SEO Basics for Bloggers

After my last post, I spoke with several bloggers who needed a few fundamental SEO tips for their blogs. Let’s take a look at some basic, must-know SEO facts, do’s and dont’s.

SEO and Keywords
1. Use keywords in the titles of your pages.
2. Use variations of the same keywords throughout your post.
3. Proximity of keywords matters (Let’s say your going for the phrase “Make money online” – The phrase “Make money online blogging” counts more than “Make money blogging online”)
3. Use keywords for categories and tags (see my Big Bang Theory here: keyword strategy.)
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SEO and Backlinks
1. Get anchored backlinks from relative sites.
2. Do not pay for backlinks.
3. Do not use backlink circles. ie. Site A links to Site B which links to Site C. Site C then links back to Site A creating a circle of one way links. Google doesn’t like this!
4. Google “reads” backlinks so even a url shown on a “no follow” site, will get indexed.

SEO and Images
1. Alt tags are essential.
2. Titles of images matter.
3. Flash is lousy for SEO – Search Engine’s are limited on reading the content embedded in Flash.

SEO Tracking
1. Use Analytics AND other tools for tracking visitors- once you see what they like, you can do follow up posts targeting the same keywords.

There you go- a handful of basic SEO do’s and dont’s for your blog. Feel free to share your own tips in your comments!

Paid Inclusion, PPC, or SEO for Bloggers

I’m currently in Fiji at a Tony Robbins business mastery event- an event that was so great last week, I extended my trip to participate in the next one. If any of you fine bloggers have the chance to try go, I would highly suggest it. Anyway, back to blogging business…

Tony had us review the business plan for a participant here; a sharp man who happened to own a web business. His goal- to increase his web traffic by 15,000 I believe. 15,000 is not an extremely high number. Now, having spoken to thousands of web business owners I can’t say that I was surprised when their first line of attack was to go PPC and Paid Inclusion. I hope I wasn’t on camera at that exact moment, because my hands flew up to my face and I’m sitting there shaking my head. In nearly 4 years, I have never had to use ppc or paid inclusion. While PPC is a valid and potentially effective approach to driving traffic, I would only suggest this after much focus on other strategies.

Paid inclusion however… Oh wow, where do I start. Aside from the fact that paid inclusion pissed me of for giving weak, unuseful sites, paying for paid inclusion really only generates temporary results. As my new friend and SEO guru, Stephen, said just moments before me, paid inclusion is dead. Ultimately, search engines NEED- not just “want,” but NEED to provide surfers with the highest quality sites. This is becoming more important not just every day but literally every time a search is done. Anyone else stop using Yahoo when they went all willy nilly “paid inclusion” on us for a bit? I know that was the day I discovered just how great Google was.

Just ad Yahoo did, at some point, a search engine is going to choose staying alive and monetizing through other means rather than risk losing their searchers to better search engines.

Knowing im a successful blogger, Tony encouraged me to share my thoughts on this. What I suggested was that they opt for a permanent solution, focusing on SEO. The same money spent on temporary paid inclusion ads can be used for SEO improvements that will place them in a better position when paid inclusion is long gone. The other option is to spend now and make a little , rather then leave them hanging with the competition passing them by.

The bottom line, avoid paid inclusion of any type, see ppc as a temporary strategy, and focus on your SEO.

Organic search is the future. Position yourself well for it.

SEO Tips for Bloggers: Brilliant Blog Linking Strategy Part 1

Brilliantjeni's happy happy Buddha Statue
I made so much money blogging this month, I was smiling like this too!

In my last post, I covered my “Blogging Keyword Strategy.” If you missed it, here’s a quick overview, but understand that to get the most from my backlinking strategy, you really need to read the full article and have already implemented the described keyword strategy.

Keyword Strategy Overview:

  • Create a list of related keywords to target using Micro Niche Finder (aff link)
  • Create a category for each keyword
  • Create a tag for each keyword
  • Write a pillar article for each keyword, using it as the title (no variations)
  • Write supporting articles for each keyword (keyword used with variations)
  • Link the supporting articles to the pillar articles using a plugin such as KB Linker

The next step: Backlinking for Bloggers.

One of the first things bloggers learn when starting out, is to get backlinks by commenting on other people’s blogs. Particularly with the help of plugins like Commenluv, this is an extremely effective approach with a bonus of being a great way to meet fellow bloggers. Since I know you all know this already, I won’t go into detail about it, and instead will focus on more advanced tactics.

Backlinking Tactic #1: Create your own link love using Twitter

Since every Blogger on the planet uses Twitter (and if you’re not, oi- START NOW) we’ll start here. Twitter is an easy, almost overly useful SEO opportunity. First, start by adding the Twitter Tools plugin by Alex King. Don’t use the tiny url co-plugin that now comes with this. We don’t want to tinyurl the tweets and hide the keywords we’ve so carefully used to name our blog posts. Alex has done a great job simplifying this setup, so just make sure yours is set to automatically tweet blog posts when they are published.

