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How to Grow Your Blog to the Next Level With SEO

In this series we’re looking at 9 things that bloggers need to work on once their blog moves out of ‘launch phase’ and into maturity.

Today I want to focus upon the topic of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

While SEO is something that is well worth while focusing upon right from the start of your blog – I’ve found that it becomes particularly important once your blog is at least a few months old. In my experience it is not until a blog is 6 to 12 months old that it really begins to grow in its authority in Google.

I will not rehash everything I know about SEO here (I’ll link to some resources at the bottom of this post) but here are just two tasks that I think established bloggers will particularly want to focus upon (I’m assuming that you’ve got some of the basics like getting titles set up right):

1. Optimizing Successful Pages on Your Blog

I mentioned this earlier in this series of posts but one of the first things to do is to identify and analyze the pages that people are arriving to your blog on from Search Engines. If you’re like most blogs you’ll find that a handful of your old posts generate a significant percentage of your search engine traffic. Identify these pages and you can then go about increasing the ranking of those pages even further in Google by doing some of the following:

  • increasing keyword density of these pages – don’t add the keywords that people are searching for too many more times, but it can help to add them 1-2 times more, bold the keywords, add them to heading tags, add them to image tags etc.
  • increase the internal links to these pages – if you find a page that is getting a lot of search traffic, any extra links to the page that you can generate (from both within your blog and outside it) can help its authority. You might want to even highlight some of these pages in your sidebar or navigation – or to link to them within other posts on your blog on a similar topic.

2. Create More Content on Related Search Terms

Once you start getting a handle on what type of information that people are searching for you should begin to make a list of other related topics that you might want to write about. You can get ideas from this by looking at keywords that people use to arrive on your blog and thinking about synonyms for those words but also by looking at online services like Google Trends which maps what people are searching the web for.

Another good tool for analyzing search traffic and coming up with new topics to write about it 103bees which gives some metrics on the questions people are asking to find your blog. These questions are topics your readers are actually asking which shows you what they’re typing into Google. Another great tool to try is Lijit which is a search tool you can use on your blog (see it in my sidebar). This tracks what terms people are searching your blog for. The useful thing about it is that they also show you what terms people searched for that there was no search results on your blog for – very handy information.

There is A LOT more that you can do to increase the search engine authority of your blog. Part of it just comes down to writing great quality content over the long haul (which over time increases the number of doorways into your blog and grows the number of links from other sites to it) but below I’ve listed some other resources from both within ProBlogger and from SEO experts that will hopefully give you plenty of things to work on.

Further Reading:

Also – here are three helpful videos (particularly for WordPress Users) with some great tips from Matt Cutts (Google Engineer), Joost de Valk and Stephan Spencer.


WordPress SEO & Optimisation Strategies a4uexpo London 2008 from existem on Vimeo.

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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. John Easton says:

    Darren,

    As usual a great post and informative series. One tool that I have found to be very useful for blog and other SEO efforts is the SEO for Firefox plugin (http://tools.seobook.com/firefox/seo-for-firefox.html). The plugin provides a wealth of SEO statistical data (inbound/internal links, pagerank and apends SEO stats to Google searches.)

    Thanks again…

    John

  2. SEO is a must have for every blog. I have a new blog which started a month ago and I have been using SEO techniques grow it to around 200 visitors a day. Quite a good result for me.

  3. Luggage Set says:

    My blog is new. I have to wait 6 months to become an authority on google.

    This are on page SEO. I would be waiting for the off page SEO

  4. It is great to hear what you say about SEO. I have heard so much both ways, that getting the opinion of someone that I value is great.

    How can I get my blog into the search engine though? I do not get any traffic from search.

    Thanks,
    Nate
    http://debtfreecollege.blogspot.com

  5. Robin says:

    I am just now starting to get enough traffic to begin to analyze which posts are getting stronger response. I will certainly be plumping up their “juiciness “, as you have suggested. Thanks for the tools list and videos.

  6. Tumblemoose says:

    I’ve been taking the passive approach to SEO. I use the All in One SEO plug in and that’s it.

    Well, I see that it is time to bring things to the next level. I’ll spend time this weekend implementing these ideas.

    George

  7. A nice round-up! Unfortunately, there’s very little concentrated and good info online for SEO specifically as it relates to the WordPress content management system.

    Joost de Valk has the best SEO plugins for WordPress, hands down, and the man shares his knowledge generously.

    Anything Google says about SEO has to be taken with a bit of skepticism, because they’re going to tell you what they want you to do that’s good for them, not what’s actually best for your SEO.

    SEO is not a bunch of “tricks” and certainly not dirty tricks. It’s really just understanding how people search for the information you have, and making that information more easily found.

