New Blogger Series 6 – What’s SEO? How to Optimize SEO!

SEO….three little letters that make bloggers’ heads spin! Trying to understand SEO and figuring out how to optimize it is quite an undertaking.  So let’s try putting what SEO is and how to optimize SEO into plain old English.


What is SEO? How to Optimize SEO!

This week we’re taking a look at SEO, what the heck is it, how SEO affects you, and how to improve / optimize your SEO.

Have you been following along with the How to Build a Successful Blog series? 

I’m at a point now where I feel like Serendipity and Spice officially qualifies as a successful blog.  I started this cute little blog about 3 years ago as an outlet for becoming a new stay at home mom.  Although I LOVED being able to stay at home and spending all of my time with Little Man I was beginning to go a bit stir crazy not having anything else to focus on….so Serendipity and Spice was born.  I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning….I just started writing and clicking publish.  In 2012 I went from having about 100 page views a month (probably all spam bots) to averaging ONE MILLION PAGE VIEWS A MONTH by the end of 2014.  I also went from making nothing to averaging about $2000 a month in blog income and steadily increasing.

Over the past few months I’ve been asked over and over again from friends, family, and readers “how do I start a blog?”.  Well, over the next few weeks I’m going to show you how to build a successful blog.

What you’ll learn-

*coming soon

Alright, on with the original post…..

Now, remember- I’m not an expert, this is everything that I’ve learned from my research and hopefully it will help you in some way.

What the heck is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  Basically it’s how far down the list your blog falls when people do a search.  For example, let’s say I want to learn how to paint a dresser black.  I would pull up my search engine (I use google) and type in “How to paint a dresser black”.  The first site to come up is The Frugal Girl, the second is The French Provincial Furniture, and so on….

The goal is to be within the first 10 pages and preferably the first 2-3 pages to really increase your blog traffic.  So, how did these sites get the top spots? Well….. it’s a little complicated- hopefully I can help you out, but first…

Why should I care about SEO?
Even if you don’t care about people searching google or yahoo or whatever to find you– do you have ads? Do you want to make money blogging? Are you interested in companies like IZEA paying you to write a post? Would you like to host giveaways on your blog for your readers? Well, in order to do many of these things the companies who sponsor stuff like this are interested in your SEO, Google PR, and Alexa Rank.  Many companies will consider your Google PR and Alexa Rank before offering you opportunities or even to make the decision on whether to sponsor you or another blog.  You’re Google PR numbers, SEO and Alexa Rankings all affect each other.

How do I improve my SEO (and ultimately Improve my Google PR and Alexa Rank)?

Here’s a cute little graph that breaks it down a little:


Well, this is where it all begins- the whole reason we’re blogging right?!  Search engines not only look for what type of content your site has but they also search how often your site is updated- monthly, weekly, daily, multiple times a day, etc.  Now, that doesn’t mean you get a higher rank with multiple posts a day.  It’s more about your consistency.  Do you consistently post 3 times a week or do you post 3 times a day for 15 days and then nothing for 2 months?  You want to be consistent in your posts timing.  I find that about 2-3 times a week is good because you don’t want to overload your readers but you want them stopping by regularly. Consistency is key!
Page Optimization:
This one is a bit more involved but I’m going to stick with the basics that everyone can follow.  Let’s begin with your post itself.  What is your post about?  Pick the theme of your post and bold those words. For example, look at this post- it’s about SEO and I’ve bolded phrases that I think people would put in a search box and key words that define the post. Search engines add value to bold words- just don’t go into bold overload or else the search engine won’t understand what to pull.  Hense, picking a theme for your post and making those words bold.
Use your categories and tags.  The key words that you identified for the theme of your post need to be added to as your categories and tags.  Now, the search engine will pull the theme of your post from your bold words and the labels you apply to your post.
Reference previous posts within your current post.  For example, I have several other posts referenced within this post– that tells Google that I have more relevant information on this topic.
What is the title of your post? Does it reflect the content or is it something obscure?  Be direct in what your post title is.  Search engines give a lot of clout to your title.  For instance if someone searches “what is SEO” then they are more likely to find my site with the title “New Blogger Series -What’s SEO? How to optimize SEO!” whereas they’re not going to find it if I called it “NBS SEO”.
Rename your photos to reflect your theme.  Instead of keeping the generic name of your photo (ie: image1, summer2010, june26:1, etc) rename it to reflect what your post is about.  Search engines will pick these images up and place them in image searches which will help increase your SEO by associating relevant images in an image search.
Quite possibly the most important aspect in improving your SEO! We already covered internal links.  Not only do internal links direct readers to other pages of your blog thus keeping them on your site longer and engaged in your site  but they also help your SEO by doing the exact same thing to search engines when they crawl your site.
Now for backlinks.  Search engines take into account how many sites you link to.  A backlink is simply where you put a link to someone else’s site- usually as a “thanks” for hosting a linky party or  to give credit for an idea.  You can see how to make a backlink here.  Backlinks tell search engines that your site is involved and part of a larger community thus they give points to you for backlinks.  But, don’t link spam…make sure that the backlinks you add are relevant to your post or else Google will ding you for it!  And any sponsored posts MUST have a no-follow link added– we’ll talk about those later.
Finally inlinks.  These are backlinks that others have posted to your site from theirs.  Inlinks not only direct people to your site but they also direct search engines there and increase your SEO.  If a search engine is crawling someone’s site and comes across a link to your site it sends that search engine to your site.  Search engines keep up with the number of sites that link to your site and give points based on the number and size of those sites.  Here’s the catch- search engines do not pick up inlinks out of comments or linky parties.  The only way you get an inlink is if someone posts a text backlink to your site, posts your button on their site, or features you with a link to your site.
Update- Google has updated their algorithms and you must be careful with backlinks and inlinks….if Google thinks you’re spamming or trying to work the system they will ding you!  So only link when the site is relevant.
So Remember:
1. Post with Consistency
2. Bold key words
3. Use the label function
4. Reference other posts in current post
5. Be direct in your post title
6. Rename your photos
7. Link Relevantly

