Every blog needs great content, whether it’s corporate or more personal in nature. Good blog writing should be entertaining, informed and informative. But there’s little point in constructing the most dazzling prose if no one’s going to find it. Building up a dedicated following through links and recommendations is possible to a certain extent, but even the most popular blogs can benefit from the extra traffic that search engines can send their way.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your website or blog’s visibility on Google and other search engines. There are various ways to do this and most can be implemented without compromising the quality of your blog.
Research your keywords
Keywords are the words or phrases that people put into the search engine to look for content online. Whether you write a blog about personal finances or breeding dogs, you’ll want your content to appear as close to the top of the rankings as possible when people search for related terms.
The best way to come up with keywords is to brainstorm possible phrases, then run them through Google’s keyword tools. This will give an idea of how effective they are and how much competition they have. The competition part is extremely important given the sheer volume of websites and blogs these days. Trying to secure the top spots for terms such as ‘personal finances’ or ‘dogs’ can be an almost impossible task. Instead try more specific keywords, such as “home moneysaving tips” or “Labrador puppy training”.
Optimize your content
Once you have your keywords, you should use them throughout your content but don’t over-do it. Keyword spamming or stuffing can do more harm than good and you also have to strike a balance between using keywords for SEO purposes and keeping your content natural and free-flowing. Some SEO experts recommend a keyword density of anywhere between 2% to 4% but Google’s head of web spam Matt Cutts insists there is no magic number.
“The way that modern search engines, or at least Google, are built, is that the first time you mention a word, you know, ‘Hey, that’s pretty interesting. It’s about that word,’” explains Cutts. “The next time you mention that word, ‘Oh, okay. It’s still about that word.’ And once you start to mention it a whole lot, it really doesn’t help that much more. There’s diminishing returns.”
The key, he says, is to use keywords naturally within the content. It is, however, generally advisable to place them near the top of the page and within the first few lines of content. Using headings can also help emphasize your keywords. Many search algorithms assign a higher importance to keywords designated as headings. Incorporating strong keywords inbetween heading tags is generally good for SEO and can also serve to break up a ‘wall-of-text’ appearance that can be off-putting to readers.
Search engines like clearly structured sites and arranging your archives by topic rather than date can help crawlers navigate your blog. As a rule of thumb, try to organize your blog so that no page or post is more than three clicks away from the homepage. As an added bonus, of course, this can help make your blog clearer and more navigable for visitors.
Get good quality links
Inbound links can be a great way to boost your SEO as well as sending traffic your way directly. The quality of links can be just as important as the quantity. Good quality links should ideally come from popular and well trusted sites and should also have relevance to your own content. Internal links between your own pages can also help search engine crawlers to easily access your content but again these should always be relevant to the content you’re actually linking to.
Update and be pro-active
Every experienced blogger knows that regularly updating their content and adding new posts is essential. Fresh posts keep regular visitors interested, but they can also help with SEO as Google and other search engines prefer fresh content and pages.
SEO is important but getting people to visit your blog is only half the battle. Your content must also be engaging enough to keep visitors coming back. Finding the right balance is the key to a popular and successful blog.