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Quit Blogging if You Don’t Use These 10 SEO Tips [Part 2 of 2]

We took a long break there but now we're back to finish off our list of 10 can't-live-without SEO tips for bloggers. This is the second of a two-part series.

Tip #6: Tagging and Naming Images

When web audits are run on new clients at Search Engine Savvy, it is not uncommon for over 1,000 images to be flagged as missing titles and alt text.

As you blog over the years, omitting information for one or more photos per post adds up.

The best thing to do is to add alt text, a title, and use proper naming protocols every time you add a photo.

We could use this photo of a horse with yellow hair, taken by me, as an example for what to write for each.

blogging-tips-horse-example

File Name

It's tempting to accept the default names given to photos as they are uploaded from your camera to your computer, but resist the urge. Search engines crawl files names for keywords in addition to crawling titles and alt text.

For our horse above, a good file name could be:

blogging-tips-horse-example.jpg

Title

The title can usually be seen when you hover your mouse over an image. This should work if you hover over the horse image above.

Titles should be catchy and descriptive and follow the rules most titles do. Additionally, keywords should be included.

For our horse:

Yellow Haired Horse Teaches Image Tagging Guidelines

Alt Text

Alt text displays when the image doesn't and is also used for the visually impaired to help describe the image. For SEO purposes, the alt tag is relied upon heavily by search engines to determine what the image is.

When creating alt  text, include keywords, why the photo is included, and a good description. Keep alt text to about 150 characters.

Photo of horse with yellow hair for image tagging example.

Tip #7: Hook Your Readers in the First Paragraph

Sure, there are some visitors who are only skimming headers. But there are some who are there to read the whole post.

Here are 5 techniques to use in the first paragraph of a blog post to hook the readers and possibly a skimmer or two as well.

1. Identify a Want and Fulfill It

The holiday season is in full swing and before hanging your exterior holiday lights, follow these tips so your home is the talk of the neighborhood!

(From a Free Contractor Quotes Company)

2. Create an Interesting Image

"There's little better way to celebrate the bounty of early summer or to nourish your body than with a bright and beautiful salad.  Enter the Strawberry and Pickled Beet Salad...."

(From an Organic Skincare Company)

3. Pull a U-Turn Mid-Sentence

Virginia may be a Southern state, but some winters leave Northern Virginia residents wondering if they really live in the Arctic Circle.

(From an HVAC Company)

4. Share Ground Breaking News

On its fifteenth birthday, September 26, Google shook up the SEO world once again...

(From an SEO Company)

5. Pique Their Curiosity

It’s not often that Ed Schultz and Mark Levin agree on something. But when it comes to Chris Christie, they both agree that he is a terrible human being.

(From a Republican Pundit)

Tip #8: Use <H2> Tags and Make Posts Skimmable

Author Steph McGuinn holding up a sign: People Have Short Attention Spans

Header tags, specifically <H2> tags are important for two reasons:

1. Headers provide Google crawlers with information.

Headers are used by crawlers to decipher what the post is about.

2. Headers help readers skim your post.

Let's be honest people have short attention spans when it comes to reading on the web, so it's best to write in sections with each subject labels with a header.

Tip #9: Make the Content *Really* Useful to your Target Audience

Define your target audience and determine what would be useful to them. Also base what tone, language, and photos you include on who the audience is.

Ryan Homes has a blog called Bedrooms to Backyards that makes a perfect example. Bedrooms to Backyards is divided into parts that directly correlate with target audiences:

Screenshot of Ryan Homes blog with useful content categories.

  1. "Savvy Homebuying" => home buyers with a DIY mindset
  2. "Money Sense" => home buyers on a budget
  3. "True Style" => first or second time home buyers
  4. "Keeping House" => first or second time home buyers
  5. "Living Green" => eco friendly home buyers

Tip #10: Use Keywords Responsibly

KeywordExampleWhatNotToDo

It can be easy to fall into a keyword happy state of mind when blogging for SEO. The best way to rank for keywords in our post Penguin/Panda/Hummingbird world is to create a separate landing page for each keyword and make them truly useful and relevant.

As you blog, here are some Dos and Don'ts.

Keywords Dos

  • DO use your keyword in your SEO title, meta description, body text, tags, and alt text.
  • DO make sure your keywords make sense everywhere they are used.
  • DO keep keywords to 2-4 words.

Keyword Don'ts

  • DO NOT use your keyword in nonsensical sentences (like the picture above).
  • DO NOT use one keyword more than a few times in your post.
  • DO NOT use stop words because search engines ignore them.

Now, GO GET 'EM

Congratulations! You're now armed with enough basic SEO knowledge to write an interesting, easy-to-read blog, that is optimized for search engines. So now it's time to get out there and blog like you've never blogged before!

Follow Steph McGuinn on Twitter, @HeartBuzzAgency.

Quit Blogging if You Don’t Use These 10 SEO Tips [Part 1 of 2]

No Traffic on Your Blog

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

BlogTitles

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.

  1. Keywords are integrated thoughtfully and mirror probable search terms.
  2. Brand names are added on at the end of the titles.
  3. 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!]
  4. 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.

LinkingWithinYourBlogExample

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.

Pete Cashmore Search Engine Result

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!

Additionally, the mark up also shows how many times you are circled on Google+ and links to other articles by the same author.
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Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for Part 2!
Follow Steph McGuinn on Twitter, @HeartBuzzAgency.

Is Getting Traffic to Your Blog as Difficult as Getting This Dog to Take a Bath?

If yes, then this post is for you.

Whether you're just starting a blog or you have been writing one for years, here are 4 strategies to get more traffic.

1. Reconsider Your Target Audience

Could the audience you have been targeting be saturated? Is it time to think of another group of individuals to start targeting and go a little more easy on your current group?  Or it could be that you have yet to target an audience?

Targeting an audience is important because in order to properly market content, you must first understand who you are marketing to and how to reach their influencers. You will also be able to learn which social platforms they are using and what types of language, videos, and photos are best to engage them.

2. Use Your Social Networks

Once you determine who your target audience is, you can set up accounts on social networks for you blog, or rework accounts you already have to better speak to your audience. Don't be afraid to explore newer platforms like Vine or Wanelo. By the way, staying up to date on the latest trends in social networks isn't a bad idea either. Make sure you're plugged into a few good blogs that will keep you updated.

3. Make Friends Who Are "Link Buddies"

What I call "link buddies" are people who you have connected with online or in person who are willing to promote your content through their networks. Usually these are relationships that take time to build. Just remember the golden rule when working on these relationships: Treat others the way you want to be treated. (I.E. Link to their content!)

4. Use Keywords

Yes, this is SEO 101, but are you overlooking it? Write blog posts using the keywords people are using to search on that topic. Keywords should appear in the blog title and throughout the body of the blog. Need help figuring out what people are typing into Google to search? Set up an AdWords account and use the Keyword Planner.

In closing, if your blog traffic needs a boost, take a second look at your audience and review content marketing strategies like social networks, link buddies, and keywords. Have more to add? Please comment below!

Follow Steph McGuinn on Twitter, @HeartBuzzAgency.