Having a business in a beautiful building that is located in the middle of the desert is not what you want. Same reason, having a blog that is full of great content, but of which nobody knows about is not a good situation. We want to take this awesome creation and bring it to a popular shopping district where the people are already hanging out and are ready to shop. How do you do this? Follow me in this post and I will explain what it takes and how you can do this.
Do You Know What Your Target Keywords Are?
In one of my previous posts I talked about picking a niche based on search volume data. This is important because it gives you a direction. Just blogging is great, but blogging by addressing the topics people are most searching for gives your blog so much more power. If you have not read this post, make sure you go and read it before you continue with this one, as it is critical to know what you are targeting before you start optimizing the blog for it.
How Google Works
Just a quick word about Google, to get a bit of background on how their ranking works. This not by any means a look at their algorithms, we are just going to understand the concept so we can do our job with a better understanding.
There is two steps to Google's ranking process. Step one is when Google's bots discover your site and figure out what it's all about and categorizes it, this is called indexing. Step two is when Google's machines compares your website against others, this is what then becomes ranking. The ranking process includes many different criteria that nobody but Google really knows about aside from what Google tells us.
So our job is to first, have Google find our blog and index it, then second, we need to move it up the ranks toward the first page. For indexing purposes, we will be working on the inner SEO and for ranking we will work on both inner as well as external SEO.
Internal Blog Optimization
Although WordPress comes pretty much prepared for SEO naturally, to prepare your blog to target the keywords you want to rank for, we will need to adjust some things to "optimize" it. Armed with the list of your keywords, you need to determine what your overall theme is and what the best keyword is that you want to use for your blog.
Search Engine Friendly URLs
Search engines like to be able to read real words because they can index them and assign them to a category. This is why it helps to have search-engine-friendly URLs on your blog. By default, WordPress comes with URLs that are like this: domain.com?page=123, but it is so much nicer if it would be readable, like this: domain.com/amazing-page-about-kittens. Google now knows that this page is about kittens.
To configure your WordPress to have search engine friendly URLs, go to Settings > Permalinks, and select Post Name under Common Settings section and save your settings.
SEO Plugins You Need To Install
A supplemental SEO plugin that extends your control over critical elements of SEO is called WordPress SEO By Yoast. To install it on your WordPress, go to Plugins > Add New and search for "WordPress SEO By Yoast". When you find it, install it and activate it. I will go deeper into configuring it in a later post but the most important thing you need to configure is the following.
The TITLE Tag And META Description
The TITLE tag and META Description content is what Google and many other search engines use to display for your listing info, so this is kind of a big deal to make sure you have it set right.
First, we will need to optimize your blog TITLE. To do this go to Settings > General. The Site Title and the Tagline is the place where you are going to set your main blog TITLE tag contents. Create a title for your blog so it contains your main keyword. The title of your blog needs to be your brand name, but in the tagline, you will add a short sentence with your keyword in it. Here is how I did mine:
Title: Valik Rudd
Tagline: Blog About Making Money Blogging
Together it will look like this: Valik Rudd - Blog About Making Money Blogging
The nice thing is that the SEO plugin we installed before, will put those together for us into the TITLE tag.
Next is the META Description, click on SEO > Titles & Metas and click on the Home tab at the top. This is where you need to configure the description field. This is where you need to use your creativity to create a sentence that describes your blog as well as contains your main keyword within the first part of the sentence.
Here is what I have on mine: How to build a blog that makes money, step by step instructions, tips and resources
Each page and post that you create will need to have it's own target keyword and it's own SEO settings. The SEO plugin provides and extra section on your page/post editing page, called WordPress SEO By Yoast. This is where you configure your SEO settings for each page and post.
Once your page or post is created, the plugin will auto-set and display your title and description. You have a choice to override it by entering your own. This plugin also helps you target your keyword by giving you hints about what items need to be fixed.
Don't stress over making it 100% perfect, because in some cases it is impossible. Just do the best you can to satisfy it, which is more than many other bloggers will do.
Other important elements that you must have on the page are subtitles (H2, H3 & H4) and images. One subtitle and one image is enough for this purpose, but you can have more. Use related keywords inside your subtitles, not your main keyword, so not to be repetitive.
When adding an image, make sure that the image filename has a related or the actual keyword in it. Also make sure to set the ALT text for the image. The filename as well as the ALT text should describe the image for the search engine.
Exact Keyword Instances
Before I talk about this, understand that your keyword targeting content should be at least 400 words long. I like my content to be much longer than that, but 400 is the minimum. It is ok to post shorter posts, but they should not target keywords. The longer your content is, the more chances you have to use your exact keyword.
It is important not to stuff your content with the keyword, as Google doesn't like that very much. A 500-word article should not have the exact keyword in it more than 3 times. That is less than 1%, so keep it under that. The longer the content is, the more you can use the keyword.
In addition to that, you should have your exact keyword in the TITLE tag and in the META Description, in the main title of your page (h1), in the first paragraph of your content, in the image ALT text and can be in the image filename. Remember this, so you don;t over stuff your page with keywords and get it penalized.
