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SEO Must’s When Blogging

I have had a lot of emails/comments recently from people who are struggling to attract traffic to their blogs. Getting involved in social media is a great way to attract some immediate traffic but if your chasing high volume search traffic, with SEO techniques, there are some “must’s” you should look to have in place.

Most of this advice is very basic but I still get questions on it, so I’ll keep blogging about it.

Optimised Title Tags

It is absolutely fundamental that your title tag is optimised at least on your home page, however if your looking to attract as much search engine traffic as possible you should optimise title tags for each page.

There are many different preferences when writing title tags, I personally like to target 2 – 3 keywords and maybe include the blog title for branding reasons. A structure that has always worked well for me is;

Keyword 1 – Keyword 2 – Keyword 3 and/or Blog name

Try to use hyphens instead of the underscore and make sure your main keyword is first. How your words are ordered in your title tag makes a difference to your search engine position.

If you target each post of your blog to longtail keywords, you will eventually see search engine traffic being delivered to deep pages of your site. Posts are a perfect opportunity to drive targeted traffic to your blog for low competition keywords.

Use Keywords In Your Headings

I know using your H1 H2 etc.. is less important now than it was a few years ago but in my opinion it is still worth it for the effort it takes to apply it.

Don’t cram each keyword into all headings but be mindful of your H1 and 2, try to use keyword variations that are relevant to your main targeted keyword.

Webmaster Tools

If your not using Webmaster Tools yet, there is no time like the present. There are a number of reasons for using webmaster tools but here are a few of my favourites.

  • Quickly detect and fix errors in your content and site structure.
  • Find out the keywords your site is targeting
  • See the keywords your site is indexed for.

These are simply a few of the tools you can make use of on Webmaster tools, you can also see which external links have pages and how your site links together internally. You will also receive an email on your webmaster tools account if your site has been penalised in anyway.

Submit A Sitemap

In my personal opinion submitting a sitemap is a ‘must’ for getting your content fully crawled by Google and increasing your chances of pages being indexed. Submitting a sitemap will allow pages to be indexed even if there are no backlinks pointing to the page.

If you use wordpress I would highly recommend the Google XML Generator and enter your url into webmaster tools. The URL is normally your blog domain with sitemap.xml extension.

eg. yoursite.wordpress.com/sitemap.xml

If you use blogger you can simply enter your feed details as your site map:

eg. yoursite.blogspot.com/atom.xml or rss.xml

This will ensure your site’s pages are crawled fully and that the maximum amount of content is indexed.

Analytics Tracking

If your serious about SEO then you need to install some kind of analytics software. Everyone has their favourites but I personally think you cannot go wrong with Google Analytics, however check out ouranalytics page for alternatives.

You need to track which keywords are sending you traffic, this will help you focus your pages and may even highlight new keywords you have never thought of.

Site Structure

As well as implementing a sitemap you also need to make sure Google can find your content directly from your home page. You can do this by adding category or archive links on your homepage. It does not matter which one you use however if your going to use both I would advise making one of them nofollow, this will help prevent duplicate content issues.

If you have a blogger all categories are automatically nofollow so it makes no difference. If you use wordpress you might want to consider using a drop down archive and follow links from your categories instead, plus category url’s are more keyword rich than archive urls.

Internal Linking

It is important that each one of your posts links back to your homepage, however do not use your “blog title” or “home” button to link back to your home page on your posts. This means you are linking back without being able to choose an appropriate anchor text.

I personally like linking back to my homepage in the post surrounded by keyword rich content and anchor with the text of my choice. If your sceptical about this, I’d just like to add that this has been a big reason why I have been able to break into the top 50 for the keyword “SEO” in 6 months, it works. You can still have links through a “home” button and blog title but make them nofollow, you need to control the relevancy created on your site.

Alt Attributes

I am sick and tired of hearing people saying “alt tags are worthless” or won’t help rankings. I have argued for the last 6 months that they still work and have ranking weight, finally there is a little evidence to back this up. SEOmoz carried out some correlation experiments which proved a direct link to higher rankings and optimised alt attributes.

Also read a great article here about how to implement and optimise alt attributes for image search and higher rankings.