Do you understand SEO a little better?

Have you found other tips for improving SEO? Share in the comments below!

Up Next:

Posts may include affiliate links. Serendipity and Spice earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend at no additional cost to you.
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Thrive Market - It's like the Costco of organics...this is where I get all of my sugar, flour, baking supplies, kids snacks, etc.
Zaycon Foods- This is where I buy most of my meat products in bulk.  The quality is amazing and the prices just can't be beat!  I mean, $1.89 a pound for boneless all-natural chicken breasts!!  It is bulk but you can always split with a friend or make up a bunch of freezer meals like I do-- subscribe to the newletter as I'll be sharing a bunch of delicious recipes, healthy ideas, family fun, and more!
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  1. says

    Thank you for this info! I have been trying to understand how to do backlinks! This helped me allot I hope now I can try and make this work after months of trying! I signed up for your newsletter as well!

    • Melissa says

      YEAH! I’m glad you found it useful! I find all the technical stuff too difficult to follow– so I tried to make it easier to understand. 🙂

  2. says

    Thanks! I’m following you too!

    Serendipity and Spice:
    An eclectic mix of crafting, cooking, DIY, family fun, and surviving life with a toddler! Follow along via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

  3. says

    Hi, found you via G+ hop today & following now. Great tips I enjoyed viewing your crafts too. I have a weekly link up Friday’s feel free to join in anytime or just pop by for a visit! I am at

  4. says

    I’m so happy you found it useful!  I’m working on some new posts for the series– I hope they’ll be as informative! 🙂
    Serendipity and Spice:
    An eclectic mix of crafting, cooking, DIY, family fun, and surviving life with a toddler!

  5. dawn@joyfulscribblings says

    This post has really helped me under SEO better. Thank you for the explanation. I am enjoying reading your blog series.

  6. says

    I always love reading your new blogger series. It makes everything click for me. I’m like yeah i know that stuff, but..OOOHH that is how that works, awesome! Thank you so much for this series 🙂

  7. says

    So helpful….now I’ll peruse the rest of your series! Thanks!
    -Shara @

  8. Mama Jodi says

    As a baby blogger this is really informative. Thanks for taking the time to pass along the information.

  9. says

    hi! i’m stopping by from sassy sites’ free for all friday. thank you so much for this post! there is so much wonderful information here. i’ve learned a lot reading just today’s post, and i look forward to learning lots more when i read all of the other related posts.
    i’m so happy to have found your blog. say hello to your newest follower 🙂


  10. says

    Thank you! I’ve read so many posts about SEO but still never really got it..until now! This is so helpful I’m bookmarking, follwing, and going to catch up on the rest of your posts~

  11. says

    This is fabulous! I am fairly new to the blogging world (since September) and have been trying to figure out how to increase readership. I only post once a week so that alone limits me. But I’m really enjoying blogging! I’d never even heard of SEO so thanks so much for sharing!

  12. Kelley @ says

    Hi! Visiting from tt&j. This is perfect! I so need a lesson is SEO! Thank you thank you!

    Im going to poke around your site a little more. I would love for you to share this at my Friday link party!

  13. Danni Baird @ Silo Hill Farm says

    Melissa you’ve done it again! Thank you for explaining this in plain English! You are the best!

  14. Erin Alldredge says

    Thanks, very informative. I already do a lot of this but some of it I didn’t know like the bold words. Luckily I always put my recipe titles and crochet pattern titles in bolds so they stand out. I never use the labels feature on my blog, I’m going to start now. Thanks again!

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