21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic (Updated 2012)

It’s easy to build a blog, but hard to build a successful blog with significant traffic. Over the years, we’ve grown the Moz blog to nearly a million visits each month and helped lots of other blogs, too. I launched a personal blog late last year and was amazed to see how quickly it gained thousands of visits to each post. There’s an art to increasing a blog’s traffic, and given that we seem to have stumbled on some of that knowledge, I felt it compulsory to give back by sharing what we’ve observed.

#1 – Target Your Content to an Audience Likely to Share

When strategizing about who you’re writing for, consider that audience’s ability to help spread the word. Some readers will naturally be more or less active in evangelizing the work you do, but particular communities, topics, writing styles and content types regularly play better than others on the web. For example, great infographics that strike a chord (like this one), beautiful videos that tell a story (like this one) and remarkable collections of facts that challenge common assumptions (like this one) are all targeted at audiences likely to share (geeks with facial hair, those interested in weight loss and those with political thoughts about macroeconomics respectively).

A Blog's Target Audience

If you can identify groups that have high concentrations of the blue and orange circles in the diagram above, you dramatically improve the chances of reaching larger audiences and growing your traffic numbers. Targeting blog content at less-share-likely groups may not be a terrible decision (particularly if that’s where you passion or your target audience lies), but it will decrease the propensity for your blog’s work to spread like wildfire across the web.

#2 – Participate in the Communities Where Your Audience Already Gathers

Advertisers on Madison Avenue have spent billions researching and determining where consumers with various characteristics gather and what they spend their time doing so they can better target their messages. They do it because reaching a group of 65+ year old women with commercials for extreme sports equipment is known to be a waste of money, while reaching an 18-30 year old male demographic that attends rock-climbing gyms is likely to have a much higher ROI.

Thankfully, you don’t need to spend a dime to figure out where a large portion of your audience can be found on the web. In fact, you probably already know a few blogs, forums, websites and social media communities where discussions and content are being posted on your topic (and if you don’t a Google search will take you much of the way). From that list, you can do some easy expansion using a web-based tool like DoubleClick’s Ad Planner:

Sites Also Visited via DoubleClick

Once you’ve determined the communities where your soon-to-be-readers gather, you can start participating. Create an account, read what others have written and don’t jump in the conversation until you’ve got a good feel for what’s appropriate and what’s not. I’ve written a post here about rules for comment marketing, and all of them apply. Be a good web citizen and you’ll be rewarded with traffic, trust and fans. Link-drop, spam or troll and you’ll get a quick boot, or worse, a reputation as a blogger no one wants to associate with.

#3 – Make Your Blog’s Content SEO-Friendly

Search engines are a massive opportunity for traffic, yet many bloggers ignore this channel for a variety of reasons that usually have more to do with fear and misunderstanding than true problems. As I’ve written before, “SEO, when done right, should never interfere with great writing.” In 2011, Google received over 3 billion daily searches from around the world, and that number is only growing:

Daily Google Searches 2004-2011
sources: Comscore + Google

Taking advantage of this massive traffic opportunity is of tremendous value to bloggers, who often find that much of the business side of blogging, from inquiries for advertising to guest posting opportunities to press and discovery by major media entities comes via search.

SEO for blogs is both simple and easy to set up, particularly if you’re using an SEO-friendly platform like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. For more information on how to execute on great SEO for blogs, check out the following resources:

  • Blogger’s Guide to SEO (from SEOBook)
  • The Beginner’s Guide to SEO (from Moz)
  • WordPress Blog SEO Tutorial (from Yoast)
  • SEO for Travel Bloggers (but applicable to nearly any type of blog – from Moz)

Don’t let bad press or poor experiences with spammers (spam is not SEO) taint the amazing power and valuable contributions SEO can make to your blog’s traffic and overall success. 20% of the effort and tactics to make your content optimized for search engines will yield 80% of the value possible; embrace it and thousands of visitors seeking exactly what you’ve posted will be the reward.

