools will do the trick if you don’t have an excellent foundation, to begin with.
Tip 2: Use SEO WordPress plugins
As we have mentioned in the text above, there is on-page and off-page SEO.
On the one hand, there is on-page SEO which consists of small steps you take if you want to bring more search engine traffic to every content you publish (a blog post, a video, a photo collection, etc.). Some of the on-page ranking factors are linkable content, content length, how many times you have used the keyword in your blog post and so on. If you want to find more about how you can improve on-page SEO, be sure to check a post on Backlinko.com.
On the other hand, off-page SEO refers to actions you need to take “outside” of your website, like reaching out to other sites and blogs to build backlinks or
While SEO WordPress plugins can’t help you with the off-page part, they can do wonder for your content and the on-page side of the SEO. We would suggest you check out Yoast SEO and All in One SEO Pack, which help you add a meta title, meta description, meta tags, keywords in your content and more. If none of these terms sound familiar to you, trust us, it will all be clear as soon as you start using them. Using both of these plugins is so intuitive and quick!
Tip 3: Pay attention to the sitemap of your blog and edit permalinks
Our final, quick tip we can give you is to pay attention to the sitemap. Although this step is a part of the technical SEO, we are sure you won’t have trouble understanding it.
So, what is a sitemap? A sitemap is a structure of your website, a list of all the pages your site has.
No matter if your blog theme has 15 or 150 pages, they all need to be recognized by Google crawlers and become indexed. That’s right! Google has its own “spiders” (they are literally called Spider crawlers) that visit your website, track it, and when crawling is done, your site gets put onto Google’s index.
To make sure you give the spider exactly what it needs, you need to “tell it” what your site structure is and that’s when the sitemap steps in. To create a sitemap, all you need to do is install and activate the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. This plugin will help you get recognized not only by Google but also by other search engines like Yahoo or Bing.
While we are on the subject of mentioning site structure, you also need to think about web pages and their URLs. A URL is what visitors see in the search bar when they read through your content. So, for example, Themes Kingdom URL structure for a blog post is “https://blog.themeskingdom.com/what-we-are-working-on-bottega/”. Blog. insinuates that it is a subdomain, then goes the domain and right after it the name of the post a user clicked on.
Be sure to edit a URL structure as soon as you launch your blog. If you need some help, you can check our themes documentation. In there, you’ll see different permalink settings you can choose from.
Now that you are aware of the importance of SEO, we can move onto listing free SEO tools that will definitely come in handy. This time, we are just going to focus on
These tools are:
Google Keyword Planner
This is one of the most popular free SEO tools and with a good reason.
Google Keyword Planner is a tool that allows you to find keywords to include in your next blog post quickly. You can type the words in different languages and check what people search in different parts of the world, as well as do some advanced filtering. The best part of this tool is the fact that you can easily download all the keywords you found. So easy!
This Google tool will help you be a bit more careful when choosing the right keyword(s) to include in your blog posts.
Although the previously mentioned tool offers information about the average monthly search each word has, it is a good idea to check whether the word in question is “in trend” right now. That is, you need to know whether or not people googled the term you want to rank for.
To do so, all you need to is go to Google Trends and type in the search bar the word you want to rank for. You can choose between several timelines ー the past hour, past 4 hours, a day and so on. You can even go back to 2004!
Answer the Public
Answer the Public is one of the free SEO tools which is so fun to use! An older, pretty annoyed man on the homepage of this tool waiting for you to type in the keywords in the search bar is going to make your day. 🙂
Anyway, Answer the public is a tool for finding longtail keywords, which people actually type in the Google search bar. So, for example, if you type in the Google search bar “beauty blog”, some of the suggestions that are going to come up are “beauty blogs uk”, “best beauty blogs 2018”, “beauty blogs india” and so on. Those longer words are the one people googled, their queries.
So, if you want your target audience to enjoy reading your content, you have to give them what they asked for, by including these words as your keywords. It’s as simple as that!
So, how should you use this tool? All you need to is type the central part of the keyword (like “beauty blog” is), click on Get Questions button, and you’ll see what prepositions, questions, and comparison people typed alongside the word. If you decide to choose the pro version, you will get the option of viewing queries people searched in different parts of the world.
