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A few months ago I wrote about 8 Bits of Unforeseen Traffic From Search Engines – 8 atypical keyword phrases that land people on Inspiration Bit from Google. Simonne from AllTipsAndTricks also shared her funny search keywords with her readers, and I commented that one of the most popular keyword phrases for my blog is “thought provoking questions”, and she suggested I could “build on that ‘thought-provoking questions’ phrase which brings readers to your blog”. It got me thinking and I’ve decided to invite Simonne to talk about that and share with us some of her other helpful SEO tips.
Simonne is a blogger who wears many hats, she blogs about different topics and is not afraid to experiment with various blog monetizing and promotion techniques and test everything herself. That makes her to be very knowledgeable and direct about the subjects she writes about not only on her blog but also for RA Project. Add to that her wicked sense of humour and you get a blogger who will make you think, laugh, be challenged, mad – sometimes she can achieve that all with only one article.

Now, without further ado, let me pass the torch to the great Simonne herself and find out what she has to say about optimizing your blog for search engines, and how you and I can capitalize on some lucrative keyword phrases that land many new readers on our blogs and how can we actually make them stay.

Blog SEO

by Simonne

Do you remember Middle Age barons, with all those crests representing their family?
Your blog is like one of those crests. Your online symbol, standing out for your values and beliefs, it tells the world your story. I’m not talking here about your splogs (which many of us have tried at least once in our blogging life). I’m talking about your main blog, your flagship site, the one you want to turn into an authority in its niche.

I’m going to say something obviously stupid now: for people to read your blog, they first have to be aware it exists. Do you know how do people find your blog? Most of your readers would probably fall under one of the following categories:

  1. You (Who doesn’t read his/her blog again every now and then? I surely do, and I think others do it too)
  2. Feed subscribers
  3. Loyal readers who bookmarked it, or know the address and type it directly in their browser
  4. Readers of other blogs that linked to yours
  5. People who received a link to one of your posts from their friends
  6. People who spend a big slice of their life on Digg, Sphinn, StumbleUpon and other similar sites, looking for news in the online world
  7. People who use search engines

Look at your statistics: can you tell what percentage of your visits come from each of these categories?

What do you communicate to each category? Do you fulfill their expectations?

  • For # 1, you should know better.
  • For # 2-6, supposing that all people who link to you and who spread the word about your blog understood what it is about, you do fulfill your audience’s expectation. If you have a good site usability, then you can say you offer these readers a useful and pleasant experience.
  • What about category # 7? Do you know what those people are looking for when they bump into your blog?

There are several ways to check the keywords which bring visitors to your blog, such as Google Analytics, or 103bees, or Statcounter (all of them are free).
If you use a tracking program, go check your stats now. Do you like what you see? Maybe you rank first for keywords you’ve never thought. If almost all searches are for things you’ve never written about, maybe you should give it a little thought.

What’s the use of being number one on the search engines results pages for “Thai recipes” when your blog is about making money online? Supposing I’m an ordinary person looking for Thai cooking recipes and I find this site of yours, which tells me that the recipe of my online success is to sign up with I-don’t-know-which Thai
advertising network. I’ve wasted my time. What if in the same situation, your blog is about cooking in the Thai style? You’ve just made me a happy reader. I’d bookmark your site, because I cook every day.

There was this saying which I liked very much, although I don’t remember who said it first: “luck is when preparation meets opportunity“. Paraphrasing it, I would say SEO is preparing your site for the opportunity of getting loyal readers.

There’s been a lot of talk around the topic of how to handle blogs SEO. While bloggers rely less and less on search traffic, and try to either develop their teaching skills or to build authority sites, yet a minimum of SEO applied to your site can attract a significant bunch of targeted readers, without becoming painful or time-consuming for you.

