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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.
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On Buying Text Link Ads

Stephan Spencer has posted a good piece on buying text links to help promote your blog and to build it’s ranking in Search Engines – he writes:

‘The business of text link ad buying has matured, and it’s on the up-and-up. We’re not talking about “buying PageRank”… what we’re talking about is a totally legitimate business practice of buying text ads where you choose your hyperlinked words carefully based on keyword research and your advertisement appears on a reputable, relevant website. And of course, it links directly to your website, sans click tracking, so the ‘search engine juice’ flows unhindered.’

Read more of this post here.

I have personally not bought text ad links on others sites and have relied upon a more natural approach to building search engine ranking – however I’m not adverse to the strategy. In fact these days with the clutter of the web growing it may be one of the best ways to get your blog ranking higher in Google and Yahoo.

I’d give a few of words of caution though before we all rush out to buy some incoming links.

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SEO Tip 1 – Use Keywords in Titles

One of the things I’m constantly amazed at is how many web publishers miss one of the easiest ways to maximize their positioning in Search Engines by simply including the keywords that they’d like to be found for in their post titles.

I spend a lot of time looking at online articles written on blogs, newspapers and websites and some days it seems that every second or third one has a title that is either cryptic, clever or cute at the expense of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

To put it bluntly – when it comes to blog SEO I believe that your page and post titles are incredibly important. Google in particularly seems to value the words in your title incredibly highly. [Read more...]

Google Ranking Factors

I want to give a prize today to one of the most ugly yet useful sites I’ve seen for a while.

I hope I don’t cause any offense by saying that – but the prize goes to Google Ranking Factors.

Don’t let the ugliness factor put you off because if you scratch a little under it’s spewy color scheme and boxy look you’ll find some very useful information on factors to keep in mind as you think about optimizing your blog for Google.

The factors are divided into four sections.

1. Positive On Page SEO Factors – things that you should consider including on your blog/web page

2. Negative On Page SEO Factors – things you should avoid including on your blog/web page

3. Positive Off Page SEO Factors – factors that you should seek from other web pages that point to your blog

4. Negative Off Page SEO Factors – factors you should try to avoid in those that link to you

Keep in mind that SEO advice is often speculation and that one can become obsessed by it. Rather than treating this as absolute truth you might want to try to keep some of these factors in the back of your mind as you blog.

How To Be A Blogging Idol Instead Of An Idle Blogger

Todd Mintz writes a very worthwhile article at How To Be A Blogging Idol Instead Of An Idle Blogger which I think is a must read for bloggers wanting to start out in ProBlogging.

Whilst I don’t completely agree with everything Todd writes (I’ve never entered into a link exchange program or never bought a text ad for that matter) the article is brimming with useful information that Todd learnt in experimenting with blogs on the topic of American Idol contestants last season of the show. In particular he has had some success with the Bo Bice Blog.

Among Todd’s more useful tips are:

Have a narrow focus: The quickest way to drive traffic to your blog is through excellent search engine rankings. If you blog about lots of unrelated topics, you won’t rank well for any of your key terms….

Press Releases: Online press releases are an excellent way to generate notice for your blog. I created a press release announcing the launch of the blog, and once I decided to “actively” blog Bo, I wrote a release each week recapping the show and featuring highlights from the blog….

Involve Fans: When my blog reached a consistent 500 visitors a day, I decided to actively solicit posts from Bo’s fans. Sure, most blogs give readers the ability to post comments…but I thought that if I ran the comments as actual posts, I could create a “buzz” about the blog and generate large numbers of repeat visits….’

I subscribe to each of these tips and many of the other things Todd writes and think they apply not only to fan sites like the one he runs (keep in mind fan sites are hard to monetize…. I’ve been trying for a while now) but to most blog topics.

Can you have too many inbound links to your blog?

A well known Search Engine Optimization strategy that most serious bloggers keep in mind is that the more links that you have pointing to your blog from other sites the higher your page will be ranked in search engines like google. This is a generally accepted strategy for building the profile of your blog and is in fact one of the strengths of blogging (as at the heart of our medium is the linking that bloggers do to one another).

But can you have too many inbound links pointing at your blog?

The growing opinion of SEO experts is that you can. In fact a recent patent by Google indicates that sites that have big increases in inbound links to them in short periods (especially young sites) can actually be treated as spam sites by Google’s algorithm.

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Google PageRank Update Analysis

Search Engine Journal has a useful post analyzing the latest Google PageRank Update in which they speculate as to why many sites have decreased in their visible PR whilst increasing their backlinks:

‘The most current PageRank update will undoubtedly cause a larger stir than usual in that many sites have shown drops in their visible PageRank while at the same time showing significant increases in their backlinks. This fact reveals that one of three things has occurred in this latest update:

1. Google has raised the bar on PageRank, making it more difficult to attain a high level, or

2. The way they are displaying their backlinks has changed, or

3. The way they calculate the value of an incoming link has changed.’

Google Page Rank Explained?

Many of ProBlogger.net readers are reporting in comments significant changes in their blog’s Google Page Rankings in this latest update. Those sites that are reporting the largest changes tend to be new sites (which is understandable) with older more mature blogs reporting only minor (if any) changes.

Every time Google updates like this I find my email inbox full of questions about Page Rank – questions like”

  • what is Page Rank?
  • why is it important?
  • how do I improve my blog’s Page Rank?
  • why isn’t my Page Rank changing?
  • how do I check my blog’s Page Rank?
  • why has my blog’s Page Rank gone down?
  • is Page Rank still relevant?

The questions are many and varied so I thought I’d attempt to answer a few (keeping in mind that on many of these questions no one (outside of Google’s inner circle) really knows the answer to some of them).

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Google is Page Rank Update – July 05

Forums are reporting that Google is doing a Toolbar Page Rank update - I’m yet to notice any significant changes but have chatted to a few bloggers who noticed big leaps and falls in their blogs. Is it impacting you yet? As per usual it’s too early to tell where everything will settle – but share your initial observations if you’d like in comments below.