Many (pro) bloggers have written about search engine optimization for the help of others. Here is my list of basic first steps:
- Content is King: Well I believe this is your first step to SEO. The most important factor which matters when it comes to Search Engine Optimization is the quality of posts you write for your blog. If you write quality content, then its most likely that your reader will want to share what they’ve written by passing on the link to your post and will quite often do it in a way that helps your search rankings(on their own blog for example).
- Anticipate what People will search for: Every time you write a post, you should consider what words (keywords) people might be searching for in the search engines. If you include proper keywords in your article which people are looking for, then you are in a great position to position yourself in the search engines.
- Using proper titles: There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to add a title to your article/post – so make sure to get’em right.
- Make sure that the way you setup your blog, it puts the title of the post in the “title tags”. This is automatically done in WordPress and is really important.
- Avoid including your blog name/title in the title tags of single posts if you’re looking from an SEO perspective as this dilutes your keywords. If you’re looking more at branding, then including your blog’s name/title in the “title tag” of single posts may be worth doing.
- Include the keywords that you identified in point 2 in your post title, but never over stuff your title with only keywords as you might get penalized.
- Try to use your keywords at the start of the title as it tends to carry more weight than the words you use later in your title.
- Keywords in your main content: You should include the keywords from point 2 within your post smartly. If you want to rank for a term or phrase in Search Engines, then you need to use the terms in sub-headings of your post by using “h” tags wherever you can, in the content itself and also in the “alt” tags of images. Remember not doing this too much as nowadays search engines are smart enough to identify articles written only to rank higher in search engines and add no value to the users and hence penalize such websites/blogs. If you are engaging yourself in such kind of activity, soon you’ll go down the ladder. Use your keywords in your content as long as it looks natural.
- Interlink to your own posts: Now this is again one of the most important factors for SEO. While links from other sites to your site is a great way to increase your blog’s rankings, so are interlinks. Interlink to your posts wherever possible where readers can find more information on your topic. Also consider linking to popular posts/random posts/related posts on your blog in your sidebar or footer.
- Backlinks: I believe backlinks are the most important factor for SEO. Links from other sites to yours may be hard to get, but achievable. Social bookmarking sites and Microblogs like Twitter may be your first target for backlinks. They won’t count for anything much as they have no-follow tags but they are potential ways for people to access your site and some will help with SEO.
Writing Guest Blog at other popular sites in your niche will also give you some link juice as they generally allow 1-2 do-follow links.
Commenting on other sites is again one easy way to link to your site (though most of the sites are no-follow). If you comment on other sites, you can easily draw traffic to your site and connect to many other bloggers in your niche.
Don’t become obsessed with getting links – rather become obsessed about writing great content and the links will generally come in time. However if you’ve written a great post that you think will be relevant to another blog don’t be afraid to let that blogger or website owner know about it – they could just link up.
Also – take note of the type of posts that you write that do well at getting other sites to link to you. You can learn a lot about generating linkable content by doing so and might just develop a technique that will work again and again.
- Plugins: Well if you’re blogging on WordPress platform, then you should never touch and tweak the core files. Instead there are plenty of freely available plugins for wordpress for the purpose of SEO. “The All in One SEO Pack” is the most popular plugin in this regard. Configure it as per your requirement.
- Readers: This isn’t an SEO technique but it can play a major role. The more readers you have, more are the chances that your blog will be found by other readers. As you get more readers, the momentum grows as these readers will pass on your blog to others in their network. They’ll link to you, bookmark you, tweet about you, email friends and may even blog about you. They may even suggest your site in the recommendation engines.
Not all of these counts with SEO but some does and the accumulation of it over time all certainly help to grow both organic and search traffic. I guess what I’m saying is to get readers any way you can – don’t just focus upon ‘SEO’ as such. It all counts.
My Take on SEO
I stand by the above tips completely and would do them as a common sense bare minimum – but from where I sit Google seem to be in the business of finding the best information that they can for their users. They don’t always get it right but I think they do a pretty good job.
As a blogger your job should be to provide the best information that you can.
It strikes me that Google have an ever increasing way of working out if your information is good. It’s not about what keywords you have or how many links that you get.
Now they may or may not use all the data in their ranking of sites but they certainly could know a lot about your blog and the posts you write. There’s also been increasing talk over the last 6 months or so about how easy it’d be for search engines to start generating data on what content is being shared in social networks and bookmarking sites.
My hunch is that many traditional SEO methods are less important (NOT irrelevant though) and that other factors are increasingly going to come into play. I’m sure that some will work out ways to manipulate this (SEO 2.0?) but increasingly the way to get ranked high in Google will be that you just need to keep producing great content and making sure that it’s sneezed out to your network.
Help this process along by giving your readers way to share your content (and seed it to social networks) as well as to become subscribers.