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I recently wrote an article about What I’ve Learned About Blogging. You might have read it and thought you’d give blogging a chance. Or maybe you’ve had a blog for a while, but aren’t getting the traffic you should. In either case, I thought I’d give my fellow writers a crash course in the technical aspects of making your blog successful. Aside from the wonderful things that Kristen Lamb and Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman suggest to make your blog succesful, there’s a big bad technical term called SEO.  You might have heard it mentioned once or twice…*eyeroll*  This word is thrown around like everyone knows what it is and how it’ll benefit you. But do you really?  If not, keep reading.

I have some techie knowledge, but my very good friend, Shinda Singh, is much more qualified to give you a crash course in getting your blog noticed and ranking in Google. Since Shinda is so eloquent with his words and has a blog of his own (that he doesn’t update often enough! Yes, I’m demanding more witty posts from you, Shinda!), I immediately went to him to see if he would help me out.  Gracious and generous as always, he wrote up an 8-Step Program to get us all into the Google Cool Kids Clique!  It really is worth the read…

How To Get the Internet To Love You by Shinda Singh

You just got your spanking new blog setup, you’ve even put pen to pad, or keys to screen, and have written up some of your most insightful thoughts that will revolutionize, inspire, educate or whatever else you had in mind for the masses. Except for one little problem, they don’t know about you, or your site. Even Google doesn’t seem to be paying attention. Lucky for you I have a step by step guide that will have the internet completely smitten with you and your site.

Step 1: Love yourself.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your page rank. If you’re looking for instant satisfaction with thousands of visitors a day and you have little current readership, then guess what?  You maybe the only one who ever reads what you write, at least until after you complete all these steps. Not only will continuously writing and posting help you find your blogger voice, it’ll give your future readership something to read once they fall in love with your site.

Step 2: Make Friends

Think of your blog as the new kid in school, and your page rank as that invisible power that manages “the list”.  The more friends you have, the higher your rank.

When it comes to the internet a friend is basically a link back to your site. The more sites that link to you the better.  The more popular the site that links back to you the more points that link’s worth.

So how does one go about getting linked? Easy, do it yourself. Most sites allow for leaving comments where you can enter your site, which will automatically create a link to your page. Find other blogs with similar themes and leave meaningful comments and try to participate in the discussion.

But be warned, the internet hates spam. So simply going around and pasting your link up everywhere won’t do the trick. In fact it will label you as that annoying kid that nobody likes.  And that annoying kid never makes the list.

Step 3: Do unto others..

Don’t be afraid to link to posts and sites that you like. Most modern blogging systems such WordPress and Blogger will register that link as a trackback and automatically generate a link back to you.

It may also garner the attention of the author of that site and may turn them into a follower of yours.

Step 4: Titles go a long way..

What makes more sense to you:

http://yourblog.com/?p=51616 or http://yourblog.com/post/the-never-ending-story/

Friendly URLs get noticed and earn you points with search engines who can now index your page and include the title in their keyword look up. Worpdress makes handling of these easy by allowing you to edit your permalink in the edit post option.

Also naming doesn’t just apply to your posts, but to the images you add as well. When possible add a caption and a meaningful title and search engines will be sure to take notice.

You can customize your links even further by looking at the permalink settings under the settings on the admin panel (speaking specifically of WordPress. Although other blogging programs may be similar.), and find what link structure works best for you.

Step 5: Keep them coming back for more..

Now that you have an audience, they expect posts. Even Google expects updates. The longer your site remains un-updated the less current your site seems and less likely what people are searching for.

This is why allowing for comments and feedback on your sites is always great, as it allows others to update your posts for you. That said keep an eye out for comment spam, if all the comments on your site are trying to sell Viagra, search engines may start to look unfavourably at your site and deduct points from your rank.

Step 6: Don’t be shy..

One day thousands of people will promote your posts for you, but right now the onus is all on you to get the word out. Tweet about new posts, and link your blogs rss feed with facebook notes to help get the word out to all your followers and friends (a good tutorial for how to link your blog feed to Facebook/Twitter can be found here.). Also don’t be afraid to join and participate on message boards which share similar themes.  Also share your posts on news aggregators like reddit and digg, and become part of those thriving net communities.

