Here are a few neat blog SEO tips to help your blog rank a little higher in search engines. Why should you listen to me about blog SEO? Granted this blog is fairly new, and PageRank 0, but most of my posts get listed in Google for the keyword I want within minutes, and I am actually on the first page right now for "adsense privacy" and "adsense cookies" (depends on your browsing history now).
Now, it is not very difficult to get into the first page as a "recent" result, even without much SEO - these are blog posts and other news items within the last few hours that show up in Google search results. Try it - if you search Google for relevant news when it happens (try Googling a Twitter trend) you will see a few blogs and sites with lower "authority" but when you search for them a few hours later they will be lower. Often, these "fresh results" seem to completely drop out of the search results before going into the "main" index. Remember: now that Google uses your web history to refine results, you may need to clear cookies, clear web history, and change your Google search settings to see the "default" results, and you have less control over your position for your target keyword phrases in actual visitor searches.
Google "adsense privacy" - see my post about adsense privacy there on the first page? This blog was created in February of this year, it should not even be out of the sandbox - and is PageRank 0 still, but it is there on the front page. Want to know how I do it?
I generally start with the content - I'll pick a somewhat specific topic to write about (in this case the new adsense email), and I'll write the post. Then I go back and figure out how to market it. Occassionally, if I don't feel a particular inclination to write about something, I do use the Google Suggest (now built into Google front page) to pick a topic to write about. Either way, I almost always use this functionality to refine my keywords when I am finished with the post. How?
Simply go to the front page of Google (not inside of a search, or gmail, etc.) and start typing - see the list of words that pops up? Those are popular search terms that start with what you've typed (note: exactly what is in the box will not appear in the results). Look for words higher in the list - meaning more often searched, but with a lower number of results - meaning less competition. The less letters you type in (the more you can backspace) and still see your "target keyphrase" high in the list, the higher the "value" of the keyword. This does not mean you will get tons of traffic, it just means you will have an easier time getting to the front page of Google.
What is the blog SEO ninja magic?
- Stay focused on the key phrase you picked. You may pick 2-5 key terms for your tags and blog post, but stay focused primarily on one of them.
- Basic HTML blog SEO - when appropriate, use the acronym tag, h1 and h2 tags (hint: use CSS to make them smaller if they are too big!), bold and italics (through CSS styling, if possible), and link out with your primary keyword phrase as anchor text.
- Optimize the post title - this might be the most important thing, as it also affects the permalink. Use your key phrase first, with something to draw your audience in (like "AdSense Privacy? - Need a New Ad Provider") and make it memorable. You will want to set your blog title to [key phrase] | [blog title] (with the | symbol as a separator) if your blog is relatively new also.
- Valid HTML - Don't kill yourself over it, but try to take care of obvious errors. Run your post page through the keyword density tool and peruse the other fine free SEO tools at SEOChat
- Tags or labels - these are the SEO goldmine of blogging, as long as you use them correctly. I see many bloggers stuffing the tags full of keywords and never using the same tag for different posts. Generally, you want to label posts with between 2 and 6 tags of 2 to 3 words each. Hint: use the Google search suggestions to find $$$ keywords, then use those as tags!
- While we're on tags, how about some meta tags? Use those tags or labels as the meta keyword tag of that post, and make sure to add a meta description (usually the "teaser" part of the post, or make one up under 160 characters) and the title of the post as the meta title. Note: Blogger and Wordpress offer plugins to do this, but I would recommend doing it manually before using a plugin. You will want to tweak the results when you use a plugin, so you may as well learn to do on-page blog SEO from scratch.
Update: I found a site that shows you how to optimize Blogger meta tags with the new Blogger templates.
- Don't fall for the trap. Many people think "adsense cookie" and "adsense cookies" (and similar variations, tenses, etc.) are the "same" key phrase, because they are generally aggregated as such during a search. However, when you are trying to rank, there is a difference between these keyword phrases. There is also a difference between quad core laptop and quad-core laptop (dash vs. no dash) and many other search terms people might expect to be the same - you can often see this in the suggestion box e.g. number of results changes when you add an "s" at the end.
- Pepper in related keywords - see the "search terms" and "keyword phrases" in the above bullet? I just went back to replace "these" and "terms" - making the post suddenly more relevant as far as Google is concerned, even though it did not really affect the readability to a human. Remember: write for humans first, then feed the robots what they need to see.
- Sitemap - Good news! If you have an RSS feed, you can just use that as your sitemap. Just submit it to Google Webmaster Tools, follow the instructions to verify, and you will be that much closer to being indexed! You can also check your index stats from here. Don't forget to submit to Yahoo! and MSN also. (How to submit your sitemap.
- Blogroll - This one is important; Get relevant bloggers and add their blogs to your blogroll. This increases how often your blog is 'updated', which will generally help the searchbots crawl your blog more often, and give you more "authority". As a side effect, many of those webmasters will also find your blog and link to you (It's ok to email them asking what they would like for the anchor text).
- Then just contact people - webmasters of similar sites and blogs, people interested in the topic of your blog. Don't be afraid to ask for [primary keyword phrase] [Blog name] as anchor text (instead of just the blog name), or ask people to comment on posts or your site (please comment on my site and this post in the comment area below). Leave relevant comments where you can tie in your post (don't spam). Email, Twitter, Facebook, IM, etc. Promote your blog or site in person. The greatest thing is that these people already share some of your interests, so you are making lasting relationships rather than getting people on your site for a few minutes so they can click an ad that gets you maybe a few dollars.
- Make it easy for visitors to share your blog with others - you don't want to waste all of that on-page blog SEO that you just did up there ^ (you are doing this stuff, right?) As an example, on your right you can see the user-friendly Tweetmeme, StumbleUpon, and Digg buttons, and below you will find the ShareThis button, which allows you to bookmark, blog, snip, buzz, and share this post just about anywhere on the 'net including Facebook, MySpace, Reddit, Sphinn, Mixx, and more - feel free to try them out and see how they work! If you need help getting these buttons working on your blog contact me.
That list of blog SEO tips should get you started, it might even get you to the first page of the search results (if it does remember who got you there!), and even if not you will have better ability to choose keywords and work them into your post. Let me know if anything is unclear, and please feel free to list other website and blog SEO tips that work for you in the comments.
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