This is an easy blog SEO guide for bloggers who don’t want or don’t have the time to learn what it takes to become an expert in SEO:

  1. Titles:

    as titles are the most important element of on-page optimization, make sure they contain words that people may type in to find your post. SEO Title Tag WordPress plugin may be helpful, as it allows defining custom title tags. (Note: the title tag can be different from your post’s title; it is the text that appears in the most upper part of your browser, and for the WordPress default installs, it displays the name of the blog, followed by the name of the post. This is not OK from SEO standpoint, because it may lead to search engines considering many of your pages as duplicates, and put them into supplemental results)

  2. Permalinks:

    include in them the most relevant words for each post. If you don’t like the automatic permalink given by WordPress, you can edit it manually, in your Write New Post screen, under the Post Slug box (in the right sidebar of the post editor). It’s better to have static, rather then dynamic permalinks, and you may want to change their structure from /month/day/postname to category/postname. Please make sure you backup your blog before attempting changes in the permalinks structure, as it is very easy to mess up
    everything.

  3. Internal link anchors:

    when you link to your older posts, make sure you define the link on those words which are the most significant for that old post. However, links should be informative and not misleading. Don’t forget here that you can use the Related Posts plugin to improve internal linking across your blog.

Leaving aside the permalinks structure (which I have chosen to leave it like it was when I started my blog, after repeated trial-error sequences), paying attention at these details is not very time consuming, while the results in terms of targeted traffic attraction can be very satisfying.

As an example, my blog accomodates an average of 13000 monthly visitors, about 43% of them coming from organic search. This means that, depending on my SEO skills, I can make 6000 people happy or sad because they landed on my blog, every month.

Additional tip: when choosing a representative keyword phrase for your post, check it with freekeywords.wordtracker.com, maybe you’ll discover a similar phrase which has a bigger search volume (why not maximize your results, if you invest so much time in your blog after all?)

Last, but not least, what do you do if you spot in your long tail that you rank well for an interesting phrase? Let’s say one of your thought provoking posts ranks 7th in Google for “thought provoking questions” and you like the idea that people find your blog for this search query. Let’s see how we can get more natural traffic for this phrase:

  1. We can link to that post from other articles on the same blog, using the anchor text “thought provoking questions” (you’ve just seen this implemented in this very article). This will increase the number of links pointing to the post in question, and it will also display under it trackbacks of the new posts, with small excerpts, which will most probably contain the anchor phrase. This should be enough to move it at least one-two positions up on the search engine results page.
  2. We can slightly adjust the post title, so instead of “8 Pulsating Thought Provoking Questions From Blogiverse”, we could have “8 Thought Provoking Questions From Blogiverse” or even better, “8 Thought Provoking Questions”. The idea is that the keyphrase we want to rank better for should be ideally at the beginning of the title. The title should contain as little additional words as possible, thus increasing the weight of the keyphrase within the title. If after we see Google indexed the change, we don’t rank better, we try other variant, until we get promoted.
  3. If we really like that particular keyphrase, why not including it on every post, like for example, by replacing “Please leave your comments here” with “Thought provoking comments”. Be careful, though, not to mislead your readers, because you might not like the thought you’ve just provoked in them ;)

Do you consider SEO for your blog? Which is your best blog SEO tip you’d like to share with us? If you are not sure, check out what kind of SEO you are, and come back to tell us your result.

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14 Insightful Bits in response to “Blog SEO: Are You Ready To Get More Loyal Readers?”

  1. Simone, Vivien,

    Excellent post, with some great tips for the unaware. I’ve mentioned a lot of these on my own blog, and one point or another, so it’s nice to see them all in one concise post.

  2. Thanks David, this was exactly our idea: to put a few key things together for people who would not want to spend a lot of time with all this SEO fine tuning, and yet take advantage of the natural search engines traffic.

    Vivien, thank you for giving me the opportunity to guest post here. It’s been a pleasure and a challenge in the same time, to keep up with your standards.

  3. You’re very welcome, Simonne, and sorry for spelling your name wrong.

  4. No problem, David, my real name is Violeta anyway :lol:

  5. Vivien

    Simonne, a.k.a Violeta, thanks so much for your great guest appearance on this blog. I’ll be definitely trying out your tips and will let you know how those changes would affect my ranking for certain keywords. I also loved your idea of replacing “Please leave your comments here” with “Thought provoking comments”.

