How To Optimize Your Blog For Search
Search engine optimization (aka SEO) and blogs are intricately intertwined. By their nature, blogs are attractive to search engines. They’re structured to provide easily searchable, keyword focused content organized by category. Additionally, the content is linked both internally and externally helping to show its relevance and importance in the context of other content.
Don’t take my word for it, here’s what fifteen SEO experts, many of them published authors in the field, recommend for maximizing your search optimization for your blog.
- Always be writing. Fresh content is key. Don’t worry about keywords, Google gaming, and other SEO claptraps. Just keep writing. Keep the website constantly new, keep readers coming back. SEO comes with dedication, not tricks. John Biggs – East Coast Editor of TechCrunch and co-author of Bloggers Boot Camp @johnbiggs.
- The single biggest factor in SEO success for bloggers comes down to consistent publishing. Those who publish regularly receive more search traffic. Each post you write is like a ticket for the SEO lottery, so the more posts you write the better your chances of winning and attracting readers to your blog. Beyond the idea of being a consistent blogger it is important to always keyword optimize your blog post titles and URLs. Every post should mention one of your important keywords in the title and URL. Kipp Bodnar, Inbound Marketing Strategist at HubSpot @KippBodner and Jeffrey L. Cohen, Social Strategist at Salesforce Radian6 @JeffreyLCohen Co-authors of The B2B Social Media Book: Become a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and More.
- Create unique compelling content around the keywords for which your target audience is searching. Face it, without content people want to read the rest of your search optimization efforts will fail since people will leave your site in seconds. Draw prospective readers with killer headlines they can’t bear to skip and eye catching photographs. Of course, it’s important to include a keyword phrase in your headline, use those words in your post’s URL and optimize your photographs for search. Further, where appropriate, link to external information as well as to other areas of your blog or website. Heidi Cohen – Riverside Marketing Strategies @HeidiCohen.
- Bloggers have a great opportunity to cross-link from one post to another. As you write each post, consider your past body of posts, and see if you can link back to those posts using the relevant key phrases (in the anchor text). Ric Dragon – Dragon Search and author of Social Marketology @RicDragon.
- Make friends with influential people. From an SEO point of view, you want to obtain links to your blog. Building up your own audience can take time, and producing great content can help you do that, but the fastest way to accelerate your growth is to have major influencers out there who like/trust you, and believe you produce great content. If they do, then from time to time they may tweet or share your content through their social media presences, or link to your posts in their own blogs. This provides you with exposure to their audiences and can drive readership and more social media followers. Eric Enge – Stone Temple Consulting Corporation and co-author of The Art of SEO with Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola and Rand Fishkin @StoneTemple.
- A good blog, like SEO, requires consistency and focus over time. Don’t try to rush things with long, keyword-stuffed posts. Work from an editorial calendar/plan. And mix up your posts with video, images, polls, infographics, etc. Marc Engelsman – Digital Brand Expressions @marc_engelsman.
- When writing a headline, go beyond the search term and add text indicating the nature of the article below it. So, instead of writing a dull headline about “Boston Search Engine Optimization,” write a “Wicked Good Guide to Boston SEO.” Both headlines include search terms. But the second one hints that your post will share SEO secrets like using “tonic” as a keyword in the Hub, “soda” in the rest of the Northeast, “pop” in the Midwest, and “Coke” in the South. Greg Jarboe – SEO-PR and author of YouTube Marketing An Hour A Day @gregjarboe.
- Develop high quality, unique, wowable content centered around relevant targeted keywords for your business or area of focus. Ron Jones – Symetri Internet Marketing and author of Keyword Intelligence @Ron_Jones.
- A robust but relevant Blog Roll – seek out great blogs close to your vertical topic, not just your friends’ blogs or ones that you like. The more on-page content you have that’s close to your desired ranking topic, the better – and blogrolls count in that content. Chris Keating, VP, SEO and Conversion Optimization – Performics.
