Blogging used to be a lonely pursuit. Now, blogging has reached a critical mass. All of a sudden, everyone’s a publisher. With all these content creators, there’s no shortage of blogging advice. I’ve decided to join the crowd, but only to simplify your life, not complicate it with another long list of how to promote your content. That’s why you hire an online marketer. For now, my advice is to just write regularly about what you know or about what you think your customers want to know. As far as “optimizing” your blog post for search engines, there are only five places you need to care about.
5 Keyword Hot Spots
I started blogging on Typepad before I knew anything about SEO. Nor did Typepad, I found out. In the early days, a blogger couldn’t customize anything or influence search engines other than through internal linking and on-page keyword focused content. In a way, it was good training because most everything I learned about SEO came from trying to figure out how to optimize my website with my right arm tied behind my back.
Today, with WordPress, Posterous, Ning and so on, every blog platform, including Typepad, allows you to customize what I consider to be the most important elements for SEO. I’m sure we’ll have debate over my choices but, when you keep your target audience in mind, and think like they do with the correct choice of keywords, Google will reward you. Just recently, a blog post we published discussing the date, 11-11-11, ranked on the first page of Google within an hour of going live out of 200 million pages. There are now 5 billion pages to compete with, so maintaining high rankings is another story for which you’d need to hire an SEO.
1. URL – I know that with WordPress file naming has become less important. People just let the system append the domain name with the article name. It’s so common that Google no longer considers super long file names to be spam. From my experience, I’ve seen increased traffic just by paying attention to this element alone. If you can tighten up your file name from 12 words to three, you’re blog post is much more likely to generate keyword referral traffic.
2. Page Title – This is still the single most important element on your blog post or any Web page. Front load your keywords. One piece of advice I heard recently is to write out your boring blog title, then rearrange it so that your keyword comes first followed by some form of punctuation: a question mark, a colon, a hypen.
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3. Internal Links – Unless and until the search engines change this ranking signal, we still need our primary keywords linking to relevant destination Web pages. The greatest competitive advantage we have with our blog is that we control the links. This is why blogging is one of my most important SEO tactics. But blogging isn’t easy. One of my client’s just became a blog orphan. It’s also a nice way to lead your readers to older content and to deep link to your website. Deep linking is another ranking factor.
4. Headline Tags – Emphasis, whether it’s bold face, italics or H1-3 tags, is weighted in various algorithms. The H1 tag tells the reader and the search engine this is what my article, post or page is about. You want to entice visitors to read but you also want to include your keyword phrase too. The closer they are to the beginning of the sentence the better. Just don’t overdo it.
5. Category – I’ve left this for last as it’s debatable. I’ve experimented using categories and not using categories. For me, if you have a keyword category that makes sense to your readers, using categories is another way to further clarify the meaning of your post. It also allows for more flexibility when writing the file extension.
For example, instead of naming this post “blogging for SEO” with “SEO tactics” as a category, I can customize my URL extension with /blog-post-optimization and use the SEO and blogging tags to populate the footer with relevant posts to additional reading providing even more internal links.
Rinse and repeat.
Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono