Lee Odden

5 Tips for Successful Blog Optimization

Yesterday I posted “3 Reasons Why Blog SEO Fails” to help readers avoid the pitfalls of starting a business or corporate blog purely for SEO reasons  only to end up wasting time and energy. Without proper planning, oversight and passion for the topic, blogs implemented purely for SEO objectives are doomed to fail. Additionally, social media referrals and recommendations are becoming a notable competitor to search traffic which can place SEO as a secondary promotional effort in some situations.

Here are five tips for successful business blog optimization benefits in the long run:

1. Find a practical purpose for starting a blog. There are many reasons why companies would benefit from starting and publishing a blog. Some might use blog software as a content management system for an online newsroom or to archive newsletters to the web.

Other blog applications include: aggregating industry news, publishing ongoing product development information, improving customer relations, building thought leadership or improving onlne marketing and sales.  Identifying a specific business goal that can be facilitated by the creation, publishing and promotion of blog content should be the first step.

Whether the goal is to better connect with existing customers and reduce support costs or to attract more media coverage to improve indusry reputation, there should be a specific business goal for the blog. SEO can be used to further that objective through improved search visibility.

2. Optimize templates initially and content on an ongoing basis. As dynamically generated web sites, blogs take information stored to a database and push that information through templates which generate the web pages or blog posts we read in a web browser.

Optimization of a blog at the template level will pass on benefits to all pages of the blog. For example, the use of blog post titles in the URLs rather than an id number. Or posting distinct title tags separate from the on page titles.

Blog content optimization means leveraging a keyword glossary to allow company bloggers to make informed choices about what phrases to use in titles, categories, body copy, anchor text links, tags, image alt text and others. This is an activity that often gets diluted if there isn’t a quality assurance effort, oversight editorially or persistent attention to SEO.

3. Plan editorial and source content. Unlike traditional publications, blogs do not typically have editorial calendars but why not?  Use categories as an indication for the topics the blog should be posting about. Category keywords should support the business goals defined in the blog’s objectives.

Here are some simple steps for managing blog content, long term:  Create a keyword glossary, much like you would for a website SEO project. Identify an editorial guide as well as post types and key topics. Assign a blog champion, someone that “owns” the success/failure of the blog. The blog champion will provide content and editorial oversight as well as recruit other contributors.

The blog champion performs another important function, feedback to the contributors. This goes beyond a simple “thank you” but may also include reporting on the number of comments on posts contributed, inbound links, increases in RSS subscribers and mentions of the blog post on other blogs. Providing individual as well as overall feedback to contributors helps them see what impact their efforts are making.

4. Socialize.

Blogs are a big part of what makes up social media, so it’s important that bloggers are social for a successful blogging effort. A few of the ways blogs can be social include:

  • Comments – be sure to respond to commments on your blog quickly
  • Links out to other blogs – Blog software like WordPress will notify the blog owner when others link in. Besides providing readers a link to a useful resource, getting the attention of a prominent and/or influential blogger by linking to them can result in being mentioned in a post with a link back.
  • Trackbacks are the mutual link exchange that can happen when one blog links to another.
  • Widgets and polls/surveys can be effective social tools for a blog, because they allow interaction and direct feedback.
  • Reading and commenting on other blogs is very important for the success of a blog to connect with other influential information sources on your topic. Bloggers are also more keen to network with each other than they are with non-bloggers.
  • Social networking tools like Facebook and communication tools like Twitter can be effectively used to socialize a blog by crowdsourcing the network for content as well as a channel for promoting new content. Recognizing contributors and aggregating resources is a win for everyone.

5. Measure and promote blog success – In order for a blogging effort of any kind to be successful, there needs to be an objective. Ideally an objective that helps reach a particular business goal. Once that goal for the blog is indentified, it’s important to take a benchmark measurement to understand where you are starting from.

Monitoring mentions of the blog in real time with basic tools like Google Alerts and TweetBeep can be effective discovery tools in finding fans of your blog. Robust monitoring tools such as BuzzLogic, Techrigy or Radian6 can be helpful for monitoring multiple social media channels.

Discovering trending of keywords within blogs or services like Twitter can present opportunistic content marketing situations. If a term is observed as becoming increasingly popular, the blog conducting the monitoring can choose to create more content and engage in link building to encourage high ranking for those terms.

Besides monitoring, it’s important measure the specific goals set out for the blog using web analytics.

