These days, it seems like everyone wants to be a blogger, because they assume it’s easy. Any full-time blogger will tell you earning an income from blogging is anything but simple. While anyone can write a 600-word Op-Ed about cooking, parenting, and the like, drawing traffic to that blog in a sea of similar information takes knowledge in search engine optimization, a set of generally accepted best practices meant to maximize site visibility in search rankings.
If you want to be a thought leader in your industry and improve your site’s organic search traffic, you need a blog. Regardless of the blog topic, be sure to follow these 12 commandments of to learn how to optimize a blog post for SEO, maximize brand exposure, and bring in relevant web traffic.
Always Include Media
When searching for any random topic outside of brand names, Wikipedia is often one of the top five search results. So, while you should never use Wikipedia as a source, mimicking Wikipedia’s formatting is a good way to increase your Google visibility, and pictures are encouraged on the site. Any time you post a blog, include at least one picture. This increases site visibility by indexing both text and media with search engines (often a secondary page is created to host the pic on site).
Also, people are more likely to click a link with pictures, so if your blog is syndicated or indexed on any other site, a thumbnail of your included pic will often be included automatically. This will increase overall traffic to your blog while increasing readability.
Resize Pics Before Uploading
It doesn’t take Photoshop to perform necessary tweaks to photos before uploading them to your blog. MS Paint and other default (free) mobile, PC, and web apps, such as PixResizer and PicResize.com can be used to adjust file sizes and orientation. While Blogger, WordPress, and Joomla offer file formatting services, this takes up processing power and slows your site.
For example, if you upload a 3000×5000-pixel pic to the site, a reader accessing your blog from a mobile device will load that large pic before resizing it, wasting their mobile data, and slowing site speed. Mobile devices only need a 600×350 pic to look good on a blog, so try keeping files to that size prior to uploading.
Name and Title All File Attachments
Google and other search algorithms reward sites that have consistent and meticulous structure with higher visibility. Instead of uploading IMG1230231_3432943.jpg as a site header for your solar business, the same image, with a file name of “Solar Panel Warehouse Installation Phoenix AZ.jpg” will increase site visibility and credibility with search engines by adding valuable keywords automatically to the image alt text.
Categorize and Tag All Posts
Never post a lazy blog entry. Each individual post contributes to the overall blog reputation with both search engines and readers. Blogging platforms allow each blog to be tagged with specific keywords and categorized. Don’t waste this opportunity to input two to three related keywords and a category in order to provide context to search engines as to what type of information is contained in your blog.
Title, Subhead, and Name All Posts
You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a blog by its title. Pay close attention to this and other details, such as the URL and subheaders to ensure you’re providing usable information in a package that entices site visitors to click through to the next post and build a relationship with your brand. URL’s for each post, section, category, and menu should be as short as possible, utilizing keywords describing the post, which all should contribute to the general site description.
Always Check Grammar
Have you ever gotten an email that appeared to be from your bank, except it was riddled with typos? This is how you knew it was likely a scam – real businesses proofread. This is especially true in the business of blogging, in which words are the commodity. If you fail English, it be unpossible to be taken serious as blogger.
There are online sites like PaperRater.com that can check your work for grammar and plagarism. Also, DailyWritingTips.com has a great daily newsletter that focuses on grammar faux pas both classic, and new. There’s always a great perspective, like having a college English class in your email. You can subscribe here. It’s free, but be warned – there’s a grammar test.
Always Cite References
It’s ok to borrow information from other blogs – in fact, it’s almost inevitable. Be sure to cite this information (learn how here) and create links back to the original sources. It’s necessary to create credibility with your audience. From an SEO perspective, the click-through traffic to the referenced site, along with a pingback from the site will make your site seem more credible by association.
Link to Credible Sites
The information on your blog is important, but so is the information on the blogs linked to and from your blog. If your blog is associated with known bad sites, it will be known to search engines as a bad site. Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and other search engines go to great lengths to discount spammy sites, so associate your blog with high-ranking sites.
Research Relevant Keywords
Google AdWords is known mostly for sponsored posts, but the toolset provided can be used for free. Sign up for an AdSense and AdWords account to utilize Google’s tools to search for relevancy and competition for certain keywords. If you’re building an Android gaming site, for example, you may not realize more traffic is generated by “Android Android Game” than “Android Game” on search engines (and with fewer sites indexed for it, thus less competition). Why is a whole other topic…
Never Steal Content
Internet piracy and DMCA takedown notices have saturated the web. Photographers and other content creators routinely embed digital watermarks into their files. Using another person’s work without their permission is never a good idea. If you like someone’s work enough, either link to it in your blog or ask them for permission to repost. This will protect your blog from penalty or removal from search engine indexing.
Optimize For All Devices
Be sure all posts, pics, videos, etc. are formatted with all browsers (even mobile devices!) taken into consideration. There are a few reasons for this.
- Google now uses mobile friendliness as one of it’s ranking factors.
- While your blog might look great on a desktop, it might be completely unreadable on a mobile device.
In order to know what your blog looks like to your audience, you have to read the blog from different devices. Look for annoying popups, dead or broken links, click rerouting scripts and more problems that could be robbing you of precious traffic. This is also a good time to check grammar and ensure the content of the blog utilizes keywords and terminology to support the title and subheads.
Blogging is an art, but driving traffic to your blog requires the subtle science of SEO. While it may seem complicated, it’s simply a standard process of paying attention to specific details. Following SEO best practices will ensure your blog ranks higher with search engines and audiences alike.
For help with your blogging strategies – contact the experts at Volume Nine.