Blog SEO — Whitehat SEO for Bloggers in a Nutshell

Whitehat SEO for BloggersWhether you like it or not, search engine optimization for most bloggers is one of the most significant sources of traffic. When you approach it the right way, traffic from natural search will feel like a bonus.

If you want to build a successful blog with real solid content, one that people would link to voluntarily, you should take the whitehat SEO path.

Some people argue that it can be hard to determine between whitehat SEO or blackhat SEO. They are right, sometimes there is only a thin line that separates them both. Search engine algorithms change on a regular basis and no where we could find complete information about what are considered totally whitehat SEO.

After all, despite SEO may not be a rocket science, still a lot of Phd’s are working in Google and other search engines as well. That sounds as complex as rocket science already to me.

Except…

It is important to realize that search engines — or Google in this particular case — like to return relevant search results for their users. That means webmasters or bloggers who create content that the audience wants to read or consume naturally should rank higher. Often they are not, that’s why you need promotion, besides search engines are working on it too.

In other words, despite how complex it may sound, you don’t need to be a master of SEO to be able to start enjoying traffic from those search engines.

If you stick to the basic principles, chances are better that you will be ranked on top of the search engine result pages (SERPs) and be there longer than if you try to be tricky.

Note: If you are short on time, seo for blogs article has the absolute minimum you should know to get you started on the right track.

You may also be interested in this one. Matt Cutts revealed whitehat SEO tips for bloggers in WordCamp 2007. Pretty much all the information still applies to current situation.

It’s Not Only About Keywords and Links

Grilling Sausage

Successful sites and blogs rely on many other factors, which will be covered partially in this concise guide. Most important of all is the blog’s audience.

If you stumble upon a blog while searching the Web, you not only want great information, but also information that answers the question you have in mind when typing your keyword into the search engine.

Besides that, you also want to be able to navigate and find the related information quickly and easily. That depends on good linking structure and design. So those two things matter as well.

There are certainly more than those points, but they should get across the idea why you should pay attention to the other blog building activities too as they are closely related to search engine optimization.

Matt Cutt, an engineer at Google who handles web spam, says…

“Get noticed, then get traffic from Google.”

That is the right order to do things. As a blogger, useful content and proper promotion are how you get noticed. Sploggers tend to do this in exactly the opposite order.

Why I Write This Guide

Salad Vegetarian

It is easy to become overwhelmed if you don’t know what to do or in which order it should be done. Getting everything perfect before posting the first blog post is not wise because it helps you think that you are doing something and are productive, while the truth is, if you’re not getting your message out there, you are not.

On the other hand, if you start posting without planning, it can be hard to change the content structure and other things in the future. This is the main reason why I write this post in the first place.

A blogger friend of mine once came to me doubting the value of search engine optimization. His blog is getting quite a healthy amount of traffic from Google without even trying. That’s exactly the point. If you do things right, Google would like to reward you with high rankings.

However, there are things you could do to make your chance of getting ranked better. Think of it as giving an extra boost to your rankings and traffic. This is still necessary partly because of the limitations of the search technology.

Building Link-Worthy and Content-Rich Site

Again, it all boils down to how you make your site useful to your visitors. If you are new to this blog and the entire philosophy or Blog Building University, you should browse around the site. Notice there are no ads whatsoever.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against selling ad space, branding, or any other traffic building and marketing strategies. Sure, branding is an important component of a successful business online.

As a professional blogger, you want to establish yourself as an entity for the brand. That will help you grow your business. So, it is NOT only about ROI (Return on Investment) as many direct marketers believe.

Nowadays with so many blogs around, content is no longer the only thing that you need. I think content is much like president instead of king because it also needs usable design, links, lead generation, followup and so on to make it a useful strategy for your business.

It is worth repeating that content is worthless without promotion, but with quality content you don’t need to promote too hard. Bloggers tend to follow and link to good resources online because they will be doing their readers a favor by doing so. Even if you are their competitor.

