As I mentioned in the previous article in this series, building a content strategy is critical to your blogging success. Without good content, your blog is dead in the water. But context is nearly as critical as content. You can have the greatest content in the world, but if you don’t let anyone know about it, or you share your articles in the wrong places, your blog will see little to no traffic and it’ll end up being just another dead end on the Web.
In my experience, there are two steps to this process, the search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and the content promotion strategy. While they may sound similar, the search engine strategy focuses on ensuring that your content is good, that you are leveraging keywords, and key-phrases, that you are back-linking your articles, and that you are making sure that search engines know when you post something new. The second step, content promotion, I’ll discuss in the next article in the series.
So, assuming you have put your content strategy in place and have written some good stuff, the next step is to build your search engine strategy.The following are 7 elements that I feel are critical to every good blog that will maximize your search engine results and will ensure that you are getting your articles indexed by the search engines:TIP: Remember, the SEO strategy for your blog shouldn’t just be about Google. While Google is the 800 lb. gorilla in search, other engines like Bing and Yahoo can bring your traffic, so don’t ignore them completely.
1) If your platforms offers it, leverage one of the SEO plugins – I blog on the WordPress.org platform, so I use the Platinum SEO plugin or the All-In-One SEO plugin. Both are great tools that add the necessary fields right to your post entry page, allowing you to quickly and easily add a title, description, and keywords.
2) Research, Re-write, Re-read – Are you missing out on critical keywords that might make your content more search engine friendly? No matter how well you know your audience, they might be searching for content using terms and key-phrases that you never thought of. That’s where Google’s AdWords keyword tool comes into play. Just plugin in a keyword that you’re writing about, add your blog URL, and then choose a category and the AdWords tool will spit out some potential keywords and key-phrases that you might consider adding to your article. The key is to look for phrases that fit within your article that also have a high number of searches and low-level of competition.
Once you find good keywords, re-write your article slightly to include those phrases. Be sure to re-read your article to make sure that your keyword changes didn’t impact readability or diminish the quality of your content. Remember, no-one ever read an article and thought “Wow…that was a great article stuffed full of keywords!”
3) Link to other blog articles, both internal and external – Search engines LOVE inbound links! These are links from other articles, whether they are links from your other articles or from other blogs. If your article is related to the topic of an article you wrote previously, go back and update that previous article to link to your new one. Additionally, be sure your new article links back to your old one.
If your article refers to a tool, concept, or article written by another blogger, be sure to send them some love by linking within your article. You’d be surprised how often that blogger will give you a ping-back or track-back. In other words, that blogger might link back to your article…giving you an inbound links, and maybe open up a new relationship with a blogger. For a good description of pingbacks and trackbacks, check out this article on the Optiniche blog or this article on ProBlogger (see how I did that!)
4) If you really want to make internal links easy, use a tool like LinkWithin – LinkWithin is a nifty tool that works across quite a few platforms that analyzes your content and offers up related articles from your blog that the reader might be interested in. Essentially, it’s a Related Articles plugin that also acts as an internal link-building tool. I also like the fact that it offers up thumbnails, instead of just text links. It takes about 5 minutes to set up and is well worth the effort.
5) Leverage those images – As I mentioned in the last post about building a blog content strategy, adding Alt tags, descriptions, and titles to your images will help add content that the search engines will pay attention to. It’s worth repeating to be sure that you don’t skip this step.
6) Ping the search engines every time you post something new – Once your blog is added to the search engines, you’ll want to let them know when you have added something new. The easiest way to do this is to use a service like Ping-O-Matic. Just visit the site, add your blog name, URL, and RSS URL and choose which sites to notify (go ahead and check them all) and then let Ping-O-Matic do the rest. Easy-peasy, rice-and-cheesy!
7) Revisit your old blog posts – This is a tedious process. Trust me…I know. But the more frequently you revisit your old posts, the more valuable they will become to the search engines. Look, writing is something that we all get better at as we do it more. The more you write, the better your writing will get. As you go back and revisit some of your old posts, you might find some good opportunities to improve them, link to newer articles, and add some additional keywords or key-phrases that might attract more visitors.
I schedule a two-hour review once every month to go back and try to improve at least 5 of my previous articles. Obviously, this gets harder and harder as I add more articles to my blog, but it’s worth it and I have seen some articles with very little search engine traffic significantly increase in traffic after one of these review/rewrites. Trust me…it’s worth it.
Those don’t seem like they’re that hard, right? The goal, here, isn’t just to drive traffic to your blog from search. Right? We also want to make sure that people can find your content on channels like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other people’s blogs. That’s where content promotion comes into play. In the next article in the series, we’ll focus on spreading the word to other channels and bringing in additional traffic.
In the meantime, if you feel like I missed a critical SEO element or you have tips/tricks that you feel would enhance the process, feel free to leave a comment.