As the data and success metrics are collected, be sure to package the information for reporting upstream in the organization. ROI on social media marketing efforts, including blogging, can be challenging. However, if the blog is attracting any kind of popular keyword phrase traffic from organic search, it can be compared to the costs to achieve those same positions and visitors with pay per click. The resulting comparison should offer an estimated a dollar value of organic search traffic.

Another valuation method for blogs is when the blog facilitates media coverage, including other blogs.  If a company hires a public relations firm to conduct blogger and media relations, it costs money and that investment can be boiled down to a value per pickup.  If publishing content on the blog results in being cited, linked or mentioned by a popular blog or publication, it should be tracked and a dollar value assigned.  Such ROI associations from blogging can vary depending on the purpose of the blog ranging from lowering customer service costs to saving recruiter fees for attracting new employees.

The other type of reporting that is important for the longevity of a blog and the ongoing optimization effort is feedback to those that make it happen. A blog SEO effort cannot be successful if there is no one to write posts. Therefore, it’s important to keep contributors motivated by keeping them informed on the progress of the blog in reaching overall goals as well as the effect ofo their individual contributions.

Wrap up:

For a successful business blogging effort that leverages search engine optimization, it’s important that the blog serves a functional purpose intented to help the business reach a particular goal. SEO is involved in order to extend the reach and “discoverability” of the blog.

Blog optimization is both a one time event with the templates but is also an ongoing process involving keyword glossaries that help determine post level keyword usage, internal anchor text and off site anchor text.  Running out of ideas and people to contribute to the blog can mean certain death, so be creative with content sourcing and formats. Listen to what blog readers respond to and give feedback on to guide editorial.

Blog software offers many social features. Use them! Grow a network that leverages the blog as resource and as a way to recognize contributors.  Monitor real time content opportunities as well as blog analytics so you can offer the kind of feedback that motivates continued contributions both from the C-Suite in the form of funding and from the B-Suite in the form of content and comments.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. GREAT post! I’m not a blogging expert but the five points you outlined, to me, represent the essentials for blog optimization.

    If I were to make a suggestion to anyone thinking of blogging is to go with WordPress. Optimizing a WordPress blog is relatively easy if you have the right plug-ins.

    Wesley
    The Geek Entrepreneur

  2. Great Article! We have a travel blog at http://www.wilcoxtravel.com

    I really like: “it

  3. Lee,
    Great post and thank you for the mention of Techrigy. We really appreciate it.

    Best Regards,
    Jim
    Director Of Sales
    Techrigy, Inc

  4. Thanks for the Radian6 shout out Lee. If I don’t chat with you before Christmas have a great holiday!

    Cheers. David

    PS> That Cheeseburger is making me hungry 🙂

  5. Excellent article Lee… I think the “socializing” aspect of blogging is the most critical b/c as you’ve mentioned before… there are hundreds of thousands of blogs… getting picked up, cited or linked by a reputable source is KEY.

  6. Wow, looks like Techrigy and Radian6 are REALLY on the ball with monitoring their brands. Well done guys and happy holidays to you.

  7. Hey 🙂

    This is fantastic information.. Thankyou !!

    I got a blog started 7 weeks ago and it is going strong ( In my opinion )

    Now Im looking for great places like here to take me to the next level to keep going forwards in a positive way.

    Keep it coming

    Dean

  8. Lee,

    Right on the money advice. Seems like lots of people start blogging without a game plan or understanding the connection between blogging and search.

    Mike

  9. Marketwise says:

    Fantastic article and insights – especially that of point #4; though it should seem obvious/intuitive, sometimes it isn’t.

    What it boils down to: you have to engage, to be engaged.

  10. Nice Article.. 🙂
    This is really helpful for most of the new webmasters.

  11. Blogging Society says:

    Nice article, The most important “The Cheap Way” -> Blog + SEO = Win

  12. Thanks for the informative post… It’s really common that people start a blog for SEO reasons only, I admit that creating a blog without any marketing efforts isn’t a wise thing to do, but it shouldn’t be the focus.

    Shimrit:-)

  13. Great post. Great insights. I think this is one of the best descriptions that I’ve read about how to help your blog perform optimally.

  14. Jen Swanner says:

    Thank you for posting such helpful tips.. As a new business owner, blogging is one of those end of the days tasks that sometimes get put off. This is a great reminder as to WHY it’s necessary to keep blogging! Just as important as finding the right clients and paying the bills! Great reminder for me!