#4 – Use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to Share Your Posts & Find New Connections

Twitter just topped 465 million registered accounts. Facebook has over 850 million active users. Google+ hasnearly 100 million. LinkedIn is over 130 million. Together, these networks are attracting vast amounts of time and interest from Internet users around the world, and those that participate on these services fit into the “content distributors” description above, meaning they’re likely to help spread the word about your blog.

Leveraging these networks to attract traffic requires patience, study, attention to changes by the social sites and consideration in what content to share and how to do it. My advice is to use the following process:

  • If you haven’t already, register a personal account and a brand account at each of the following -Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn (those links will take you directly to the registration pages for brand pages). For example, my friend Dharmesh has a personal account for Twitter and a brand account for OnStartups (one of his blog projects). He also maintains brand pages onFacebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
  • Fill out each of those profiles to the fullest possible extent – use photos, write compelling descriptions and make each one as useful and credible as possible. Research shows that profiles with more information have a significant correlation with more successful accounts (and there’s a lot of common sense here, too, given that spammy profiles frequently feature little to no profile work).
  • Connect with users on those sites with whom you already share a personal or professional relationships, and start following industry luminaries, influencers and connectors. Services likeFollowerWonk and FindPeopleonPlus can be incredible for this:

Followerwonk Search for "Seattle Chef"

  • Start sharing content – your own blog posts, those of peers in your industry who’ve impressed you and anything that you feel has a chance to go “viral” and earn sharing from others.
  • Interact with the community – use hash tags, searches and those you follow to find interesting conversations and content and jump in! Social networks are amazing environment for building a brand, familiarizing yourself with a topic and the people around it, and earning the trust of others through high quality, authentic participation and sharing

If you consistently employ a strategy of participation, share great stuff and make a positive, memorable impression on those who see your interactions on these sites, your followers and fans will grow and your ability to drive traffic back to your blog by sharing content will be tremendous. For many bloggers, social media is the single largest source of traffic, particularly in the early months after launch, when SEO is a less consistent driver.

#5 – Install Analytics and Pay Attention to the Results

At the very least, I’d recommend most bloggers install Google Analytics (which is free), and watch to see where visits originate, which sources drive quality traffic and what others might be saying about you and your content when they link over. If you want to get more advanced, check out this post on 18 Steps to Successful Metrics and Marketing.

Here’s a screenshot from the analytics of my wife’s travel blog, the Everywhereist:

Traffic Sources to Everywhereist from Google Analytics

As you can see, there’s all sorts of great insights to be gleaned by looking at where visits originate, analyzing how they were earned and trying to repeat the successes, focus on the high quality and high traffic sources and put less effort into marketing paths that may not be effective. In this example, it’s pretty clear that Facebook and Twitter are both excellent channels. StumbleUpon sends a lot of traffic, but they don’t stay very long (averaging only 36 seconds vs. the general average of 4 minutes!).

Employing analytics is critical to knowing where you’re succeeding, and where you have more opportunity. Don’t ignore it, or you’ll be doomed to never learn from mistakes or execute on potential.

#6 – Add Graphics, Photos and Illustrations (with link-back licensing)

If you’re someone who can produce graphics, take photos, illustrate or even just create funny doodles in MS Paint, you should leverage that talent on your blog. By uploading and hosting images (or using a third-party service like Flickr to embed your images with licensing requirements on that site), you create another traffic source for yourself via Image Search, and often massively improve the engagement and enjoyment of your visitors.

When using images, I highly recommend creating a way for others to use them on their own sites legally and with permission, but in such a way that benefits you as the content creator. For example, you could have a consistent notice under your images indicating that re-using is fine, but that those who do should link back to this post. You can also post that as a sidebar link, include it in your terms of use, or note it however you think will get the most adoption.

Some people will use your images without linking back, which sucks. However, you can find them by employing the Image Search function of “similar images,” shown below:

Google's "Visually Similar" Search

Clicking the “similar” link on any given image will show you other images that Google thinks look alike, which can often uncover new sources of traffic. Just reach out and ask if you can get a link, nicely. Much of the time, you’ll not only get your link, but make a valuable contact or new friend, too!