    If you’re fronting a business with your blog or hope to make money blogging, you absolutely have to pay attention to SEO, and when it comes to WordPress SEO, I wrote the book (literally). :)

  8. krissy knox says:

    Thanks for an excellent post. I’m going to use this to improve SEO on my blogs. And the videos are great. I didn’t get a chance to listen to them all, but started. They’re great, especially the first one. I can’t believe how great it is. I’ll be listening to the whole thing later on today! Thanks!

    krissy knox
    follow me on twitter
    http://www.twitter.com/iamkrissy/

  9. Terry Heath says:

    These are good tips, but it’s also important to use an optimized WordPress theme. I use Thesis, but there are others.

    It’s also important to do your own testing and tracking. There is lots of here-say regarding SEO out there, and much of it is based only on speculation.

  10. Deja Vu happens in my world for the second time this week!
    Thank You.
    I have spent the bulk of my hours for the past 3 days addressing SEO on two of my sites in an effort to figure out if I should pay someone for that sector of my sites.
    Enjoyed reading several ideas that I did not consider and will now continue evaluating. DITTO you on 103bees being a great resource and it assist me weekly in targeting what I write about.

  11. jkproperties says:

    Great post.

    I Just wanted to find out how to see what ppl are searching for.
    I have been blogging for about a year.
    I don’t get that much traffic.

    How do you see what the most popular search terms are?

  12. Hi Darren.

    Thanks for pointing towards the 103Bees questions. I just noticed people are searching for all the wrong questions and arriving on my website. A good thing about a blog is that you can easily steer its direction according to the traffic it is getting. With a website the problem is you have to steer the traffic instead of the website. A great SEO challenge.

    It is a great tip that you should further optimize the posts that are getting more traffic from search engines.

  13. Thanks for the post it is very interesting Google Trend and other tools help a lot Search Engine Marketing Services increase traffic and page rank in our site.

    more power

    simon

  14. Kayla says:

    Another great addition to the series. I always feel I’m mostly done with SEO for my blog, but I realize that it’s a constant area to work on. You’ve listed some great resources here, and I’m going to start improving right away.

  15. Tracy says:

    Thanks for the informative post. I can say that adding quality content over time works. The traffic I get on a slow day now is double or triple what I’d get on my very best days in the beginning, all because of search traffic.

  16. Dipoh says:

    Wow, very informative post. Thanks, Darren.

    I have heard about SEO a lot of times and I believe it is one of the best ways to get traffic and generate income. I have bookmarked this page and read over it again. Thanks for the link on “9 SEO plugins for WordPress blogs” I really appreciate it a lot.

  17. Lynn says:

    Problogger, once again you’ve shared some helpful hints and I’m off with a to-do list. It’s all about continuous improvement(s). Many thanks.

  18. I get almost 90% of my traffic in my blog network only using SERPs. It means that after escaping from Google Sandbox, your high quality pages will bring profits maybe for years easily. SEO is the most logical investment for those who doesn’t understand much about marketing a blog effectively using social networks like me :)

  19. Two simple tips stand out on this blog for me:
    - Increase keyword density
    - Increase the interal links

    Both great ways to force traffic to a post

  20. Thanks Darren!

    Your Tip NUMBER ONE is very much like you. What I mean to say is that I noticed this technique in every page of your post that I have read. And I have applied this technique on my blogs. But the way you link your pages are very nice. I am just wondering if it will take you hours in finding the right link for your phrase or words. I mean you already have hundreds of posts. Or are you just picking the links which you see more or less fits the phrase or words?

  21. Monthiel says:

    Great post. Thanks Darren!. All about SEO is important for both beginners or experts.

    Regards,
    Monthiel

  22. Nikolai says:

    Great post Darren! I believe that the best SEO technique is simply to be useful and interesting. You won’t believe how many backlinks you can achieve like that.

  23. Isaac says:

    The eding is the best part. I think people should just focus on creating relevant, useful content. Impactful writing and clever titles will naturally lead to SEO.

  24. Thanks for this series Darren. I figured out that SEO is the main route for taking a blog to the next level as it can produce sustainable traffic to your blog.

    in fact it may be a coincidence that I am running a SEO series of posts as well… I am on the 8th post today.

  25. Yoast has alot of information on SEO, seen him before at the conference.

  26. Ken Kaufman says:

    amazing content in these videos. Everyone should be exposed to this material. Thanks!

  27. Darren: With regard to SEO, hopefully you’ve told your audience, that they need to very carefully assess the optimization of their blog theme’s code. If they do not know what to look for, they can speak with a professional SEO. (:

    As you know, the vast majority of blog themes are HORRIBLY ineffective for SEO. You guys can do everything Darren has suggested to increase your SEO effectiveness, but using a poorly optimized theme could be killing all of your efforts and ranking opportunity.

    What theme do I use? Thesis.

  28. SEO Tips says:

    Great Darren thank you for this, the videos look excellent too. A couple of hours worth of watching there :)

  29. Matthew says:

    I’m still growing my blog, but these tips are still useful to me. I can build my blog with an eye to future needs, so hopefully my SEO structure will already be in place. Later on, when I have more statistics to compare, I will be able to further tweak things to improve.

