Friday, September 21, 2012

5 Easy Ways to Increase Your Blog's SEO for Writers

by Jean Oram

You may have heard the inspiring story behind our very own Calista Taylor's recently released Steampunk Your Wardrobe book. If not, the short version is she landed an agent because of her niche-focused blog about steampunk. Her agent, in turn, landed her a book deal within weeks.

When you read something like that you may have that completely natural reaction of "Why not me?"

I agree. Why not you as well?

Today I'm going to share some of the SEO tips I've learned in past few months so when folks Google brilliance it isn't someone else's that hits that first page of results--it'll be yours. But before we do, I need to you to pull out your honking, snorting laugh and pull your pants up a little higher. And if you wear glasses, you're going to need to tape them. That's right, we're getting our geek on.

First of all…



What Does SEO Stand For, What is SEO, and Why Does SEO Matter?


A lot of good questions in that heading. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In other words, the little things you do when you blog or create a website so search engines can easily recognize your site and what it is about. This then helps increase your visibility and allows you to slowly work your way up to the first page of search results. Because honestly, how often does the average Joe sift deeper than the first page of results? (Not that often.)

Wikipedia:
SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience.

Well said, Wikipedia.

Here are five easy tips that you can start using right away. Do note that if you are starting a brand new blog (or website) these things will reap you immediate rewards if used well and you remain consistent. (I’ve tested it.) If you have a long-standing blog that hasn't made the best use of SEO in the past, you may find it takes longer for this stuff to create an impact. (You have a pile of non-SEOized content diluting the SEOized stuff. And yeah, I tested that as well.)



1. Search Engines Love Fresh Content


The more you post on your blog, the more Google and other search engines crawl your site. The more they crawl, the more likely they are to find all your content and horde it in their little brains, bumping you up in their rankings, and bringing you closer to the first page of search engine results. There is a diminishing rate of returns though—and if you make use of the next few tips, fresh content isn’t going to make or break your blog.


So quit hyperventilating already. I promised easy.


2. Niche Content and SEO


Niche content has typically less competition. Usually, there are fewer searches conducted because it is a niche topic, however, the folks who do search out your niche are those who are interested. And interested readers typically spend longer on your site which leads to another bump up in your rankings.

So while it may seem smart to plaster your chick lit blog with “romance” and "fiction" and "book" keywords, be sure you keep honing down to your niche as well. Focus, focus, focus. It's okay if you spread out and talk about other things, but always bring it back to your niche. In other words, make every post about your niche--somehow. (And your niche can't simply be "writing" if you want to be anywhere near the first 20 pages in a search result.)



3. Keywords Increase Your SEO


Probably the biggest thing you can do for your blog or site relates to niche keywords. Find them. Use them. But don't abuse them. Your posts will read funny if you overuse keywords AND search engines will penalize you. 3-4 times in the body of a post for one keyword or keyword phrase is generally plenty. (If you want more info on where to use keywords for the best use of search engine optimization, I’ll run a post on my personal writing blog today as this post is already getting pretty long.)

Tip on finding the right keywords: Use Google's Keyword Tool (and if you use WordPress, use it in combination with Yoast’s SEO plugin—it rocks). Using Google’s Keyword Tool you can find the variations of keywords (and keyword phrases) people use when searching online as well as what the competition level is along with the number of searches conducted on Google per month.



Using Google's Keyword Tool for SEO: A screenshot
"Chick Lit Fiction" has low competition, but you know if folks are searching for this they are that audience. The number of monthly searches is rather low so this is a keyword phrase that you would want to use in conjunction with others.
Screenshot of Google's Keyword Tool for Romance Fiction
With this search you can see that "romance fiction"--a slightly larger niche than "chick lit fiction" still scores low for competition but has significantly more monthly searches on Google.

If you look at the screen shots, both "romance fiction" and "chick lit fiction" are low in terms of competition. That's good.


If you pop "SEO optimization" (redundant on the ‘optimization’, I know—but this is actually a very common search (Important tip: Use the keywords people actually use--not ones you think they should use)) into the tool you will find you have the same number of global monthly searches as "romance novels." (Not shown here.) However the competition is HIGH, not LOW for those 550,000 monthly searches. Low competition is GOOD. Good thing we aren't in the sharing SEO optimization tips business, eh?

