AUTHOR’S NOTE –
I am aware that I am not practicing all that I preach in this post on this blog. However that does not diminish from the quality of the advice contained in this piece. Much of it is taken from concepts and best practices written by industry leaders in SEO and blogging. I am working on optimizing this site but as it is not a revenue source for me the timetable is a bit slower than I would like. Your comments are welcome and I hope you enjoy.
What is SEO? More importantly why do I care?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most important parts of marketing for businesses in the 21st century. Searchengineland.com, a leading resource on the subject defines SEO as, “the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” listings on search engines.” Or in other words the art of getting traffic from search engines without paying for it. This is done through various strategies such as on-page optimization, link building, Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO), and Digital Asset Optimization (DAO). For more on SEO read the full article by Searchengineland.com located here.
The fact is that communication was forever changed with the advent of the Internet and as a result so was the way that marketers presented brands to consumers. No longer do consumers rely on resources such as the Yellow Pages to look up vendors instead that process has evolved to be primarily done online. Likewise editorial and opinion pieces are no longer primarily found in periodicals in paper form. Many people turn to bloggers online to find news and to read more information on a host of topics. In both cases a search engine is usually consulted which means that SEO is vital to the success of both businesses and bloggers. I would liken it to the importance of having a sign outside of a brick and mortar store. Yes people could guess what you do but would you really want to take the risk? It is obviously important to let people know what wares you sell as a brick and mortar business and in the same way it is important to let consumers know what you are going to talk about on a blog.
Optimize the Structure of Your Blog
Let’s face it there are a lot of useless blogs out there. If you really want to be contributing something useful to the blogosphere make sure your blog doesn’t blend in with the countless others out there. That means using new and creative content not just parroting other’s who have their own unique voice. That also means not letting your newest content dominate your homepage. The homepage should include many of your most popular posts in addition. Many consumers will be new to your website and could be turned off by the new content without a frame of reference. In that same vein be sure to include references to older posts so that people can understand where you are coming from. SEObook.com had this to say about popular posts and your blog’s homepage, “Many blogging systems allow you to highlight your most popular posts. Featuring your greatest hits puts site visitors one click away from your best content, and places more link equity on the best posts, which makes people more likely to find your site by reading one of your best posts.” For more information on that check out the full article here.
Engagement is an integral part of web 2.0 marketing. Make sure you utilize it for your own blog. A blog will need more than great copy if it is going to succeed. Create forums and allow for commenting on posts so that your consumers can interact with your blog. Also give them reasons to come back. Be that an email newsletter or RSS feed or even better both to ensure first time visitors become steady fans.
You have a voice you should put your own brand on it. Why do all the work for another to benefit? While I have owned the domain for years that this site will one day rest it now rests on WordPress.com’s sub domain. The truth of the matter is that that I have been giving free traffic to and helping WordPress not my own brand by using a sub domain for years. Make sure your content is branded on your own URL instead of waiting to optimize with a custom domain after your site gains popularity.
Optimize the Text Content of Your Blog
Text is king when talking about SEO. The fact of the matter is that while images and other pieces of content like videos can be used for SEO, text is still the primary focus of search engines and therefore very important to success in Internet Marketing. Therefore words and particularly the right keywords make a difference. Luckily there are a host of tools available to help you with this. I suggest investing in the pro tools of Seobook.com, and seomoz.org. However they both provide valuable free resources and tools as well. Google also provides a host of tools that are worth checking out. These tools can help you to find the right words to use in your posts and which words are trending (Google Trends, Technorati, Yahoo Buzzwords are all great resources for this) to help you chose the right keywords.
The headlines you use is a very important thing to consider when creating your blog. It is vitally important that you create meaningful headlines when you create a post. For example imagine you decided to title your blog “Panda Attack” and then hoped to entice readers to learn about the latest update from Google and how the changes affected SEO for many websites. While the title is clever it includes none of the keywords that would be relevant for people looking for information on the subject such as “Google, Update, or SEO”. Journalists have long worked hard to craft headlines that tell you all you need to know about the article before you even read it. In the same way headlines in a SEO optimized blog should have crafted encompassing headlines with relevant keywords.
This might be more relevant to optimizing the structure of a blog but it actually is an important part of both text and structure so is included here. Make sure you are using keywords relevant to your post not only in your posts but also in the categories and keywords you tag your post with. If the same sort of consideration of keywords is not taken to the next level and put into the keywords and categories of your blog it will not gain traction with search engines. Likewise the page titles must also be given the same due consideration.
How Video, Images or Other Media Can Help Optimization
Digital Asset Optimization (DAO) is an increasingly important part of Internet Marketing for SEO. Blogs are no exception. By alt tagging images you are letting search engine bots find out what your image is all about. More importantly you are helping to break up the monotony of your post including additional content. Again I am aware I am not practicing what I preach in this post but it is important to consider nonetheless. People often skim posts and blogs are especially subject to slow attention spans. As you have likely heard “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Come up with clever ways to include more than your original content in your post.
Video is one of the most important things to focus on for Internet Marketers in my opinion. Due to the ownership of YouTube by Google and its huge popularity with consumers it is important to consider this and other content-based sites when working on optimization. YouTube presents a unique opportunity to gain significant link juice if the content that is being linked from had many inbound links. Comment and comment often on other people’s videos especially if at sometime the content has gone viral. The site’s link juice that link into the video will channel that to your site if your site is linked to as well from that site. I am unsure how long that particular trick will work but for now it is a valuable way to help with link building to your site. Video can be used to establish keywords and link back to your website in what is titled as VSEO. Likewise video content can be included in your blog in order to help break things up and increase your video channel’s popularity. A great example would be the SEO rapper. For more information on him check out a great article in the times by clicking here.
Use Social Media to Enhance Your Blog SEO
Twitter and Facebook are no longer just important ways to leverage PR 2.0 for your business or blog. The fact is that they are now part of the algorithm that Google and other search engines use to determine what results to show when a search is performed. These social signals were long considered to be used by search engines but there was not a lot of proof. SEOmoz.org, however just concluded a large study and the data indicates that not only are social media signals considers they can be one of the most significant factors a search engine considers. For more on that check out this article on SEOmoz.org by clicking here. Or for some background information check out the 2011 ranking factors by SEOmoz.org, which can be found here.
Because of the importance of social signals to search engines don’t miss an opportunity to gain popularity for your blog. You can easily harness the power of social networks simply by doing what we hope you to be doing already. Keep contributing meaningful content and people will want to share it with others. However don’t make it hard on them. Incorporate sharethis.com or other similar tools into the content of your blog. Make it as easy as possible for consumers to be brand evangelists and share your great content with their friends. Likewise get inventive with your marketing. Maybe you can provide valuable prizes (white papers, branded schwag, etc…) to people that share your content? Making sure to connect your blog with your social media accounts is also important as you can at least ensure that your blog posts are exposed to your audience on those networks.
You have learned a lot about SEO optimization for your blog (including what it is) if you have taken the time to read this whole post. It’s a bit of monster in all honesty but we really have just scratched the surface. Keep in mind the principles discussed above of text and content optimization as well as the importance of Videos, Images and other content to optimizing your blog. Likewise keep in mind the importance of social signals in SEO as well when going to do SEO optimization for your blog. I have also included a variety of resources below if you are interested in reading more on this subject. As always your feedback is highly valued and in light of the subject any link love you want to give to help the SEO optimization of this blog would be greatly appreciated (feel free to link, share, and tweet away).