#7 – Conduct Keyword Research While Writing Your Posts

Not surprisingly, a big part of showing up in search engines is targeting the terms and phrases your audience are actually typing into a search engine. It’s hard to know what these words will be unless you do some research, and luckily, there’s a free tool from Google to help called the AdWords Keyword Tool.

Type some words at the top, hit search and AdWords will show you phrases that match the intent and/or terms you’ve employed. There’s lots to play around with here, but watch out in particular for the “match types” options I’ve highlighted below:

Google AdWords Tool

When you choose “exact match” AdWords will show you only the quantity of searches estimated for that precise phrase. If you use broad match, they’ll include any search phrases that use related/similar words in a pattern they think could have overlap with your keyword intent (which can get pretty darn broad). “Phrase match” will give you only those phrases that include the word or words in your search – still fairly wide-ranging, but between “exact” and “broad.”

When you’re writing a blog post, keyword research is best utilized for the title and headline of the post. For example, if I wanted to write a post here on Moz about how to generate good ideas for bloggers, I might craft something that uses the phrase “blog post ideas” or “blogging ideas” near the front of my title and headline, as in “Blog Post Ideas for When You’re Truly Stuck,” or “Blogging Ideas that Will Help You Clear Writer’s Block.”

Optimizing a post to target a specific keyword isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds. 80% of the value comes from merely using the phrase effectively in the title of the blog post, and writing high quality content about the subject. If you’re interested in more, read Perfecting Keyword Targeting and On-Page Optimization (a slightly older resource, but just as relevant today as when it was written).

#8 – Frequently Reference Your Own Posts and Those of Others

The web was not made for static, text-only content! Readers appreciate links, as do other bloggers, site owners and even search engines. When you reference your own material in-context and in a way that’s not manipulative (watch out for over-optimizing by linking to a category, post or page every time a phrase is used – this is almost certainly discounted by search engines and looks terrible to those who want to read your posts), you potentially draw visitors to your other content AND give search engines a nice signal about those previous posts.

Perhaps even more valuable is referencing the content of others. The biblical expression “give and ye shall receive,” perfectly applies on the web. Other site owners will often receive Google Alerts or look through their incoming referrers (as I showed above in tip #5) to see who’s talking about them and what they’re saying. Linking out is a direct line to earning links, social mentions, friendly emails and new relationships with those you reference. In its early days, this tactic was one of the best ways we earned recognition and traffic with the SEOmoz blog and the power continues to this day.

#9 – Participate in Social Sharing Communities Like Reddit + StumbleUpon

The major social networking sites aren’t alone in their power to send traffic to a blog. Social community sites like Reddit (which now receives more than 2 billion! with a “B”! views each month), StumbleUpon, Pinterest,Tumblr, Care2 (for nonprofits and causes), GoodReads (books), Ravelry (knitting), Newsvine (news/politics) and many, many more (Wikipedia maintains a decent, though not comprehensive list here).

Each of these sites have different rules, formats and ways of participating and sharing content. As with participation in blog or forum communities described above in tactic #2, you need to add value to these communities to see value back. Simply drive-by spamming or leaving your link won’t get you very far, and could even cause a backlash. Instead, learn the ropes, engage authentically and you’ll find that fans, links and traffic can develop.

These communities are also excellent sources of inspiration for posts on your blog. By observing what performs well and earns recognition, you can tailor your content to meet those guidelines and reap the rewards in visits and awareness. My top recommendation for most bloggers is to at least check whether there’s an appropriate subreddit in which you should be participating. Subreddits and their search functioncan help with that.

#10 – Guest Blog (and Accept the Guest Posts of Others)

When you’re first starting out, it can be tough to convince other bloggers to allow you to post on their sites OR have an audience large enough to inspire others to want to contribute to your site. This is when friends and professional connections are critical. When you don’t have a compelling marketing message, leverage your relationships – find the folks who know you, like you and trust you and ask those who have blog to let you take a shot at authoring something, then ask them to return the favor.