Preliminary Steps — Before You Put up Your First Content

Gone!

Existing bloggers, don’t despair. You don’t have to start from scratch. Modifying your theme code to adjust the HTML tags and restructuring your blog content are often enough for on-page and on-site optimization.

Unless your blog is penalized by Google or other search engines, you should spend more of your time promoting your blog and on the off-page factors.

On the other hand, if you are just starting out, resist yourself from posting your first content right away. Planning is critical. When you’ve made key decisions in the first place, you only need discipline and time to carry out your plan and adjust accordingly to reach your goal.

What comprises the preliminary steps?

  • Keyword research. While it is nice to be able to rank first on any keyword in a week, most likely that won’t happen. Not only because SEO takes time, but also because the competitiveness of the keyword. Keyword research is about identifying the keyword phrases your target market uses to find information or product. With proper research, you’ll be able to find the long tail keywords, which have lower search volume but easier to rank. They are often more targeted too. Model your blog content around that approach.
  • Competitive analysis. This involves looking at the search result and determine why pages that are in the top 10 are there. Although you can’t possibly reverse engineer the algorithms entirely, current SEO allows you to do half-scientific guess of what’s going on. When you are on this, also take notes on the marketing and monetization models of each of the top blogs or sites.
  • Crawlable content structure. Blog software makes this very easy and automatic. However, it is also necessary that you compartmentalize your content into multiple categories, or use core pages that represent main categories of the blog. You may divide content into tiered structure or use links to channel your linkage to a set of core pages.
  • Indexable content. Text is still the most indexable type of content. If you’d like your image to be found for specific keyword search, make sure you use the alt attribute accordingly when inserting image on your blog. Include transcript or summary of audio and video content if you post it on your blog. Use Flash sparingly.
  • Professional design. You don’t have to hire a professional blog designer if you don’t want to. A professional design means it is able to convey your brand and message. If you choose to use a free blog theme, at least modify it a bit to avoid looking like another blog. Make sure the blog theme designer knows about search engine optimization though, so your template uses the right html tags.
  • Branding. If possible, you want a domain name that automatically conveys your business or contains a keyword phrase. That helps a bit in SEO but also get across your business immediately your audience see it. Don’t sweat it though. Google is not searchengine.com but Google still makes it to the top in the search engine industry.

Related SEO Information

  • Keyword research and usage. Keywords are the building blocks of content and overall site or blog. Discover how you can build a more effective web site by utilizing the right keyword research approach.
  • Domain names and SEO. Picking the right domain name can benefit you SEO-wise. Get all the tips about it in this article. If you want to solve the canonical name problem, using either www or non-www, read about www redirect (this is the right way to do it).
  • SEO Blog Design Strategies and Techniques. How to design your blog to take advantage of search engine optimization. Much of these are one-time process, thanks to the blog technologies.
  • On-Page Optimization Factors. Every blogger should know about this, at the very least to help search engine recognize theme on the blog/site.
  • Page Attributes or Properties and SEO. A few other factors that every blogger can control.
  • Off-page optimization factors. A significant portion of search engine rankings depend on off-page factors.
  • Blog Posting Frequency. Does frequency of posting or blog update have something to do with SEO?
  • Blog Post Length. If you’ve been wondering about the optimal length of a blog post, this article has the answer for you.
  • Blog Architecture and Design. How should you structure your site or blog content? Learn about silos and internal linking structures to find out.

Producing Your Content

Dandelion Clock

Content is the building blocks of your blog. It is also the reason why people come back for more. There are a lot to be said about content and its role for your business but for now suffice to say that your content-rich blog is the engine and the marketing portion is the fuel.

Build useful content is like creating powerful engine. I’ve seen a few loud mouth who claims that content is not as important as links — or any other factors. Don’t buy into that idea. If you look further, chances are they are doing some cheesy techniques for SEO.