Ensure Your Unique

This applies to many different aspects but the main ones are;

  • Unique Content
  • Unique Title Tags
  • Unique Meta Tags

Unique content is a must, sure report on industry wide news but don’t simply copy it, look to add your own thoughts and ideas. If you create a carbon copy blog your heading straight for the supplemental index.

Unique title tags are also important when you are optimising each of your posts for new keyword phrases. If you are using wordpress it does this for you automatically, however if your using blogger you will need to enter some code into the header area of your template, check out this article on blogger title tags.

Writing your own unique Meta tags is something your not going to be able to achieve on blogger, but the ranking weight on them is not as much as it used to be. The main thing to make sure, if you implement meta keywords/descriptions manually, is that no 2 are the same as Google may penalise the pages.

If you aren’t able to input a meta description and keywords Google will create one from your site cache, it’s not the perfect way to optimised but at least your not risking duplicate content.

Highlight Your Good Stuff

A big part of SEO as you may know is acquiring links to your content. I am not going to go into link building today but one of the best ways to acquire links is by showing links to your popular content from your homepage, hence more people see your best work and more people will be enticed to link to your site. Every blog needs a popular/best of widget on their site.

Consistency is Key

If you want to keep the search engines crawling and updating your content you really need to be updating your blog regularly. I personally like to write at least 3 times a week, but I think a weekly update is needed in order to keep your blog progressing.

Updating regularly keeps your readers coming back, these are the people that are going to help you content work it’s way around the web, this creates more backlinks which you are going to need in order to achieve high rankings.

I haven’t touched on link building in this article as it has been more focused on page optimisation, however the below articles will give you some great ideas;

Encouraging links to your content
Building Links To Deep Pages
A Guide To Article marketing

Thanks for reading.

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Author: Tim (296 Articles)

is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 9 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Director of Search at Branded3, a Digital Marketing & SEO Agency based in the UK.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kash July 8, 2009 at 2:11 am

Great article Tim.

I think adding your post in right category and tagging it with right keywords gives a little push to blog. Also if by any means if inline post content is not relavant to give a link to homepage; we can link it with a category without nofollow link. It will increase the weight of category page

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Tim July 8, 2009 at 2:47 am

Thanks for that Kash,

Yes it makes sense to use tagging and categories appropriately, I have seen some of my rankings increase simply because I have optimised my categories.

Reply

NITYIN November 8, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Hi Tim
Thanks for some great tips. I visited your site from a link on Time thief’s blog. I have a question. You mentioned either the categories or the Archive page to be made as no follow to avoid duplicate content. I had the duplicate content issue some time back and I made Archive and Categories no follow and instead gave a link to Sitemap on the home page. I am facing indexing issues from Google now as my new posts are not getting indexed. I have changed my theme and made H1 H2 optimized. There are no errors/penalties marked out in the Google webmaster tool.

Could this be a problem? If yes, I use a plugin to generate the Archive page. Would Google index the posts from a plugin as I wish to keep categories no follow since many of my posts are marked in different categories.
Your insight can help me in looking in the correct direction. Many thanks!

Reply

Tim November 9, 2009 at 6:13 am

Hi NITYIN,

The problem you are having is not uncommon to bloggers.

I use a category list instead of an archive as it is keyword rich (seo tips compard to january 2009? which would you have?) I have the archive list as a drop down as I don’t want to sent Google around the same content multiple times, just a preferance. If you are having problems getting new posts indexed fast then I suggest that;

a) You submit an xml sitemap (use the WP sitemap plugin)

b) Use a recent posts widget in the sidebar

c) Make sure you use the related posts plugin YARP – this helps to spread link juice between pages

After you have implemented these things check your indexing after a couple of weeks to see where you are. If you are still not being indexed quick enough you will have to start looking elsewhere, sometimes Google only indexes so much of the content depending on the amount of links you have, strong link profiles means faster indexing as your content is considered to be important.

Do you ping after each update? If not visit ping-o-matic.com

Hope this helps and feel free to contact me.

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NITYIN November 10, 2009 at 1:43 am

My site was finally crawled last night. Optimising the categories worked finally!!. Many thanks for the tips.

Reply

Tim November 10, 2009 at 5:41 am

@NITYIN

Your welcome, hope to see you around.

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Andrew April 5, 2010 at 9:48 pm

This is really helpful Neal–old or new!

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