SEO Blog Design Strategies and Techniques — How to Design Search Engine Friendly Blog
A blog has grown from a simple tool to get personal notes up on the Web to a full-blown tool for business and marketing. In 2007, 1.4 new blogs were started every second. That’s about 120,000 new weblogs each day. Without doubt, you can find a blog in any obscure niche.
That makes it very hard to rank in organic search if you don’t have a strategy in place before starting your blog. Proper SEO blog design can help you get more traffic and audience.
It used to be that businesses didn’t have to worry about search engine optimization from the start. They could throw up content online and get those web pages ranked pretty well on search engines. The good old days have long gone though.
Search engines are getting more sophisticated in crawling and determining the theme of web sites and blogs. Web users also become fast-paced surfers. They have more content choices than they have time to consume. If the visitors can’t find what they want quickly, they will give up sooner than later. Your blog will lose in competition.
What the Evolution Means to Bloggers
You’ve probably heard this.
“A blog is a search engine magnet.”
It’s true for a few reasons, but you still have to make it work for you and your blog. A blog is just a tool. Whether you are going to make it useful or otherwise is up to you.
The good news is, search engine optimization is not rocket science. In fact, many bloggers are able to rank very well on search engines without knowing much about SEO at all. (If you think this is not your cup of tea, at least understand the basic search engine optimization. Every blogger should know at least the basics to rank well on search engines.)
For many blogs, search engines account for 40-60 percent or more of the site traffic. It is just too significant to ignore.
Nowadays, writing for search engines is no longer about stuffing keywords in a page or article, write with strict keyword density in mind, and other obsolete tactics. It becomes more and more important to satisfy both human visitors and search engines at the same time.
Search engines are also getting better at determining site theme and page topic. However, there are still a few things you need to keep in mind when designing your site so you can get the best from both worlds.
For bloggers, that means creating blogs that are easy to browse / navigate, search and read. Usability is an in-depth topic by itself but every blogger at least should make his/her blog usable. Often, you can end up with a good design by using common sense.
In sales and marketing, they call it “walking a mile in the user’s shoes.”
With that said, here are the step-by-step to design search engine friendly blog:
1. Planning — What Do You Want to Accomplish with Your Blog
At this stage, you need to ask the type of audience you want to attract to your blog. If you use a blog as a customer retention and support tool, obviously you will attract customers.
On the other hand, if you are going to build a moneymaking blog and sell ad space, you want readers who are eager for new information so they keep visiting your blog.
Remember that some visitors are in research mode. For them, informative content will be much more valuable than review of a product that is purely sales pitch. Of course, you can balance both types of content, but chances are you need to be more on one side than another.
Knowing your niche is important, because they are going to determine your site focus.
2. Strategize — Understanding Your Niche
Unlike the first step above, this is more of the market in general, instead of the audience. In this step, you use the Internet to research and create a strategy for your blog.
A few things you need to cover:
- Identify site and blog competition. Who is the authority in the niche? Use search engines to pull out top 10 or 20 of blogs and sites and really watch and learn what they are doing.
- Perform keyword research. You need to identify what search terms and key phrases your niche audience use to locate information or product in the search engine. This can be done via keyword research tool, such as Google AdWords Keyword Tool or WordTracker Free Keyword Suggestion Tool, or by analyzing site content from your competitors.
- Backlinks and other information. The purpose of this is twofold. You determine how many sites and pages are linking to your competitors so you can gauge competitiveness. That also reveals web sites that are potentially your partners. Perhaps they will be interested in linking to your blog content.
- Find unique proposition. What makes your blog unique? What do you provide so the readers will subscribe and keep coming back? Again you could learn from your competitors by watching what they are doing closely.
Once you know who your competitors are and the amount of work you need to win the game, you can move to the next step.
3. Designing a Search Engine Friendly Blog
Based on the outcome you expect from your blog and the strategy above, now is the time to drill deeper into the inner working or your blog — still from the strategic level.
A theme for moneymaking blog should maximize on the virtual real estate or billboard. You want to be able to sell as many advertisements without damaging your brand. Usually a 3-column blog template or layout is most suitable.
You should also think about how the readers are going to navigate and find your content. This is critical for search engines to determine site topics and subtopics. Designing with silo architecture helps make your content categories more obvious.
In this step, you should also create a content plan. Which type of content would you publish to attract the right audience? This will avoid confusion and frustration in the future. If you find yourself struggling with ideas every time you want to write a new blog post, you will tend to procrastinate.
Note: If your content includes audio and video formats, you should keep in mind that search engines are better at indexing textual content, so you may want to include text companion to your content.
4. Building Your Blog
As I said earlier, a blog is just a tool. Only after you know your goals, what to do and how to do it should you consider taking this step, i.e. actually build your blog.
You need to do research on the platform that is suitable for your blog. Most likely that would be WordPress, Movable Type or Blogger installed or set up on your own domain.
Free blog layouts are available online, almost in any shape or form. You may start simple and revamp your design later or buy a premium blog theme or template.
Setup the category and add bells and whistles if you so choose. Finally, add a few content pages — your flagship articles, to the blog. Don’t worry about writing perfect articles, strive for usefulness instead. You can always tweak and edit later.
5. Testing / Validate
At this step, you now have a brand new blog. Several things need to be done before you start posting. You should test that everything works just like you expect.
Test the design of your blog in different web browsers, or use a service like Browsershots.
If possible, ask people who are in your target audience to suggest how to improve your site. They should know it because they are your prospective readers. Right now, there may not be enough content to browse around but at least you know how usable your blog is.
6. Start Your Blogging Journey and Maintenance
Congratulations! As you reach this step, you are now ready to blog and create content. Blogging is a long-term business and marketing strategy. You need to stick with a schedule and work on it regularly if you want to see any kind of success.
You need to get involved in content creation, blog promotion, communication and interaction with your readers and other bloggers.
A few things that are related to organic search engines include, but not limited to, analyzing your blog stats and monitor your competitors to tune in your keyword list. To build stronger search engine positions, you also want to start link campaigns, create link bait content, use social media, and others. Keep reading this blog as each of the information is going to unveil itself soon.
Return to Blog SEO — Whitehat SEO for Bloggers in a Nutshell.
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