SEO or the process for getting your blog ship-shape for Google is the easiest way to get new visitors to your blog.
That’s what we’ll tackle now.
SEO can be broken down into two broad categories: on-site optimization and off-site optimization. On-site optimization configures elements on your blog to help Google figure out which keywords your blog should rank well for. Off-site optimization covers all the stuff done to get other websites to link to you. Even with all of the funny sounding Google updates like Penguin and Panda, your search engine rank still comes down to getting other quality sites to link to you.
On-Site Optimization Tips
Know your keywords: Spend some time thinking about the words your audience will use to find your blog. Your goal is to get a page one Google listing for these keywords. I recommend that you create a list of 10 keywords that loosely describe your blog, another 5 keywords that specifically describe your product/service, and 2-3 keywords that are “must-have”. These keywords should have a good number of people searching for them with relatively low competition.
Craft a Great Page Title: Your page title plays an important role in Google’s ranking. Since your page title is the only thing that Google can show without actually showing your page, they pay careful attention to how your page titles are constructed. The simplest change you can make is to include your most important keyword into the title. When possible try to lead with your chosen keyword. Google generally considers keywords used early in the title as most important.
Use Your “Must Have” Keywords: Look for opportunities to include your must have keywords in blog post headlines, navigation links, subheadlines, blog post categories and tags. Don’t over-do it but try to use your must have keywords at least once or twice in every blog post. On the right is a perfect example of using high-value keywords in navigation links:
Optimize Images: Every image on your blog has a setting called an “Alt-tag”. The words used in Alt-tags helps search engines describe your image. Since Google’s algorithms can’t describe photos by looking at them (yet), they are forced to take your word for it. Always include a description of your photo in the alt-tags. Go one step further and use one of your 5 – service related keywords in the alt-tag. Again, be smart and only use one keyword in the alt-tag, Google will penalize you if you “stuff” your alt-tags with lists of keywords.
Anchor Tags/Links: Google tends to reward sites that makes their job easier. Google plays close attention to hyperlinks. Hyperlinks are valuable currency to website owners. Think about it. How careful are you about linking your blog to another site? That’s right. That’s why Google pays attention to links. The next thing Google looks for is what words you use to link to another site, those words are called anchor text. The best way to use anchor text is to slip in a keyword when it makes sense.
Here’s a shot at how Copyblogger does it
These guys are masters at using Anchor tags. In this case they are targeting the very popular “pinterest traffic” keyphrase. You create anchor text hyperlinks using the following code: <a href=”http://www.yourlink.com”>Put Anchor Text Here</a> .
Don’t Forget to Write a Meta Description
Your meta description is the text used to describe your page on Google.
Many SEO plugins will autmatically generate this description for you. Don’t do this. Often they take the first sentence of your post and sticks it in the meta description. Many times your first sentence doesn’t contain your must-have keyword, essentially wasting the space without giving you any SEO benefit. Instead take the time write your meta-description for each blog post.
Describe your post in a way that encourages people to click and visit your blog. Use your must-have keyword early in the description for the most SEO benefit.
Add an XML Sitemap
This PDF has the step-by-step process for adding a Sitemap link to your blog.
The next step is to add your XMP sitemap to Google Website Tools. Again, you want to do anything you can to make sure Google can easily find and index your blog posts. We’ve created a tutorial for this process as well.