Blogging and SEO

The Terminator

I recently received the honor of being invited to speak about “Blogging and Social Media” – with emphasis on the SEO factor – as part of an upcoming public panel.  Resolving to be natural, yet prepared, I decided the best way to prep for the event was to blog about it.  (Ironic, right?)

You may be asking yourself: why publish before the event and not after?  To spur conversation and new ideas maybe?  The real answer is the same as to the question of why (or how) did John Connor of the Terminator movies send his father back in time to meet his mom and [radio edit], thus causing himself to be?  Answer: just don’t think about that part (the most infinite loophole in film).

I broke this post into two: “Blogging and SEO” and “Blogging and Social Media” in order to emphasize some tips for both.  Enjoy and please add your own in the comments box.

Why Blogging Is Important For SEO

If you have no idea what I mean by SEO (a.k.a. search engine optimization), it’s about making your website visible to search engines and their users (read all about "What, Why" and "How SEO" in my blogs here).  97% of people look for info online; you want readers – do the math.

Blogging is one of the most pivotal aspects for SEO.  Why?  Because Google is looking to serve up the most up-to-date and relevant content to answer your search queries.  And what rhymes with up-to-date and relevant?  You guessed it: a blog.  A fresh, creative, informative blog (or absence of) can be the life or death of your website’s chance of ever getting found on Google.  ‘Nuf said.

SEO Tips for Bloggers

Here are some simple tips for you bloggers out there that want to get readers (which means everybody).

Keyword ResearchDo Some Keyword Research

Imagine there was a free tool out there that would tell you exactly what words people used to search for stuff related to your blog or website.  That was rhetorical: there [sure] is.  Google AdWords’s (pronounce that why don’tcha) Keyword Tool is the best!  Writing a blog post about cooking turkey for Thanksgiving?  Enter that phrase and about 500 more will show up organized by how many times people search for them each month.  Simply choose the most relevant ones, noting which get more traffic, and add those to your blog title, headings, and copy.  More on that in a sec.

Keep It Short

Yeah, I break this rule, but that can’t stop me from giving the good advice to you.  200-800 words per page of any normal website is ideal for Google.  Think about it: since when did you want to read less or more than a page of copy about anything you searched for?  Enough said.

Headings

If you noticed, and this blog is a fair example, I’m using a good amount of headings.  Google loves those and they are a relief to the otherwise eye-gouging huge blocks of bland paragraphs that many choose to use.  Break it up and give the reader and Google a road map of headings to use.  Google’s spiders (they are real, okay they are real programs) analyze, order, and categorize your website page by page.  Headings are a huge help for them and will get you big SEO brownie points.  Not makin’ this stuff up.

And I’m not talking about just bolding stuff.  There are actual things called “heading tags” that have root in the HTML or coding of your page.  Look it up.  I’ve gotta’ keep this somewhere in the back parking lot of the 800 word range.

TroyMeta Tags

People freak out and misconstrue these (not always in that order).  Basically they are elements of text that tell Google what the page is all about.  There should be a way to edit these for your posts.  If not, call us, we will give you a much-needed new website.  “Meta” is Greek for above or outside of, not of this world (that’s a loose translation, but you get it).  These tags are not on the page, they are in the code.  Here’s a brief rundown of the important ones and how to use them:

  • Headings: we just talked about those. 
  • Meta Description: no more than 150 characters.  This is the short paragraph you see in Google search results underneath the title and web address. 
  • Meta Keyword Tag: never use this!  It used to help Google but now they use it to identify spammers.  Most people shove every keyword they’ve ever seen into this. 
  • Alt Tags: these are descriptions of your pictures.  Google can’t “see” so it reads these and categorizes as such.  Important not to leave blank.
  • Page Titles: no more than 72 characters in length.  For the whole thing.  It's what's on the tab at the very top of your screen.  Count 'em.  This one - "Blogging and SEO | Cowley" - is only 25.  I've seen some over 150.  They just doesn't fit on the Google results so it gets ugly; that's what that's all about.

And a tip for all: use keywords prominently (but without spamming it) in all of these.  Here's my hint to avoid spam: just let it flow.  Know your keywords, but just write what you're writing about; and the keywords will show up by themselves.

On Writing

Be Natural

Don’t sweat so much.  Just write it.

Be Interesting

Choose pictures (that you own or are royalty free, unless you want to get fined 5G’s every time), titles, examples, illustrations, and maybe even jokes that are naturally interesting to the average “Joe-surfing-the-web-right-now.”  I use ZITE (the best iPhone app) that gives me blogs based on interest (highly recommend) and scrolling through, I’m looking at the topic, title, picture, and first few sentences.  That’s all you’ve got to convince me to read your blog.  Master that, and you’ve got an initial audience.  Don’t, and you’re stuck with your mom only reading it.

What To Write

We forgot to mention that (the royal “we”).  If you’re a blogger, well, you have your theme or whatever so not talking to you; but if you’re a business, you should be blogging about stuff related to your business: trends, news, events, etc.  Be creative.  A blog is the on-site X-factor to getting SEO for your website.  You can quote me on that.  Fresh, relevant, original content.

Accent Stuff

This one’s simple: Google likes it when you (sparingly) use bold and italics on (a few!) keywords in the copy.  Again, Google can’t “see” so it identifies keywords more quickly because of the effect using these has on the code.

Be Regular & Post Often

I know!  You don’t have time to blog.  I don’t want to hear it.  Hire somebody; or do what we did.  Poe the Gnome started off traveling to my coworkers’ desks as a reminder that it was their turn to “Write the blog!”

Google (and web visitors) will see when the last time you posted was.  If it was 3 years ago (seen it), what does that say about your website?  (Pause for effect.)

Cinderella Man“We Never Steal.” – Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man

I shouldn’t have to mention this, but don’t ever copy and paste from other websites.  That’s called duplicating content and Google will penalize your [behind] really bad and for a very long time.  Use links.  I.e.: for more information on this topic read this blog.

That’s All (For Now) Folks!

There are many more tips but those were on the tip of my tongue (no pun intended, really).  Add yours in the comments and do apply these ones.

A final note: track it!  I have my Google Analytics send me a report everyday about who is coming to our site via what search words and where they go.  (If you are logged into your Google account, click this link to download my dashboard.  You just have to change some settings.  Google it.  There's also a "Basic Blog Dashboard" I got from another blogger.)  It’s so cool to see how people find my blog via SEO and how many have “hit” it in the time it’s been up.  After all, we don’t write these things to hear ourselves speak.

Tune in next time for “Blogging and Social Media.”  We now bring you back to your regularly scheduled programming.

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