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What bloggers need to know about SEO? 10 instant tips to improve your blogs SEO scores

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Running a blog with little no readers at all? Perhaps it’s time for some search engines optimization works. Listed below are some of the basic do and don’t when it comes to optimizing your blogs for search engines.

bloggers-improve-seo

  1. Do your homework – do keyword research to understand your audience and competitors

Studying your keywords improve your understanding in your industry trends. Good keyword research reveals what the audiences are looking for and how tough are your competitors, and thus, assist you to make better decision in setting SEO goals. Smart bloggers will always avoid direct competition with gigantic websites and aim for low-competition-high-demand keywords.

Keyword research can be done nicely, without breaking your wallet, by using the right combination of tools. Personally, I use these tools frequently to get the job done.

  • SEO Book Keyword Tool (http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/) – SEO Book Keyword Tool is often used during preliminary stage. As the tool pulls huge amount of data from different sources, it’s easy to generate a huge list of keywords using SEO Book Keyword Tool.
  • Keyword Discovery (http://www.keyworddiscovery.com) – Keyword Discovery is a keyword tools with high accuracy and comprehensive details. Free trial is available with Keyword Discovery but with limited features.
  • Word Tracker (http://www.wordtracker.com) – Word Tracker is an industry well-known name. They provide similar service to Keyword Discovery that comes in both paid and free version.
  • Adwords Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal) – To estimate search volumes and to look for similar search terms that I overlooked.
  • Google Trends (http://www.google.com/trends) – Tools often used in support of keywords comparative studies. Say that you got a list of 5 keywords from Keyword Discovery but you are not sure which is the best to go with – you can then use Google Trends to compare keywords growth trends and pick the one with best potentials.
  • Google Insights (http://www.google.com/insights/search/) – Best for local and in-depth search studies – provide details search patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. I often use Google Insights to select broad search terms.
  • Yahoo Site Explorer (https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/) – Basically I use this for competitor analysis – to check the amount of competitor’s back links and pages indexed in search engines.
  • Link Harvester (http://tools.seobook.com/link-tools/backlinks/backlinks.php) – Alternatively, I use Aaron Wall’s Link Harvester for competitor analysis. Link Harvester provides detail back links analysis and I like using it to study my major competitors.
  1. Make sure your domain and URLs are keyword rich

If you are yet to select your blog domain, pick one that has your primary keyword in it. A keyword-rich domain name tells search engines how to categorize your blog. A blog’s domain like www.Daniel.com tells nothing to search engines; on the other hand, www.DanielMaineLobsters.com tells the search engine that this blog is related to lobsters, thus grouping the blog into the right search results.

For those who are already running a blog with right now, you still can improve your SEO scores by creating keyword rich URL. Bloggers often overlooked the permanlink options and left their blogpost URL poorly optimized. For example, a number based URL like http://www.exampleblog.com/?p=157 creates no SEO values at all; on the other hand, an URL like http://www.exampleblog.com/forex-trading-tutorial makes a lot more sense.

  1. Optimize your blog title tags

A blog post or page title is often used as the title tag by default. As title tag is one of the most important on-page SEO factors, such approach is simply unsatisfactory. In case you are using WordPress, there are loads of plugin around that allows you to customize your title tags. All-In-One SEO Pack (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/) and SEO Title Tag (http://www.netconcepts.com/seo-title-tag-plugin/) for example are two of the very best plugins you can get for free.

  1. Use your heading tags correctly

It’s very often to see heading tags are misused in blogs.

Are you placing <h1> tag on your blog title – thus running the same <h1> tags on every single page in your blog? Are you applying heading tags <h2> and <h3> for unrelated words (like “Categories”, “Archieves”, “Calender”) at your sidebar? Are you using your non-keyword-related blog name as <h3> tags at your footer? Are you using sufficient heading tags in your blog posts – do you use keyword riched<h3> and <h4> tags?

These are some of the classic examples of how heading tags are misused by bloggers. Heading tags should be keyword rich and they suppose to tell inform search engines what your page is about. If you are having such mistakes, correct them immediately.

  1. Create a XML sitemap

It is important to have your blog ‘reachable’ by search engine bots. A XML sitemap comes handy when you have a huge content based blog. It simply encourages the bots to crawl deeper and to understand about your blog better (thus, more pages indexed and better search engine rankings).

It’s simple to create a XML sitemap and I recommend using Arne’s Google Sitemap Generator (http://www.arnebrachhold.de/projects/wordpress-plugins/google-xml-sitemaps-generator/) for WordPress blog.

  1. Avoid WWW/non-WWW canonical issue with Google

Okay, I admit that this is not something new but it’s definitely SEO 101.

In the past, Google views the WWW version and non-WWW version of a blog (or website) as two different editions. A lot of websites and blogs were penalized because the search engines (namely Google) see this as a content duplication violation (the same content on http://www.yourblog.com and http://yourblog.com).

While such problem is not common nowadays (as search engine algorithm revolt); it is, nevertheless, a good practice to ensure your blog is immune to such troubles. To avoid WWW/non-WWW canonical issue with Google, create a Google Webmaster Tools account and select which version (WWW or non-WWW) version of your blog is preferred.

Alternatively, you can avoid such problem by simply creating a 301 redirect code in your root .htaccess file. Example, this will redirect the non-WWW version of your blog to WWW version:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.mybloggerworld\.com $
RewriteRule (.*) http://www. mybloggerworld.com/$1 [R=301,L]

  1. Build inbound links from other related websites

Ask, beg, trade, buy, or even steal links from other related blogs and websites. Okay, I am just trying to be bold on the “stealing” part but this shows how important inbound links are to your SEO effort. Inbound links has to be keyword rich and preferably, comes in naturally.

Link exchange and link buying are the common link building methods implemented in competitive industries but there are risks (of penalized by search engines) behind such strategy. For long term benefits, you should build your link in a natural way. Writing link baiting posts, press release, publishing articles on other related blogs are some of the recommended methods.

  1. Leverage the power of social media websites

There are several benefits in getting your blogpost popular at social media and networking websites. Having your blogpost ranks high at websites like Digg.com and Reddit.com will not only drive you more web traffics; but it will also increases dramatically your chances to be linked by others (as bloggers tend to link and quote popular posts from such websites).

  1. Include keywords into image alt text whenever possible

Do not overlook the power of alternate text behind your image files especially if you are in a tough competition. Always insert descriptive keywords into your image alternate text so that the search engine bots understand what your blogpost is about.

  1. Target a small number of keywords in one page

Do not, I repeat, do not try to rank your page for more than 10 different keywords. I know it is easy to get a set of 10-20 profitable keywords from your research but it’s reckless to aim for all these search terms from your homepage. Instead, the wise thing to do is always focus a small number of keywords in one post of page; and covers all your keywords with several posts or pages.

For instance, you are writing a blog about honeymoon and you obtained a sets of keywords related to “Hawaii”. As good SEO practice, you should write about “Hawaii Beaches”, “Honeymoon hotels in Hawaii”, “Gourmet restaurant in Hawaii”, and “Travel around Hawaii” in separated posts. By doing so, you will have different title tags, different heading tags, and incoming links (both onsite and offsite) – which in turn, separated well-optimized posts that focus on different niche topics. Search engines love such approach; and so does your readers – as it’s easier to find their needed information with such content grouping structure.

Wrapping things up: SEO is not rocket science – You can do it yourself!

Well, that’s all for my SEO advice. I hope my article above helps you understand the fact that it’s not hard to run your blogs with good SEO approaches and you don’t need scary budget to get the jobs done. Thanks for reading!

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