  15. Very nice tips for blogging. These are extremely useful for new bloggers like me… thanks.

  16. Lee!

    Rock on Rockstar! I found you by following you on Twitter and it is the best and most auspicious use of social media, I have been following your posts for a while and you are now in my Reader. Your 5 tips. . . amazing, your previous 3 tips that kill a blog, I sent to my colleagues who are langishing with their posts. . .

    Keep up the sage advice. Anything I can do to support you?

    Grateful and Merry Christmas,

    Tevis Verrett

  17. Thanks for good tips especially for beginners, luckily blog now already embeded with SEO plugins such wordpress.The life now a bit easier compare with early 2000 years where webmaster need to manually ‘tune’ each page to complement SEO

  18. Rocking…i follow u on twitter. good article …hope it will help me to optimize my blog

  19. As usual great advice. Especially the part about guest speakers as I think that brings a credibility to the blog plus is great to have a new perspective on the blog.

  20. Thank you for the instructions … I really benefit from you writing this

  21. Abso-freaking-lutely fantastic, you hit the nail on the head so nicely here I may even scrap the paper I am working on for our year ahead.

    I cannot even begin to stress the importance of intent when it comes to blogging, and search for that matter.

    Blogs need a purpose and without one are doomed to fail, there’s no point in having a blog that is seo’d to the hilt if it’s not converting, informaing, sharing or providing some kind of real value to it’s userbase (and made for adsense is not one of them).

  22. Wow. This is no my all time favorite blog for blogs. All of the posts are top notch, I can tell that a lot of time and effort was put into them. Thank you for everything!

  23. Robert Lesser says:

    Thanks Lee for the great posts on Blog SEO.

    Perhaps I am missing this within the posts, but is not one of the measurements of B2B blog success improving SEO results and accordingly, the number of inquiries and qualified leads?

    It seems to me that the biggest issue for business blogging is building the business case for the heavy investment of time to create content for posts and comments.

    Rather than blogs purposely built for SEO, the challenge is that B2B marketers are not drawing the line from a blog to generating leads or impacting business results.

    All the same, our recent survey indicates that many B2B marketers are using blog for lead generation.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

  24. Thanks for the research survey results link Robert, the full URL messes with our layout, so I’ve made it into an anchor text link.

    Yes, the commitment to content is a big part, but no one will know about that content unless there is an equal effort to promote it. Time and time again, companies invest in blog creation but never allocate budget to promoting individual posts.

    Even though Forrester’s recent survey shows that most consumers don’t trust corporate blogs, there still a tremendous opportunity for companies to leverage the social nature of blog content management systems to improve visibility and ability to engage on a professional, yet conversational context.

    Even B2B buyers are tired of being “sold”.

  25. Thank you for the comments Bronson.

    SEO is good, blogs are good. SEO and blogs are really good, but effectiveness of that mixutre, when relevant, comes with purpose and execution. It’s almost like Seth Godin’s notion of a meatball sundae.

  26. Thanks for the information. This is probably the most comphrehensive and realistic article about blogging that i’ve come across. Sadly, too many people start junk blogs for no other purpose than making money. It’s fine to take advantage of money-making opportunities, but there has to be a legitimate reason to have a blog, at least if you want loyal readers.

  27. Lee, your comment on content and promotion is interesting to me, but I wonder whether this is a chicken & egg situation.

    Corporations will not fund the proper resources for social media without understanding the payback. Therefore, the content and promotion are lackluster.

    And isn’t one of the answers on your blog? Improved SEO is one way to quantify that impact.

    Possible conclusion: Use SEO to build the business case for better corporate support of social media.

    Your thoughts?

  28. Hi Robert, regarding “Corporations will not fund the proper resources for social media without understanding the payback” actually, they do. Not all companies see blogging as a direct marketing effort.

    I’ve interviewed a number of client side social media practitioners and many do not have ROI specific measurements of success for their blogging efforts – which was surprising.

    Social media isn’t a direct marketing channel. Companies that realize this invest in social media as they would in branding and public relations.

    Direct marketing is essentially an A to B relationship between the offer and customer. Social media, like PR and branding, is more A to B to C and involves influence/recommendation/trust more than “buy now”.

    Second, I agree that you could package a blog investment as an SEO exercise. I have done this and it has worked – in the first 6-9 months or so of the project.

    I will not do it again.

    Why? Because it’s not practical to rely on the consultant for content indefinitely. Effectiveness as a brand and relationship building communications tool simply isn’t as effective LONG TERM if it’s a 3rd party doing the blogging.

