We all probably know that blogging for Search Engine Optimization benefits only is not going to be something that your audience will enjoy now and come back tomorrow in order to subscribe to your RSS feed, follow your persona or spread the word. This will, hopefully, drive traffic to your website but, eventually, will defeat the purpose of creating and running a blog.
El classico: “They come, they puke, they leave.”
So the moment you start to write solely for SEO, you mess up the relationship that you have established with your readers. And you’re also missing the target in terms of encouraging repeat readership and building up a knowledge emporium around your niche/industry.
So, should I write for people first and the search engines will follow?
Of course, you need to consider your readership. Who is your target demographic? You are going to want to make sure your blog writing is on point and relevant to your reader. So, yes, it’s better to write for your target audience first, focusing on being helpful and engaging.
1) Focus on specific topics. It will increase the percentage of visitors who are interested in those topics and will, most likely, increase the usage (frequency) of similar words on related topics, and as the result the frequency of the used words will increase the rank of your blog in the search engines. After 6-9 months of work, it will bring more visitors and subscribers. (Of course, pay attention to the quality and usefulness of the content.)
2) Establish a cohesive editorial policy (aka blogging calendar) and focus on a specific niche so your readers know what to expect, when to expect it and why they should subscribe. If you serve the niche well, people will link to you and that will improve your results. (I personally do not have any editorial policy for this, mostly Search Engine Optimization, blog. And my tips here are based solely on my clients’ projects.)
Finding that middle ground for the appropriate topical scope is not easy – learning about what your target audience would like to know is always a moving target.
3) Pay attention to reader comments and look at your web analytics to see which articles, keywords and traffic sources are most popular. This will help you refine your blogging calendar to better serve your readership.
And now come the SEO part: tips on how optimize your blog for search engines
Should you want people to find you more quickly, through search engines, a well optimized blog can help.
“Just a few simple tweaks in the writing process could see them ranking considerably higher” by Darren Rowse in ProBlogger: http://bit.ly/9yObmb
So here are just hard-core tips related to search engine optimization for blogs and SEO copywriting:
1) We usually want to target one keyword per article. We can target just a few more related words.
2) Consider the length of your posts. I’d say 400-500 words article has a strong Search Engine Optimization potential. And here comes quality vs. quantities of content. So I’d come up 1-3 times per week with some quality stuff, i.e. creating only quality posts with link bait potential vs blogging daily but not producing enough juice for the SEO squeeze. Let’s face it, the Internet is saturated with low quality content with little to offer.
3) The Three Holy Places to put your primary keyword: The blog post’s URL, Title tag, and H1.
4) The Description tag has almost nothing to do with SEO. It’s mostly responsible for click-through-rate. So it can be created using an important fragment of your article. Remember: search engines allow a maximum of roughly 150 characters for the description.
5) Don’t create too many Categories – a short list will tell readers what your blog is all about.
6) Are you heavily using tags in posts? Tags are not working for SEO anymore: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A96yDPqa2rs
7) Very often blog post names and their title tags are the same. Consider using a SEO strategy for the title tag – I’d suggest using this space for keywords only, starting from the primary one. The same is true for the blog post URL. No need to use the article name in there. Instead, focus on keywords.
8 ) The name of your article should be “taken” in H1.
9) On the Web, we don’t read in traditional way, we mostly scan. So use writing for the web techniques, including creating subtitles (H2, H3) and bullets. Use keywords in headings, bulleted lists, numbered lists and links. And Google loves all that too.
10) Add keyword-rich links to connect a blog post with other pages of your site. Of course, use relevant keywords for that.
11) Measure keyword frequency with a word cloud generator. I.e. once you created a post (draft, not live yet), copy the text to clipboard and go to http://www.wordle.net/create or any another similar tool. The major keywords you selected for the post should be very prominent in the cloud. If you don’t see them, or there’s significant noise, an on-page SEO fine-tuning is needed.
12) Boost your article rankings with inbound links. Who’s on top 20 for a given keyword? Check our their backlinks (particularly from highly trafficked reputable sites) and think how you can be there too. A good link development is an art unto itself, it’s a long-term process. (BTW check out my ideas on Link building). Anyway, if you can leverage your knowledge into a space that generates useful, relevant insights, and produces regularly updated content you are well on your way to the most important component of SEO.
PS This article is optimized for the following keywords:
– seo for blogs: 6600 (Global Monthly Searches)
– search engine optimization for blogs: 1600
– seo tips for blogs: 1000
– optimize your blog: 260
The cloud I’ve got: