Basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tactics

BlogHer Original Post

I attended Blog World & New Media Expo in September. Since then I have been recapping everything I learned there at Blogging Basics 101. Today I want to share what I learned about basic SEO from one session. This post will be cross-posted at Blogging Basics 101 on Monday.

BWE Presentation Name: Ten Things You Need to Know About SEO
Presenter: Dave Taylor

Dave Taylor is an affable guy with a huge knowledge base to share. You can find him at The Business Blog at Intuitive.com, Ask Dave Taylor, and Attachment Parenting Blog. Here is what I learned from Dave as he tackled basic SEO strategies. As usual, the information below is a mix of Dave's presentation and my own thoughts.

You must start with good content. If we've heard it once, we'll hear it a thousand times--simply because it's true. You (usually) can't gain traffic and community without good (GREAT) content.

SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) finds you via semantic and contextual analysis to figure out the themes and topics of your blog and its posts.

  • Semantic Data is concerned with what are you writing. The search bots look at which words you are using, how frequently certain words occur, etc.
  • Contextual Data is concerned with who links to you. The bots want to know what other blogs or web sites link to you and how they link (what words they're using, etc.).

Five Easy Pieces to SEO

  1. The importance of post titles.
    • As you write the title for your post, consider whether it draws your readers in and makes them want to read more. This is not only important for SEO, but if you're only publishing partial feeds, the title may be the only bait you have to lure readers to your site.
    • Does the title include key words about the concept of the post? I would suggest listing your post titles alone to see how descriptive or engaging they are without your writing to back them up. Does each title accurately describe what the reader can expect from the article? If not, try re-writing the title.
    • Use parentheses to help search engines (and readers). Example title: Blog Etiquette (podcast).
  2. Keyword density.
    • Instead of using the word "it" to describe something, use it's product name.
    • Make sure your link explains what you’re linking to. For example, instead of typing "click here" type "Find more information on how to choose a blogging platform." Can you imagine doing a search on "click here" to find information? Ah, but I bet you can imagine doing a search for "choosing a blogging platform", right?
  3. Use smart image filenames.
    • When you import your photos from your camera to your computer, they don't automatically have useful file names. Instead they are named something like D778392888.jpg. By giving the photos you use in your blog posts useful names, you are helping the SEO bots who crawl your site. They can index key words, but D778392888.jpg isn't generally a popular keyword.
    • If it's feasible, try to use the product or vendor name that reflects what's in the picture (assuming you're blogging about a product). If you're not blogging about a product, you can still use descriptive naming to help SEO.
    • Use the "alt" and "title" attributes in your image and link tags. Not only does using these tags help your SEO (there are even more keywords for the SEO bots to index), but it helps those who use special software for handicaps access your site more easily.
  4. “More…” is definitely less.
    • If you are going to use the “More” link at the end of your excerpt, use descriptive language. For example, instead of "More...", you might type, "How do I upload and include an image in my wordpress blog entry?" and link that sentence. Then, on the page you've linked to, the title would be, "The Answer: How do I upload and include an image in my WordPress blog entry?" What you've done in that instance is reinforced the keywords you're writing about: WordPress, image, blog. Again, by offering keywords for the SEO bots to recover, you've set yourself apart from the other blogs that simply have "More" at the bottom of each excerpt. And who's searching for "More..."? No one.
  5. Instead of a link called "Home", use the name your web site. All links leading back to your main page should reflect the title of your blog or web site.

Five More SEO Tips

  1. Use savvy permalinks.
    • I suggest using keywords in your titles so those words also become part of your permalink. WordPress allows you to personalize your permalinks so you have more control over how they are displayed.
    • When personalizing your permalinks, don’t use the words and or the or to. Those words aren’t important to the meaning of your post or to SEO. By eliminating those words, you willhelp keep the permalink short and manageable.
    • WordPress has plug-ins you can use to help manage your permalinks.
    • Note: Keep in mind that when you change your permalinks, you will most assuredly create orphaned pages. However, it’s better that your permalinks are SEO friendly and useful. Do the work to make the changes.
  2. Use html too, not just css.Use the HTML code for headings instead of relying on your CSS. The way that SEO bots crawl your site, they look for <h1> or <h3>. Most CSS code uses the <div> tag instead and is not as effective. You can use a hybrid of CSS/HTML code to achieve your goal:

    <div id=”content-container”>
    <h1 class=”pagetitle”>Heading/Title</h1>
    <div id=”content” class=”blog”>
  3. Minimize exit links and use internal links to cross-promote content. If you are using WordPress, there are several plug-ins that can help you identify related posts (which articles you’ve already written that pertain to the same topic and would be suitable links in a given post). Including a link to related posts increases their SEO as well as their visibility to your readers who may or may not have already read them or may need a refresher.
  4. Encourage easy commenting.
    • Comments help your content stay fresh and rank higher.
    • Encourage discussion and commenting by asking your readers to answer or discuss a specific question in the comments. (Chris Brogan is genius at this.)
  5. Create transcripts of your videos and podcasts. This will also help international readers (who can translate the transcript) and those who have slow connections and can't download your video or podcast.

Closing Thoughts on Basic SEO

Don’t be afraid of keyword research. There are several tools that can help you discover the keywords that will be most beneficial for your particular SEO:

SEO is win-win-win. It helps

  • readers find your content
  • you gain more readers
  • the search engine give better results

Take the time to write effective links and great content with the goal of enhancing the SEO of your blog.

Want to know more about SEO?

Melanie Nelson writes tips and instructions at Blogging Basics 101.

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