    It must be someone that is involved in the day to day operations of the company. industry and the customers being blogged about.

    Search engine optimization of content that is also promoted to attract links will rank well, but if visitors are alienated or uninspired when they actually visit the blog (Think Forrester report saying most consumers don’t trust corporate blogs) then what’s the point?

    Improved SEO assumes visitors will do something once they click on the search result and arrive at the blog. But most optimized blog content is usually a far cry from the kind of content people pass along, write comments on, re-blog and buy from.

    Identifying a practical use of a blog long term makes the most sense in terms of prolonged return on the investment. Implementing a blog with SEO in mind makes it an even more worthwhile investment.

    So I’d say it’s not so much a case of chicken and egg but Peanut Butter and Jelly. Content/promotion plus SEO are what give a blog the best chance of success short and long term.

  29. You seem to always have something good to share, Lee. This is no exception.

    I was given a tour of Techrigy a couple of weeks ago and am extremely impressed.

    Des

  30. Nicely thought out article Lee.

    As a proof in point about your comments on using social media to promote your blog, I actually found this post through someone I was following on Twitter.

    Thanks
    Mike

  31. Vishal Agrahari says:

    Really!!! i am very thankful to Lee odden for this Article.

    I am planning to start blog and surely i will follow these rules for my blog.

    Thanks again

  32. Thank you for all the great comments! Thanks for stopping by Des – I am wishing for your weather right now.

    Glad you found us Mike and Vishal.

  33. I just started a blog to try and lead customers to my outdoor games website. The tips are great. I am not very familiar with WordPress yet. I was hoping to find answer to where I can put the needed tags into the template.

  34. Socializing is very important. My rule (which I’m practicing now) is to spend as much time on other people’s blogs as I do my own. Thus if I spend 10 minutes typing a blog post, then I need to spend 10 minutes reading and commenting on others.

    To follow up on earlier comments, I think companies are becoming more and more willing to jump into the social media discussion without specific ROI tracking abilities. They know they need to be part of the discussion and are willing to jump in without a fully thoughtout plan (even though that would be preferrable). It is up to the PR professional to show how a blog can work and what it takes to make the blog work. Even for business blogs, communication must be a two-way street. Companies hae to get out there an engage their customers.

  35. Hits the nail right on! Education through the bloggin experience is whaat people want to read. Not to be SOLD. we have found through educating our clients and sharing what we know as an internet marketing firm, that we have a constant pipeline of referrals.

    Why? Simply because we take the time to share, educate and link to solid resources such as this blog to help them understand that we are not the only ones explaining how important blogging and SEO really is to their company.

    Thanks Lee!

  36. As always, great information.

  37. Lee,

    I initially started my blog to learn about blogging and SEO. Later I found a passion for social media which has led to the majority of my content. Through the guidance of some experts I now use my blog as an outlet for my own person knowledge that I’ve learned. As with any blog or social media tool putting your readers and followers ahead of yourself is key to your success.

  38. Great advice for me. I recently started my own blog mapping my online income success, and I know this will help out. Thanks.

  39. Very nice article. Thanks for the information and I will try to apply some of this to my blog. I will also be back to check out all of the the posts that you have and start reading them soon.

    Blaine Sword
    http://postafterpost.com

  40. Great info, though I think only the socializing is really necessary (and having great content!)

  41. Steve Harold says:

    Hi Lee
    Thanks for such a comprehensive article on blogging. I can see holes in my game plan based on the steps you have outlined. There is clearly more to this than just posting articles and hoping to get traffic
    Thanks
    Steve

  42. Great stuff – thanks for this. We will be implementing this on our blog for sure.

  43. A really useful article and a really good website.

    I’m new to blogging and there is SO MUCH to learn if you want to do it properly. I’ve started a blog & I’m trying to lay out all the steps required while at the same monitoring the progress in terms of site views and traffic.

    I’ll certainly follow the good advice here.

    Thanks, Nigel

  44. Joanne Zimakas says:

    Listen…….you cannot talk and listen at the same time…….you cannot fake authenticity….. 🙂

  45. Thanks for a very informative post. But as Jerry writes above I, too, would love to know “where I can put the needed tags into the template”

  46. I really enjoyed this article! The information in here is great for me to pass along to my clients that are still struggling with starting a blog. And, I love the visual use of graphics. Thanks Lee!

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