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The Blogger's Guide to SEO

Background Information
While we wrote a 300+ page book about SEO, only a dozen pages are needed to cover how to do SEO for a blog. Why? As search improves, Google and other search engines collect more data, which allows them to recommend and rank blogs based on how well people trust those blogs.

What Google Knows About Your Blog
Search engines have a wide array of trust measurements for blogs. Google knows a lot more about your blog than you think. Consider that Google owns...

Extrapolating Trust from User Data
If a Google user subscribes to your blog how much can Google trust that person's attention and subscription as a sign of trust? How long have they subscribed for? How often do users interact with your site? What other sites do they subscribe to? What other sites do they interact with? How regular are their search and email habits?

If another blog links to you, how much should Google trust that link as a vote to help your site rank better? Do any popular and trustworthy blogs link to that site? How many people subscribe to their RSS feed?

While services like Bloglines or MyBlogLog are able to answer some of these questions, Google can answer them more precisely than any other company.
In addition to the above data, Google knows how old your site is, how steady you have produced content, and how steady your link profile has grown.

Why Blogs Are Different Than Static Websites
SEO for a blog is different than SEO for most other websites, largely because of the social elements baked into blogging technology. SEO for blogs is less about buying links or tricking inadequate search technology. SEO for blogs is more focused on giving people something to talk about and creating something worthy of attention.
The Social Nature of Blogs

1. RSS and feed readers make it easy for readers to subscribe to every post you write, and be notified the moment you publish it.
2. Many people who read blogs also write them, and many of them have hundreds or thousands of subscribers. If a few reputable bloggers syndicate your story it can have a cascading effect where many of their readers share your story.
3. Popular blogs that solicit reader feedback may have dozens or hundreds of comments on each post, adding unique content which the page can rank for.
4. Optimizing a blog is more about capturing attention and getting credit for spreading ideas than it is about optimizing page copy to match search relevancy algorithms.

Domain Name Registration & Blog Hosting
Services such as TypePad, Blogger, and Wordpress.com allow you to host your site as a subdomain off of their sites. Do NOT do that! Some of those services offer a limited set of features and/or prohibit placing ads on your site. It can take months or years to build an audience. Rather than eventually moving your site away from one of these services, you are better off starting with your own domain name and hosting it with a reliable web host.
You can register your own domain name for less than $10 at GoDaddy.com. Dreamhost is an affordable web host, and they offer one click install of the Wordpress blogging platform.

Keyword Research
A wide array of free and paid keyword research tools exist. Many of these tools, such as Wordtracker, have traditionally return keywords that people recently searched for.

Trend Related Keyword Tools
As a blogger, you are not only looking for what is historically popular, but also what is fresh. You can gain insights into what is going on right now by performing searches on Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Google News. Services like Google Trends and Yahoo! Buzz Index show you what searches were popular in the last day.

Where to Use Keywords in Your Page Content
It is crucial to use your keywords in your page title, preferably near the start of your page title. You may want to use your keywords, related phrases, and popular keyword modifiers in your page content a couple times, but with an emphasis on writing natural. Make sure that your content reads well to humans, as that matters much more than what a robot thinks of your content. If people like your content and link at it that is more valuable than getting on page optimization down perfect but sounding robotic in the process.

Keeping Up With The Joneses
Meme Trackers
What ideas are spreading today? Who is at the center of the conversation in the blogging world? TechMeme and TailRank highlight recent popular blog posts. Spin off topically oriented meme trackers are also available. The World Bank launched their BuzzMonitor as a free open source software program allowing anyone to create a meme tracker.

YouTube
YouTube lists today's most popular, today's most discussed, and today's favorite videos. Many of these are irrelevant to your site, but any of these could help you find ideas that have already displayed some level of social proof.

Social News Sites
The Digg homepage, Del.icio.us Popular list, and StumbleUpon Buzz show ideas that were recently popular amongst social bookmarkers. Pligg makes it easy to create niche social news sites.

Focusing On Competing Websites
You don't have to track everything to be successful. You only have to compete in your market. If you read a dozen or two dozen blogs in your market, track who is getting linked to, and why people are talking about them, that makes it easy for you to identify and create ideas and content worthy of being mentioned.

It is easy to subscribe to competing blogs in your marketplace by using feed readers like iGoogle, Google Reader, or Bloglines. You can view links pointing at competing blogs by using Technorati or Google Blogsearch.

Discovering New Content Ideas
Use the above mentioned popular lists to find out why ideas are spreading in related markets and past ideas that worked. From doing that research, it should be easy to tie those ideas to your own market to create remarkable ideas. Every piece of content you come across (online reading, books, pictures, magazines, conferences, personal experience, etc.) is a source of inspiration. Carry a camera and a notepad everywhere you go. You can keep up with general blogging trends by reading Darren Rowse's ProBlogger and Performancing.

Writing Clear & Compelling Headlines
Cory Doctorow, popular science fiction author and blogger at Boing Boing. Descriptive headlines help put your story in context, and make people more likely to click on your site when it appears in search results.
You can also aim to be emotionally captivating with your headlines by using your headline to ask a question or to promise solving a problem. Brian Clark offers many successful page title formulas in his Magnetic Headlines series.

