How to: SEO for Bloggers Part II

Following on from the last post about SEO for bloggers, let’s continue with some more tips on how to optimise your blog to gain a higher rank in search engines and drive more traffic to your blog (or more simply, get more people visiting, reading, commenting and following your blog).

What Should I Write About?

To improve your page rank, you should consider writing about subjects that few others are, especially if it is a subject that particularly interests you or you are a specialist in.  To identify little discussed subjects, do some keyword research to find where there might be gaps, use Yahoo answers, GAKT (Google Adwords Keyword Tool), Auto-Suggest (the drop-down menu of the search bar that appears when you start to type a search phrase) or just look for gaps using search engines.

Headlines

When writing a post, think carefully about your headlines and try to ensure that they are search-friendly and specific:

“Best burgers in Glasgow”

NOT

“I had a really good burger once”

Always think like a searcher and incorporate this into H1 headlines to gain traffic.  Avoid trending topics or subjects getting lots of discussion, unless you are as big as some of the news corporations who are likely to dominate the SERPs.

Sharing Images

If someone uses your image, you want to ensure you benefit from it.  The best way to do this is to get a creative commons licence which is a free media sharing tool on the web that forces automatic link backs to your image if someone else uses it using java script that activates whenever the image is copied.

How to Get Links

The easiest way to get links to your blog is to link out to others.  Be smart about it and always be nice, and if someone inspired your post, link back to theirs.

Comment, complement (if you spot a gap in someone’s post that you can fill, do so), and collaborate (suggest you do something together).

Another option that is becoming more common is the use of “Linkys” (also known as linky parties, blog parties or blog hops) where a blogger suggests a theme and invites other bloggers to write a post using that suggestion and link back to the original page.  This is an opportunity to get a link to your page on more popular blogs where the audience is bigger and more likely to generate interest in your blog through browsing.

Other options for links back to your blog include ego strokes: talk to people, tell them what you like about their post/blog and share what you like; write lists of anything or make top 10’s; curate links to other blogs, perhaps a list of your favourite kids crafts as pinned on Pinterest, making sure to accurately link back to the original page, not just your Pinterest account.

Guest posting on other blogs is the easiest way to get links but be careful not to overdo anchor text on your post and certainly never repeat it word for word as Google will only count the first anchor text.  Try to limit anchor text links to your author bio if possible.

Linking to and from Your Blog

As you get bigger, you may wonder why SEO experts ask for links to your homepage? Apparently, 99% of your page rank is generated from a website’s homepage, which therefore makes it the strongest page on the site and in turn attributes more weight to each link it sends out.

Paid Links

If you are asked to host a paid link, be smart about it, but don’t shout about it.  If you are caught Google can give you an algorithmic penalty which lasts for 30 days, or in extreme cases, a manual penalty to completely devalue your blog/webpage.   It is rare for small individual bloggers to be caught and worth bearing in mind that all news and media companies sell links, but there are some simple ways to incorporate a paid link to be less obvious about it:

  • Exact match anchor text (the words that create a link  (e.g. “Car Insurance” rather than the company name) is a giveaway, especially if it is not in keeping with the subject matter of the blog), if it’s not topically relevant then it screams paid link.
  • Most paid links are found on side bars or blogrolls.
  • Social proof (Twitter or Facebook profile or a contact form): paid links are less likely to have these.
  • Blog posts that review or discuss a product: although there is no law that says you have to declare that you are being paid or sponsored for a post, if you’re not sure, talk to the ASA as they’re very helpful and friendly I’ve been told!

How to Sell Links on Your Blog

If you receive an email that asks you to link from your blog to their website/product, always do some background research: who is the email coming from?  Are there any spelling or grammar errors in the email?  Are they asking for a link from your home page?  Check their ID to ensure the email address or domain are genuine and check out their website.  Always copy and paste the URL from the email into Google to check they come up and aren’t banned.  Remember that you have the power to negotiate.

Sponsored Post

Occasionally, PR agents will approach your site to get links, coverage or brand mentions and will want to see how many people saw the post (how many “eyeballs” or how many unique visitors you get each day).  If they have a product, ask them to send one to you to review and then decide how to incorporate the link, remembering that content that supports a link makes it more contextual.  Sometimes it is better not to mention that it is paid for or sponsored to keep it more genuine.  Unless it is absolutely relevant, never put paid links on your homepage.

Other Terms Worth Knowing

Google Panda: this was designed to eliminate duplicate and trashy content from the internet.  The best example is when a press release is duplicated everywhere with multiple pages repeating it, the panda algorithm scrapes the internet and returns only the better quality results.

Google Penguin: another algorithm that tries to eliminate black hat SEO attempts and web spam.

And on a final note, there is a way to automate your blog promotion through social media using a tool like IFTTT, quite literally, If This, Then That.  You can create “recipes” to get the website to do work for you.  For example, if you post something to Twitter, then it should automatically post to your Facebook profiles as well.  Or, if you change your Facebook profile photo, then it automatically changes your Twitter and Tumblr ones too.  You can get started by looking at other user’s recipes and copying them to make them work for you.

Ok, so that’s it.  I hope that some of what I picked up and shared here has been useful and not too confusing.  I’m new to blogging too so some of this is still a bit daunting, even to me!  I think being aware of things is half the battle though, even if you don’t altogether understand them!  Happy blogging and I look forward to getting to know you and your blog too!