In the long run, bloggers who produce great content and promote correctly win the game.

Once you have an optimized design in place, you only need to keep in mind a few things to be able to create search engine friendly content.

Here are something to keep in mind regarding this:

  • Use primary keyphrase in the title. For a blog, this typically means in the title and h1 tags.
  • Sprinkle your keywords and make them appear naturally. If you already know your keywords and keep those in your mind, they will get into your content naturally. Make sure you use your primary keyword once close to the title and then sprinkle your secondary keywords throughout the text.
  • Make the main keyword an anchor text. Link to your other blog pages or externally.

Making your blog successful can’t be a half-hearted effort. You must invest time, energy and money into it. Blog owners who lack the time to write content for themselves should accept guest blogs or pay others to fill in with content as the options.

The readers expect them to produce content on a regular basis, so keep this in mind. Focus on one or at most two blogs at a time.

Note: Bloggers and web publishers who concern about duplicate content penalty should read the article. It is compilation of the wisdom, straight from the horse’s — err… Google’s — mouth.

When it comes to maintaining your blog content, you could also increase user experience by making sure there is no broken links within your blog.

Promote Your Blog and Content

An engine without fuel is just like a lump of metal. While it is possible to build audience slowly just with superb content, your effort won’t be optimal.

There are successful bloggers who raise to the top not because of their content. They write average content but they expose themselves to the right audience.

With millions of blogs online, you have no choice but to make your blog and content stand out from the crowd. The only way to do that is through promotion.

When it comes to promotion, a lot of bloggers hold themselves back because they think they have to pitch something. Instead of chasing your target audience you could make them come to you by providing informative substance. That’s what I call educational marketing.

An interesting thing about this is because you are already content producer, you will be able to leverage your content.

For instance, offer to be a guest blogger on other people’s blogs. Make use of what you know to gain audience. It is so easy because you are just like stealing traffic from other established blogs.

From the search engine standpoint, promotion is done to get a network of inbound links pointing back to your blog pages. With the right anchor text in the links, search engines do their magic to determine the rankings of your pages, along with the on-page optimization and other factors.

Gather Your Metrics

Minke Whale

You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

You can pick from Google Analytics to Woopra or Sitemeter to track your blog visitors, search engine keywords, referral traffic and more. While you’ll be able to gather the data by analyzing your web access log, they are limited compared to the JavaScript solution above.

Although the in-built feed in most blog software is fine, you may want to use FeedBurner to get more insights into the metrics.

Knowing your keywords and which content your readers like most can help you with your content strategically.

Other Blog Specific Approaches

I said it before. Blog software makes it easy for you to make your content and site structure search engine friendly.

With the help of plugins, you will be able to take care of many technical details like generating meta tags or use optimized title.

Internal features of the blog software allow you to have keyword rich URLs. You can use the title of the post as permalink for the post page, i.e. /keyword-title instead of ?p=213.

Use plugins wisely. Although they extend the functionalities of a blog, they are not without their own risks. Security should be of concern, not to mention that they are also computer codes that need to be executed. Current server may be able to generate blog pages quickly, often in a fraction of a second, but when you are on the front page of Digg, you want to be as efficient as possible.

For instance, instead of using plugin that redirects www to non-www version of your domain, use the web server functions to do that. Make sure you utilize permanent redirect (301 redirect) instead of 302 redirect (temporary).

Closing Words

Although much of SEO is considered science, you need to think about your blog as a site, a real business.

If you are able to establish your personality, you may be able to get people to return to your blog because they want to read what else you have to say. That will in turn beneficial SEO-wise because people may link to your blog posts to extend their discussion on their blogs.

That is an example about long-term blog promotion. It takes a lot of work to reach there, and there is certainly more than one way to do it but it is absolutely worth it.

Ready to put it into action? Discover the steps to optimizing your blog for seo placement.

Return to Blog Tips for a Better Blog — Blog Building University.

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