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  • 4 Easy Ways to Increase Your Blog’s SEO

    Posted on May 22nd, 2012 jean 10 comments

    Holy geek out, Batman! Did I just freak you out with that title? Don’t worry. This is a quick and easy way to optimize your blog posts to help search engines find you and your awesome content (which will increase your blog’s traffic!).

    No geek badge of merit required.

    You can still write what you love, don’t worry. This won’t make your blog posts boring or unappealing, it will simply help you find small ways to increase the chances of some lovely readers finding you and your blog.

    What is SEO, Batman?

    SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it means little things you can do that will help search engines find your content. Because after all, it would be nice if people found your content, right? Right.

    How Do I Increase My Blog’s SEO?

    Most blog software and templates build SEO tricks into its code. However, some templates are better than others and some software allows for a lot more optimization customization than others. For example, there are tons of plugins on WordPress that allow people like me to try and optimize my SEO through the use of plugins (add ons that do some work behind the scenes).

    Recently, Blogger has added a few little things that bloggers can do to tweak their blog’s SEO which I will touch on below.

    4 Easy Ways to Increase Your Blog’s SEO:

    1. Keywords Are Vital to SEO

    Keywords are a huge one and whether you know it or not, when you search for something using a search engine, you use keywords. For example, say you were going to search for the very topic of this post. You might use keywords and phrases such as, “SEO,” “Search engine optimization,” “how to increase your blog traffic,” “SEO tips,” and the like. Using one keyword or keyword phrase and focusing on it is a smart idea. If you swamp your post with tons of different keyword phrases it not only reads funny, but can have an effect on how search engines interpret your content (they know a scammer when they think they see one).

    If you don’t have those keywords in your post, then suddenly it is much harder for a search engine to find you, isn’t it?

    Where to place keywords: In your post title, in the opening and closing paragraphs (but don’t make it too heavy on the keywords or it will read funny–plus search engines will know you are up to something and, bam, there goes your optimization), your tags, your categories (try to ensure your category names are keywords or keyword phrases (and yes, mine could be better), your meta description (if your blog software has this feature (I use the plugin mentioned below), and if you can, in headings (headings also make it easier for the reader). These are all places that search engines look for keywords.

    WordPress SEO's Dropdown Keyword Menu

    WordPress SEO’s Dropdown Keyword Menu

    But wait, how do I know what keyword people will use? If you are on WordPress, I strongly recommend the plugin called “WordPress SEO” by Yoast. It does more SEO work than most plugins and even has a drop down menu of focus keywords (see screenshot above) for you to choose from and then tells you whether you are using the focus keyword in several vital spots in your post (article heading, page title, page URL, content, and meta description).

    Another great keyword stop is Google Adwords Keyword Tool. You do not need an account to use this tool, and when you do a keyword search you can find out how heavy the competition is for various keywords–handy to have! (And yes, I have no illusions that this post will appear anywhere near the top ten pages on “increase your blog’s SEO!” The comp is heavy.)

    And a lazy way that ain’t bad when it comes to finding keyword phrases? Start typing your post topic into a search engine and see what it starts suggesting for you (see below).

    Google's Dropdown menu for keyword phrase searches

    The lazy (and imperfect) way to get a keyword phrase: Google’s suggested keyword phrase

    2. Post Slugs Can Increase Your Blog SEO

    You might notice that the slug (the part of this post’s URL (5-ways-increase-blog-seo) that comes after my domain and bloggy bit (http://jeanoram.com/blog/2012/05/22/) ) is not exactly the same as my post title. This is intentional. I have a plugin that helps me take out the “extra” words that are not keywords and get in the way of my keywords being found with ease. So even my URL becomes optimized for search engines. (As far as I know, Blogger does not allow this. Sorry!*)

    This is particularly handy if I were to title my post something intriguing for my human readers like: “Writing Contests For Aspiring Writers That Will Rock Your World.” The “Rock” part is for readers. The “Writing Contest” & “Aspiring Writers” is for SEO. The slug in that case might look like: writing-contest-writers. Nice, neat, short, and sweet. If you are using software that does not allow for changing your slug, keep readers, SEO, and your focus keyword(s) in mind when creating your post title.

    3. Nofollow Attributes Increase Blog SEO

    “Nofollow” is a way for your blog to tell search engines not to follow that link. In other words, say you have a post that has a ton of great links to your blog buddies, etc. However, you don’t want search engines to crawl your post, hit a link off your blog and leave. You want it to stay put and keep crawling your site and putting all your tidbits into it’s cache. (Trust me–you do.) You don’t want to stop sharing links with your readers (it boosts their SEO to have others linking to them), but you don’t want to keep sending the search engines away. What to do? The “Nofollow” attribute as needed.

