Search engine optimization is a practice that is constantly growing and evolving. With the release of Microsoft Bing and soon to be released Google Caffeine, we’re seeing a few of the rules and methods changing, but one thing is still certain – fresh, relevant content remains king. How can you keep your site fresh without having to constantly tweak and change the content on your site? This can easily be accomplished by implementing a blog on your website.
A blog is not just a communication tool, or an outlet to talk about your company’s business, niche, or chatting about your latest company picnic – it’s a way to increase your organic search rankings, that’s right, blogging is a powerful SEO tool when used correctly.
A critical mistake many companies make is hosting their blogs someplace else. While the blog can still hold great information, and maybe even rank well on its own, it provides virtually no help to your main website. Great blog posts attract traffic, links, and comments – all of which can help your organic search rankings. If your blog is hosted elsewhere, the hosting platform or URL will reap the benefits, while hosting on your main site makes sure that valuable link “juice” is directed to the right place.
Have a clear goal in mind when you start your company blog, know your audience, write consistent insightful posts, update frequently and optimize for the search engines.
Don’t be afraid to have personality in your writing, but make sure you stay within the guidelines your business has outlined. Having multiple authors on your blog is a way to keep your readers interested. If your blog is too serious and dry, you’ll lose visitors to sheer boredom.
A helpful and enriching thing to do is to invite guest bloggers to post on your blog. Find an expert within your niche and ask if they would be willing to write a post for you. You would be surprised at how eager they can be – it increases their exposure, your exposure and will bring traffic and can drive valuable links to your site.
In addition to having guest blogs on your site, you should offer to guest blog on other sites. Finding blogs in your niche, taking the time to comment on relevant posts builds invaluable relationships which lead to potential links. A good natural link from another site in your niche is key in optimization. Google values these links and the more of them you have – the more you look like an authority in your field.
Another question that is often scrutinized is whether or not you should open up your blog for comments. The general consensus on this is yes…eventually. Close comments on your blog until you have a few posts and start seeing an increase in traffic, then open them up. Comments can be a valuable way for you to interact with your clients, hear what you are doing right, what could be done better and what your perspectives are interested in hearing about. However, if you have very few comments it can be detrimental to your blogs appearance of authority.
Link smart: Occasionally deep link your posts to other relevant pages or posts on your site – don’t forget to use keyword centric anchor tags and set any links to open in a new window – you don’t want your readers leaving your site. Don’t be afraid to link to other sites and relevant articles. Writing a post that naturally includes links to relevant sites can be a useful relationship building tool – and hey, they just might return the favor.
Blogs also allow you to get a little more creative – they can be a home for viral link bait (that may not be appropriate or direct to your company’s vision)…not sure what link bait is? You’ve seen it, you’ve most likely linked to it. Create funny top ten lists, funny videos, or creative photo sets that will attract links back to your site.
Social Media should also be incorporated into your blogging efforts: Social Media sites are key for promoting the content on your blog and creating a more dynamic, interactive forum for your business. By adding social sharing tools to your blog – you can increase your exposure and allow your readers to share your blog with their friends and followers.
Be rewarded for consistent, natural and continuous growth – don’t take shortcuts and stay away from shady, black hat tactics – because at some point, you’re most likely to be penalized and your rankings will drop.
Let’s Get Technical:
A blog isn’t that different from other web pages on your site when you get down to the nitty-gritty of it. Here are some important technical aspects to consider when optimizing your blog.
- Location, Location, Location: When deciding where on your site to place your blog consider you may see businesses who use a separate sub domain – www.blog.yoursite.com however the recommended format by Google is to set up your blog as a separate folder on your site – www.yoursite.com/blog.
- Permalink/URL structure: Set up your blogs URL structure to include category or blog posts. Instead of yoursite.com/blog/p?133 you can set up permalinks to rewrite the URL to yoursite.com/blog/email-marketing-tips. Be sure to use dashes for spaces in your URLs.
- Optimizing Title Tags: Optimizing your posts title tags is of utmost importance. Many times the title of your actual post is not optimal for Google – take out a few words and naturally integrating a keyword or two into your title tag.
Meta Descriptions: Optimize your meta descriptions for each blog post – most search engines will read 150-160 characters, so make the most of it.
- Don’t forget about your images: Just like on any page of your site, your images should have alt tags so the search engines have something to read. Alt tags should be relevant to the actual image and again this is a place where you can naturally incorporate a keyword – I said naturally, do not keyword stuff.
- Header Formatting: Just like any page on your site your posts should have one H1 and should use H2’s and H’3s for subtitles. The H1 is your post title.
- RSS Feeds: Make sure you set up an RSS feed to your blog.
- Sitemap: Create a blog sitemap.
I could go on about navigation, canonical URL’s, blog analytics …etc. but will spare you for now – Just remember this:
If you blog consistently, optimize your posts and participate in your niche’s blogosphere you will see the rewards in your search rankings, site conversions and client communications. So what are you waiting for?
If you would like to get started with a company blog, or need help optimizing a current blog please contact us for a free analysis and proposal.