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7 Tips to Optimize your blog for SEO Success

SEO for a blog is different than SEO for most other websites, largely because of the social elements baked into blogging technology. SEO for blogs is less about buying links or tricking inadequate search technology. SEO for blogs is more focused on giving people something to talk about and creating something worthy of attention. Lets take an example of WordPress which is THE MOST popular blog engine available.

1.a. Permalinks: Always set your permalinks sturcture best suited for your website. You can find it under Settings-> Permalinks. e.g. /%postname%/ or /%category%/%postname%/

1.b. Title Optimization: You should always do this for two basic reasons:

  • Search engines put more weight on the early words, so if your keywords are near the start of the page title you are more likely to rank well.
  • People scanning result pages see the early words first. If your keywords are at the start of your listing your page is more likely to get clicked on.

There are many Pluggins available these days but i prefer “All In One SEO”. It lets you set all the titles in your preferred way.

1.c. Description Optimization: Every category description should be very well written for best optimization. One common thing every blog owner is performing is to use automatic description generation using some pluggin. This should be avoided for a reason as most plugins choose first line of sentence as description which may not be well related to rest of the article. I would recommend that write your description yourself as hand written description will always be better than an automated one as you have control over Keywords etc.

1.d. Image Optimization: You should of course be writing good titles and alt tags for each and every image, however, if you don’t have the time for that, there is a plugin that can help you. The plugin is called SEO Friendly Images, and it can automatically add the title of the post and or the image name to the image’s alt and title tags.

2.a. Breadcrums: Breadcrumbs are the links, usually above the title post, that look like “Home > Articles > WordPress SEO”. They are good for two things:

  • They allow your users to easily navigate your site.
  • They allow search engines to determine the structure of your site more easily.

These breadcrumbs should link back to the homepage, and the category the post is in. If the post is in multiple categories it should pick one. For that to work, adapt single.php and page.php in your theme, and use one of the available breadcrumb plugins.

2.b. Headings: Lets make sure that your post title is an <h1>, and nothing else. Your blog’s name should only be an <h1> on your frontpage, and on single, post, and category pages, it should be no more than an <h3>.

2.c. Clean Up and aim for speed: Move all internal JS and CSS in template to external javascripts and css files, and keep your templates clean, as they’re not doing your WordPress SEO any good. You can do two things to increase the speed of your WordPress blog.

  1. Optimize the template to do as small an amount of database calls as necessary.
  2. Install a caching plugin. I highly recommend WP-Super-Cache, which is a bit of work to set up, but that should make your blog an awful lot faster.

Choosing a good hosting package is always wise as you may recieve huge traffic with low server bandwidth  will result in loosing visitors. I know you don’t want that 🙂

2.d. Sidebar isn’t important on all pages: On single post pages, side links, blogrolls etc. aren’t necessarily related to the topic at hand, and thus aren’t helping you at all. Thus: get rid of them. Google and other search engines these days heavily discount site wide links, so you’re not really doing your friends any more favor by giving them that site wide link, nor are you helping yourself.

3.a. Noindex, follow archive pages:

Install my robots meta plugin, and make sure the settings prevent indexing of all archive pages, like this:
Robots Meta setting to prevent indexing of archives to improve WordPress SEO

Now the search engine will follow all the links on these archive pages, but it won’t show those pages in the index. Not everybody will agree on this policy, and others will tell you to just show a snippet of each post on the archive page.

3.b. Unnecessary archives must be disabled: If your blog is a one author blog, or you don’t think you need author archives, use the robots-meta plugin to disable the author archives. Also, if you don’t think you need a date based archive: disable it.

3.c. Pagination: Make sure that if a bot goes to a category page, it can reach all underlying pages without any trouble. Otherwise, if you have a lot of posts in a category, a bot might have to go back 10 pages before being able to find the link to one of your awesome earlier posts. You can use  Pagerfix, a plugin that helps in this.

3.d. Nofollowing unnecessary links: An easy step to increase your WordPress SEO is to stop linking to your login and registration pages from each and every page on your blog. The same goes for your RSS feeds, your subscribe by e-mail link, etc. Robots Meta has an option to nofollow all your login and registration links. You’ll probably have to go into your RSS links and nofollow those by hand. If you’re using the meta widget, you might want to enable the option in robots meta to replace that with one that has nofollowed links.

Tweak your blog structure for high rankings: Blogs are spidered so easily due to their structure of categories, tags etc.: all articles are well linked, and usually the markup is nice and clean. However, all this comes at a price of COMMENTS as your ranking strength is diluted because of that. Use following techniques to tweak your blog:

4.a. Pages instead of posts: Once your article is popular with lots of hits create a “Page” and put the article content in it to avoid comments. You can update the article anytime for future purposes.

4.b. Old wine in new bottle: If a post on your blog becomes incredibly popular and starts to rank for a nice keyword, you could do the following:

  • create a new page with updated and improved content
  • change the slug of the old post to post-name-original
  • publish the new page under the old post’s URL, or redirect the old post’s URL to the new URL
  • send an e-mail to everyone who linked to your old post that you’ve updated and improved on your old post
  • wait for the links to come in, again;
  • rank even higher for your desired term as you’ve now got:
    • more control over the keyword density
    • even more links pointing at the article
    • the ability to keep updating the article as you see fit to improve on it’s content and ranking

4.c. Showing Related Posts: One way of getting search engines to get to your older content a bit easier, thus increasing your WordPress SEO capabilites a LOT, is by using a related posts plugin. These plugins search through your posts database to find posts with the same subject, and add links to these posts. I would recommend Simple Tags plugin, as I’ve found that the easiest and best one so far.

5. Ask your visitors/readers to subscribe: If your readers have just finished reading an article of yours, and really liked it, that would be the ideal time to reach them. That’s why more and more people are adding lines like this to the end of their posts: “Liked this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!”

Another great time to get people to subscribe is when people have just commented on your blog for the first time. Did you subscribed to our RSS yet?

Optimize comments by getting your readers involved by responding to thier questions, suggestions or even critisism. This way you can build a solid web relations with them.

6.a. How to get people comment: The easiest way of getting people to do anything is: ask them to do it by writing in an engaging style, and then ask your blog readers for their opinion, their take on the story etc.

Another important things is your comment links. Is your comment link “No comments »”? Or is it “No Comments yet, your thoughts are welcome »”? Feel the difference?

6.b. Bonding with Commenters: Thank people when they’ve commented on your blog. Not every time, because that get’s annoying, but doing it the first time is a very good idea. You can install a plugin which will thank your commenter the first time. You can use a special thank you page.

6.c. Keep people in conversation: Make sure commenter stay in the conversation once they join the conversation. Install subscribe to comments plugin, that allows people to subscribe to a comment thread just like they would in a forum, and sends them an e-mail on each new comment. This way, you can keep the conversation going, and maybe your readers will be giving you new angles for new posts.

7.a. Follow your commenters: I would recommend to actually follow your visitors! Go to their websites, and leave a comment on one of their articles, a good, insightful comment, so they respect you even more. Use Twitter like site to follow your commenter a make a good community.

7.c. Work with the Related Blogs: You can go into Google Blogsearch, and see which blogs rank in the top 10 for those keywords. Read those blogs, start posting insightful comments, follow up on their posts by doing a post on your own blog and link back to them: COMMUNICATE.

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