Organic External SEO
Yes, SEO can be organic, just like food that is not treated with any "supplemental ingredients", SEO is organic when it is not treated with any kind of supplemental Gray-Hatness. This is also called White-Hat SEO.
Organic SEO happens when you share your content naturally with others. There are two types, one is when you share your blog posts on Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, announce new posts to your emailing list and guest post original content on other blogs. These are all organic and natural ways to market your blog.
The SEO part of it comes in when people see the content you have shared and like it to the point that they take one more step to link to it from anywhere they have control over, be it their Facebook, Twitter or their own blog. Also when you write a guest post on another blog, you naturally link back to your site. These links are all considered White-Hat SEO because they are happening naturally and they bring benefit to the readers.
So here are your steps for Organic External SEO:
1. Share your new posts on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and Pinterest. You may also think about sharing it on LinkedIn and other Social sites.
2. Write an email to your mailing list to let them know you have just published a new post. What, you don't have a mailing list? Yeah, you need to have that. This is your most powerful money making tool of all.
3. Guest posting is one of those things that has the biggest return on investment in terms of traffic and SEO benefits, but is the hardest thing to do for many. This step needs to be done if you want big results.
To succeed at guest posting, you must go through a lot of trial and error, but the returns are great when you find that one that says yes. It's a matter of finding relevant blogs that are willing to publish your original article on their blog, with a link back to your site. We will cover a lot about this in a later post.
Other External SEO
Other methods of SEO can be considered as Gray-Hat, because they are being used to manipulate the Search Engine results (SERPs), but still provide quality content and benefit the readers.
According to Google's terms of service, any kind of SERPs manipulation attempts are against the rules, but with that kind of mentality, it is almost impossible to get ranked in some niches without a little grayness.
Black-Hat SEO would be when you manipulate the results but provide none, or very little benefit, like low quality, duplicate, spun or just plain useless content. We do not support Black-Hat SEO because we like our Internet to stay useful and high quality.
Gray-Hat SEO, if done correctly, can be equivalent to White-Hat SEO from what Google sees. So make sure you do it right and keep quality and usefulness of any content you ever create, as your main focus.
Quality Gray-Hat SEO Methods
Comment Marketing & Links
As your first step of external SEO, after you have optimized your blog, go out and find who your competition is. Do a search for your keywords on Google and visit those sites. Find any blogs that cover related topics to yours. Make a list of the top 5 to 10 most popular blogs and put them on your calendar. Your job will be to visit those blogs and read their new posts as they publish them and most importantly, leave insightful comments. Dig through other comments and answer people's questions. Be useful and visible.
You will get 2 benefits from this, a link back to your website, and real people will see your knowledge and click the link to visit your website. Always use your own name and add your blog name sometimes, as the anchor text. You want any comment links to be your name, your brand name or the URL of your website. Never use exact keywords for this, leave those for your best work, like high authority guest posts and etc, we will cover those later.
This same method applies to forums. Find related forums and stay active on them. Find people that need help and help them. Link back to your own tutorial articles on your blog, where appropriate. DO NOT plant links where they do not belong. This is a great way to get banned from a forum.
Press Release Marketing
The best way to spread the word about your new blog is to do a Press Release. I actually know a guy that does nothing else but Press Releases to market his blog and it works very well for him. He does a Press Release once a week, that's it.
You want a quality press release that is professionally written for this. Do not write it yourself unless you are a good writer that has done this before. Do not hire a cheap writer to do this either. Hire a professional writer that has written Press Releases before. Check their past work. You can find some good ones just by searching for "Press Release Writer" in Google.
When you search online, you will find that a lot of the Press Release services out there offer to syndicate your press release as part of the package. Watch out for those because you may not realize that you will be paying a bunch, but a lot of that will go towards syndication fees, so the actual press release may be low quality. Check past work, did I already say that? Yeah make sure you do that, so you know what you are getting.
If you hire a writer to write your Press Release, you can do the syndication your self by simply submitting it to PRWeb.com. It will cost you a bit, but it is well worth it. it will be a really good boost for your blog.
I would repeat this method once a month if possible. Announce something interesting to your audience. Write an amazing article that will help a lot of people in your niche. This would be great to announce in your Press Release.
Create A Resource
One of the most popular pages on most sites is the resources page, a Top 10 list or an Info-graphic. These get so popular because they contain so much information and well, resources, about a topic. These pages quickly get passed around, shared and linked to from other websites.
When you publish a page like this, share it on your Social Media sites and let the masses go at it. I would also share a page like this on StumbleUpon.com, they do good on there.
My Last Words
If you do all these steps and get into a habit of doing it regularly, your blog will grow like wild fire, and this is what we want.
There are many things you will hear online about marketing and SEOing a blog and a lot of it will be good info, but face it, you can not possibly do it all. This is why you need to pick a few things you can get good at and just keep working on them. As long as they do not break Google's terms of service, your blog will keep growing and no wild animal algorithm update by Google will knock it down.
If you have any questions, please write them in the comments and I will do my best to answer as promptly as I can.