Encouraging others and engaging your readership in discussion is a sure way to get people coming back.  People who find your blog useful, are also spreading the word for you, so don’t be shy about some self promotion.

Step 7: Tag and Categorize.

Its important to understand the difference between both tags and categories, and one of the easiest ways to differentiate the two, is to think in terms of textbooks. Categories are sections much like the table of contents while tags would be the index.

Use multiple tags and make your grade school teacher proud by coming up with as many different synonyms that describe your post, but when it comes to categories try to choose that one encompassing group that your post best belongs to.

Most blogging platforms particularly Worpdress use this information to later create site maps, which are organized by these categories and tags giving search engines more information to crawl and further help in indexing your site. Similar to Step 4 where the same page and content will have multiple url’s that all uniquely describe your post in various ways, you’re now doing the same thing with your categories and tags.

Step 8: Become an SEO consultant..

That’s right, having studied and mastered the above you are now as qualified as 99% of people out there offering Search Engine Optimization techniques for thousands of dollars.

Feel proud of what you’ve learned and go ahead and add the title to your resume.

 

Got some SEO/Blogging tips for me? Please comment and share your wisdom! It takes a village to raise a writer…or is that a baby? Same diff, right?

If you liked this article, please check out Shinda’s Blog and comment and share this post!

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13 comments

  1. August 3, 2011 at 1:06 pm engarde

    Great post!

    • August 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm Syd

      Thanks Eng!

  2. August 4, 2011 at 4:03 am Andy Britnell

    Thanks for that very clear, straight forward, non geek speak run-down of SEO Shinda. I also use the text book analogy for categories and tags – people then ‘get it”.

    Something I learned recently is that it’s important to place keywords in your and headers. This means that search robots recognise which part of the text is most important. Your blog software will automatically allocate tags to your titles of posts and pages.

    What it will also do is tag your sidebar headings as headings. So use meaningful titles for your sidebar widgets which include keywords and post a little bio with a picture of yourself like Syd has done below her post.

    An example would be ‘Recent Tweets’ – which is fairly meaningless to a search engine and most other bloggers will have this. Replacing ‘Recent’ with your name, blog name or keyword makes more sense.

    Thanks for the learnings

    Best wishes

    Andy

  3. August 4, 2011 at 4:09 am Andy Britnell

    Oops – the html text got stripped out so this makes my comment confusing. I am talking about (h1) & (h2) headers where you would place keywords.

    Tittles of posts and pages are automatically given (h1) tags and sidebar widgets (h2) tags.

    Hope that clears up any confusion.

    • August 11, 2011 at 10:37 am Syd

      Hey Andy! Thanks for your comments! Do you code websites from scratch? Cause that’s something that seriously scares me! I’m pretty happy with just tweaking 😉

      • August 11, 2011 at 11:06 am Andy Britnell

        Hell no!

        I did do a course on coding eons ago (Cobol and Pascal) but prefer to remain as distant as possible from the zeros and ones! WordPress is the tool I use and I love it.

        The VHS of blogging perhaps 🙂

  4. August 4, 2011 at 4:46 am shinda

    @Andy some great tips, one thing wordpress has an edge on is all its great plugins that help with SEO.

    • August 11, 2011 at 10:38 am Syd

      See, WordPress is awesome!

  5. August 5, 2011 at 11:36 am Lindsay B.

    Heh, I used to charge for SEO advice and SEO content writing. 😛 Kind of soul numbing since most clients are businesses selling people crap they don’t need.

    I think the big things for writers are to 1) try to blog for your target audience (those who will read your books) and 2) stick with it and post regularly.

    It takes 6-12 months any more for a blog to really pick up traction and start appearing in the search engine results. A lot of folks stop just shy of reaching that tipping point that comes from consistent posting over time.

    • August 11, 2011 at 10:39 am Syd

      Good points, Lindsay! A year is a long time…if I wasn’t seeing results before that I would be seriously discouraged. Knowing that you’re probably just on the cusp of things turning around would keep me going!

      And glad you’re not selling your soul for SEO, now!

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