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  1. Blog SEO: How to Easily Optimize your Blog for Search


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    Do you write a great business blog but struggle for readership? Have you heard of Search Engine Optimization but think it’s too complicated or too time-consuming?

    This article will dive into the SEO world and leave you still breathing on the far side.

    I’ll break down 6 easy-to-use SEO strategies you can take to drive blog traffic and increase your blog’s search rank.

    I’m going to keep it simple for small businesses who want the top tips without the jargon. If you want the high level Google algorithms, formulas and tracking metrics, I seriously recommend MOZ.com (just warning you, one of their most popular recent articles is ‘Case Study: White-Hat Link Building in the Gambling Industry’).


    Tweetable Takeaways

    (Click to Tweet)


    I’m also going to include four top SEO tips along the way, so keep a look out!


    What is SEO?


    A fair question, and one that is rarely answered simply or easily (probably because it’s a massive subject on which careers, businesses, and livelihoods are based). I’ll break it down into a simple metaphor:

    Search Engine Optimization is the new shoes in middle school. It’s the thing that you got for Christmas that made all the other kids ooh and ahh and point. It made you the center of attention, at least until someone else got the ones that lit up when you jumped.

    SEO is 100 small things that increase the chance of your business’ content or website being seen in any given internet search.


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    1. Optimize your Content


    Before we get into the specifics of proven SEO strategies, you need to make sure your content is highly desirable in the first place.

    Ask yourself these questions:

    • What single subject is my business focused on?

    • What issues are my customers having?

    • What questions do my customers want answered? (If you don’t know, ask them!)

    • What do I know about?


    Focusing your blog articles on a single subject (social media marketing, non-profit success, new fashion, PR best practice, etc) establishes your reputation as a trusted source. You’ll generate blog traffic because you’re offering specific, expert, exclusive information.


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    Implementing the five strategies below will help your burgeoning business blog succeed, generate readership, and increase your brand awareness online. They’re as important (if not more so) when you’re first establishing your place in the blogosphere as they are when you’re seeing thousands of readers each day.



    Blog SEO Top Tip #1: Optimize your blog for mobile. Google punishes non-optimized websites in search results. I recommend Twitter Bootstrap to do this. And sorry, you’re going to need a web designer for this one.



    2. Use Links


    Hyperlinking Smart:

    Google’s search algorithm (it’s useful to think of it as an actual personality picking and choosing - and you implementing these 6 strategies to please it) doesn’t have the time to read your whole article. It looks at your title, headers, images, social endorsements and, most of all your links.

    Google PageRank thinks of links as ‘votes’. Every time somebody links to your website or blog article that counts as a vote for its popularity.

    To get a better idea of which factors Google search prioritizes, let me break it down for you.

    Here are the top five factors to strive for:

    1. Number of links to your article or page

    2. Sum of Facebook Shares, Likes and comments (Shares are worth quite a lot more than Likes or comments)

    3. Number of links in the article or page

    4. Keyword use

    5. Number of characters in body copy (longer is better, people!)


    And here are a few to avoid:

    1. Long URLS/titles

    2. Videos

    3. Large images (1024x768 or bigger)


    3 Strategies to develop link-building:

    1. Link to your own articles from your own articles

    2. Social media networking: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, even Pinterest allow you to connect with influencers who will share your posts and increase your blog awareness online

    3. Create mutually beneficial relationships with other bloggers, through guest blogging and commenting on blogs:


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    3. Syndication and Social Bookmarking


    Syndication and social bookmarking is key for increasing your blog’s SEO as Google PageRank ranks content by the amount of links it’s generated. Syndication and social bookmarking allows you to influence that amount of links.

    Here’s a few syndication sites:


    Although there are many syndication sites that offer almost unlimited syndication, these are worth less in Google’s eyes than others. Putting time and effort into syndicating your content to reputable, popular websites will pay off far more than the more open sites.

    However, syndication and social bookmarking across the board will increase your blog’s SEO, so put some effort into it.

    For an in-depth look into social bookmarking and syndication, check out my colleague’s article The Ultimate Guide to Social bookmarking: Driving Traffic to your Blog.



    Blog SEO Top Tip #2: Including social sharing icons includes your chance of going viral by 700%.



    4. Tap into Social


    Google search rewards blogs that have been Shared, Liked, commented on, or linked to by social media users, on social media pages, and (especially) by influencers.

    Influencers:

    Social media influencers can make or break a blog’s success. These are the individuals, these brands, who can increase a blog’s readership from 1000 to 20,000 with a single tweet.

    The image below is an actual screenshot of Wishpond’s blog readership between July 25th and July 27th. On July 26th, Mari Smith Tweeted one of our articles:


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    How do I identify my business’ Influencers?

