Saturday, January 14, 2012

SEO for Blogs: Best Practices

From my perspective, implementing SEO best practices for blogs is not that difficult. It requires a little research, attention to the demographic you may be reaching out to, and an understanding of what type of traffic you are most likely to generate from Google's search results. A lot of individuals start a blog and assume that eventually, people will find it. Not really. In order for Google to display your blog in the search results - you need to follow these best practices for blog optimization!

First, it is important to understand that your blog should attempt to attract long-tail traffic. Long-tail traffic refers to visitors that arrive at your blog after conducting a search query Google that contained (typically) 3 or more words. It is difficult for a blog to rank really well for short-tail keywords. So with that in mind, here is what you need to do to start showing up at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

1. Choose an SEO friendly platform. I recommend Wordpress. Wordpress is a free, open source platform that is ideal for running a well optimized blog. The dashboard is very easy to navigate, and their is an SEO friendly plug-in that you can download for Wordpress as well. This plug-in provides some behind the scenes assistance to ensure among other things that search engines are crawling your blog without any issues.

 2. Conduct keyword research. The first step in optimizing a blog is to conduct keyword research to identify what long-tail traffic may be best to rank well for and attract the visitors that you are looking for. You can start by making use of Google's keyword suggestion tool. This tool  will allow you to identify that approximate search volume of a specific search query, and will suggested related variations of that query that you may want to think about. An alternative method is to see what Google suggests in the search box as you begin typing in a query.

3. Optimize your blog post titles. This is extremely important! Ultimately, the title of the blog post functions in a similar manner to the title tag of a standard web page. It is perhaps the most important ranking factor for an individual post. For example, look at the title of the post you are reading right now: "SEO for Blogs: Best Practices." By using this as the title of my post, I am looking to attract people searching for any of the following: SEO for blogs, blog SEO, SEO for blog best practices, blog SEO best practices, and so forth. You get the idea.

4. Use different keyword variations within the text of the post. This is also very important. We know that in this day in age that you can't just stuff your keywords all over the place and expect Google not to pick up on it. The reality is, that tactic is outdated and not very effective. Google wants valuable content. But what you can do is use different variations of or semantically related keywords to optimize for what you are trying to rank for.

5. Let the world know! With the social media outlets we have access to now, there is no reason you should not take advantage of them to increase your blog's visibility. From an SEO perspective, getting your posts out to the social media outlets can lead to a lot of natural backlinks. These links, as we already know, are the driving force behind Google's ranking algorithm. And considering that there is a less competition for rankings when it comes to long-tail search queries, one or two links to a blog post can go a long way!

While there are many additional things you can do, I feel that these 5 best practices for blog SEO are a good place to start. Keep in mind, if you decide to launch a blog, you have to write on a consistent basis! I can't tell you how many times I see someone start a blog and then post once every 3 months. That won't cut it. Do your best to post once every week if you can, as fresh content is what sends the signal to Google that you are engaged and dedicated to giving your readers and the rest of the online world the valuable content they are looking for!

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