In all of my years working with Web guys, I’ve never found someone as good at search engine optimization (SEO) as Nick Harrison at Dashal. Watching him work SEO is like watching a carefully choreographed ballet. Everything he does has a part and, when it all comes together, you suddenly own not just the first couple of listings, you own the entire first page. I asked him to share his wisdom here…SEO for bloggers.
When asked about SEO, most people will tell you they have no clue how it is achieved, even after reading everything they can find. In fact, most people don’t realize they can do things on their own to improve their site’s SEO with nominal effort and knowledge.
But I’m not going to lie to you, SEO isn’t easy. There is a lot to know and most of that knowledge is obtained by doing it, rather than reading about it. A true SEO professional spends a lot of his time learning how the search engine spider thinks, what it likes to eat, and what makes it feel warm fuzziness. So, I am not going to write a 300 page blog post and teach you every intricate detail about SEO. What I do share is that you can improve your blog’s SEO without being an expert coder or reading five books to understand only about a third.
Here are five key points and tips that will help increase your blog’s SEO as soon as you start:
- Plan before you write: Remember, it doesn’t matter how well you wrote that article or blog post if nobody reads it! Think to yourself, what are the terms and words that are relevant to my article I am about to write? I suggest using a keyword tool, such as Google AdWords. And really think about how people search for your topic. It may not be what you think it is. Imagine yourself going to Google to search the topic. What do you search?
- Title and META tag lengths: Most blogging software has numerous plug-ins dedicated to SEO. I like the All in One SEO Pack for WordPress. Google only uses about 60 to 66 characters in your title so make them count! You always want to fit one or two of your main keywords in the title. Unless the article is about your blog, the title should come first, THEN your blog name. Your META description should be around 160 characters and your keywords should be between five and eight (no more than 10).
- NO SPAM: Search engines are a lot smarter than you think. The spammer is a search engine’s worst enemy. Even if you don’t think you are spamming, you could be. Don’t be excessive, the spiders aren’t deaf, they can hear what you are saying without you telling them 100 times. Using keywords excessively not only can hinder your results, they can get you kicked off! So use your keywords just a couple of times…not 10 times.
- URLs and images: A lot of people don’t realize that what you name your URL (normally your article title) and what you name your images and alt tags really matter. If you go search Google right now, you will notice that the URLs that contain your search term is highlighted. Your title and URL are much more relevant than your META keywords. Other search engines place more importance on META tags, which is why they are less popular. You should always separate your words when naming titles and images. This article should not be called /seoforbloggers. It should be seo-for-bloggers. If I were to put a Google logo on this post, I wouldn’t name it image_5d4ws3f. I would name it google_seo_logo.jpg.
- Blog outreach: Page SEO only goes so far. You could have the perfect titles, META tags and keyword rich articles around, but that won’t get you to the top. These are key components, but there is more. You need sites linking to you in order for the search engines to deem you relevant. When you create a post, plug it! Put it on your public FB fan page, tweet it, yahoo buzz it and more. It is very easy to write a comment on a top site and include a link. Just make sure you create a real comment. There are a ton of social media sites that will let you link away. The most important thing to remember though, is it isn’t about how many sites have your link, it is about “WHO” has your links. Focus on getting your blog post link on the sites Google deems important. 1,000 links on crappy sites will only hurt you.
There is much more involved with SEO and I could write a 300 page book on the topic. The important thing, is that even though you can’t make a site completely SEO friendly yourself, and even though you don’t know everything there is to know about SEO, if you spend this week implementing these five ideas, your SEO results and blog traffic will increase.
Thanks Nick! I learned something myself…I didn’t realize what I name the image is important. So I’m taking your advice and trying it with the image included in this post.
Readers: What other SEO tips do you have for bloggers?
Image courtesy: Shark Space