Guest blogging is a fantastic way to spread your brand to new folks who’ve never seen your work before, and it can be useful in earning early links and references back to your site, which will drive direct traffic and help your search rankings (diverse, external links are a key part of how search engines rank sites and pages). Several recommendations for those who engage in guest blogging:

  • Find sites that have a relevant audience – it sucks to pour your time into writing a post, only to see it fizzle because the readers weren’t interested. Spend a bit more time researching the posts that succeed on your target site, the makeup of the audience, what types of comments they leave and you’ll earn a much higher return with each post.
  • Don’t be discouraged if you ask and get a “no” or a “no response.” As your profile grows in your niche, you’ll have more opportunities, requests and an easier time getting a “yes,” so don’t take early rejections too hard and watch out – in many marketing practices, persistence pays, but pestering a blogger to write for them is not one of these (and may get your email address permanently banned from their inbox).
  • When pitching your guest post make it as easy as possible for the other party. When requesting to post, have a phenomenal piece of writing all set to publish that’s never been shared before and give them the ability to read it. These requests get far more “yes” replies than asking for the chance to write with no evidence of what you’ll contribute. At the very least, make an outline and write a title + snippet.
  • Likewise, when requesting a contribution, especially from someone with a significant industry profile, asking for a very specific piece of writing is much easier than getting them to write an entire piece from scratch of their own design. You should also present statistics that highlight the value of posting on your site – traffic data, social followers, RSS subscribers, etc. can all be very persuasive to a skeptical writer.

A great tool for frequent guest bloggers is Ann Smarty’s MyBlogGuest, which offers the ability to connect writers with those seeking guest contributions (and the reverse).

MyBlogGuest

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are also great places to find guest blogging opportunities. In particular, check out the profiles of those you’re connected with to see if they run blogs of their own that might be a good fit. Google’s Blog Search function and Google Reader’s Search are also solid tools for discovery.

#11 – Incorporate Great Design Into Your Site

The power of beautiful, usable, professional design can’t be overstated. When readers look at a blog, the first thing they judge is how it “feels” from a design and UX perspective. Sites that use default templates or have horrifying, 1990’s design will receive less trust, a lower time-on-page, fewer pages per visit and a lower likelihood of being shared. Those that feature stunning design that clearly indicates quality work will experience the reverse – and reap amazing benefits.

Blog Design Inspiration
These threads – 1, 2, 3 and 4 – feature some remarkable blog designs for inspiration

If you’re looking for a designer to help upgrade the quality of your blog, there’s a few resources I recommend:

  • Dribbble – great for finding high quality professional designers
  • Forrst – another excellent design profile community
  • Behance – featuring galleries from a wide range of visual professionals
  • Sortfolio – an awesome tool to ID designers by region, skill and budget
  • 99 Designs – a controversial site that provides designs on spec via contests (I have mixed feelings on this one, but many people find it useful, particularly for budget-conscious projects)

This is one area where budgeting a couple thousand dollars (if you can afford it) or even a few hundred (if you’re low on cash) can make a big difference in the traffic, sharing and viral-impact of every post you write.

#12 – Interact on Other Blogs’ Comments

As bloggers, we see a lot of comments. Many are spam, only a few add real value, and even fewer are truly fascinating and remarkable. If you can be in this final category consistently, in ways that make a blogger sit up and think “man, I wish that person commented here more often!” you can achieve great things for your own site’s visibility through participation in the comments of other blogs.

Combine the tools presented in #10 (particularly Google Reader/Blog Search) and #4 (especiallyFollowerWonk) for discovery. The feed subscriber counts in Google Reader can be particularly helpful for identifying good blogs for participation. Then apply the principles covered in this post on comment marketing.

Google Reader Subscriber Counts

Do be conscious of the name you use when commenting and the URL(s) you point back to. Consistency matters, particularly on naming, and linking to internal pages or using a name that’s clearly made for keyword-spamming rather than true conversation will kill your efforts before they begin.

#13 – Participate in Q+A Sites

Every day, thousands of people ask questions on the web. Popular services like Yahoo! Answers,Answers.com, Quora, StackExchange, Formspring and more serve those hungry for information whose web searches couldn’t track down the responses they needed.

