Sunday, June 20, 2010

SEO for Bloggers

The best bloggers are passionately interested in a topic and want to share their expertise with others. While some of these bloggers are happy to give voice to their opinions with no thought of compensation or building a large audience, other bloggers have an interest in monetizing their blog and reaching as many people as possible with their message. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process by which a blog or website is made more likely appear in search results when someone enters a query into a search engine. Search engines use a variety of factors to determine the relevancy of a website or blog. By understanding these factors and making a few changes to your website or blog, you can improve your ranking in the search engines and increase the likelihood that you’ll be recommended by the search engines to their users. Blogs and websites that are not optimized for search engines are more likely to get lost among the millions of competing websites on the web. One of the first areas a blogger should look at when addressing
SEO for their blog is blog structure. While this will vary according to your blog’s platform and hosting site, the following SEO recommendations are universal. Content should be your first concern. You should always highlight your best content. Feature your most popular posts in a highly visible area of your blog. Chances are if the majority of your existing audience found those posts helpful or interesting, the majority of new visitors to your blog will, too.Secondly, make sure that you block any duplicate content on your blog. Search engines love fresh content but not if it’s duplicated! You might be penalized in the rankings because the search engine thinks that you’re trying to engage in “keyword stuffing” or other type of spam behavior. Thirdly, choose categories for your posts that use popular keywords related to your topic. These are the terms your audience is searching for in queries. There are a number of free keyword research tools that can help you identify these terms. I like the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Make sure your posts and pages are tagged properly with these terms for optimum ranking. Fourth, be sure to point to previous and next posts on each page. This helps the search crawlers that look for information and report back to Google find the information on your site more easily. It also helps your visitors find the information they’re looking for. Lastly, make sure that your page titles list the relevant information before the site name. Many blogging platforms, such as Wordpress take care of this automatically for you now. Think “relevance” and you’ll be thinking like a search engine!Video, images and other media can also assist a blogger in their optimization efforts. While search engines cannot determine the content in a video, videos are appearing in the front page of search results. Videos and images should be tagged properly with keywords and descriptions for optimal results. One of the newest ways to increase the SEO of your blog is through the use of social media. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr are based upon engagement. Google is now streaming real-time feedback from these sites in their search results. The more you can engage with your blog’s visitors on these sites, the more relevant your blog will appear to the search engines. In addition, this engagement will drive traffic to your blog.Whether monetization of your blog is your ultimate goal or not, optimizing your blog for search engines enables you to reach more of your intended audience with your message.