January 29, 2015
Developing good SEO practices for your blog can make quite an impact on the numbers of unique visitors to your entire site, as well as give you a lot of exposure, spreading your content around so that more people can get to it. The power of the search engine to drive traffic has been used for over a decade.
With the newest SEO standards hitting us today, it has become a lot harder to fool the search engines into thinking your page is worthy. There used to be a time in the not so distant past when SEO was little more than stuffing your landing page full of a keyword and letting the search engines figure it out. The more of that keyword you used the better your ranking result for that word. In order to stop these sites from getting undeserved traffic as well as to promote legitimacy of search engine results, SEO standards were adopted that make it almost impossible now to place on the first page of search results with a page that would have topped it a mere eight years ago. Things have changed: and it’s time you got in the game.
Create Content Mindful of Natural Optimization
When creating content, you should be mindful of the optimization techniques that help your page rank better. Here are a handful of practices that you should adopt that will ensure that you hold on to your spot on the results pages.
1. Optimize Your Content For Users: Not Search Bots
From a marketing perspective, content has been king of the Internet for quite a while now. In order to write good content, however, you should keep in mind that the most important use of your content is to inform users. Creating content for the sole purpose of getting a high search ranking is misleading, not to mention difficult. It’s far easier to write good content that relays the information that you have to give to a user in a simple, straightforward way. Good content is there to fill a demand, whatever that demand is. It isn’t limited to format – good content can be comprised of video, images or text, or a combination of all three. Most importantly, good content has the ability to be linked from. Links allow search engines to index your page with others that are linked to and from, allowing your ranking to rise the more valid those links turn out to be. The end user for your content will always be the reader, but you can’t forget that without proper SEO practices it would be impossible for users to find your content. Write for users first then optimize for the search engines after. It makes your content far more readable from a human perspective.
2. Never Create Duplicate Content
This one is a given. As many content producers are aware the content of a particular page should be unique. However, due to the use of templates and CSS, content that would otherwise be considered unique might be considered duplicate. Many times bloggers who fall prey to these issues don’t realize what has happened until there’s a distinct drop in their blog traffic. Creating duplicate content can even be something as simple as double posting an entry or having a draft entry visible and indexable. There are simple ways around this such as using the No-index, No-follow tag, or by incorporating rel=canonical into the overhead of the page. Ideally these things can be avoided by simply checking your blog after you post to ensure everything is kosher and above board. Creating duplicate content hurts your search rank because it makes a search engine believe that you are trying to game the system by pretending to create new content. Although that may not be your motivation, it’s what it seems like from a search engine perspective, leaving you with dire sanctions because of a simple mistake.
3. Avoid Over-Optimization of Keywords
Optimizing your keywords is a good thing, right? It means that your content has a higher probability of landing on the first page of the search results for your chosen keyword and that translates to more users being driven to your site through search engine traffic. There is such a thing as over-optimization, however. When you try to raise your keyword count in a page above a certain level the page starts reading less like something people would read and more like something a robot would subscribe to. Detecting keyword stuffing was one of the earliest advancements in SEO that search engines implemented, penalizing users who try to artificially raise their keyword count by filling in extra spaces with keywords. Obviously, if you’re doing something like that you’re not really creating readable content. As a matter of fact, you’re simply making a webpage that no one will find useful, denying the first rule of good content: it must fill a demand. Avoiding over optimization is a simple matter of keeping your keywords down to a dull roar that is swallowed up in the general flow of your content.
4. Do Your Backlinks Correctly
In a perfect world, backlinks would lead to relevant pages and give you valid information every time you follow a link. Sadly, this is not a perfect world and there have been many, many attempts to circumvent the proper building of backlinks. Link building affects your SEO dramatically and depending on the type of links you are tied to, your page can get a boost or a slump in relevancy rating. Some of the things to avoid when it comes to cultivating healthy backlinks are things like link exchanges, blog networks, directories and article marketing. Each of these creates a huge volume of link data that you can use. Using it can lead to a lot of problems in your backlink rating, however. These locations usually are created for the express purpose of defeating the SEO system and as such give you a lot of crosslinks to low-quality content that no one really wants to see. The end result is that although you have a lot of linking going on in your content, none of it is relevant to the topics you are discussing. Because of this, search engines penalize your ranking result in order to reflect the poor quality of your links. Producing high quality content is what’s important, and if you link to low quality content in order to promote your work, you’re simply diluting its effectiveness and its visibility.
5. Be Social With Your Content (Or It Dies)
One of the best ways to promote good SEO practice in your content is to develop the practice of pushing your content on social media. Not everything will go viral and while going viral is a desired outcome, it isn’t the one you should be focusing on. Promoting your content on social media gives you a secondary platform through which search engines can find your page and drive users. On average, a link on a social networking site has a shelf life of about three hours. After that it just isn’t relevant on the feed anymore and it falls by the wayside. Continuing to present your link regularly without spamming gives it the ability to enter more and more feeds and be noticed by a larger volume of people. Although this is a valid practice, it is tedious, time-consuming and not much fun to keep posting the same link over and over again. Eventually you will bore the people who see it. The better approach is to cultivate a group where discussion of a particular area of interest is the binding factor. By interacting with an audience and producing good content you pretty much develop content that advertises itself. Continually producing good content and engaging your audience in discussion provides a springboard for your content that simply sharing it would never do. Social media is like a line of dominoes, you just have to find the right one to push and it creates a chain reaction.
Plan In Advance With Your Content
Optimizing your website for SEO requires that you plan in advance. Setting aside a structured plan for your SEO changes over the course of a year is a good place to start. Continuing from this, you can brainstorm a series of SEO-friendly titles that will gain you traffic while at the same time be extremely easy to optimize. Always keep in mind that over-optimization may be an issue. Most importantly, in order to do optimization for a site properly, you need to provide value to your users first. Writing for the search engine bots will not get you any sympathy from them. Writing for an audience is a much better practice. Create good content that fills a need and enriches your visitors in some way. Visitors that feel appreciated tend to return and that means more traffic for you in the long term. Utilizing the optimization methods mentioned above will definitely lead to your blog getting better press with the search engines.
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.