Steps to Optimizing Your Blog for SEO Placement
A blog have been known to be a platform or method to publish content online that is in some ways more beneficial from the search engine standpoint. There are a lot of misconceptions about this though. For instance, blogging doesn’t help you create a totally optimized page, just that with a blog, you are more likely to achieve some of the criteria that make a web page rank well in search engines.
The fact that a blogger tends to update the blog frequently, that the archiving and categorization scheme allow one page to be interlinked each other in a certain way, that a blog sends ping notification packet during an update, and that bloggers tend to link to other blogs are just several advantages.
Beyond that, a blog is just an ordinary web page. Search engine spiders still need to analyze the content to help determine the topic of the blog post. If your keyword is in the title, that still hints your page is relevant to a certain topic, and so on.
Review the other blog posts in the SEO for blogs article series to understand the principles of how SEO works. You will see a list at the end of this post.
Overview of Blog Search Engine Optimization Strategy
If you don’t read through the rest of the post, here is a quick overview of the absolute minimum things you should do to optimize your blog for the search engines:
- Optimize your blog theme or template. A blog uses blog theme as the skeleton to display a page so when you need to optimize the on-page factors, you create an optimized blog theme. You could modify your existing theme to make it search engine friendly.
- Research your keywords. My favorite approach is bottom up. If you start a new blog, begin targeting those long tail keywords to increase the chance to rank well. It helps to build your authority and traffic first.
- Integrate your keywords into the blog post. Do it one keyword at a time, but you should sprinkle the other keywords, stems and synonyms in the content too. Write conversationally, let the flow be natural. If you know your keywords, you should be able to integrate them naturally into the content.
- Link to other relevant pages carefully. If you divide your content into multiple silos, you should be careful with your links so you don’t dilute the strength of the silos. Linking to other child pages within another silo should be avoided.
That’s it for on-page optimization. Don’t forget about blog promotion to get a network of inbound links to your key pages and utilize deep linking to both gain authority and aid search engines in crawling your site fully.
Blogs vs Static Web Sites
I’ve touched a bit about this in the beginning of the blog post. Nowadays, if you publish content regularly online, a blog platform does not only help you with the publishing process, but also bring you benefits you won’t find in traditional web publishing methods.
People are now using a blog as content management system (CMS), so generally, most web sites should have a blog. Just that the format and layout of your content depend on how you want to interact with your visitors.
If you want them to subscribe to your content feed, you’d better make sure you have regular fresh content. When a blog is sorted in reverse chronological order, and if you include the date information in each blog post, keeping the blog fresh is necessary to give a good impression.
If you prefer to use blog software as CMS, it may seem like a static web site. In fact, your visitors may not be able to distinguish it. Just that you have access to a strong content management and publishing tool on the backend.
Static web sites have very little benefits nowadays. People who need to build two- or three-page web site may still use traditional web templates, but the trend is really nosediving, in my opinion.
Writing for Search Engines and Humans
It is ridiculous some people are so obsessed in tricking the search engines. Once I talked with someone who claims he could still do that — and escape from the penalty — by providing great content for the search engines and after his pages rank well on the search result, he cloaked the pages.
The question is, why not just leave the great content there?
The problem lies in his site model. Part of his strategy is to annoy human visitors so bad they want to click away. Because they have no exit points other than ads, hopefully people will choose those ads instead of the back button on the browsers.
The thing is, if he could produce good content and get top rankings, a bit of remodelling of his marketing strategy can help him build a real business with valuable offer and loyal audience.
When creating new posts for your blog, if part of your traffic strategy is natural search, you should optimize your content with the right keywords. However, what’s more important is you provide value to human visitors. Search engines are moving toward rewarding web sites that are created for human visitors in mind.
Keywords are the building blocks of web content. WordTracker has a free version, enough for you to use it for basic keyword research. As your blog grows, you may also fish out keywords from your server access log or web analytic software.
Contrary to what most people think, keyword research is an on-going activity. You will always find new keywords data to explore if your niche is big enough to cover many subtopics. Often, you could not guess which keywords your blog posts are going to rank for. And when you have those kind of data, you can expand your content accordingly.
In a dynamic niche, you want to also monitor the trend related keywords. As a blogger, staying on the edge is a competitive advantage. Technorati, Google News, Google Trend and Yahoo Buzz Index are just several ways to tap into trends.
