Today it seems everyone wants to be a blogger, and of course they want their content to be seen and heard; but there are a few pitfalls that potential bloggers need to be aware of, as well as a few important things one can do to make their blogging strategies a success. While it does help for bloggers to have some technical SEO knowledge, there are also many practical and more obvious ways to create a better experience for your readers. Here we’re going to dive head first into some of the more practical approaches to better blogging that will help to optimize your site and its content for users, potentially helping you attain a higher ranking as a result.
Keeping and Retaining Visitors to Your Blog:
When people ask me what I do for a living, sometimes I feel like telling them “I might as well be a juggling clown”, since one of the most important parts of my job is keeping people who visit my sites engaged, entertained, and wanting to come back for more. In this sense, every day might as well be another circus act, and it’s the entire World Wide Web we are trying to entertain. The idea here, you have to capture someone’s attention, entertain them somehow, and convince them to come back again, or somehow remember something about you personally, your blog, or some element about your content. The question is, how do you do this?
There’s an even more obvious question that will lead you to the right answer. Why do people surf the web? More often than not, when people search the web, they are looking for the answer to a problem, or simply to obtain some generalized info about a particular subject. Other times people just want to be entertained (play games, socialize, view interesting videos on Youtube, etc). Even if someone is looking to buy something, they may want to view additional information about a product or service before pulling their wallet out.
While the concept above may seem simple, many bloggers fail to realize the user’s intent, and for some odd reason focus their writing only on themselves, and not the user. While I’m sure your last hiking trip through Yosemite was great, I’d say it’s doubtful users want to hear about it on your blog, day after day, for months on end. Depending on what you blog about, many of your posts may need to be of a personal nature, just remember to throw in something that’s practical and useful to users in the real world. Simply put, the more focused your blog is to your users and less focused on you, the better! Search engines like Google tend to seek out content that provides solid information on a given subject, or that solves a problem for users. If it’s geared towards users, its search engine friendly, giving you more potential to rank higher.
Understand The User Experience:
Don’t make users hunt around for your content! Often people will come across a site where they find themselves confused as to where the content they were looking for is actually located. Some sites will have too many objects on the screen, or too many that are positioned too close together, bad news! In some cases sites will have tons of links positioned all over the screen and no content is to be seen anywhere. In these cases the user has to scroll below the fold to even find the title of the article they were expecting to read when clicking a link. Doesn’t sound like a very good user experience to me?
Instead, place every page’s content so it starts above the fold, as close to the top of the page as possible, and make it visible as the user enters the page. Notice when you entered this site the page’s title was sitting directly in front of you, followed by the first paragraph, so no one has to hunt, you’re already there! This creates a better user experience and there will be less scrolling regardless of the length of your article. Also, putting content below the fold will get you slapped by search engines with a lower rank.
Implement and Test Your Social Buttons:
On average, for every ten websites I visit, one has social buttons that don’t work. How in the world do you expect to gain traction and build an audience when no one has the ability to share your content? While this one might seem obvious, I see this issue constantly, at least a few times a day on multiple blogs. Simply put, test your social buttons people, or what’s the point in having them? Never rely on the user to have to copy and paste your URL in order to share your content. This issue remains a big one on Google+ where I manage multiple communities, some quite large, yet many can’t seem to figure out why no one shares their content, duh!
Implement A Graphics Strategy:
If you want more people to take notice, read, and share your blog posts, then you need to capture their attention first. Think about it, when a user is scrolling through their home stream on Google+, Facebook, or some other social network, what posts are going to be the most likely to get noticed, the ones with eye catching graphics, or the ones with just plain text? The more colorful the better, as humans are naturally attracted to things that look nice or have a colorful nature about them.
Make use of Synonyms:
We think of synonyms and we think of the word “interchangeable”, or words that are somehow connected in some way, shape, or form, and essentially mean the same thing. What makes synonyms so great is that they help provide alternative ways to describe the same thing to users. Being that not everyone comprehends the meaning of a conversation or statement the same way, having more ways to describe the same thing helps bloggers to make sure that everyone understands the point they are trying to get across. For instance, if I were to write a blog post entitled “Creative Game Art”, I could also incorporate the words “imaginative”, “inventive”, etc, throughout the article, all these words are synonymous with each other, and they can be used to describe the same thing. Also, blog posts that implement the use of synonyms tend to rank higher than blog posts that don't contain them.
Get Back Links to Your Blog The Right Way:
It’s obvious that part of the secret sauce to ranking in Google comes from the building of high quality back links. Unfortunately, the average blogger is going about the back link building process the whole wrong way, and most don’t seem to understand what a quality back link even is. The whole idea is to get people to want to link to your blog to begin with, not spending all your time doing link building yourself.
This is another way to gauge the worth and impact of your blog on its overall audience. If people like the content you produce, they will share it, and some will link to it. If no one’s linking to your content, then it’s likely no one is sharing it either, I guess the answer here is, don’t quit your day job.
When it comes to back links and your blog, you want links from relevant content on external sites pointing back to yours. The more relevant the content, the more those links are worth their weight in ranking gold. Generally speaking, back links from “in depth” content, such as a relevant article, are going to carry a lot more weight than links from profiles or comment sections of external sites. If I were to write an article about search engine optimization, and link that article to another relevant article on the same subject as mine, the link could carry a strong amount of weight, and have a positive impact on my blog performance as a result. Since both articles are relevant to each other, they are more likely to support each other, and more likely to be useful to users.
On the other hand, if all your back links are coming from irrelevant subjects that don’t pertain to your content in any way, have fun getting penalized by the search giants. Any links from irrelevant content will count against you by search engines! Some bloggers make the mistake of creating a thousand back links to their home page from all over the web. Obviously this is going to look a bit suspicious to search engines who will be wondering why everyone is only linking to one page on your site, and the home page of all places. A natural link profile will have links to multiple pages of a domain, not a million links all to one spot.
In the end, the practical aspects of SEO are really just as important as the technical one’s for bloggers. The whole idea of search engine optimization is to optimize your site and its content for both users and search engines alike. After all, you need both entities to be able to make sense of your site and its content. Another lessons learned here is that, you need to remember to focus the content you produce on the user, not always on yourself. Real life experiences are a powerful force in blogging, but some people just go overboard with it. So, entertain people with something interesting (something you made, are doing, or just want to share with others), solve a complicated problem and share the results, or add a social element to your content marketing efforts.