by guest contributor Lyndsey McDonald
Many people start their blogs as a way to market themselves, their company, or their product. It’s a great idea, especially for crafters, artists, and artisans, who are trying to get their name out there. Often though we ask ourselves, “How do we get more people than mom and Aunt Mary reading my blog?”
Unfortunately, there isn’t one quick and easy solution. There are the obvious methods such as commenting on other blogs, emailing out your blog link to your friends, posting your blog link in related forums, etc. But how do we get our blog to show up when someone searches a relevant topic in Google? Investing some time and effort in to writing your blog to optimize for search engines can really help with this. There are many thing you can do to help get your rankings higher, and help get your blog be seen more through natural search. But first, let’s start with the basics!
What is Search Engine Optimization!?
As defined on wikipedia:
“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results for targeted keywords. Usually, the earlier a site is presented in the search results or the higher it “ranks”, the more searchers will visit that site. SEO can also target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.
In more simple terms, this means bringing more traffic to your site through natural searches (ie. when someone searches a keyword in Google, and lands on your blog!) The more times you get hits (people landing on your site) from searches of particular keywords, the higher you will rank in Google (your blog appears higher in the searches) when those words are searched.”
So, How do I get My Blog to “Rank” Higher?
1. Research your keywords. Before, or as you are writing an article or post, do a little research on relevant keywords. The goal is to find the best keyword phrases for a given topic. I suggest using Google Keyword Suggest. Here you can enter a keyword (ie. crafts) and the tool will return a long list of relevant keywords. Look for keywords that have LOW advertiser competition, and HIGH Average Search Volume. Use these words throughout your article and in titles and links as much as possible without sounding like an infomercial. Low advertiser competition means there are less other people using this word as a keyword, and high average search volume, means lots of people are actually searching this keyword or phrase. This will increase your chances of ranking higher in searches for these less competitive, but highly searched terms.
2. The Title Tag. Depending on what tool you use to build your blog, you may have lots or little control over your title tag. The title tag is the title of the page, as seen at the top of the Browser. If you can alter your title tag, do so! This is the single most important element on the page for search engine optimization. When writing your title tag, keep the following in mind:
- What would someone type into Google when searching for a blog like mine?
- Put your most important keywords first!Keep it short, tight, and direct. Don’t include many fluff words here. 10-12 words MAX Does your title Tag tell what your blog is about, even if someone came across it out of context?
- Capitalize the First Letter of each word.
- Do not use puns or word plays here.
- Try to differentiate from your competitors title tags.
3. Meta Tags. Again depending on what you use as a tool to publish your blog, you may or may not have control over this. There is a misconception out there that your meta tags are the be all and end all of Search Engine Optimization. This is absolutely false. Years ago Meta Tags were very important, but due to excessive misuse of meta tags, Google, and most other search engines pretty much ignore meta tags. So that being said, spend less than 2 minutes on your meta tags if you have control over them. Moving on…..
4. Headlines and Sub- Heads throughout your text. Headlines and sub-heads not only help break up your text and make articles more legible to readers, they also help with search engine optimization. Headlines should not match your title tag exactly, but again should use main Keywords. Keep it literal and straight forward. Use Sub-Headings throughout your text to create a more editorial title. Breaking up your text, and organizing your blog entry well, signals to Search Engines that the content is comprehensive and well organized. For an excellent example of a really well structured page, check out Wikipedia.
5. Descriptions or “Alt” tags for all images. You know when you add an image to your blog and your blogging tool asks you for a description of the image, or sometimes what it calls an “alt” tag? Well this is actually very important. Search Engines like Google can’t read images, but it can read descriptions that you add to images. Again, try to use keywords here, but keep it short, (4-5 words max) and direct.
6. Linking. Throughout your article, include links to other sites’ relevant articles. If you have previously posted a relevant article, link it within your own site. The more links really the better, and the more authoritative the link, the better (ie. leaders in the industry, government agencies, non-profits, educational institutions). Anytime you are talking about something that your reader might be interested in more information about, link the words to a relevant site. As well, at the end of your article, you could include a few links to relevant and related articles.
7. Update often. Search Engine spiders love fresh content, so give them what they want and they will come index your site more often. That being said, don’t sacrifice the quality of your content, just for the sake of search engine optimization.
8. Let relevant bloggers know about your article. You’ve just finished writing an informative article, well structured, lots of authoritative links, etc., now what do you do with it? Think of a site that might be interested in it, and email them and let them know about the article you have just written. In fact, think of at least 3 sites which are non-competitors, but might be interested in reading your article. The worst that can happen is they ignore you, the best that can happen is a big blog, or industry site links back to your blog, and sends their traffic, to your site! This would be called an Inbound Link. The more links that point to your blog, the higher your ranking will generally be. Search Engines look at inbound links as a vote of confidence in your site. When promoting your blog, keep these things in mind:
- The more of an industry leader the referring site is, the better. Look for sites that are a higher ranking than yours.
- A referring site is ideally relevant in content to your article’s topic.
- The referring site uses relevant key.words to link back to your site.
I hope this helps you get started on priming your blog for search engine optimization. This is really just a starting point, but in time, implementing these tips will go a long way in helping your rankings. I know it’s a lot to take in, and may seem over whelming at first, but try implementing just a couple of these tips each week, every little bit helps!