    Again, I use a plugin to handle all that for me. But if you are on Blogger you may have noticed that now when you add a link in your post it asks you some new things. For example you can check off “nofollow” on your link. Do that. It will keep search engines on your site for longer, helping your SEO ranking.

    4. Adding a Title and Alt Text to Your Pictures Increases SEO

    In WordPress, when I add a photo to my post, I am not just hitting up the text search in search engines, but the photo search as well. Yes, two birds, one stone.

    First of all, “title” gives your photo/graphic/what-have-you just that. Something text-based that people can search for. (This is different from a “caption” which is what your readers see below the photo.) “Alt Text” is (alternative) text that will appear if your image fails. This is particularly handy for mobile users and the blind. As well, it is a sweet spot to place a keyword or two–right there in your description!

    Where do you add this? In WordPress, when you upload your picture, it is a function right there before you insert your image into the post. In Blogger, when you click on your post photo (after inserted into your post) you see a long box with blue links pop up. Click on “Properties.” Under “Image Properties” you can add both title and alt text.

    These are four really simple ways to increase your blog’s SEO. So, how about you? Do you have any tips or tricks that help increase your blog’s search engine optimization? Will you try (or are you already trying) some of these tips?

    *Later note: Blogger now allows this. 🙂

  • Quick and Dirty Social Media For Writers: SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

    Posted on February 13th, 2012 jean 1 comment

    Oh no! Not another acronym. SEO. What the heck is that? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In other words, get those search engines to recognize your site so you get more traffic.

    Eek! I’m so behind the times! I know nothing about this! Fear not. It’s Social Media Monday and I have some quick and dirty tips for you. (And while SEO isn’t exactly social media your blog where you are going to utilize SEO is.)

    Google Icon

    What is SEO?

    SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In other words, if you are a writer and blogging your heart out and nobody is coming to your blog, there are a few things you can do so your blog or website is seen by search engines.

    How Does SEO Work?

    From Wikipedia:

    SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience.

    Basically, you do a few things (for free–we are going to keep this easy, quick, and free. You can get much more complex about this, but I’m not into exploding the heads of my readers. Nor my own head for that matter) on your blog and increase the visibility of that site by search engines. This will increase your ranking in searches–hopefully done by your potential audience.

    Bing Image

    What Can I Do to Increase My Site’s Search Engine Optimization?

    Good news. Lots. Here are a few things to get you started:

    • If you use WordPress, search for plugins you can install. Search for “SEO.” I’ve started using the Meta SEO Pack (no news on how this is working for me as of yet). If you are using Blogger, some of this has already been done for you. This doesn’t mean you can slack off! Keep reading.
    • Watch for duplicate content. In other words, do you have the same stuff all over your site? Such as your latest blog post showing up on your homepage too? Not good for SEO.
    • Fresh content. The more fresh stuff you post, the more search engines will see you. That’s one of the reasons a blog is a lovely thing to have on a website.
    • Original content. If you are posting the same stuff on your blog as you are on say, Goodreads or Amazon (like a lovely book review), guess which review is going to get top billing on a search engine? Your blog or the mega site Goodreads or Amazon?
    • Links in. You want people linking to you. Whenever someone links to you, the search engines figure you must have something good.
    • Too many outgoing links are bad. If you have a ton of links out on your page, this sends search engines into some kind of tizzy. There is a fancy thing you can do by making your links out a ‘no follow’ which basically means you are telling search engines not to follow those links out of your page. You want that search engine to “stay and look,” right? Right. (An “archive widget” will also be a lot of links out. So, also a no-no.)
    • Tags. You have the option to add ‘tags’ to your blog. Do so. Think about your content and what exactly in your post might be something searchable. And no, tagging it ‘”hot porn” isn’t a good idea, unless you like spam. For this post, some good tags might be: SEO, Search Engine Optimization, Increase your blog traffic, SEO tips, and the like.
    • And lastly, (this one might break your little writer heart) title your blog posts in a way that they are something people might type into a search engine. In other words, “Holy Dickens, Batman” for a post on the wordiness of the Classics isn’t going to get you as many hits as something titled “Word Counts of Classic Novels.” Not as original, but it is something some type into Google. (Yes, I tried it.)

    There are a few quick and dirty tips you can use to increase the traffic on your blog by keeping search engines in mind–and without doing a lot of extra work.

    Have you tried any of these tips? Which ones would you like to try? Go for it now! See what happens and tell me how you do.