As fate would have it, my 55 Quick SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love post (hint – read on for ten more bonus tips!) came out just in time for Mothers Day, so, in honor of dad and Fathers Day, here are a few tips that even dad could follow to boost the traffic on his golf or fishing blog!
Again, maybe not my dad, but then, I’m nearly 53 myself (old enough to be a grandfather) and I’m writing this stuff! Don’t assume that we old geezers won’t get it!
A blog is one of the best and easiest ways to generate fresh, up to date content for your site as well as link love. Good, quality content naturally attracts links, but there are ways to optimize your blog to get the biggest bang for your buck.
What is a blog? Short for web log, a blog is a content management system, basically an interactive web site that allows you to create and post content through a web-based control panel. Rather than create a web page and upload it, you just log into your blog control panel and write articles and post them. They are live immediately and readers can post comments so that it is a more interactive experience for the visitor.
For some, a blog can completely replace a traditional web site. With an almost word processor-like interface, even dear old dad can be blogging in no time!
And, one of the great features of a blog is the built-in RSS feed that visitors can subscribe to for keeping up with your new content. An RSS feed is commonly referred to as “Really Simple Syndication” and it does just what the name suggests – it allows your blog articles and news to be automatically retrieved by user feed readers (like Google Reader, MyYahoo, BlogLines, etc.) all over the world as you post them. The distribution potentially drives traffic, deep links and popularity to your blog which can help with your rankings. Pretty cool, huh?
In addition to providing a platform for terrific information (for humans and search engines), a blog is a natural pathway to the world of social media. Blogs are interactive, encouraging posts and information from visitors, and syndicated through RSS feeds, spreading your content (and links) across the web to be found in search engines, dedicated blog searches, news feeds, you name it.
Bottom line – if you don’t have a blog, get one now!
The plugins (small programs that add features to your blog, usually free) mentioned are specifically for the free self-hosted version of WordPress, probably the most popular blog platform currently used, but the concepts apply to all blogs.
- Use full text in your RSS feed. It is common to just include the first paragraph or two (a summary) in what goes out in the feed and then insert a “More” link to get the reader to go to your blog. That diminishes your ability to get back links from services like TechMeMe because any links below the “More” won’t appear. Use the full text. Don’t worry about your feed being duplicate content. According to Rick Klau, formerly of Feedburner and now with Google, a feed in itself will never be considered duplicate content.
- Optimize the text in the RSS feed just like you should with your posts and web pages. Use descriptive, keyword rich text in your title and description.
- RSS feeds with podcasts and video enclosures will get you into additional RSS directories and engines. Be sure to use show notes (text transcripts) for your podcasts and videos, though. Remember, search engines love text and can’t yet pull content from multimedia files.
- Include tag clouds on pages. Tag clouds are basically keywords from posts on your blog that are linked to a search results page on your blog that include all articles related to the keyword. Let’s say the word that shows up in the “cloud” (basically just a list) is “widgets” and you click on it. You’ll get a page showing all posts on your blog that are tagged with the “widgets” tag. To produce tag clouds, Simple Tags, a free plugin for WordPress, can be used.
- Use a Related Posts plugin. Cross linking to related posts on your blog helps with your internal linking, making keyword rich anchor text more prominent on your blog as well as helping your visitors navigate your site. Use a related posts plugin for WordPress like Contextual Related Posts.
- Top Ten Posts with links. This can be put on auto pilot with yet another plugin that automates the process of deciding which posts get clicked on the most and placing a list on your blog for visitors (and spiders) to see and follow. Popularity Contest is a good WordPress plugin for this.
- Add Technorati tags to your posts. Technorati tracks blogs and social media and tagging your posts can help spread the word about your content. Go to Technorati, register for an account (it’s free) and claim your blog as your own. A nice plugin to help automate the placement of Technorati tags on your blog is Simple Tags (different plugin from the “Simple Tags” mentioned above).
- Optimize your TITLE. Don’t just let your blog software automatically create the TITLE for your post by pulling the text out of your post heading. Customize and optimize it. The SEO TITLE Tag plugin is perfect for WordPress. And, just like with any web page TITLE, put your company name or the name of the blog at the END (if you must include it at all). Unless you are Coca Cola or Microsoft, NOBODY will be searching for it. Sorry…
- Make posts sticky. By using a “sticky post” plugin, you can create keyword rich content that will stay at the top of a category page, for instance, rather than moving down as additional content is posted. I am currently using WP Sticky.
- Create Sitemaps. The search engines can follow your RSS feed sitemap just like they can follow one for a normal web site. Create sitemaps for each category RSS feed and tell the search engines about them, either by pointing to them in your robots.txt file or by submitting them to Yahoo Site Explorer or Google Webmaster Central.
- Use Feedburner. Feedburner offers a ton of free features that can add to your blog’s optimization and marketing efforts, including stats, post e-mail notifications, the ability to include Flickr photo posts and much more. Now owned by Google, features that were previously paid services like MyBrand are now free.
- Use Optional Excerpts. When you make a post, WordPress will grab some text to display on your category page and in your feed (if you aren’t using a full feed as described above). Unfortunately, it doesn’t always grab good text. Using the Optional Excerpts feature in WordPress, you can type in the exact keyword rich, topical text that you want displayed.
- Domain name – In a nutshell, if you think having your blog on a separate domain from, say, your business, will give you more authority and street credit, then go for it. It boils down to a choice of mydomain.com/blogname or blogname.com.