Optimizing Site Structure
Highlight Your Best Content

Until September of 2007 my homepage was the most recent posts from my blog. While that helps to promote new posts on the blog, it is off-putting to people new to my field. If you create a popular blog, make sure that your homepage is appealing to people new to your field. Guide them through the learning process, show them where to start, and highlight your best content. If your site grows into a business re-invest to create tools, add forums, and other interactive features that keep people coming back to your site.

Many blogging systems allow you to highlight your most popular posts. Featuring your greatest hits puts site visitors one click away from your best content, and places more link equity on the best posts, which makes people more likely to find your site by reading one of your best posts.

Many of your readers are new to your site. Referencing some of your older articles allows them to understand your frame of reference without requiring you to write the same thing over and over again. If you syndicate content to other sites or if any spammy sites steal your content, referencing old posts increases the chances that you get free links, which will help you rank better.

Categories & Tag Pages
Create categories that are well aligned with industry related keywords. Doing this will create a site structure that helps those category pages rank well for the keywords in them. If your site is focused on weight loss, then creating categories about exercise, diet programs, diet pills, and weight loss supplements make sense.
If you use both category and tag pages try to not let them overlap. For example, you would not want to create a category page named link building and then tag many of your pages with link building as a tag. It also helps to limit your use of categories to a dozen or two dozen categories at the most, instead of having hundreds of categories and tags with only a few posts in each.

Neighboring & Related Posts
Many blogs link to the previous and next posts on each page. These links are convenient from a usability standpoint, and they help search engines crawl deeply through your website. Some Wordpress plugins list related posts under the current post, which helps readers find related material in case they land on the wrong page.

Fix Page Titles
Many blog content management systems place the site name ahead of the post name in the page title of individual blog posts. It is best if your page titles start with the most relevant information first. There are numerous Wordpress plugins that make it easy to change the structure of your page titles. A couple popular ones are all in one SEO pack and SEO Title Tag.

Analytics: Replicate Early Success
A web analytics program can show you:

* who links at your site
* what posts they are linking at
* what people searched for to find your site

If you know the types of people who reference you AND why they are referencing your site, it is easy to create additional linkworthy content they will like. If you know what your site ranks well for, then you know what topics your site is trusted for, and what related topics you should easily rank for. Some bloggers tweak high traffic pages to add keyword modifiers to the page content, which helps them get a bit more traffic by ranking for additional keyword phrases.

Google Analytics is free. I also like Mint, which costs a one time $30 registration fee per site. Performancing and MyBlogLog offer analytics programs geared toward bloggers.

Controversy
Many people let fears control their actions, but most successful people are guided by intuition and instinct more than fear.

* Nobody likes a bully. Some bloggers are worried about getting sued or offending somebody. When I got sued my name, exposure, and profits grew overnight. That is not to say you should be reckless, but illegitimate lawsuits garner media exposure and organic trust.
* Creative destruction is part of business. In a few years people will pay to give away information that I sell today. Business people are worried about defending their copyright, but as the web gets more competitive we are fortunate to even garner enough attention to get copied.

Some self-proclaimed ethical bloggers play good cop bad cop in their marketing. In this viral video tips blog post, Michael Arrington commented about how he was disgusted by it. He could not have been too disgusted by it, given that he published it on his own site, and those pageviews made him a lot of money.

Use Push Marketing After Launching Your Site
Being Remarkable

If you are new to internet marketing, read Seth Godin's Purple Cow to understand how to create remarkable ideas. Links are nothing but a citation. If you are remarkable the links will come, but not without a little push marketing first!

Being Credible
Most new information is spam and/or regurgitated drivel. As more spam is created using increasingly sophisticated tools, readers get better and faster at discerning information quality at a glance.
Using a default Wordpress design might turn off readers. If you use a good looking template or buy a professional custom design that shows that you care, and you are willing to invest into building your site. Formatting and design improve credibility.
Being easy to contact, listing your business address, and publishing a unique well thought out about page listing your credentials makes it easier to trust your website.

Link Out to Other Blogs
We are more receptive toward marketing messages that match our biases and interests. You can't get any more relevant than talking specifically about a person. Many bloggers track who links to them and read those posts.
Linking out to other useful related websites is one of the cheapest forms of marketing available. Don't just link to another blog and blockquote it, but make sure you add value by explaining why you think they are right or wrong. Perhaps consider asking for feedback from a person you respect or ask them if they are willing to do an interview.

Link Building
Search engines view links as a sign of trust. If you can afford it, I recommend listing new blogs in authoritative general directories, niche directories, and blog directories. Here is some background information on submitting to general directories, and Loren Baker recently posted about the best blog directories.

Advertise Your Website

Exposure leads to more exposure. Spending a few dollars on advertising today might mean that your blog gets popular a few months earlier.

* Pay per click ads enable you to buy relevant traffic from search engines.
* AdWords has a large publishing partner network called AdSense. Buying site targeted AdSense ads and Blog Ads allow you to target your ads to specific related content sites.
* Review networks like ReviewMe let you to buy reviews on popular related blogs.
* StumbleUpon ads bring visitors to your featured articles for a nickel a click.

Source From : Aaron & Giovanna Wall (SEOBook)

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