Note: You’ll probably notice that there are fewer searches for your niche (eg: chick lit) than your main topic (eg. romance). This is good. Remember: These are the specific readers you want. And, of course, try to use both keywords to hit both bases!



4. Keywords in your URL for Greater SEO


Both Blogger and WordPress allow you to tweak your post’s slug (permalink). A slug is that unique bit of URL tacked on at the end of your site’s URL that correlates to a specific post or page. This is where you can cut extraneous words (such as: the, and, for) that mess up your SEO. Search engines look everywhere!


Example: You will notice this post's title is: 5 Easy Ways to Increase Your Blog's SEO for Writers. The slug/permalink is: tips-to-increase-blog-seo.html Notice the different keyword phrases I hit: "Increase your blog's SEO" and "SEO for writers" and "tips to increase blog SEO" as well as "increase blog SEO." I won't kid myself about hitting the first page of search results, but this will increase the likelihood that maybe it will pop up in someone's results. Someday. Maybe. (Remember the competition is high for this topic.)


5. Links In Increase Your SEO


The more people linking to your blog whether on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, their own blog, blog rolls, or even in blog comments, the better. The more places that link to you, the more search engines say, "This stuff must be good, bump up their ranking." (Especially if the sites linking to you have high rankings.) So get your blog out there. When you leave comments on other people's blog, use the URL feature when you can. And try to link to the same URL every time--don't vary it.



Wow. That was a lot of info on SEO tips for you, my writing, blogging friends. I hope they help you out--and don't stress out about tip #1, okay? If you follow 2-5 you'll do just fine. And if you are looking for more ways to use keywords as well as find out what photos and videos can do for your blog’s SEO, be sure to pop over to my blog where I’ll share more SEO tips today.

So now that you've looked at your blog and its SEO from the write angle, what do you think? Are there some things you can do to increase your SEO? Have questions? Pop them in the comment section.


Jean Oram is a bit of a geek and has spent the week debating the payoffs of market share vs. SEO with her father--seriously one of the first guys to blog--ever. She likes to blog on her poorly optimized writing blog (she may work on that when she has time) as well as tweet, facebook, and some other stuff. If you aren't following her, you should. She shares good stuff you could easily use.

37 comments:

Angie Sandro said...

I was researching this subject last night, and I kept running across the SEO, but no definition for what it meant. Thanks for educating me on a topic that is so important to blogging writers, but most of us know nothing about.

Jean Oram said...

No problem, Angie. Glad to help! There's lots more on my blog too if you want to get more indepth. :)

JJ said...

Thank you very much. Your information is most helpful to me.

Cheryl said...

Nice article, Jean!

Jean Oram said...

Glad it helped, JJ!

Thanks, Cheryl.

Jemi Fraser said...

That helps! I've never looked into this before - thanks for the tips. Off to check your blog... :)

Darke Conteur said...

Wow, I've bookmarked this. Heh, might even bug you on Twitter every now and then to pick your brain. :P

Lauren said...

I had no idea about google's keyword tool. That's really awesome. Thanks for sharing this.

Jean Oram said...

Jemi: Glad it helped! :)

Darke: Any time! Brain pickage is just fine.

Lauren: The keyword tool is awesome. I find it runs a little slow sometimes, but it is worth using to find your niche keywords if nothing else.

Angela Ackerman said...

This was a great how to! I did not know about the slug thing...will have to try and fiddle with that, thanks a bunch!

Angela

Kristin Lenz said...

That was a lot of great information. Thank you, now I need to go back and re-read so I understand it all!

Ashley Farley said...

Thanks so much for this post!

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ThatsBlog.com said...

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Carole said...

Hi Jean,

Using Google's Keyword Tool for SEO is an incorrect use of this tool in my opinion. The Google keyword tool can indicate keywords that are popular, but its best use is for Google Adwords. In fact, the "competition" indicator is related to the advertisers who are bidding for the keyword and not the competition from other websites. See Google Adwords Help on this.

If you want a tool for supercharging your SEO activity, then I would stay away from the FREE tools and opt for a purpose built keyword research engine. Good luck everyone with your Keyword research activities.
Best Regards,

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