There’s all sorts of buzz about blogs lately and yet so many companies are still wondering what to do about it. In fact, there are a tremendous number of business blogs that are not realizing much of their potential visibilty on the web. Why? Because they’re not optimized.
This is very much the same scenario that occurred with web sites in the late nineties. Back then I worked with a company that sold web sites – lots of them. But after getting the site up and running, the traffic didn’t come by itself. So we figured out optimizing for search engines and that was the start of my SEO career. Blogs can generate traffic without search engines, but WITH search engines it can be even better.
With blogs, there exist as many or more optimization opportunities to optimize as with a web site. While most blog software is more search engine friendly out of the box than many web sites, the opportunities for blog optimization are readily available. For our SEO and blog marketing consulting service, we have a very long list blog optimization tactics to employ. For this post, I’ll focus on a short list that can make a difference for any blog.
Why optimize your blog?
- Increase rankings of the blog on BOTH regular search engines as well as blog/RSS search engines
- Increase traffic to the blog from multiple sources such as social search (Yahoo MyWeb, Google Personalized Search) and social bookmarking sites (del.icio.us, Digg, Furl or Blogmarks)
A blog is just a website that uses a content management system, so most standard SEO tactics apply. There are also optimization tactics specific to blogs.
Consider keywords when writing your blog post titles. Some blog software allows plugins that can suggest keywords. Otherwise, you can use Google Suggest or one of these free keyword suggestion tools: Digital Point, SEO Book or Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Keywords should NOT determine your content (unless it’s an AdSense blog).
Optimize the template. Make sure post titles appear in the title tag and append the title tag (hard code) with the most important phrase for your blog.
Example: ” Interview with Brett Tabke – Online Marketing Blog”
Online Marketing Blog is included on every blog post title tag automatically.
Also use the blog post title as the permalink. If you’re using keywords in the blog post title, then they will occur as anchor text in the permanent post link. While you’re at it, just make the post title a permalink.
Make it easy for your blog readers to subscribe and include RSS feed subscription buttons or “chicklets” in a side bar or on a dedicated Subscription Info page.
Optimize Categories. When you create categories for your blog, be sure to consider keywords in the titles. When you post, be sure to default to a general category that is relevant no matter what the post is about. Choose multiple categories on each post when appropriate.
Social bookmarking sites can be excellent sources of traffic to your blog, so be sure to make it easy for readers to bookmark your blog posts. You can do this by adding some code to your blog template for each of the major social bookmarking sites. Here’s a tool for social bookmarking links. Here’s another tool that uses icons instead of text links.
Ping the major RSS feed and Blog search engines each time you post. This can be configured with blog software such as Movable Type or WordPress to work automatically. If you’re using Blogger.com, then you can do this manually with Pingomatic or Pingoat.
Comments and Trackbacks – Be sure your blog software is configured to send a trackback ping to blogs that you cite within your posts. Pay attention to press releases distributed by PRWeb. If you cite a release, and ping the trackback link, the press release will in turn link to your blog. This is better for driving traffic than for link popularity.
Make useful comments on other blogs. Your name will be linked to the blog url that you enter. Do NOT make comments that offer no value to the blog post. Do NOT use keywords in the field for your name, use your name or blog name.
Offer RSS to Email. Almost 30% of our blog traffic comes from readers that perfer to read blog posts via email. There are several free services available for this including: FeedBlitz (what we use), Squeet, Zookoda (this one is more for using blog posts as a weekly newsletter), RMail and Bloglet.
No matter how many optimization tactics you employ on a blog, there is no substitute for quality content. Blog optimization is only as effective as the quality and usefulness of the content you’re optimizing.