This guest posst is by Kole McRae of Office Buddha.
I’m a blogger now but in a former life I did SEO professionally. As a part of the industry I’ve seen first hand the insane amount of misleading information available. Even so-called “professionals” have been known to give out absolutely terrible advice.
That’s why I’m writing this article. I want to finally teach you bloggers the truth behind SEO and how to rank well in Google. Some of the following information might be obvious and some of it might seem strange, but stick with me. If you follow my advice you’ll be ranking number one in no time.
The information I’m going to give is specific to Google, but the same tips will also help you rank in Bing and all other search engines.
Meta tags are a part of the HTML of your page that appear in the header. There are hundreds to choose from but only two matter when it comes to HTML: the Title tag and the Description tag.
Some people talk about the Keywords meta tag but Google has made it clear that they completely ignore it. It doesn’t hurt to have a keywords tag, but don’t assume it will help you rank in Google.
The Description tag
This is what Google (sometimes) uses to describe your site in the search results. It’s shown in the screenshot below.
This does not effect your rankings, but it can be used to help entice people to click on your link in the search results. Make sure it is relevant to your site, and describes what people will find when they click your link.
As you can see in the screenshot, the term that was searched for will show up in bold in the results. You can use this to help get more clicks—but don’t abuse it.
The Title tag
The Title tag is (sometimes) used by Google as the main text of your link within the search results, as seen in the screenshot below:
The words used here have been proven to help with rankings. Basically, the closer the keywords are to the left edge of the link, the better the result will rank for those keywords. For example, Geek Juice: Canadian Tech News won’t rank as well as Canadian Tech News by Geek Juice for the term “Canadian Tech News.”
In both instances I said that Google sometimes uses these tags. This is because they sometimes use other sources. Google may display content from your site instead of your chosen description or title tag if Google’s algorithm believes it is more relevant. Google may also use content from DMOZ (the open directory project.)
The tips I’ve seen online for on page SEO range from ill-conceived to downright frightening. People tout keyword densities and other strange points of data as the be-all and end-all of SEO. In reality Google hasn’t used keyword density in years. Stuffing a million keywords at the bottom of your page won’t help; some believe Google actually penalizes sites for this.
As long as you mention a chosen keyword once or twice within a blog post, you’ll be fine. The important thing is that the rest of the post is about that keyword. Google has figured out a lot of very complex ways to make sure your post is about the keyword you’ve chosen. For example if you’re talking about the keyword “Toronto Raptors” you’ll probably mention basketball and scores and various other basketball related information.
The best thing you can do when it comes to keywords is simply talk about the things you love.
Google first built its search engine on the idea of page rank: a page was probably relevant if a lot of people linked to that page. The more links to that page, the better. Early in Google’s life this approach was easily spammed, and to this day people continue to try and gain PageRank.
You’ve probably heard advice such as putting your link into blog comments and forums, and within your profile on social networking sites. The problem is that these days these links are all marked as “no follow” links. “No follow” tells Google not to use this link within its determination of the site’s ranking. So in the end, these links count for very little.
The only real way to build links is to create great content that sites want to naturally link to. The issue is that if you are a new blogger, your chances of getting a link are slim to none. There are ways to build them though…
Guest posts (such as this one) will almost always produce a really high-quality link to your site. Don’t guest post just anywhere, though. Google likes it when sites that are similar to yours links to you. So guest post on blogs that have similar themes.
Running a contest where you give something away is a great way to naturally product lots of links.
If a single post or image of yours somehow gets to the first page of Reddit or Digg, you are guaranteed to get tons of links pointing to your site.
Both Google and Bing have admitted to using social signals within search results. This is getting more and more prevalent.
However, it’s still a brand new part of SEO, and it hasn’t been thoroughly studied yet. What I can suggest, though, is that you make sure you have a Twitter and Facebook account and that you interact with your followers regularly.
Ultimately, all this advice amounts to one tip for achieving good search rank: create great, high-quality posts and interact with your readers regularly.
Are you doing this already? How’s your search rank looking?
Kole McRae started Office Buddha, a resource for those working 9-5 jobs that want to reduce stress, get more done, find more time for the things they love, and all around become happier.