Basic SEO tactics for bloggers
Bloggers are amazing for a number of different reasons, but one that has always stood out for me is the need for bloggers to be experts in many different fields, from writing, to design and marketing and advertising to name but a few. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for those who might not be familiar with the term, is, according to Adwordsedge, a general term used to describe specific techniques that can be used on websites in order to rank favorably with search engine. It can also apply as a term to describe people who actually do SEO for a living, as a noun as opposed to a verb.
But for this guide we’ll take a look at the search engine optimization as another tool in the ways you can promote your blog. This guide is by no means complete, or even heavy in detail, but is meant as a basic view of tactics and things that work to assure that you blog can be found, and hopefully discovered by people using search engines.
If you’re serious about getting a good spot in the search engines, or even about blogging in general, you need your own domain name. First and foremost they are cheap, so there is little excuse for you not to own one. I can go back to 97 when I first bought a domain name, I think I paid about $120 USD for 2 years for it. Today I pay $8.95 per year, and some sites charge even lower than this. Hosting for your domain is pretty cheap as well, with plenty of quality offerings out there for under $10 USD per month, of even $100 USD per year. Some can be as low as a couple of dollars a month, the price of a cup of coffee.
There are two schools of thought in regards to the structure of your domain name: practical or colorful. Practical domain names involve at least one key word that states the topic of your blog, but ideally more. For example Weblog Empire’s The Gadget Blog has the URL of www.thegadgetblog.com Unimaginative, sure, but highly practical. Another example is PVRSpot, the Weblog Empire PVR News and views blog with the URL of www.pvrspot.com. One keyword in the URL followed by another word that isn’t relevant but tries to be catchy. For colorful go straight to Gawker Media and do not pass go…domain names such as Kotaku, Gawker, Wonkette to name but a few. Personally, as you can see I generally prefer practical, because having keywords in the URL make it easier for your blog to be picked up for those keywords in Google. Colourful domain names are great, but lose on two counts for me: firstly they are harder to get search engine traffic from, and secondly they can be difficult to spell as well, which can mean lost traffic.
There are lots of different thoughts on hosting when it comes to search engine optimization, and I’m not going to pretend that I know which ones are right. There is more information in my guide here for DIY Blog Hosting that may be of interest if you are looking for a host, but as a rough list there is some things I can share from experience. Firstly, there are no major problems with shared hosting. Some people will tell you that shared hosting is the root cause of all evil and it can hamper you in getting your site indexed. I’ve never experienced it over maybe half a dozen hosts in the last 3 years. Personally I have my own a unique IP address for my sites that’s exclusive to the network not each blog. This is usually a cheap add on for many hosts, so if you are concerned about shared hosting I’d recommend getting your own IP address just to be sure.
Make sure your blogs have appropriate information in the meta tags so the search engines now what they are looking at. Most major blogging packages will allow you to do with from within their administration areas.
SEF Blog URLs
More available here on this one.
Links are the No.1 most important feature of getting a decent place in the search engines, and subsequently in building your site. First and foremost though: don’t go out and do silly things like setting up link farms (sites that are there for no other reason than to provide links) or posting to FFA Links pages, because generally speaking they don’t work. There are some legitimate strategies for getting links to your blog.
– Link from your own blogs if you own others is the easiet one. In may case I can usually get most search engines to visit within 24-48 hours to a new site using my own blogs alone.
– Swap links with like-minded bloggers: put up a notice saying your happy to swap links, or if you see someone else with a similar notice take up the offer. Where possible keep roughly on topic where you can
– Buy links: text links are the best in terms of SEO, make sure where possible its not behind code/ script and don’t pay top dollar. Even if its a week or a few weeks, you get picked up more by search engines and you’ll even get some extra traffic as well.
– Comment: seek out like minded blogs and comment on them, although they may not count with sites that use link=nofollow (a tag that blocks search engine tracking if you like) it exposes you and your blog to new readers who then might visit and put links on their own blogs. Its always important to remember secondary effects as well. Weblogs Inc., has the best blogs now for commenters because they reward commenters with a table which ranks their posts and provides links to their sites. Please though, with all blogs, make sure that you are interested in the post and you’ve got something useful to say. Never, ever comment spam.
– Advertising: although they are not suppose to make a difference I’ve found Google Adwords helpful in building a bit of extra traffic which has then provided links as well, secondary effect again.
I hope this is useful for those perhaps new to blogging or as a refresher to others. If your more interested in SEO tactics there are any number of sites out there on the subject you can read, but my final advice is this: if you don’t feel confortable with the tactics being suggested by myself or anyone else out there on the net: don’t do them. Many tactics suggested elsewhere are morally wrong, and in many cases break the rules at the major search engines. Sure, some can deliver short term gain, but they rarely ever deliver long term gain.
Nice tips. Thanks.
Thank you. I have thought little about megatags . Its about time I make use of them
Great post, but I think well structured content is only second to the content itself. You can have great content but if your headings are “a” tags in a div it will mean nothing to a search engine. h1 for page titles h2 for entry headings etc. Google understands markup more then content and uses it for relevance, a “strong” tag will never be seen as important as a “h3”, its just bold text.
I have a very low page rank but I come up in the first ten on all the keywords I am trying to get, that said I am not #1 for generic words such as “blog” but for “artist blog” I am right where I want to be, “sutton ireland” even for funny ones “Che and Castro”. I put thisÂ down to good mark up as I never figured on google till I changed the way I work.
Most all bloggers use some form of content management system (blogger, wordpress or the like) and though it is confusing at first it is important to ensure that the template does not hinder your efforts to get the placement your content deserves. After all content is king!
Thanks for the great article. Can you tell me -why- it is that it helps to have your own domain name? I’m using a free blog spervice – Blogspot – and I’ve suspected that it may not index well in MSN or Google because it is a free service, but is there any hard evidence for this claim?
It’s taken me a long time to figure out all there is to know about blogging on Blogspot and I’d hate to have to start all over again unless it’s guaranteed to give me a better placement in the search engines.
I’ve stopped bothering with meta tags so much since i heard that google ignores them. Is that true? If so what use do you see for meta tags if the number one search engine ignores them?
google ignores keyword meta tags but I think it will still use description meta tags.
I did a little research on the domain thing and you are bang on I was amazed at how much of an effect it was having on a couple of google searches.
I’ve read many articles like these before. And I’ve tried many of the things in there. I have a question. If I went out and got a text link from another blog with similar content, and that blog’s page has been indexed and rescanned, and you can clearly search for “deletemyspam.com” in google and come up with many search results, why haven’t they indexed me?
I have done all the right things in my opinion and it’s been over a month. Many people report results withing 24 hours, some a week or two. I also have the XML site maps running.
So someone please tell me what I’m doing wrong, why does google hate me?
finding it very funny that where i put links to artglassireland.com you are putting alpha glass. good luck. by the way i have nothing to do with this website anymore.
David’s a great guy, and his business is for real.
I’m real too. In fact, I’m typing this on the couch of the Solar coffee house downtown.
Just contact the people named in testimonials on our sites, and you’ll get the real scoop.
I was using the search engines today in the cafe and stumbled accros this blog.
I just wanted to thank you for you interest in my services.
The answer to your question is yes both Nathan and myself are real SEO professionals. But let me clarify that a bit.
Nathan is a top notch SEO and honest good guy while I provide promotional services for websites. So when you are done using Nathan’s services you contact me to get search engine placement results.
If I can help you in any way, please call and let me know. Since you are local, we should sit down and chat.
This is an awesome article. I learned a lot of great tips and pointers. Thanks for the information!!