Once you’ve tested and are sure blog posts are showing on your specified Twitter account…

  1. Set up a facebook account where you’d like your posts to show. I opt to keep my blog posts on a specified fan or business page rather than on my personal fb page but this really depends on your own needs. Using a twitter app (I use Smart Twitter) link your fb and twitter accounts. Remember to test and make sure your tweeted blog posts are showing when you hit that magic publish button.
  2. Set up a Yahoo profile page (also, personal or one specifically for your site if appropriate.) Link your twitter account here so your twitter feed shows in the profile.
  3. Do this for as many sites as you would like. The more the better. FriendFeed is the most popular for this. Last I heard, FriendFeed was still “no follow” but we don’t care about that since the url’s will be showing “non tiny” and [BLOGGING TIP:] Google reads urls. (Google is so clever.)

I’ll list more of these sites at the bottom of this post, but feel free to share more in your comments.

For sites that don’t offer an automated Twitter-connect, grab your Twitter RSS and feed that to pages. Many will offer an easy option to add your RSS url. For those that don’t, if they happen to allow html, add your feed using a snippet that displays your RSS. For example, I use autoblogger (aff link) to publish one of a feed from my forums to a separate blog I also own. Not only does this drive traffic to the ad-monetized forums, but the feed pages actually rank higher than the forum pages because of the added SEO features wordpress offers. This works great for RSS exchange too; if you’ve got a blogging buddy with a similar site, you can use autoblogger to post to a specific category on their blog, automatically giving you backlinks for every post you publish and vice versa.

There are dozens of other ways to utilize this tactic but you get the idea. As you can see, using feeds and aggregators can really cut back your efforts of having to go around and place a link on sites individually. Ultimately, you can set this up so you are getting hundreds of keyword rich backlinks for every post you publish, and without an ounce of extra work. Here’s to blogging smarter, and not harder.

If you liked this post, subscribe to my RSS!

Next post- more brilliant backlinking strategy.

Try this on any of the following: Facebook, Yahoo, MySpace, WordPress, LiveJournal, Blogger, FeedBurner (duh, right?) blogger (you can actually do this from just about any hosted blog site), Friendster, LinkedIn, bebo, hi5, msn live…

Brilliant Blog Keyword Strategy

Brilliantjeni’s Brilliant Keyword Strategy nicknamed, the “Big Bang Theory.”

This is a bit of an advanced blogging strategy, integrating a keyword hierarchy strategy for optimal, long term SEO success. If applied correctly, & combined with proper, ethical backlinking tactics, this strategy can ultimately place you in the position to take over any major keyword phrase, regardless of competition.

The good news is, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is relatively easy and you don’t need to be an SEO blogging master like Stephan Spencer, to reach #1 in the SERP’s (Search Engine Result Page) for even highly competitive keyword phrases. In fact, blogging with WordPress alone has already given you an advantage since many SEO features come integrated. I’ll be honest, I don’t go overboard with my SEO tactics. Instead, I tend to stick to a few tried and true long-term strategies that result in consistent, repeat traffic that increases over time with little additional effort. The first of these strategies is keyword research and implementation… a strategy my peers have collectively nicknamed my big bang theory.

First steps in Keyword Research…

Do your keyword research. Choosing the right keywords can make or break your blogging efforts. Most bloggers know this but surprisingly, the majority of bloggers I coach, (both beginners and experienced bloggers) don’t know that how you apply those keywords can also make a huge difference in your blog’s traffic.

There are a number of keyword research tools available these days (you youngsters… I remember back in the day when we didn’t have anything other than Yahoo’s advertising keyword tool, which quite frankly sucked for this purpose.) I know bloggers who are happy with Market Samarai, however I prefer the simplicity of Micro Niche Finder by James Jones. Not only does it allow you to quickly research keyword trends but also features stats for estimating per click earnings, commercial opportunity value, etc. While these stats can fluctuate, it’s still helpful to decide if you’d rather target “Kimora Lee New Baby” which estimates $.60 per click or “Kimora Lee Simmons New Baby” which estimates $2.00 per click. Nice huh? As I said, these stats can fluctuate, but if you’ve been blogging about something for long period of time, these stats can help you know your keyword phrases inside and out, giving you an edge over the ‘competition’ in the long run.

If you’re not ready to pull out your credit card and buy your keyword research software, there are other options. Google AdWords (which, by the way, is where MNF pulls data to formulate its stats) and SEO Book’s Keyword Research Tool, for example.  While these won’t give you all the statistics of MNF, they can be used to guestimate your options until you’re ready to move up.

Implementing your keyword research:

1. Learn to identify the right keywords. Let’s say there are 50k monthly searches for the phrase, “Kimora Lee New Baby.” Now let’s say, as an example, that there are next to no searches for “Kimora Lee Simmons New Baby.” You are better off writing your post to target the keyword phrase “Kimora Lee New Baby.” It should go without saying that if you’re writing about this topic, you would NOT want to write “KL’s New Baby” since chances are, no one is specifically searching for those words. This is an easy example, but believe me when I say, I talk to plenty of bloggers who are writing the equivalent of “KL’s New Baby” when going for “Kimora Lee New Baby” as their keyword target.

