A Beginner’s Guide to Blogging and SEO
You’ve heard that blogging can heighten visibility of your website within Google. But how and where to start? Firstly, ask yourself what you want to achieve, then how can your blog deliver the results you hope to accomplish.
Benefits of Blogging
Firstly, blogs can provide a specific place to add fresh content to your website, so that visitors keep coming back for more. A blog can prompt you to keep adding fresh content.
Secondly, with a blog you are able to place linkbait as well as flexibility. Flexibility means being perhaps more creative by writing articles that people enjoy reading and linking to, rather than being constrained, for example, in relation to the workplace, to the ethos of a company and a company’s image.
Thirdly, it is possible to develop a community around your website. Networking is possible with others in your line of work. It is a learning tool as well as being able to create a good reputation, provide related links and help you to “spread the word” of your posts etc.
Fourthly, RSS feeds can be employed with your blog to heighten exposure. This results in more links and then higher rankings in the search engines. It is nothing negative.
Consider the Technical side of Blogging
Some may question whether to add your blog to the company’s website or on another domain such as Blogspot. It is favoured to be linked to the company’s in order to reach website recognition, an opportunity for visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed or email address, and are only a few clicks away from the company and its services/products.
The next question is where to attach the blog. Should it be in its own folder or a separate subdomain. The best choice has been to place it in its own folder from the main domain rather than in a separate subdomain.
Another question is what blogging software to use. There are many options. If it is for SEO purposes, the platform is not an issue but how much control do you have – a custom-coded blog, a fancy CMS and a free bloggins system from the Internet should perform in the same way.
WordPress has been functioning for a long time; it is popular, and there are great resources to help optimise the blog easily. Apart from the helpful SEO plug-ins, there are two great guides for doing SEO using WordPress. One is by Jim Westergren and the other by Joost de Valk. There are also many great looking FREE themes available.
Controlling SEO for Blogs
It is important to be able to control certain areas when it comes to SEO for your blog.
- ensure you can customise URLs of your blog posts. Go for a good URL structure using a dash to separate the spaces your post name (and not using underscores or full stop). Some bloggers like to have the category in there too.
- ensure you blog does not have any canonicalisation problems i.e. http://yoursite.com instead of http://www.yoursite.com. Search on Google for more information on this. There are some WordPress plugins which can assist you in correcting this if you are unsure.
- optimise your META descriptions.
- customise title tags. The post name might not necessarily be the best title. Remove stop words which Google ignores.
- use alt tags on images – which allows you to place a keyword or two, or even a short description on an image which helps the search engines to find and even index.
- use breadcrumb navigation which helps for SEO and usability.
- post titles should be a heading 1, subtitles in heading 2 etc.
- create a sitemap – most blog systems have plugins for this.
- ensure that you use pagination – instead of “previous” and “next” you should have links to each page on your blog.
- ensure your favourite and/or best articles have their own links from your blog’s main page.
- ensure that social media links are available – you can get them from AddThis or a related service.
These points are just the few areas you want to look at but not the only areas you need to control; you will also want to optimise your blog just like optimising a web page.
When you have created your blog you will want to promote it. You need to convert readers to subscribers. If you know how to optimise an ecommerce website for conversion you can use the same method here.
You need to keep your blog chatty to encourage comments on your blog. Let your readers know you welcome their comments. More often than not, you won’t be the only one conducting a blog in a particular field of expertise; but don’t see that as a hindrance, get involved and relate to those other blogs.
Use the experience you may have gained in other link building strategies which have worked in the past. They can also work for your blog. Remember it never hurts to do research.