This guest post is by The Blogger.
Okay, I know you’ve read posts about SEO, PageRank, and other things we bloggers should all know about.
This stuff is helpful, but it has come to overshadow some of blogging’s golden rules, like that original content is king. I doubt this fantastic blogger ever focused on “Search Engine Optimization,” yet her fan page is bigger than yours or mine will ever be.
All you really need to know about SEO are three relatively simple things and how they relate to each other. I’m talking about Keywords, PageRank, and backlinks. In this post, I’d like to explain how these three things come into play when you publish a new blog post. If you learn something by the end of this, post a comment and tell me.
1. Find popular keywords
To discuss keywords, we’ll began after your post is written, but before you hit Publish. I’m not here to tell you how to write posts. Everyone writes in their own beautiful way and you may be onto some new way of writing that is totally revolutionary and perfect on its own.
Keywords do two things, they describe your post and they make it popular. By popular I mean people are search these keywords in Google Search.
So here’s an example: You write a blog post on vacation spots in the Caribbean. Potential keyword phrases include “vacation spots Caribbean,” “cheap Caribbean vacations,” “best places to vacation Caribbean,” and anything else you’d imagine people are currently searching in Google. You need a way of knowing which keyword phrase is best and I’ve got just the tool for you.
The best keyword tool
Good news, you don’t need to imagine because Google lets you know for sure. Head over to the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool and try out some searches. Just plug in some short, two- to four-word phrases and see which are popular.
You have to try out a few searches to get the hang of this thing, so don’t get frustrated if your initial searches produce low results.
The Adwords Keywords Tool is totally amazing. It shows search term volumes and competition levels. Ideally, you want keywords phrases with low competition and ridiculously high search volume. This can be tough. Some phrases, like “cheap car insurance” or “purchase blog hosting,” are already totally bought out. Some phrases that aren’t popular at all are bought out. Weird huh? Google makes too much money.
But you’re not paying a cent here. Hooray!
Here’s an example of how I used the Adwords Tool: I just published a blog post on About Me pages and found “About Me page” to be a good keyword phrase for it. 246,000 people were searching that and competition was low—which is good enough for me! Some phrases get searched as much as 151 million times a month though. Impressive, huh?
Notes: Disregard one word phrases, those won’t help you here. Also disregard the website and category fields as you don’t need them for these searches.
Once you’ve found a good phrase, we’ll work on putting those keywords in your post title.
2. Put the keywords inside your post titles
WordPress.com estimates that 500,000 new posts enter their blogosphere each day. That’s just the .com. Factor in other platforms and we’re talking a couple hundred million.
But about 95% of these posts are mistitled. The post authors slap careless titles on their posts that prevent the posts from ever being found. Why would you want a blog post to not be found?
Now I know I talked about titling posts in my previous post—but I’m not some title guru, okay? Just bear with me.
Titles broken down, again
A blog post title consists of two parts: what you see, and what Google sees. What you see is the actual title! What Google sees is the permalink. You want those keywords you just chose inside the permalink. This tells Google crawlers what your post is all about.
One way to accomplish this on a WordPress blog is by going to Settings—Permalinks in your blog’s admin panel then selecting Post Name. You can also download the Custom Permalinks plugin, which gives you a bit more control.
Either way, take that post you wrote on “vacation places in the Caribbean” and put your keywords in the title right after .com/ or .org/ or .net/ or whatever. Separate them with a dash and be as simple as possible. Google loves simple.
Now, your blog post is keyword-specific. Sure, you can also put those keywords in the post body text itself—if you’re doing it right, they should already be in there! Don’t ever try to trick Google by mistitling posts, that’ll surely get your penalized. The point I’m making though is a lot more people will see your post if the permalink is done right.
3. Build PageRank through links
PageRank is your blog’s, or any webpage’s, relative importance on the web. It is measured by incoming links, which Google sees as “votes” for your content. That’s the simple part. It’s the recursive nature of PageRank that makes it so confusing. (Click through that link for a super-techy Wikipedia post.)
Building your rank
You build PageRank by getting links from websites or blogs that have high PageRanks themselves. Ideally this happens because folks just want to mention you!
What PageRank gives you is much, much more complex though. It allows your blog posts to rank well in Google and usually results in a lot more traffic. Perhaps most importantly opens new doors for how you can make money with a blog.
So of course, people manipulate PageRank. In the bad old days of blogging, you could setup a niche site with three articles on it, get some good backlinks from already-established sites, and your traffic would soar. You’d be on Google’s top ten for whatever Keyword phrase you focused on! Not anymore. Yet backlinks are still very important.
Best PR tips I can give you
So you’ve written your post, you’ve found great keywords to describe it and to put in your permalink, and you’ve titled that bad boy. The post is done.
Here’s what you can do with your blog post to build PageRank effectively:
- Get it linked from a news site: I was fortunate and got my first blog mentioned in the Huffington Post early on in my blogging career. This brought tons of new folks in, and the link itself was a huge Google-vote for my site.
- Get your post in link round-ups: Lots of blogs do weekly features where they recommend five or ten article links for their fans. Ask a site manager to get on their round-up and offer the same in return.
- Use link-text wherever you can: A raw link in a blog post is good for SEO but a link on good anchor text is better.( Anchor text just means the words you place a link on.)
- Focus on one or two posts: A couple of posts can bring massive traffic that will then view other posts. Instead of getting every article linked, try to get your best two posts linked several times.
PageRank is a bit odd. Once you have it, you don’t need to focus as much on it because your articles should already rank well in Google, and chances are people are linking to your organically. But before you reach this point, it’s work, work, work.
What are your thoughts?
Do you think SEO has gone too far? Do you even bother making SEO tweaks anymore? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
The Blogger is a 25 year old guy from New York who answers about 150 blog questions over his first coffee of the day. Read his full story here. You can find him on Twitter, subscribe to the club, or ask him a question at his blog and he will answer right away.