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Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs

Search Engine Optimization is something that makes many blogger’s heads spin – I know this because every time I write an SEO article I get comments from bloggers telling me that its too big a topic and that they’d rather just write ‘quality content’.

Whilst I’ll never argue that quality content should be anything but a first priority in blogging, the fact is that there are many millions of pages of great writing languishing around at the bottom of search engines results pages that deserve to be read by many but which rarely see the light of day because their authors have failed to understand that just a few simple tweaks in the writing process could see them ranking considerably higher.

So it’s time for another series – this time on Search Engine Optimization for Blogs!

People often ask me ‘how do I get ranked number one in (((insert favourite search engine here)))?

My answer usually starts with – ‘I don’t really know what I’m talking about….but….’

You see whilst some of my blogs rank very highly on different search engines – I often don’t really know why. Much of what I do is educated guessing and experimentation. I do read a lot of other people’s advice on the topic, but the more I read the more I realize that I’m not alone in my guess work – virtually every article I read is a ‘best guess’ of some kind.

My main advice to people wanting to optimize their blogs for Search Engines is to keep it simple. Start with quality content on a specific topic and then tweak it using the best current advice going around.

When I think about SEO for my blogs I tend to divide the things I focus upon into two parts – offsite and onsite search engine optimization techniques. Offsite techniques are more about what others do on their websites in linking to you, onsite techniques you have more control over as you write.

Over the next week I’ll share around 20 Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs. I’ll post a link to each one on the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog and at the end of the series will post the complete post in a single post to have it all in the one spot. As I go feel free to leave your comments, suggestions and experiences – but keep in mind each post is just part of a larger holistic approach.

I’ll finish by encouraging bloggers not to be overwhelmed by Search Engine Optimization. Whilst it can seem complicated and can become something of an obsession for blog owners you should know that blogs have many of the things I’m going to write about built into them and are more often than not pretty well set up for SEO. What follows in this series is intended as a primer or a background briefing on some of the issues we should be aware of – don’t fall into the temptation of becoming an SEO addict – rather file it away and allow it to naturally impact the way you blog.

Continue Reading this Series at

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Dave says:

    I believe SEO is a necessary evil if you intend to push visitors to your site from one or more of the major search engines out there.

    The main issues it that it becomes addictive, and can take valuable time away from outputting quality content, but if you can figure a good way of dynamically creating the relevant pieces of the puzzle that make up the SEO game, you can then forget about it and let it work by itself in the background.

    I don’t want to pre-empt you Darren by talking about things here that you are going to discuss in future issues, but my personal opinion is that the following make up the key ranking factors -

    TITLE
    META DESCRIPTION AND KEYWORDS
    H1 through to H3 (only one of each per page)
    H4 through to Hx (as appropriate)
    Anchor Text
    ALT tags and other sundries.

    Within the above, keyword density appears to be the current buzzword – so long as its natural, as opposed to paragraphs of non-sensical words strung together to gain rank.

    As well as the good, there is the bad, including hidden text, blind links, keyword stuffing etc, that will actually get you penailsed by the search engines.

    Key factor for me at the moment is to ensure all text is natural sounding whilst using specific keywords that I wish to be ranked high on. Part of it is common sense – I run a website about x, therefore I need to ensure that x is mentioned in my TITLE tag, somewhere in the page heading (H1) and then again in the body text.

    Of course, all of the above is down to what I have found out by reading various resources on the web, and with playing around with my own work over a period of three weeks or so. Small changes can make a big difference, and the next time I start a website from scratch, it’ll be interesting to see if designing from the ground up to be ‘search engine friendly’ will help from the outset, rather than trying to improve an established but badly ranked website.

    Looking forward to your articles!

    Dave

  2. Andy Merrett says:

    Agree with most of the points there. Not sure about the Heading rules – they need to be hierachical but don’t see why all – possibly excepting H1 – can’t be repeated, so long as they are logical. Generally on a blog’s front or archive pages there will be repetition of quite high-level heading tags. Also heading tags only go up to H6, which is six-levels deep of hierachy. Does anyone use this level of heading structure in general writing?

    Many disagree on whether meta description and keyword tags make any difference these days, but my view is that so long as they don’t contain spam material (repeated or irrelevant words) they don’t do any harm.

  3. I think the H1 and H2 rules come from Google.. the phrases highlighted by them are basically the keywords of the article.. (title and headers) and thus there shouldn’t be too many of them.

  4. Dave says:

    I believe the meta tags and descriptions make a difference in regards to over stuffing them with irrelevant content. ie you get penalised for putting too much into them.

    The description tag is what should be shown on a search results page, so its wise to have some relevancy there.

    I also read (still undecided if its true or not) that google in particular is wary of too many H1 tags on a page.

    I try to look at it as -

    H1 = Equivelant to a Book Title
    H2 = Equivalent to a Chapter Title
    H3 = Equivalent to a Page Title
    H4 – H6 = Equivalent to Paragraph Titles.

    and then try to apply that logic to a webpage, treating each webpage as a separate book…..

    As I said, its all beased on my own experiments and what I’ve read on the web, so YMMV.

    Dave

  5. Tom Hanna says:

    I think Darren’s example and my own experience is that the best way to achieve good keyword results is to have good content. Of course your blog should have a logical layout, keywords in the header tags (post titles) and good interlinking, but a good blog package like WordPress tends to do that automatically.

    My biggest negative is my tendency to want to use inside jokes and bits of humor in post titles, so that I end up not always having keywords in the header tags, but that’s just a trade-off between drawing readers attention outside search engines versus getting in the search engine. On the other hand, I’m not sure that having some off the wall titles occasionally doesn’t help avoid the impression that I’m keyword spamming. Now, if only my keywords were for some high value, high traffic topics instead of things like “politics federalism”.

  6. One fairly major topic in this series could address hosting effects on indexing.

    Darren and most of the people who comment here are self-hosted. I went the other way, with a Blogger account, knowing that I would be indexed faster by Google.(Oddly enough, Yahoo indexes Blogger sites even faster than Google itself.)

    One of my free hosting issues – which is quite surprising – is the inconsistent way Google spyders my Blogger blogsites. Sometimes it indexes the individual posts, which maximizes keyword effectiveness and relevancy; sometimes it serves the searcher an entire month’s worth of posts in response to a keyword search hit that should deliver a single post’s link. I am trusting this anomaly will straighten out over time, but it is a little frustrating.

    Would be interested in hearing the experiences of you self-hosted folks eventually.

    It’s a deep topic. – D

  7. Danielemd says:

    Hi, i’m an italian blogger (sorry for my english…).
    Let me say that you’re a genius!!
    I started my blog just 3 months ago and today i’m the first italian blog in the health category; 100.000 visitors and $700 earned in the last month (we are in Italy many people don’t know the web!).
    But i’m a MD so i don’t know what is SEO and the meaning of the most of the words you use… so from today i’m starting my lessons using your blog as the schoolbook.
    Thanks
    DanieleMD

  8. SEO UK says:

    These days I feel SEO is a necessity to any blogger if they want to make their blog well known. Although you have more choices now through a larger range of internet marketing processes I still feel SEO can be the most beneficial and bring you the most substantial traffic when done correctly.

  9. open source says:

    I recently came across your blog and i have been reading alone. I thought I would my leave comments for this post but I’m getting confused about what to write exactly that I have enjoyed reading. Simply nice blog awesome.. I will keep connect this blog very often …Thanx

    iamol

  10. SEO Company says:

    This is fantastic information for blog SEO. I really love the way infomration presented in your post. I have added to you in my social bookmark…..look forward to hear more from you.

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