August 11, 2011

Optimize Your Blog for Search Engines

Now that you're in a blogging groove, let's start building your traffic. Here's a quick overview on how to optimize your blog for the search engines, and build traffic.

What do you want to look at first?

How Search Engines Work

When you search for something online, you get a list of ranked results that (hopefully) help you find exactly what you were looking for. The search engine companies each have their own secret formula to decide what sites to show for which searches, but there are some consistent ingredients in all their formulas.

The content of the page
The title of the page, headlines, content, image descriptions.
The content of the overall site or blog.
Does the site focus on a particular topic?
Incoming links
Who is linking to the blog? Are they popular?

These are the elements of your blog that search engines assign the most importance to.

What is SEO? Why Use It?

SEO is short for 'search engine optimization' and is a set of strategies to increase your blog's 'findability.' The more findable your blog is on search engines, the more traffic you'll attract to your blog.

The 2 keys to search engine optimization are relevancy (how appropriate a blog post is for a particular search request) and popularity (how many other sites link to your blog, implying authority).

By using the keywords and phrases that people type into search engines in your post titles and content, you'll attract the right people to your blog – people who want to read exactly what you're writing about.

These tools can help you research which keywords and phrases are used most frequently when readers search for content similar to what you feature on your blog.

3 Writing Strategies

Once you've used the keyword tools above to research your best keywords, you can start writing posts and creating content perfectly calibrated to get your blog to the top of the right search results.

Tailor each post to one keyword

Write each post with one primary keyword or phrase. Try to include it naturally within your writing.

Use keywords in your post titles

Using effective headlines for your posts is one of the most important ways to capture your readers' attention. Typepad will automatically include the title of your post in the TITLE tag of the HTML, the headline of the page and the URL of the post. These elements are used by the search engines to determine the keyword relevancy of the post. Focus on writing compelling post titles that use your target keywords and capture your audience.

Use linked text effectively

Instead of linking the words 'Click Here,' use text to describe what you are actually linking to. Search engines don't just look at where the link points to but what the link is called.

Want even more awesome writing tips?

Check out our articles on how to cultivate your blog's readership, secrets for writing great blog posts and where to find great topics for new posts.

Inside Typepad: What to Do Right Now

We've built several helpful features and tools right into Typepad so you can get the most from each post:

Change your blog's Publicity Status to Publicized

This tells the search engines that your blog is available for indexing. Go to 'Blogs' in the top navigation > choose (Your Blog) > Settings in the top navigation > SEO in the sidebar and be sure you have the Publicity checkbox checked. Save changes. Full tutorial.

Turn on your Google Sitemap

A sitemap file helps the search engines grab all of your content effectively. Go to 'Blogs' in the top navigation > choose (Your Blog) > Settings in the top navigation > SEO in the sidebar and be sure you have the Google Sitemaps checkbox checked. Save changes. Full tutorial.

Tweak your Title Format

The first words in the title have the most search engine weight. Go to 'Blogs' in the top navigation > choose (Your Blog) > Settings in the top navigation > SEO in the sidebar and check that your Title Format puts the Post Title first. Full tutorial.

Tweak the permalink URL

When you are publishing a post,edit the permalink URL for extra keywords to add the most relevance to your post.

If the Title field of your post lacks some of the keywords your post is about, you can add them to the permalink. Full tutorial.

Add Description text to your images

This helps search engines know how your images relate to your post. Many search engines will find your images and use the description text for indexing. After inserting an image, double-click on it to get an edit menu. Type in a keyword-rich description of the image and click OK. Full tutorial.

Use categories based on the major topics of your blog

This allows incoming readers to view your blog by subject. Then assign the appropriate posts to the correct categories. You can add categories while on the Compose page or edit all your categories by going to Blogs > (Your Blog) > Settings > Categories. Full tutorial.

Monitor your stats

Check your stats every few days so you can see what works and doesn't.It's easy to get caught up in your blog's traffic, but don't let it get in the way of posting great stuff.

To view your blogs stats go to Blogs > (Your Blog) and you'll see your stats overview. You'll be able to see where traffic is coming from, what searches you are popular for and what search engines readers are using to find you. If you want more detailed stats you can integrate with Google Analytics (here's how).

Domain map your blog

This way, each of your blogs is indexed as its own site. Search engines see yourname.typepad.com/blog1/ and yourname.typepad.com/blog2/ as being the same site. Your own custom domain will ensure that the search engines can discern between all of your blogs. Full tutorial.

Conclusion

We've baked the best SEO practices right into Typepad so you can focus on writing awesome posts and building an enthusiastic audience around what you love. There's always more to learn and we're always ready to help. Stay tuned in to the latest Typepad tips, tutorials and techniques by following us on Typepad, joining our Facebook page, following us on Twitter or grabbing the feed.


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