    • Read Wishpond’s How to Find Your Industry Influencers

    • Check out the top 3 social influence metric sites: Klout, Kred and PeerIndex

    • Take a look at a possible Influencer’s Followers (and not just the numbers). How many mutual Followers do you share? Are your competitors following them?

    • Look at their recent Tweets. Are they engaging in a conversation with their audience or just Tweeting? How much of their content is Retweets or Shares? If it’s all about them you may want to look further for someone more inclined to share your content.

    Topic ideas for mentioning Influencers in your blog posts from Krista Bunskoek:

    Let’s face it, Influencers like to extend their reach too. Stroke their deserving egos, and they’re more likely to share your article with their fans:

    • Create a “best of” post with them included

    • Compile a list of best resources for your niche.

    • Follow your influencer’s blog articles through an RSS feed.

    • Set up a social bookmarking site, and compile lists of best articles for a specific industry related topic.

    • Make a blog article summarizing an article, and give a shout out to the experts who wrote it.



    Blog SEO Top Tip #3: Don’t bold your sections, make them into headers instead. This tiny change in your blog’s formatting will increase your PageRank, as Google’s algorithm takes headers into account, and doesn’t read bolded words as any different from body text.



    5. Optimize your Title


    Before you get scared away, I’m not going to get into metatags or altering your blog’s html. The whys and wherefores are better left to people who make a career of this stuff.

    Ask a question:

    In late September (yes, SEO optimization moves fast) when the Hummingbird update came out, Google optimized its search algorithm to reward questions.

    Google is moving towards organic, human interaction (think Google Glass or SIRI). It wants people to use its search function naturally. Have a question you want answered? No longer will you have to type ‘SEO + Blogs + (small business) + (top tips)’. Instead you’ll say to your glasses, ‘How can I increase my business blog’s SEO?’

    Tap into this for your blog titles. Here are a few suggestions:

    • Fall Fashion: How to Get the Most out of the Same Pair of Boots

    • What the New Google Search Algorithm Means for your Business’ SEO

    • How the Science Behind A/B Testing is Changing Small Business

    • 10 Tips: How the First Generation of Mobile Users is Changing PR


    Consider the words you use:

    The words you use matter. For instance, the term ‘SEO’ was searched 79,500 times in the past month while ‘search engine optimization’ was only searched 16,400 times. Which one have I used in this article’s title? That’s right.

    To find the most searched-for words and phrases I recommend sites like Wordtracker for small businesses. It’s free, easy-to-use, and updated weekly so you know the results you’re getting are accurate.


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    Put keywords at the beginning:

    Google’s search algorithm rewards blog articles with keywords at the beginning of the title. Keep this in mind:

    ‘Fall Fashion: Get the Most out of one Pair of Boots’ will appear in Google search before ‘Get the Most out of one Pair of Boots this Fall’

    Remember to also test your blog titles to see what your readership responds to. If you’re looking for proven blog formats, read my article 10 Sure-Fire Blog Title Formulas that Attract Readers.



    Top Tip #4: IMG ALT Tags: Whenever you put an image in your blog article, throw in <IMG alt “[relevant key search word]”> before the “<src=”. What this does is generate traffic to your article via google image search. When someone types in the keyword you’ve included, your article’s images will show, and people will traffic to their source. For more information, read this article.



    6. Publish Often


    In the past 12 months Google has started rewarding fresh content. This isn’t to say the most recent article will appear before the one with link building, social shares or huge readership, but publishing frequently won’t hurt. At all.

    I typed ‘Facebook Best Practices’ into Google. After the obligatory links from Facebook itself (an Alexa ranking of 1 doesn’t hurt with SEO either…) the three blog articles below appeared.


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    How to publish frequently:

    • Spend a day to create a blog content calendar a month in advance - so you’re never at a loss for content

    • Create multiple kinds of content from the same primary source (Slideshares, ebooks, white papers, videos, webinars, infographics, etc)

    • Encourage guest posters to publish on your blog


    Whatever you do, don’t regurgitate old content:

    If you try to re-publish the same article with a different name, Google will know, and you’ll suffer SEO penalties. Instead:

    • Publish old content in a new way, with a new look and new developments considered.

    • Go over old content with a fine-tooth comb and create an infographic or slideshare from the research you did

    • Is there a new way to present existing information? Could you take an article you wrote on Fall fashion and create a ‘Fall Fashion Formulas’ slideshare?

    For an in-depth look at Google’s bias toward hyper-fresh content, check out Rand Fishkin’s video.


    Conclusion


    Hopefully you have a greater confidence with SEO. Put a little effort into engaging with influencers, syndicate as well as you can, and keep in mind my four top tips.

    Further reading:



    Have you had any success with influencers or implementing SEO strategies? Start the conversation below!


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