Local SEO – The Surging Trend
One trend that you may have noticed so far is local seo. It is huge since business owners begin to drive local leads and prospective customers to their brick and mortar stores. Like it or not, Internet serves as an inexpensive lead generation tool for everyone who cares to use it.
Internet used to be an exclusive medium for online business owners. The opportunity is global and it is great but as more people flock online, they also perform research for anything, including local businesses online. Along the same line, there is really no better way to research area specific information than to use the name of the city or suburb as part of the keyword.
For instance, businesses in California and San Diego may search for local SEO companies using the following keywords: SEO companies Los Angeles, SEO companies California, or SEO companies San Diego. Look into this upward trending opportunities in your niche.
Compelling Headlines or Blog Post Titles
The headline or blog post title probably is the only thing the visitors will read if you don’t have a compelling one. Including one or at most two most significant benefits in the title is one way to make the visitors click and read the rest of the blog post.
It doesn’t matter if you have spent days to write a piece of content. If you fail to attract the readers, you are wasting your time. For this reason, you should think of the blog title as an ad for the blog content.
Remember that you need to use your primary keyword in the title. Instead of trying to be clever with cryptic title, descriptive title is almost always the way to go.
Design Your Blog Theme with SEO in Mind (One-Time Process)
The beauty of a blog is that you don’t need to modify each template and page every time you want to publish new content to make sure the page is customized for that particular page. You also don’t need to edit every page just to put a link in the navigation bar.
Blog software does it all for you. What you need to do is using the right tags and throw out excessive information in the theme. For instance, if your blog has long title, including it in every single page before the title of the post may dilute the relevance of your blog post.
Install Web Analytics
Web Analytics software gives you insights about your visitors. It allows you to gain the following data:
- Popular pages. Which posts people read most and which are most linked by the other bloggers.
- How many visitors the linking page send to your blog. You may consider returning the favor or get to know the bloggers more so you have an advantage in the future when you publish relevant content.
- Keywords people use to find your blog. This is also a way to do keyword research and identify trends.
Many stats tracking and web analytics software are available. Some are created specifically for bloggers. What I use on this blog is Google Analytics. Yes, it is free.
Another service that is worth mentioning for its real time information is Woopra.
Optimize Your Site Structure with Silos
How you establish a linking structure on your blog also helps you emphasize on your main pages. A popular and effective method to do this is by proper use of silos.
You may divide your content into directories or virtual directories (like in most blogs) or use virtual silos by carefully link your child pages to a parent and only link to other parent pages if necessary.
Another method that I’ve tested and worked quite well is by the pyramid or tiered link structure. In the pyramid model, you have a few tier-2 pages, which in turn consists of relevant tier-3 pages.
Off-Page Optimization — Getting Quality Inbound Links
Everything so far is about on-page optimization. While it is important to have well structured content to help search engines and human visitors to jump through your blog pages, it is just a group of factors that determine relevancy.
Getting a network of backlinks from authority web sites and blogs can help propel your rankings. Quality content encourages people to spread your content, but promotion is necessary to make your blog visible to the right audience.
Nowadays, promotion is necessary. With good content, the process just becomes fun and much easier.
Proofs that Quality Content Matter
Spamming search engine is still effective to a certain extent because mostly if you are able to get more backlinks to your page, your page will rank higher in the search result.
However, as Google and other search engines become better, they will take other data into account. Google as the search engine with the biggest market share also owns a leading web analytics service, feed reader, video content site, and ad network.
People all around the globe also install Google toolbar to enhance their browsing experience.
Google actually has more data than most people have imagined. If someone subscribes to your RSS feed, it should tell something about quality and engagement. This factors and perhaps hundreds of others are going to become important in the future.
Other Articles in the SEO for Blogs Article Series
- SEO Blog Design Strategies and Techniques — How to Design Search Engine Friendly Blog
- Keyword Research and Usage — Why and How They Contribute to More Effective SEO
- Blog Architecture and Design — Theming with Silos and Internal Linking Strategies
- Optimal Word Count for a Blog Post — Is There Such Thing?
- Blog Posting Frequency — How Does It Relate to SEO?
- On-Page Optimization Factors No Bloggers Could Afford to Ignore
- Page Attributes or Properties and SEO — More Things You Can Control
- Off Page Optimization Factors — Links, Links and Links
- Duplicate Content Penalty and Filter — Do They Exist? How Do They Work?
Return to Blog SEO — Whitehat SEO for Bloggers in a Nutshell.
Return to Blog Tips for a Better Blog — Blog Building University.