- Use the Update Service built into WordPress. This is in the Options menu and all you do is place a list of URLs to different services like Feedster, Netgator, Technorati, etc. and whenever you make a post, those services will be notified. You can find a list of the services at WordPress Update Service.
- CEO blogging – priceless! If you are running a business, particularly a consumer driven business, get your CEO (Dad?) blogging! CEO influence on a blog is incredible as this is the VOICE of the company. And, responding to reader comments will cause your credibility to skyrocket! This is especially true for a family business. It just makes visitors feel welcome.
- Socialize. Interact with your visitors. Don’t just publish your posts and sit back. Answer questions, link out to their sites when they offer good content, respond to their comments in a timely, informative manner, etc.
- Own a niche. It’s a lot easier to dominate a space if you start out with a smaller, less competitive, narrowly focused subject area. For example, you’re more likely to become a dominant player with a blog about “rechargeable outdoor power tools” than you are for simply “tools’ which is way too broad a term with a lot more competition.
- Work your titles for both audiences – readers and searchers. Be sure you start out with the title of your post to attract readers. After the post has some history and has fallen into the archive section of your blog, go back and optimize the title for SEO.
- Keep the post slug the same. Write this yourself, don’t let WordPress generate it. Don’t go back and change it at a later date because this is what determines how your post link is formed. Writing your own post slug allows you to create an easy to read, optimized URL.
- Optimize for the Google indent. We’ve all seen Google search results where a page from a domain ranks with another page from the same domain just under it, but indented. Focus on getting a post ranking well using standard SEO, anchor text links, etc. Then find another, similar post to optimize. Link the ranking post to the second post to try to pull it up.
- Re-purpose posts and pages. Let’s say you did a post on social media way back in 2005 and you want to do a similar, updated post. If the 2005 post is just way out of date and not of particular use these days, write over it with your new content. The old post has history and back links that can give you an immediate bump.
- Use a single category. I know it’s tempting sometimes to place your posts in multiple categories, but get over it. You risk duplicate content issues with multiple categories, so make it easy for Google and concentrate on one.
- Use a folder. Unless there is a very good reason to put your blog on a separate domain or subdomain (like your site is just a blog or you really believe a separate domain will give you more credibility – see tip #13), put it on your main site as a folder. This keeps link juice targeted to your main domain.
- Got a Flash or image site that won’t rank? Start a blog on the domain to create the related content and links to the Flash or image pages. Chances are your blog pages will be what rank, but they’ll link back to and guide your visitors to your Flash and image pages.
- Create your own custom footer. If you’re using WordPress, try the Feed Footer Plugin. With it you can create your own custom footer content, complete with HTML, for your posts that will show up in your RSS feed. This is great for plugging favorite posts and monetizing your feed.
One final thought to consider. Blogs are all about sharing, so if a visitor shares something really good, promote it to the front page of your blog. Do a post all about it (You caught a fish that was HOW big?) and thank them for the great content. Your visitors will love it and come back for more.
Remember, you can turn active users into free SEOs who write content for you.
Of course, if you’re reading this, you’re obviously the family SEO geek, so share the love with dad and help him out with these tips and plugins. The more automated his blog is, the more time he has to spend researching his subject on the golf course or at the fishing hole – great for Fathers Day!
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As promised, for reading this entire article, here are ten bonus tips to add to 55 Quick SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love
- 56. Use Google Alerts to be alerted about back links – http://www.google.com/alerts. Add link:www.yourdomain.com to the Search Terms box to get notified by email when someone links to you.
57. Optimize your press releases just as you would a web page. Use your keywords, keyword anchor text and headlines in a way that will maximize your visibility without being spammy. In addition to possible pickup by major news sites, these releases are archived on the web. And, remember, don’t put out press releases to sites like PRWeb unless you have REAL news to share.
59. Build pages around phrases like Where can I or How can I because there are a TON of searches for variations of these. Just search for one of these phrases using the free WordTracker Keyword Suggestion Tool and you’ll see what I mean.
60. If you write articles for distribution to article sites for mass distribution (a great way to get back links), be sure to publish the article on your own site first and give the spiders a chance to crawl it. That identifies you as the originator of the content. Then push the article out for distribution across the web, making sure you have a link back to your site in the article content.
61. Tweak and test. Make one change at a time and evaluate what effect it had on your ranking, if any. Changing too many things at once can confuse things to the point where you don’t know which change you made did what.
62. Local search is getting hot! Create a local listing for all locations if you have more than one. Don’t just create a local listing for the main one. Get them all in there! Start with local listings at Google, Yahoo! and Live. Include photos, videos, links, web pages and coupons if available.
63. Don’t try to fake it. Those 50 domains you bought in 1998 with dummy content all linking back to your main site might have made you #1 last decade, but now they can get you booted from the rankings altogether. The “mini-net” is dead.
64. Want to see what Google has indexed from your domain (or any domain for that matter) during, say, the past seven days? Just point your brower to http://www.google.com/search? q=site:yourdomain.com&as_qdr=d7 .
Simply change the “yourdomain.com” to your actual domain name and alter the “=d7? to be whatever number of days you are looking for (d5, d10, etc.). Or, change the “d” to “w” for weeks or “y” for years.
65. Test domains should be invisible. It you are using a domain simply for testing new designs, functions, etc., be sure it is not accessible to spiders or users, who will both be confused about which domain is the real thing. If the spiders can get to it, you could be in for big duplicate content issues. A simple way to block all spiders is with the robots.txt file.
Richard V. Burckhardt, also known as The Web Optimist, is an SEO based in Palm Springs, CA with over 10 years experience in search engine optimization, web development and marketing.