If you're getting started as a blogger, chances are good you'll hear about something known as search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO is everything you do to make your blog rank well in search engine results. Ranking well in search engines can bring more targeted traffic, meaning new readers, to your blog.
There are countless "SEO experts" out there who will try to teach you methods for overcoming or exploiting new algorithm updates. Search engine algorithms are what automatically rank websites in search results based on a large number of ever-changing factors (such as how many links point to a page).
Ultimately though, your blog can rank well in search engine results without you having to obsess over SEO. It's actually better this way, because you build long-term relevance and results instead of constantly overhauling your strategy with each search engine algorithm change.
You can start out by focusing on these three simple SEO tips.
1. Conduct Basic Keyword Research
While you should never stuff your blog posts with keywords, you should still research them. You want to know what phrases your readers are searching for so you know what topics interest them the most.
For this I generally use the Adwords Keyword Suggestion Tool. Enter a general keyword or phrase related to your blog and it gives you other related terms and search statistics to help you see what people are searching for the most.
2. Write for Readers, Not Search Engines
The most important thing you should do as a blogger is write for your readers first. If your content is written more for search engines, your blog probably won't be around in the long run. Search engine traffic can help you grow a blog. But to keep your blog going strong, you need to build a solid readership.
You do that by giving readers content they not only want to read, but content they also want to share. As they share your content by linking to it or sharing via social networking sites, you also build natural backlinks and authority which can ultimately improve your search engine rankings.
3. Use an SEO Plugin
SEO plugins can offer a wide range of features. One of the most important is the ability to manually add and optimize a meta title and meta description to your blog's posts and pages. Personally I use Yoast's WordPress SEO plugin. Another popular option is the All-in-One SEO Pack.
By following these three simple good blogging practices from the start, your new blog will rank well in search results in no time. If you've been blogging for a while, what SEO tips do you wish you knew when you started blogging? Are there any other SEO basics you think new bloggers must know early on? Share them in the comments.