I attended the Front Range Blogger Meetup last week, hosted by our very own Dave Taylor. One of the traditions they have each month is to take someone's blog (they ask for volunteers), project that blog up on the screen, and the crowd provides constructive criticism. A great opportunity for bloggers who are open to feedback. I don't always make it each month but I was very glad I came to this one because Katharine Zaleski was there as part of a two-week visit to Colorado. She is a senior editor for The Huffington Post and a highly experienced and influencial blogger/editor. Katharine has worked for CNN and has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, CBC, Air America, BBC Radio as well as other media outlets. You can see her latest interview with CNBC here (she arrived on the set seconds before introductions). She had some valuable advice on improving SEO (search engine optimization) for blogs and some of her suggestions are included in the list below, which stemmed from a conversation about how blog post titles and links benefit (or hurt) your search engine rankings:
- Titles matter to Google. When you set up your blog, make sure your template puts the title of your post in the "title tags" on the back end of your blog.
- Use keywords. Think of the keywords someone might be searching on and include those in your post title. For instance, if your post is about finding consumer deals to save money, consider including "surviving a recession" or "saving money" or "best coupon deals" in your title. Google likes that.
- Pay attention to word order. The words you use at the beginning of your title are more important than the later ones. For instance "Free music at Oskar Blues on Saturdays" won't do as well as "Oskar Blues live music - free on Saturdays". Google also likes proper nouns at the beginning of a title.
- Use the verbs people are more likely to search on. For instance "Michael Jackson dies" does not do as well as "Michael Jackson dead". Not a happy example but that is the example Katharine used so I'm passing it along.
- Link to other posts you've written. When you write a post that references a place, person, event, or topic that you have written about before, be sure to include a hyperlink to that previous post.
- Link to blogs that are bigger than yours. Google analyzes all the links (incoming and outgoing) in each post and loves "one-stop shopping". If you are writing a post about a new recipe, consider linking to bigger food blogs that cover that dish, link to places readers can buy the ingredients, restaurants that serve that kind of food, origins of the special spice it features, etc. You can get really creative with this. It will take some extra time to write the post, but it's worth it.