In case you didn’t know, there are small chances you are going to rank in the first few places in the search results with keywords like “beauty blog” or “blog”. The first few places are reserved for people who have been building their blogs over the years. If you type in the Google search bar the term “beauty blog”, you’ll see that the first couple of results are already taken by beauty industry moguls like Marie Claire, Refinery 29, SkinStore, etc. That is why you need to choose longer keywords people are actually searching to get an answer to.
Moz’s Free SEO Tools
If you have been looking for an on-page SEO service, we are sure you have bumped into Moz’s free SEO tools.
Moz is the Mecca and Medina for a soon-to-be-SEO-expert like yourself.
Doesn’t ring a bell when we mention Moz? Just think of Rand Fishkin. We are sure that the name sounds familiar.
So, why is Moz THE SEO tool and what do you get as a part of a free Moz package? The answer is simple ー Moz can help you get an insight scoop of how your website is doing and help you with choosing the right keywords. In the Moz package, you get five tools ー Moz Local, Keyword Explorer, Link Explorer, Moz Bar, and Mozscape API.
Out of all the mentioned tools, we would highly recommend you use Keyword Explorer and Link Explorer.
If you choose to go with the free version and use the keyword tool, you get 10 queries per month (which should be enough when you are first starting your blog). By using this tool, you will get a more in-depth analysis of the keywords you are trying to rank your content for, including the factor like keyword difficulty. The other one, Link Explorer can help you analyze your website and check how many backlinks you have, how many internal links, etc.
Now, let’s step away from all the keywords and focus on analyzing how your competition is doing. It’s always wise to learn from someone else’s mistakes.
Since you can’t reach out to a fellow blogger and ask Hey, what sites did you reach out to promote your blog? or How did you manage to get several thousand followers in a week?, you can choose a tool that will give you answers to all these questions. Sort of.
One of the free SEO tools we would highly recommend you use is SEOquake. This is actually an extension that you can add to Google Chrome or Mozilla to check SEO metrics of your competitors.
When you add it to your browser and click on it, you’ll see the six main parts of this tool ー Page Info, Diagnosis, Internal, External, Density, and Comparison. By clicking on each of the cards you can get information about the page you are looking at, viewing its structure from an SEO point of view.
This extension is a great way to get an insight into how other bloggers do their external linking, how they optimize the content, including headings, meta description, meta tags and so on.
Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool
At first sight, this tool might seem like one of the most useless tools in the world, but in fact, it can really come handy.
Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool creates a simulation of how your page, your content, will appear in the search results. All you need to do is type in the title, description, and URL and you will get a preview of how it will look when a user views your page as a part of the SERP. By getting a preview, you can check the length of your title, how the meta description looks and whether “the whole package” came into place.
SEO Optimized Images
Sure, free SEO tools can be of help, but when you have a WordPress blog, you need to use all the benefits of this platform.
So, for our last SEO tool, we decided to mention a WordPress plugin that will help you save time optimizing images.
SEO Optimized Images may be not that popular but can ease the process of optimizing your images. As you might know, to make sure your blog post reaches the first few pages of SERPs, you need to add titles and alt texts to all your images.
Image title is an HTML attribute that which, as the name says, provides a title for your image. This title will be displayed when a user hovers over the image. Alt text or alternate text is also an attribute you add to an image tag in HTML. This is the text that will appear when the image is not, for whatever reason, displayed to a user.
How does this plugin work, exactly? Well, once you activate it, you need to provide a pattern the plugin will recognize so it can automatically replace the alt and title tags, without making any changes in your database. Not making any changes in your database is crucial in this part because this only means that, if you decide to remove the plugin, everything will get back to the previous, original settings.
Keep in mind there are free and pro versions of this plugin and that the pro one also has a support for featured images (the ones that display as the main, cover photo of your blog posts), support for Woocommerce product images, as well as giving you a chance to exclude some images based on the rules you set. Pretty useful, right?
Go get that first page of SERPs!
Well, maybe not the first… how about the second?
To be honest, there are so many more factors you need to take into account if you want to be placed in the first ten results of the first page. For a blogger-in-training like yourself, these tools represent a good start.
In the end, we want to thank you so much for sticking around until the very end of the text. We hope we encouraged you to dream big and start thinking about making the name of your blog and yourself.
Did any of these tools sound familiar to you? What tools or plugins do you use? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section down below.