    Thanks for the advice!

  30. Curt says:

    My strength as a blogger is my technical background. Unlike many bloggers, my writing skills are second. The reason this is an issue for me is because my blog contains some gramatical error – which I am not very good at finding.

    Therefore, now that I have been blogger for more than a year, I’m considering hiring an editor to proof read my entire article set to find and correct any gramatical errors that are lingering within my content.

    Do you think this is worth the effort?

  31. This is another great post of yours Darren, most of your posts are inspiring me. I follow your advices and it seem thing are getting better with my blogs so far!

    I have started to write about what people search more to find my blogs.

  32. Nice post. I think my blog has reached the level where Google knows it is there but I need to start focusing on some keywords to pull some traffic.

  33. Kevin says:

    Amazing post. I spent the time looking at the videos and found them very insightful. It’s amazing that his 16 year old is making that much money blogging, gives us great motivation.

  34. Allan Ward says:

    Thanks Darren.

    I’ve been a little surprised with some of the search terms people are using to find my blog. But now I now how they’re searching, I’ll use your idea of writing content that relates to their search terms.

  35. Hary says:

    Nice tips darren. For me, link building is one of important thing in seo. This technique would bring our site into bettes SERP especially in google SE.

  36. I’ve never particularly focused on blog SEO. My suggestion is to just install All in One SEO, SEO Smart Links, Top Level Categories and setup permalinks properly and you’re good to go. Spend the rest of the time on content and you’re good to go.

  37. Unlike other bloggers, I think I’m a good searcher not a good writer .. thanks for your advices ..

  38. Lee Ka Hoong says:

    Great post Darren. I just think that building relevant in-bound link is the most effectiveness method to improve our search engine ranking and grow the search traffic. It takes time, but it works.

    Regards,
    Lee

  39. SEO is waaaaaaay more than just building links. Sure, you can build inlinks manually and garner them by writing fantastic content and achieve some decent rankings. However, if you want a shot at GREAT rankings, you really need to look at the theme you use. The wrong theme, not optimized for easy SE crawling, is not going to help you. In fact, it can hurt you (your rankability).

  40. Timon Weller says:

    I definetely agree Eric, however if the template is modified to be more seo friendly it is just as good.

    I especially recommend your seo tips on internal linking in new posts once you have a good size blog as this is what can double or triple your overall traffic and Yahoo / Google loves it..

  41. @Timon Weller… Yep, you got it. I agree with you. However, the vast majority of beginning bloggers, hell I’ll even say most people with a website, are not knowledgeable about SEO enough to even know what to look for, let alone have the technical know-how to get in and hack code.

    So, the way I see it, the average Joe looking to get a huge leg up “on the cheap” should just do themseleves a favor and get an already well-optimized blog theme, like Thesis for under $100.00.

    Time is money and you’d spend well over $100 monkeying with the code to get it even close to Thesis. So, I’d say grab that theme so you can spend your efforts blogging and getting those links inlinkes and shoring up your internal links. Then in your spare time you can learn how to monkey with the already very well-optimized code to make it even better.

  42. I really like the tip about going back and optimizing pages. Everyone learns more with age and I am sure most of us did not know as much as we did when we first started blogging. Going back and editing old posts could work wonders.

  43. Really, this is a great article. Well Search Engine Optimization is almost mandatory of website of any nature. When it come White SEO everything seems to be good. But one question is confusing me ? What is the SEO behind Wikipedia that comes ion top search results for almost all the keys works ? Still to be answered ? Even the website made my SEO gurus fails to overtake Wikipedia SEP rankings !

  44. All point taken … noted and will start working tonight on them. Although some of them were in my tricks but however I will try to use as per your version also.

    Seems to me that this one is really nice and helpful as well.

  45. Luke says:

    the yoast video is a little long but well worth a watch particularly if you are just starting out. Joost basically supplies a step by step guide of what to set up first…

    although it is often overlooked by some people i would recommend setting up askimet because it can save a great time of time and hassle

    rss footer is also good to make sure you don’t get content stolen!

    thanks for the weekend video playlist problogger

  46. Yudhi says:

    This article is amazing, can’t wait to optimize my seo technique

  47. mike says:

    Great tips. Usually every blog has some more popular posts on them than other posts.

  48. Internal linking is so important and I hardly ever see webmasters not bloggers doing it on their sites, it’s too bad, because it’s one of the best on -site SEO strategies.

  49. I loved the videos, Still watching, omg they are very interesting and still lauging cos of matt’s shows. he s still wearing same shirt :))

  50. I beleive SEO is a real important thing in getting traffic to your site. I am concentrating alot bit on my blog’s SEO. Great post Darren.
    ————————————————————-
    Mohammad Afaq
    Free Website Traffic