Everyone these days seems to have a blog. But what everyone does not have, it's safe to say, are consistent readers. And what is a blog without readers? A lot of time invested and nothing to show for it! In order to boost your blogger popularity and gain a consistent following, you must know and use [at least some of] the SEO tips discussed in this 2-part series.
If you put these tips to use, you will:
- Appear higher up and more often in search results pages
- Attract more readers
- Keep people on your blog for longer
- Avoid penalization by Google
- Make the most of sharing efforts
If you don't put them to use? Well... you may as well quit blogging.
Tip #1: Title Tags
Blog post title tags designate the title that shows up on search engine results pages. A well crafted title is not only a necessary part of earning a first page rank in search results, but also in standing out among results.
Notice the techniques used in the titles above.
- Keywords are integrated thoughtfully and mirror probable search terms.
- Brand names are added on at the end of the titles.
- Titles should be no longer than 70 characters or they will be cut off with an ellipses in search results. [Notice my title exceeded the limit and was cut off!]
- Titles are written in a way that is compelling. For example, "Complete Guide..." and "Wake-Up Call!" are more likely to draw interest than a less exciting title.
For those of you feeling stumped on how to write a compelling title, here are some proven formulas you can use to get started:
- Complete Guide to [SOMETHING INTERESTING] Every [TYPE OF PROFESSION OR LIFESTYLE CHOICE] Must Know
- [#] Myths About [SOMETHING CONTROVERSIAL] Debunked!
- [#] Reasons You Need to Change [SOMETHING SEEMINGLY BENIGN] Now
- [#] [THINGS] We Now Know Are Dangerous
- How I [ACHIEVED SOMETHING DIFFICULT] and You Can Too
Tip #2: Link Within Your Blog
Blog posts should include links within the body text to previous popular posts you have written. The more well integrated the links are, the more clicks they will get, resulting in:
- Visitors staying on your site longer
- Giving visitors more opportunity to read your work
- Creating return visitors
- More opportunities for old posts to get shared and continue to drive traffic to your blog
Below is a great example, from Jason Acidre writing on the Web Gnomes blog, of how to include a mention of a previous post. What I like best about it is that the wording acts as a preview for where visitors will be directed when they click. Reading "I usually focus on" tells us that the link will go to one of the author's blogs and the wording also gives us a glimpse of what the author is passionate about. Like how I enjoy writing posts on converting visitors to leads.
An additional bonus is that this method of linking focuses on SEO-friendly anchor text.
Tip #3: Longer is Better
It is true that visitors should be able to scan your posts quickly. However, that does not mean the posts have to be short. Informative headings, a summary paragraph, good formatting, and images can all help make a post scannable.
The posts themselves, though, should be on the longer side. According to testing performed by SEO Neil Patel, longer blog posts are shared more often and rank higher in search results. In Neil's tests, posts with 2,000 words of content ranked highest in results. He also recommends posts have 400 words at a minimum.
In his exhaustive blog post, How Content Length Affects Rankings and Conversions, Neil explains his methodology, displays graphs of his findings, and lists many statistics to back up his theory.
Tip #4: Avoid Duplicate Content
Duplicate content isn't always obvious. Consider some of the ways it can occur:
- Licensing content from another blog
- Reposting your own material as a guest post on another blog
- Pages within your site that contain the same content without a 301 redirect
- Paraphrasing an entire blog post
So how can you avoid accidental duplicate content? The most important thing to remember is to write content with unique value.
Also remember that when content is licensed or copied to several different sites - think newspapers running the same article or posting your blog entry on several sites - the site with the best user usage data, branding, links, sharing, etc will win in the search results.
As far as how much material has to be duplicate to ring the alarm bells? According to Rand Fishkin over at Moz.com, what is considered duplicate content is not determined based on something as simple as a percentage of text. Google's algorithms are very sophisticated and use a vast array of inputs to make the determination.
My advice? Proceed with extreme caution.
Tip #5: Rel="Author"
Rel="Author" is code that identifies you as the author of a blog post and connects the content with your Google+ profile. An important benefit of adding authorship code is that your photo is added on the search results page. Take for example this result by Pete Cashmore.
What is the benefit of a photo? People are 5 times as likely to click on links with the author photo than links without it!