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Organic SEO Panel – SES

Chris Richardson has an interesting post over at WebProNews that reports on a panel session at the SES conference in San Jose this week. The panel looked at organic Search Engine Optimization techniques and covered some of the following topics:

Link Buying: The panel said that link buying wasn’t a punishable offense as long as it is clear that the intention of purchased links advertising and not solely for search engine ranking. For example, a legitimate link like Yahoo’s travel.yahoo.com on SearchEngineWatch would not cause your site to be penalized….

The Sandbox: The panel was in agreement that there is in fact a Google sandbox, even if it is an inadvertent nether region created by the nature of how the search engine works. New sites with large amounts of links from the same IP block will appear unnatural and will not be weighted nor penalized. The site is thrown into the Sandbox because it will not receive any ranking benefit from these links and therefore will likely not be ranked very well for what they are targeting….

Duplicate Content: A lot has been made of penalties for duplicate content, but as long as it is judged to be duplicate content for legitimate reasons, there should be no penalty. You ask, what constitutes a “legitimate” reason? For example, if your goal is to expand from a US market and you want to target a new market in the UK, then a sister site with duplicate content and alternate spellings (color, colour, aluminum, aluminium) may be a necessary adjustment….’

I’m definitely going to try to get to SES next year (maybe the New York one which would allow me to meet with a few bloggers that I know there also) – I’ve really enjoyed following the various reports on this year’s event and think it might be worth forking out for an airfare for.

Search Engine Optimization Articles and Resources

A few people have asked me where I got all the information for the Search Engine Optimization for Bloggers series of posts.

It’s a difficult question to answer really – there is no one source that I can name. Rather the knowledge has slowly been accumulating (and continues to do so) over the past couple of years as I’ve read, experimented, tweaked and interacted with others more knowledgeable than myself.

There are so many great sources of information online on the topic of SEO that it can be difficult to know where to start.

The following are some of the articles I’ve linked to (and written myself) on the topic of SEO here at ProBlogger over the past year. They are unsorted and in no particular order and I’m sure there are many better and alternative articles going around so feel free to add you own below.

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Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs – Quantities of Content and Submit to Search Engines

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs Series and have finally come to the final set of tips to keep in mind.

  • Quantities of Content – I always get into trouble when I write about having lots of content – but I think its true that bigger sites tend to rank better than smaller sites – whilst it is possible to rank highly with a small site – it’s probably not the norm.. Search Engines will see your site as more comprehensive the more content you have. You also better your odds of being found in Search Engines if you have more pages. By no means am I saying just to put up random junk content – be careful about this – rather work at building a comprehensive and large site over time.
  • Submit to Search Engines – You can do all the best onsite SEO strategies in the world and still get no where because the Search Engines have not found you to start with. Each search engine has a way of letting it know about your site – submit your URL to be included in the index. Please note that this takes time and perhaps a quicker way is to get linked to by a site already indexed by the search engine. I’ve written a post about his previously here.

    You might also like to tryout some of the services around that offer to submit your sites to search engines for you – I’d be wary of paying for this sort of service though. I never have and seem to do ok.

Again I will reinforce – the above techniques come out of my own experience and from the things I’ve learnt from others. I am not an SEO expert but find that if you keep the above in mind you can do reasonably well. Don’t become obsessed by SEO – if you do you run the risk of forgetting about your reader, forgetting to write quality content and you could find yourself getting into some dodgy SEO tactics that could get you banned from the Search Engines You’re trying to get listed in.

I’ll finish here by adding that SEO can take time – so be patient. After 2.5 years of blogging I’ve managed to build my blogs page ranks and SERPs but it did not happen over night. Sometimes it seems that no matter what you do nothing works – it may be that the words you’re wanting to target are actually a heavily targeted segment of the internet (consider changing your approach) – or it may just be that there is some unknowable glitch with the SE you are targeting – its a fickle game and one that I’d recommend you don’t rely on alone. So yes work on your SEO but also consider the many other methods around to find readers for your blog. You might like to read my Finding Readers for your Blog Series as a starting point.

Feel free to have your say on the topic of SEO and blogging below – share your comments, experiences and questions for the ProBlogger community to interact with.

Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs – Duplicate Content, Pinging and MyYahoo

We’re almost there in the Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs Series (this is the second last post). Here’s some more SEO factors to keep in mind.

  • Avoid Duplicate content – Google warns publishers in its guidelines about having the same content on multiple pages. This goes for both multiple pages that you own but also pages that others own. This is because a tactic of spammers is often to reproduce content on many pages and/or to steel content from other sites. There is some debate over what duplicate content does and doesn’t include (for instance many bloggers use ‘free articles’ as content on their blogs – these articles often appear on hundreds and even thousands of other sites around the web and to me could be seen as duplicate content) – my advice is to be very careful about how many places your content appears.
  • Ping – services like Pingomatic (there are numerous others too) will ping a variety of websites for you to notify them that you’ve updated. In doing so you’ll also be letting search engines know that you’ve updated which will trigger their robots to come visit your blog.
  • Submit your RSS to MyYahoo – submitting your RSS feed to MyYahoo seems to help with getting indexed on Yahoo. Read more about this at Getting Yahoo Traffic for your Blog. Some also think that doing the same thing to Google’s Personalised pages could have a similar impact.

Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs – Lengthy Domain Registration, One Topic Posts, Optimal Length Posts

Time for some more SEO tips for the Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs Series.

