My advice: Understand that "Search Engine Optimization" isn't some magic pill that, if swallowed, will instantly make your blog #1 on Google. It doesn't work like that. I find that a lot of people overcomplicate SEO, but it doesn't need to be complex.
Understand that you could do everything right from an SEO perspective and still be nowhere to be found on Google. Chasing the #1 spot on Google is tough to do - it takes experience and the right circumstances, and yes, maybe a little bit of luck as well. Time is your biggest friend when it comes to SEO.
Content is king. Your #1 priority to improve your SEO should be content. Not writing click-bait headlines. Not meta-tagging the hell out of your posts. Not trying to use some clever trick to make Google think your page deserves Page 1 status (because Google probably thought of that trick before you did!).
Keywords are queen. If you're writing about student loan debt, then be sure that the phrase "student loan debt" is in the title of your posts as well as towards the top of your article's content. But, be realistic and understand that competing with the phrase "debt" in Google probably won't be fruitful. "Debt" is a very common word. Millions of blog posts talk about debt. If you try to compete for highly-competitive keywords, you'll lose almost every time.
Consistency is third. Don't publish 15 articles in a month and then take the next month off. The more consistent you are, the larger your readership will get and the more likely it will be that your articles will be linked to from other blogs on the Internet - Page Rank. Too complicated for this forum post, but there's a bunch written about Page Rank on the Internet. Research as your heart desires.
My two cents. Keep SEO simple, at least to start. If you don't master the simple stuff, the more advanced shit probably won't do a thing for you.