SEO: Blogging Your Way to the Top

July 1st, 2006

by

Originally published in Practical Ecommerce

Search engines, Google in particular, seem to love blogs. This is in part due to the fact that search engines rely heavily on links for their ranking algorithms, and the blogosphere is rich with interlinkages. Bloggers constantly link to each other – through “hat tips,” “blogrolls,” “trackbacks,” and so forth. Furthermore, blogs tend to be heavy on content and light on search-engine-unfriendly features like overly complex URLs, frames, JavaScript-based links and Flash. I’ve seen new blogs quickly penetrate Google’s top results where a brandnew, traditional website might have languished in the “Google sandbox” for a number of months with very poor visibility.

Blogs may be search-engine friendly out-of-the-box, but you can’t rest on your laurels. Proactively optimize your blog using the following powerful tactics.

Title Tags

From a search-engine-optimization perspective, the title tag is the most important thing on the page. The best title tag is one that leads with the targeted keywords, not the name of the blog. Customize the title tag of your home page with good keywords, making sure they appear in the body copy, too.

Rewritten URLs

Dynamic URLs can impede search-engine spiders from fully spidering and indexing your blog. Instead, use “rewritten” URLs. The excellent (and free) blogging software WordPress supports URL rewriting. Also, WordPress URLs contain hyphens rather than underscores (underscores are not considered to be word separators by Google).

If switching blog platforms, it’s imperative that the old permalink URLs still work; you wouldn’t want to lose all that link gain from deep links into specific post pages in your blog.

Tags

Tag clouds and tag pages are a blogger’s secret weapon. A tagging plugin, like Ultimate Tag Warrior (neato.co.nz/ultimatetag- warrior) for WordPress, creates internal navigation based on tags and, once installed, will allow you to target new search terms by simply adding relevant keywords to the tag field in your post. Make sure the tag name is mentioned at the beginning of the title tag and in the body copy.

Related Posts

Most blogs are over-reliant on chronological archives, which tell the search engines to weight your recent posts more heavily. But an old post may be really well optimized and targeting a very important keyword. A related-posts feature on your blog creates more interconnections between blog posts and passes around more link gain.

Popular Posts

Take your very best-ever posts and compile a Top 10 Posts list to pass link gain from your blog’s home page directly to these posts so you will rank well in the search engines. Target those with your most important keywords. Or simply use a plugin like Popularity Contest for WordPress to create top 10 lists for you.

Anchor Text

Link to the blog post’s permalink URL from the post’s title to provide much better (contextual) anchor text. When writing blog posts, refer to and link to previous posts or other related content of yours (including products in your online catalog), with relevant targeted keywords in the anchor text (no “click here” links).

“Sticky” Posts

A “sticky” post that always appears at the top regardless of the date/time posted is an easy way to improve the keyword prominence on a category page or tag page. Having keyword-rich introduction copy that consistently appears at the top of these pages will help you maintain a stable keyword theme when old posts drop off and new ones appear.

Heading Tags

Heading tags (H1 through to H6) are given more weight by search engines than regular body copy. Use them wisely to reinforce the page’s overall keyword theme. The posting date should never be within an H1 tag; instead, wrap an H1 tag around your category name or tag name on your category page or tag page respectively.

Emphasis

Bold, strong or emphasis tags within the body copy of your blog posts will help identify to search engines which words/phrases should be given more weight.

Author Pages and Links

If you have a group blog, your authors will appreciate a link (with anchor that they specify) to each of their websites on your blog’s home page in the sidebar rather than the footer. Also provide each author with a profile page hosted on your blog, complete with a biographical statement, recent posts they’ve written, and a link to their site. WordPress supports this capability through the author.php theme file.

One Comment

  1. Adam Losier says:

    Hi there I have been reading your blog optimization posts for the last few days on this site as well on your other site and at first I was really searching for some blog optimization tips because I’m kind of new when optimizing blogs but I’ve been optimizing web pages for a couple of years and I do have some features in place anyway I was surprized to see that many of the suggestions you’ve told me is what I’ve already implimented for my particular blog.

    Really the only things I havent done is add a related post link or a tag cloud which I’ll be implimenting shortly.

    I do have one question though and that is about Technorati on another post I’ve noticed you’ve covered how to optimize for them by using Tags, well before I’ve even read your post I’ve created technorati tags on my site but my problem is that Technorati cannot seem to find my site.

    I’ve claimed it, and I have about 30 other blogs linking to me and technorati still says I have no blogs linking to me and my blog does not show up for the tags, additionally it says I havent updated in over a week which is a lie because I update everyday and ping technorati when I’m finished.

    I’ve sent them an email about this already but have you ever heard of this kind of thing happening before?. I thought it might be a problem with my http headers but I checked those out and they were all fine.

    Anyway if you are intrested in checking out my blog it can be found at http://aglocohype.blogspot.com/ maybe a tip or two about some of my optimization articles I have would be super helpful.

    Thanks.

    Adam.

  2. by Adam Losier — January 31, 2007 @ 2:57 am




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