Get Found: 3 Tips to Optimize Your Blog for SEO

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BloggingStreetCredImage_300Sixty percent.

According to blogging.org, that’s the percentage of businesses with a corporate blog.

I don’t know how many businesses there are, but a quick search across the interweb reveals a few swags about how many blogs there are: close to a billion. (Yes, with a “b”.)

Blogging is a crowded space. Particularly for business bloggers who need their posts to work for them by driving prospective interest and bona fide leads. The competition is enough to make some question whether a company blog is even worth pursuing.

Before you throw in the towel, here are a few facts that should balance the scales:

  • Among those aforementioned corporate blogs, a full 65% have not been updated in at least a year. (Blogging.org)
  • 95% of SMBs say blogging is effective for attracting new customers and engaging existing ones. (e-Strategy Trends)
  • Companies with active blogs receive 97% more leads than their competitors. (ContentPlus)

Perspective restored.

Ok, you should definitely have a blog, but …

It needs to be found.

Which means standing out from the crowd. Because in 2013 alone, there were 2.2 trillion (“t”) Google searches.

And here’s one more fact:

Organic search drives the most traffic of all channels, responsible for nearly half (47%) of all visits, compared to paid search, which drives only 6% of all visits. (Conductor)

The key to being found organically is to …

Optimize your blog for SEO

Known as SEO, search engine optimization is the Holy Grail of getting found and getting known. Done well, SEO can radically increase your page rank; at Act-On we’ve seen companies go from page 100+ to page 1 of Google.

Whether you’re just getting started or are an experienced blogger looking to confirm some SEO best practices, here are three tips that can help you elbow out the competition and increase your traffic.

SEO Tip # 1: Include Internal Links

An internal link is a hyperlink that points to another page on the same website. For example, a link in your corporate blog that takes visitors to an on-demand webinar also on your corporate website.

Internal links offer two distinct benefits: They help visitors find your content (good user experience = increased satisfaction with your brand), and they increase your ranking power in the search engines.

If you don’t already, begin thinking about internal links as secret weapons that should be incorporated into every blog post you publish. Below are four tips for making that happen.

  • Include sidebar links: Sidebars are handy tools for your internal linking strategy because they quickly give visitors access to other information: recent posts, popular titles, new content, complementary or related topics, etc. Make sure sidebar links are accurately labeled and also relevant to your blog section.
  • Include links within posts: When your blog post includes a reference to something you’ve already blogged about, link the relevant keywords in your “new” post to the previous post. This lets readers access more of your content and stay within your site, and it also increases your keyword relevance with search engines.
  • Use anchor text wisely:Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. When creating anchor text for internal links, use a descriptive term rather than a number or generic phrase. For example, if your post is about flower arrangements and you have a previous post about June weddings, your anchor text could be “flowers for a June wedding”, hyperlinking that phrase to your previous post. Vary your anchor text, and avoid over-using exact-match anchor text.
  • Don’t overwhelm readers with links: Too much of a good thing is … too much. It may be tempting to include as many links as possible, but resist the urge. Link-heavy text is difficult to read and can annoy your readers.

SEO Tip # 2: Optimize Images for More Effective Searching

Whenever possible, include images in your blog posts. Not only can they improve the visual appeal of your pages and help readers better understand your topic, they help give context to readers that have images turned off, and can even help people discover your blog when doing an image search. Three easy ways to optimize your images for SEO are:

  • Use descriptive words or phrases for image file names: Search engine rankings may be improved if you use a file name that accurately describes the image. “WhiteRose.jpg,” for example, will work far better than “flower34.jpg”.
  • Describe the image in the alt text: Always, always, always do this. Alt text – aka alternative text – provides a textual alternative to non-text content, thereby helping humans and search engines find and understand your content. Alt text is an attribute that is added to the code either directly (if you’re a coder) or via your blogging platform – WordPress, for example. When creating alt text, keep it short, sweet, and relevant to the image.
  • Optimize for social platforms: Image-based social media platforms such as Pinterest allow readers to emphasize and recommend sites and blogs that appeal to them. Your search engine rankings can be improved if your blogs or images are linked to these sites. Make it as easy as possible for readers of your blog to add your images to their Pinterest or Tumblr pages.

SEO Tip # 3: Use Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are longer and more detailed search terms – as many as five to seven words – that are used by people looking for something very specific.

For example, “cooking soup” is a general term that’s likely used by someone who doesn’t know much about the topic yet. On the other hand, “cooking soup for a large vegetarian family” is a long-tail keyword that is more likely to make the search more successful for both the searcher and the site found.

Here are three things to keep in mind:

  • Find useful long-tail keywords: A good place to uncover long-tail keywords and topics is Google’s keyword search tool, which is included with your AdWords account. And be sure to use external tools and services, such as Wordstream’s Free Keyword Tool.
  • Include long-tail keywords throughout your page: Put long-tail keywords in your text, but also include them in your image file names, alt text, meta description, and subheads, if they fit there. (No stuffing, ever.)
  • Use long-tail keywords as content triggers: When you find a long-tail keyword that interests you and is relevant to your blog, craft posts designed to include that keyword.

Worth the effort

I have zero doubt that there are multitudes – throngs, hordes, oodles – of great blog content out there. Spicy. Provocative. Zany. Reflective. Intellectual. Artsy. The list is endless, as are the business opportunities.

But without optimizing for search engines, it’s a slim chance your content will be found. And if no one reads it, your ideas, time, and talent are wasted, and you’re leaving money on the table. Practicing SEO takes focus, time, and commitment. But the upside is generally well worth the effort.

 

“Blogging Street Cred” by Gideon Burton, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.

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  • Tim

    Good points. Another key point that can get overlooked is having the permalink structure in your CMS set to contain the post name in the url. If your blog is titled something that people are searching for, the title tag is set to that same title and your url contains the same search phrase, you’re much more likely to get found than if you had a generic url.

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  • Portman

    really very good post.every one have
    to follow this.its must because this is competitive world.check their
    back-links and keywords of competitors and cross them .thanks to share this
    post.go here

  • http://virtualameerpet.com/ Virtual Ameerpet

    If you have a personal blog that you update often I think that the date format in the URL is an okay. But if you use WordPress on a more static content page you have, which you not update that often you should exclude the date.

    Just because so you dont get “punished” in the SERP because your post is not up to date later on. Best IT Online Training