How to Optimize a Blog for Search Engines (Blog SEO 101)
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Why should someone who “blogs” worry about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? One of the most common myths about utilizing SEO in blog postings is that the text will appear to be written more for automated engines rather than for human beings. While this is possible, the proper use of SEO will help to increase readership by letting you reach more people, as well as improve your writing technique by requiring more creative ways to work with text.
Off-Site Techniques for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Off-Site techniques, also known as off page factors, are SEO techniques based on factors outside of your website that have a strong effect on search engines rankings. It’s good to know what these factors are, even if only to be aware of their effect, as it is possible to perform some simple action based on these factors that may push a website/blog up in the rankings.
Simply put, each link on another website pointing to your blog is a positive indicator to search engines. An SEO consultant will tell you that the best in-bound links come from sites, that are relevant to the subject of your website, and that use relevant keywords.
Here are some tips on how to boost in-bound links:
1. Generate high-quality content within your blog. If your blog becomes known for their excellent content, then the in-bound links will occur naturally.
2. Notify other bloggers about your new posts, whether you use email, RSS, or a third-party method.
3. Submit your URL (both of your blog and of the pages of individual posts) to directories, such as:
- Globe of Blogs
- Ultimate Directory of British
- Bigger Blogs
- Blogging Fusion
- Blog Explosion
- Super Blog Directory
4. Start or join an inter-linked posting network, whether with other bloggers, or on multiple servers, websites, and/or domains.
5. Interlink your own blog. Try to make every page on your blog only a page or two away from every other page. Use category listings of your blog in sidebars. Always have a link on every page back to the main homepage.
On-Site Tips for Search Engine Optimization
On-Site techniques, also known as on page factors, are SEO techniques based on factors within your website.
1. Identify and use keywords, the most important positive indicator you can use.
First, ask yourself these questions to identify the keywords you should be using on your blog and within your posts:
- How would people find my post with a Search Engines?
- How will people find the topic of this post in Google, Bing, or other search websites?
- What are the search results that appear when using that keyword?
- Within that list, what other keywords are being used?
Second, use those keywords you’ve identified within the:
- Content (especially in the first few sentences, and no more than 10% density)
- Title of post and the title tag
- URL of the individual posts
- Anchor tags for any outbound links
- Heading tags (H1 especially, but also H2, H3, etc…)
- Image ALT tags
- Meta tags (specifically, “description” and to a lesser extent, “keywords”)
2. An advanced keyword technique is the use of a relevant long-tail low-competition keyword phrase.
Low-competition means that not many websites are competing for this keyword, mainly because the number of search engine monthly searches done on that phrase can be measured in the hundreds rather than the thousands. Long-tail means a set of phrases that expand on a high-volume keyword phrase by including many permutations of the individual keywords, and their associated relevant phrases. Use several of these phrases that relate to the subject and theme of your blog, and put one in each post you create–put the phrase in the title of the post, and place it several times within the content of the post. For example, instead of targeting the keyword “movie reviews” in which you may receive zero traffic due to high competition, you can use a long tail keyword such as “foreign horror film movie reviews” in which you may receive hundreds of visitors due to the lower competition.
3. Give your blog a theme. Don’t try to be the blog that covers everything a little bit and nothing in depth; make your blog the one to go to for a very specific subject. Follow the same strategy for your post categories and tags.
5. Add posts to your blog on a regular basis. Besides being a great work habit, it’ll be good for your search ranking. The more often or frequent your blog is updated, the more often search engines will send their robots, spiders, and crawlers to check out what has changed.
6. Build relevant out-bound links (but not too many). An out-bound link points from your posts to an external website/page. Always try to link to relevant and reputable sites, and do not link just to create links.
7. Pick your blog domain name after researching thoroughly. Using a keyword is almost always a good idea, except when that keyword has been used as a domain name by an expired spam site. Use the Way Back Machine at Archive.org to check on expired domains.
8. Keep your blog domain ownership active. One of the indicators a search engine uses on whether or not a site is significant seems to be the age of the registration of the related domain–the older, the better. The reasoning is that spam sites jump from new domain to new domain, and rarely stay active on just one.
9. Focus–don’t write posts that jump from topic to topic. The more a post concentrates on a theme, the more likely search engines will consider the post significant, and increase your standing in the search engine ranking. The tighter your niche focus and the more relevant you become on that one topic, the more attractive your website becomes to the search engines. Having a niche focus can elevate you higher than large corporations that may not put as much energy and content for that one niche topic.
10. Write posts that are the right length. Though, strictly speaking, there are no guidelines on what the best length for a post is, it does tend to get more difficult to keep a correct keyword density as the post gets longer. Short posts can be a problem too, because the post may seem inconsequential. A minimum length of 250 words seems to be about right.
11. Don’t duplicate your own content. Google’s own guidelines warn about the same content appearing on more than one page of your website. You should also be aware of any of your content that is copied word-for-word on other websites–it’s OK if you let a few sites quote you and give attribution, but, if your content is duplicated all over the Internet, not only is the impact diluted, but there’s good chance your content might be considered duplicative junk and not true content by search engines.
12. Use other web services to notify the Internet about your posts. Pingomatic, Google’s BlogSearch, and other similar sites, will notify many other websites when you’ve added a post. This action will trigger a search engine to send out robots to visit your blog.
13. Submit your blog directly to the search engines. Go straight to the main website for each search engine, and find the way by which you can submit your URL to be indexed by that site.
14. Submit your blog’s RSS feed to MyYahoo and to Google’s Personalized pages–doing so will get your new posts indexed on Yahoo and Google.
15. Use social bookmarking services. Each time you post, use the service to bookmark your post at Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, SocialMarker, OnlyWire, and other social bookmarking/news sites. Not only will social bookmarking give you more traffic to your blog, it will also give you a backlink to your post.
16. Add to the quantity on your blog. Quantity in and of itself will not make the search engines notice you more, especially if it’s only extra junk content. The more comprehensive your blog is regarding its theme and subject, and the more pages there are, the more highly ranked the blog will be in search engine ranking.
17. Keep track of time. Part of the search engine optimization calculation measures how long a post has been on a blog–the longer, the better. So, keep posting, and don’t delete your old posts. The age of the blog is also calculated–don’t abandon a blog and start a new one just to start a new one–stay with your original blog, renovating it as needed.
So, even after you’ve followed as many of these suggestions and tips as you can, and you are still not ranking higher in the search engine ranking, be patient. Search engine optimization takes time. It’s not an instant gratification, but the reward will be worth it.