- I just completed a research report on content marketing. Part of our findings is that marketers are becoming less reliant on text content (blogs, articles, etc.) in favor of video, mobile and visual content such as graphics, images and infographics. This may meet the needs of users, but it’s important to bear in mind that all search engines understand is plain, old-fashioned text. Titles, metadata, labels, transcripts – using words is critical, otherwise it’s not “content” as far as Google or Bing are concerned. Rebecca Lieb – Altimeter Group and author of The Truth About Search Engine Optimization and Content Marketing @lieblink.
- Build blog editorial calendars that optimize around more than just keywords. Consider overall business goals, and connect blog topics and themes to marketing and sales strategies.
- Monitor analytics to identify the top-performing posts in terms of organic traffic, but go beyond pageviews and time on site to determine which keywords are generating leads and driving sales conversions.
Paul Roetzer – CEO, PR 20/20 and author of The Marketing Agency Insider @paulroetzer.
- Use a hosted version of WordPress. Not only is the paid version of WordPress incredibly easy to use and customize, it also has much fewer restrictions than the free version.
- Use the YOAST SEO Plugin (or comparable SEO plugin) from the get go. Customize your URLs and title tags to be engaging and slightly optimized (targeting most important keywords). Be sure to write a unique Meta tag for each post as well.
- Naturally optimize the content. You always want to write for the readers, but don’t forget that this content should still be well written for SEO. Target 1-2 keywords per post and work them into the content naturally. There is no “right” number of times a keyword should appear in a post.
- Put social share buttons (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and ShareThis) on every post and encourage your readers to leave comments (if you allow comments). You want to get people interested in and sharing your content. The easier it is for them to post your content to a social site the better; the more times a piece of content is shared the more important it becomes in the eyes of the search engines. Also be sure to link to your social networking profiles so readers can connect with you there.
- Always promote every post on your social profiles and submit it to social bookmarking sites. Don’t rely on your readers to do all the heavy lifting.
- Install Google Analytics on your blog right away so you can track usability and how readers are responding to your content.
Nick Stamoulis – President, Brick Marketing @NickStamoulis.
- A blog is a website like any other website, in spite of the wealth of blog tips on the Web. Many people jump into blogging due to speed – you can get a reasonably attractive blog up and running rather quickly. Therein lies the mistake.An effective blog requires long-term planning. What is the information architecture of your blog? How is that information architecture going to translate into effective site navigation for your blog? What is your archiving plan for blog articles? How can your blog achieve long-term results as well as short-term results?That being said, the best SEO tip I can give for bloggers is create a long-term and a short-term web development plan. Learn how your target audience organizes and labels content (using keywords, of course, without overdoing it) and accommodate them.Don’t use keyword research tools to determine your blog’s information architecture. People don’t organize content based on keyword research data.Shari Thurow – Founder and SEO Director, Omni Marketing Interactive and author of When Search Meets Web Usability @sharithurow.
- My best SEO tip is the obvious one: Create compelling content, presented in a lively and entertaining way.Once you’ve done that, boil down your post into one to three words that describe what it’s about, and then use that exact word or phrase in the headline, the URL, the first paragraph and elsewhere in the text.Try to use restraint, though, or your SEO overkill will become obnoxious. For instance, “SEO tip: How can SEO experts leverage SEO to achieve SEO Nirvana in the SEO space? The answer: powerful SEO!”Charlie White – Senior Editor, Mashable and co-author of Bloggers Boot Camp @Charlie_White.
When it comes to optimizing your blog for search, there are recurring themes. More important than ranking for your top keywords is the fact that you’ve got seconds to win a prospective reader. So make the best possible first impression because being in the top five links on a SERP is worthless if potential readers don’t find what they want. Take the time to incorporate many of these points into your blog to give your blog’s SEO a real boost.
Do you have any other recommendations for improving search optimization on your blog? If so, please add them in the comments section below.
Big tip of my hat to all of the contributors for sharing their insights on SEO.
Here are some related articles you may find of interest.
- 20 Most useful blog plug-ins for non-geeks
- How to develop an editorial calendar
- Want to get your blog noticed? [Hint: It’s not just the content]
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