  • Register your Domain for a Lengthy Period – a recent patent by Google indicates that it now looks at the length of your domain’s registration in ranking it. It does this because many spam sites have short registrations and a longer one indicates that you’re building a site with substance and are in it for the long haul.
  • One topic per post – the more tightly focused the theme of a page the better when Search Engines come to rank it. Sometimes you might find yourself writing long posts that end up covering a number of different topics. They might relate loosely but if search engine ranking is what you’re after it could be better to break up your post into smaller more focused pieces.
  • Write optimal length posts – there is some thought going around the Search Engine Optimization community that pages that are too short can get passed over for high rankings. I try to keep posts at least 250 words. Of course there are some posts on my blogs that are shorter, but if I’m writing a post that I want to rank well I try to give it some meatiness in terms of length. On the other hand don’t make it too long either – because in doing so you make it difficult to keep your keyword density up and could end up with a less tightly focused page. Research also shows that longer articles can have a pretty steep drop off rate in readers after the text gets below the ‘fold’ or to the end of the first screen of article.

Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs – Outbound Links and Choosing a Domain

  • Outbound Links – There is debate over how SEs treat outbound links from your blog. I’m in the camp who believe that relevant outbound links enhance your site’s ranking in search engines. I always link out to quality relevant sites that I think my readers will find useful and have a little anecdotal evidence that seems to support the theory that this is healthy for the way SEs index you (check out Waynes article on the topic for more info). Linking to sites outside your own blog does mean you end up sending traffic away from your blog so you need to count the cost of such a strategy. Note that you should always try to link to reputable and relevant sites to your own page. Also keep in mind that too many outbound could have detrimental impact upon your blog. Like in most things in SEO – moderation is the key.
  • Choose your domain name wisely – there are numerous factors to keep in mind when selecting a domain name. For one you might like to include your keyword in it if possible. Secondly you should do a little research to see if someone else has previously used the domain. This could have both positive and negative impact. If it was a quality site with inbound links you might reap some benefits but if it was a banned spam site you could still be banned from Google for a long time. One service you might want to use to check expired domains is Way Back Machine at Archive.org.

This just one of numerous posts in the Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs Series

Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs – Internal Links and Frequent Posting

A few SEO tips for bloggers:

  • Interlink your Site – The way Search Engines index your blog is to send little robot crawlers to your site to track what you’ve written and follow the links. Make it easier for them to get around your blog by using internal linking wisely. Most SEO experts recommend that you provide some sort of Site Map that means every page on your blog is just a link or two away from every other one. One way to do this for bloggers is to make sure that your category pages are in your sidebars as I do in this blog. Also make sure every page links back to your main page and any other important pages on your site. If you’re writing on a topic you’ve previously written about consider linking to what you’ve written before or use a ‘other relevant posts’ feature at the base of your article. You’ll see in my menus at the top of the page a number of my key categories and articles. One of the impacts of having them highlighted in this way is that they have become some of the most highly ranked pages on ProBlogger simply because they are linked to from every page of this blog.
  • Update regularly – The more you update your blog the more often Search Engines will send their crawlers to your site to index it. This will mean your new articles could appear in the index within days or even hours rather than weeks. This is a natural benefit of blogging – make the most of it!

This post is part of the Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs Series

Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs – Site Themes and Design

Time for a couple more tips for the Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs Series:

  • Themed sites – One of the growing theories of SEO that I’ve been reading about recently is that you are more likely to rank well if you have a substantial amount of pages on a similar theme. ie a niche topic blog will probably rank higher than a general one that covers many topics. Build a blog with over 200 pages of content on the same theme and you’ll increase your chances of ranking well as SEs will see you as an authority on the topic. The take home advice here is to keep to some kind of a topic/niche/theme for your blog. Of course not doing so doesn’t mean you’ll never rank well – it’s just another factor to consider.
  • Site Design – Search Engines like well laid out, well coded and easily to navigate sites. Make sure your pages validate (I need to work more on this) and that they are viewable on all major browsers. Search Engines don’t tend to like too much Flash, Frames or Java Script in your site – keep it simple and clean and their robots will index your site a lot faster and more accurately.

Search Engine Optimization Tips for Blogs – Using Keywords

Having looked at Offsite Search Engine Optimization Techniques I’ll now turn my attention to examining some of the factors you might like to keep in mind as you develop your blog – (or Onsite techniques). There are many of these and it might take a few days to get through them all – bear with me.

Keyword Rich Content – identify a few keywords for your article that you’re hoping will get indexed highly by Google. Don’t pick too many but consider the question ‘how do I want people to find this post in Search Engines?’ What will they type into Google if they want information on the topic you’re writing. The answer to this question will give you a hint as to what words you’ll want to see repeated throughout your article a number of times.

These keywords will need to be the most common words used in your article. Use them in some or all of the following ways:

  • Keywords in post and page titles (read my post on using keywords in titles
  • Keywords in URL of page (blog herald wrote on this a while back
  • Keywords in outbound links (read this article on the pros and cons of outbound links)
  • Keywords in bold tags (try do it at least once)
  • Keywords in heading tags (there is debate over exactly how to use them but it’s generally accepted that h1 tags are important and that h2, h3, h4 etc tags also have an impact. Having said that I’ve seen some pages rank very well in search engines without using heading tags. There are many tutorials online about heading tags – here’s one.)
  • Keywords in image alt tags (here’s how)
  • Keywords in the general throughout the text of your post – but especially early on in the first few sentences
  • Keywords in meta tags (they seem to be less valuable these days but many still believe they are useful with some search engines – here’s a Guide to meta tags)

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