When it comes to gaining exposure for your business online with SEO, content is king. That means your blog is royalty. Below are 7 key tips to help make your blogging throne-worthy.
The tips are organized roughly chronologically, from planning through post-publication. (Fair warning: general SEO content techniques won’t be covered, but feel free to check out my 8 SEO Tips for Search Engine Friendly Content article.) Let’s dig in…
1) Keep an editorial calendar
It’s too easy to lose track and spend either too much or too little time on your blog. Rather than doing it “when you think of it,” add a recurring time to your calendar that’s set aside for blog writing (once a week, twice a week, bi-weekly, etc).
Also, maintain a spreadsheet (on your desktop or in the cloud with Google Docs) where you plan out your next blog articles. Use it to store questions you’ve been asked by customers, keywords you want to target, or ideas for subjects you want to cover (see Tip 2 & 3 for ways to generate ideas). This way, you don’t lose great article concepts or waste time scratching your head when it’s time to write.
2) Use Google Alerts & Ask.com for new ideas
What if you run out of article ideas? We all hit a wall once in a while. I recommend setting up free Google Alerts. Type in some keywords related to your business, your customers, or your industry, and Google will email you a daily digest of news triggered by those keywords. This can provide a wealth of topics to write about. Blog commentary on current news is always popular.
Another avenue is to poke around ask.com. People ask tons of questions about everything imaginable. Tap into that! Find questions you can answer related to your field, write a blog article, then post a brief answer with a link to your article on ask.com. What will this accomplish?
- Underlines your expertise
- Helps someone out
- Provides you a great piece of blog content
- And, as the cherry on top, creates a backlink* to your website!
*As to the last benefit, the link will probably be marked “nofollow,” which means it won’t help your site’s PageRank score. However, even “nofollow” links help search engines find and index your site, plus they may also direct real people to your site, which is the whole point.
3) Conduct keyword research
This is crucial to a successful blog strategy. Jump onto a keyword resource like the Google Keyword Tool, punch in some keywords related to your business, and scan the results for blog-friendly search terms. Gold mines are terms that begin with “how to…” Write blogs with these keywords as titles and you’re laying down tempting SEO breadcrumbs.
Important note: It would waste a lot of your time to do keyword research every time you’re ready to write a new post. Instead, sit down for an hour once a month, conduct your research, and catalog a bunch of keywords for future use. Work from this list until you’ve burned through it, then go fishing again.
4) Include at least 1 image or video
Multimedia components are important. People are drawn to pictures and video. They add interest, interaction, and color to a block of text. The images and videos don’t even need to be yours, as long as you don’t violate copyright laws. Search YouTube for a video related to your blog post and embed it in your article!
Beyond the people factor, search engines actually prefer to see images in your blogs as well…as long as they are SEO friendly (alt tags, captions/descriptions, etc). If you name your image files intelligently and make it clear with HTML and text what they are about, there’s a good chance they will be indexed in Image Search. Don’t overlook this important SEO avenue!
5) Only 1 Category label per post
While it’s possible to apply more than one Category to a blog post, it’s usually best not to. By sticking to one primary Category, you accomplish three things:
- You tell visitors exactly what the article is about
- You tell search engines what the article is about
- You help yourself to focus the article tightly when you write
6) No more than 5 Tag labels per post
Better yet, try to keep it to 3 Tags! Why? Isn’t more better? Well, sometimes more is just more confusing. Blog articles should be targeted to a specific subject. You shouldn’t need 15 Tags to explain the subject matter.
Want to hear an even more daring recommendation? Don’t use Tags at all. Tags are very similar to the old META Keyword tags, something which has been looked upon as an agent of spam by search engines for years. Makes you wonder, do blog Tags help or hurt your SEO?
And speaking of Tags, here are some thoughts on the pros and cons of Tag Clouds from Google’s Matt Cutts:
7) Share new posts via Social Media
Seems like a no-brainer, but if you don’t build it into your blog (adding Share and Like buttons to every post), and make it part of your process (after publishing an article, go immediately to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. and post a blurb with a link), you’re bound to forget this important step. A blog is only as good as the amount of exposure it gets!
Advanced Tip: Track the links you share through social media so that Google Analytics can show you what’s popular, and what social sites are and aren’t working. Here’s a Free URL Builder Tool I put together in Excel.
Wishing You Better Blogging!
Hope you find these tips immediately useful. Do you have other tips or tricks that you use when blogging? Please share them in a Comment!