2. Make a list of your targeted keyword phrases. Main reasons for doing this: A: You can track these over time, (I keeping date-titled exported excel sheets from MNF.) Sometimes it’s helpful to be able to review keyword stats over time, to see if spikes in traffic are permanent or temporary. Afterall, maybe the 50k monthly reader stats for “Kimora Lee New Baby” was only the result of an E News Special last month. It’s also helpful to see when trends are shifting- maybe “Kimora New Baby” is rising in stats and about to takeover “Kimora Lee New Baby.” Love it when this happens- Time to place yourself in position for #1 before anyone else even knows what’s going on. B: It’s easy to refer to your list of targeted keywords for the following tactics.

3. Take that list of keywords, and create a category for each in your blog. With similar keyword phrases, select the most highly searched phrase rather than listing all.

4.  For this next step, it’s important to know that webpages rank with search engines, not websites.  Once you understand that, you know why it’s important to create a hierarchy not only of all your pages, but particularly within your blog posts.  Why?  Many reasons- 1. You want incoming links from both the web and within your own site, all telling the search engines, “hey, this is my number one page for this particular phrase.”  Make sense?

How to:  Write one post for each keyword in your list (go ahead and save the post’s url in your keyword list- you’ll need that shortly.) These are called, pillar articles or primary posts. Drop each one in the appropriate category, or multiple categories if appropriate. Title it exactly as it reads in the list- even if you have multiple keywords that are closely related. Schedule these to be published sporadically to avoid “Kimora Lee New Baby” being published right after “Kimora Lee’s New Baby.” I will actually create an empty post, with just the title and my SEO details filled out to get the ball rolling. I then go back later and write the actual article. We all know Google loves fresh content and this includes updates- I believe regularly updated pages score well with Google so I like to keep an updated list of all my primary posts, or mark them somehow and update them now and then. From this point on, your goal is to get each of these pillar articles to rank #1 for their keyword phrase.

5. Interlink your blog’s pages to push your pillar articles to #1. To date, I haven’t come across a plugin that does this exactly as I would prefer but a quick plugin search for “SEO Links” brings up a few that come close. Take your keyword list and add these to KB Linker, making each of the list’s pillar articles the url link. Now, each time you use these keywords in a post, they will automatically link to the appropriate pillar article.

6. Supporting articles. Your pillar articles are good to go- now it’s time for all those other posts, which we’ll call supporting articles or supporting posts.  Supporting articles are not named exactly as the keyword phrases, but instead, are named preferably with the same keywords as the pillar articles but titled differently. Example: “Kim Kardashian’s New Baby Named Cutest Baby of the Year!” All keywords are in that post, now the related keywords from your list are used within the article and automatically pointed to the pillar article, helping it to raise in the SERP’s.

7. File your supporting and pillar articles under the appropriate categories. Remember your categories and Pillar articles will have the same names. Category pages, Tags, etc, should all be made up of words from your keyword list. Remember, when a category is created, it is its own page- giving you yet another page with the appropriate keyword phrase in the title. Since this page also contains links to your pillar page, this is just an example of how well your site will now be interlinked. In actuality, it is creating what I call a pyramid strategy, with the pillar articles at the tip of the pyramid for each keyword.

This is just a starting point for SEO’ing your blog. From here, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of ways to maximize your SEO efforts efficiently. Really, this allows you to both divide and focus: Divide, meaning you can go for dozens of keywords easily and hundreds or even thousands potentially. Focus, meaning you are not SEO’ing each and every page on your site, but rather only the pillar articles.  I recommend reading, “The Art of SEO” that was co-written by SEO authority and my dear friend, Stephan Spencer and Eric Enge.  Be forewarned, this book is not light reading but these guys do know more about SEO than anyone in the industry.

I realize this is a bit of a pretzel strategy. Believe me when I say I could have made it more complicated by adding more 😉 If this is at all confusing for you, especially if you’re a beginning blogger, by all means feel free to ask for clarification in the comments below.  If you’ve got it down and want to hear more… stay tuned- I’ll cover backlinking for this in the next post.  Brilliant blogging!


What is Backlinking?

Backlinking is the process of acquiring incoming links to your site from other sites across the web.  When done strategically, backlinking can help move your site up in the ranks, as each backlink to your site counts as a “vote” in the eyes of most search engines.  Get enough votes, and your site is deemed a valuable resource and moved up in the ranks.

Smart backlinking, done well, can save you from spinning your tires in the mud and I’ll explain why.  100 links to your site that actually appear as “click here” are going to tell Google you have votes for your value with the phrase “click here.”  Well obviously there are billions of “click here” links out there so this doesn’t really help you.

Instead, you want anchored backlinks.  Anchored backlinks are links that read the keywords you are targeting, giving you “votes” for those keywords.  This is an example of an anchored link:

Brilliantjeni shares Blogging Tips for free.

Now if that link were to appear across 5000 pages, combined with other SEO factors, I’d more than likely be ranked #1 for the keyword phrase “blogging tips.”

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy 😉