    Btw, Simonne, I’ve never had a splog, and I’m always wondering why do people have splogs. Do you know why? How much money do they make with those splogs online, with a stolen content?

    David, glad you liked the post. Yes, it’s always nice to have all quick points in one post that’s easy to read and follow up with.

  6. Wow, a lot of great advice here, all in one spot as you say. I do want to point out one potential problem with the permalink suggestion however. You should be careful about using category in permalinks for a couple of reasons:

    If your blog is newish, you may need to tweak your category structure. Each time you change a category, it will break your permalinks.

    If you accidently post using the wrong category, changing it to correct category will break the permalinks created by your pings.

    The post linked to above tells you how to redirect posts when you change your permalink structure (so your permalink aren’t broken). I haven’t tried that when changing a category name (rather than the permalink structure) but there should be someway to redirect that as well. However, you might need to do this more often that you’d like! It’s probably better to just avoid using category in the permalink.

  7. I believe in a few weeks you’ll already rank better for thought provoking questions ;)

    As of splogs, I suppose they make them to earn money. I made several to see if it is possible, and my conclusion is that if you don’t use something to automate the process (which I did not), they won’t bring you almost anything. I didn’t steal the content, I just took it from free articles sites, or I wrote it myself sometimes (which makes me a lousy splogger).

    And my definition of splog is maybe too broad. I meant “niche blogs” ;)

  8. Thanks for linking to my article, I’m glad it was useful :)

    To answer the question about splogs, they are nearly always automated so a single ” owner” can have literally thousands of splogs each with 100s of scraped posts even if just a tiny percentage rank in Google and other engines they will get a steady stream of traffic and some will inevitably click the ads

    By automating the process the “owner” can move on to his or her next project and just leave the splogs churning out junk. I’m afraid it can be a lucrative business model for those wishing to engage in such things

  9. Stephen and Tim, thank you for your comments.

    Stephen, you are right, that is a potential danger. Although I liked the idea of changing my blog’s permalinks (and use redirects from the old structure to the new one), I had to give up, because nothing worked for me.

    Tim, you have a lot of useful articles. Thanks for the details about splogs. I sometimes see them linking to some of my articles, especially when I use certain words (which are probably good for AdSense).

  10. Vivien

    A very valid point, Stephen. I personally have renamed several categories on my blog. And also, sometimes I assign my posts under more than one category. How would that /category/ slug work in such a case, which category would it pick?

    Tim, thanks for shedding more light on splogs.

    Simonne, your “splogs” were not splogs at all (I was very surprised to hear that you had splogs yourself, but now that you’ve clarified, what you had were more like Tumblelogs). I too often get links from those splogs, which I mark as spam (often Akismet automatically marks them as spam).

  11. Vivien, actually, I’m not sure which category would be used if there were more than one category assigned to the post… Very good question though.

  12. Scott Frangos

    Hello -
    Thanks for an excellent set of tips on Blog SEO. I’ve read quite a few, but found a couple of new ideas in your post. Have you tried “Sphere” as a “conversational intersection” for blog posts? It is like the meta equivalent of internal linking. I have linked directly to an overview post/article about it (my “website” link), which leads me to a final question. In comments (like these) is it best to link to your main page, do you think, or directly to a related post (as I have done)?

    Yours, Scott

  13. Vivien

    Hi Scott, glad you liked Simonne’s article. I did try Sphere once, but it didn’t have time to explore further. Somehow I don’t see your name linked to any site. I think that if you do link your name to the related article, you should mention about it in your comment, otherwise, I know I don’t always check others URL when reading comments on other blogs.

  14. Hi Vivien…

    Thanks for the reply. The article I wrote about SPHERE is here: http://webhelpermagazine.com/?p=236

    http://webhelpermagazine.com/?p=236

    Not sure if HTML works in your comments, so gave it twice, once as URL, once with link code.

    Best regards -
    Scott

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on