The best strategy I’ve seen for engaging on Q+A sites isn’t to answer every question that comes along, but rather, to strategically provide high value to a Q+A community by engaging in those places where:

  • The question quality is high, and responses thus far have been thin
  • The question receives high visibility (either by ranking well for search queries, being featured on the site or getting social traffic/referrals). Most of the Q+A sites will show some stats around the traffic of a question
  • The question is something you can answer in a way that provides remarkable value to anyone who’s curious and drops by

I also find great value in answering a few questions in-depth by producing an actual blog post to tackle them, then linking back. This is also a way I personally find blog post topics – if people are interested in the answer on a Q+A site, chances are good that lots of folks would want to read it on my blog, too!

Just be authentic in your answer, particularly if you’re linking. If you’d like to see some examples, I answer a lot of questions at Quora, frequently include relevant links, but am rarely accused of spamming or link dropping because it’s clearly about providing relevant value, not just getting a link for SEO (links on most user-contributed sites are “nofollow” anyway, meaning they shouldn’t pass search-engine value). There’s a dangerous line to walk here, but if you do so with tact and candor, you can earn a great audience from your participation.

#14 – Enable Subscriptions via Feed + Email (and track them!)

If someone drops by your site, has a good experience and thinks “I should come back here and check this out again when they have more posts,” chances are pretty high (I’d estimate 90%+) that you’ll never see them again. That sucks! It shouldn’t be the case, but we have busy lives and the Internet’s filled with animated gifs of cats.

In order to pull back some of these would-be fans, I highly recommend creating an RSS feed using Feedburner and putting visible buttons on the sidebar, top or bottom of your blog posts encouraging those who enjoy your content to sign up (either via feed, or via email, both of which are popular options).

RSS Feeds with Feedburner

If you’re using WordPress, there’s some easy plugins for this, too.

Once you’ve set things up, visit every few weeks and check on your subscribers – are they clicking on posts? If so, which ones? Learning what plays well for those who subscribe to your content can help make you a better blogger, and earn more visits from RSS, too.

#15 – Attend and Host Events

Despite the immense power of the web to connect us all regardless of geography, in-person meetings are still remarkably useful for bloggers seeking to grow their traffic and influence. The people you meet and connect with in real-world settings are far more likely to naturally lead to discussions about your blog and ways you can help each other. This yields guest posts, links, tweets, shares, blogroll inclusion and general business development like nothing else.

Lanyrd Suggested Events

I’m a big advocate of Lanyrd, an event directory service that connects with your social networks to see who among your contacts will be at which events in which geographies. This can be phenomenally useful for identifying which meetups, conferences or gatherings are worth attending (and who you can carpool with).

The founder of Lanyrd also contributed this great answer on Quora about other search engines/directories for events (which makes me like them even more).

#16 – Use Your Email Connections (and Signature) to Promote Your Blog

As a blogger, you’re likely to be sending a lot of email out to others who use the web and have the power to help spread your work. Make sure you’re not ignoring email as a channel, one-to-one though it may be. When given an opportunity in a conversation that’s relevant, feel free to bring up your blog, a specific post or a topic you’ve written about. I find myself using blogging as a way to scalably answer questions – if I receive the same question many times, I’ll try to make a blog post that answers it so I can simply link to that in the future.

Email Footer Link

I also like to use my email signature to promote the content I share online. If I was really sharp, I’d do link tracking using a service like Bit.ly so I could see how many clicks email footers really earn. I suspect it’s not high, but it’s also not 0.

#17 – Survey Your Readers

Web surveys are easy to run and often produce high engagement and great topics for conversation. If there’s a subject or discussion that’s particularly contested, or where you suspect showing the distribution of beliefs, usage or opinions can be revealing, check out a tool like SurveyMonkey (they have a small free version) orPollDaddy. Google Docs also offers a survey tool that’s totally free, but not yet great in my view.

#18 – Add Value to a Popular Conversation

Numerous niches in the blogosphere have a few “big sites” where key issues arise, get discussed and spawn conversations on other blogs and sites. Getting into the fray can be a great way to present your point-of-view, earn attention from those interested in the discussion and potentially get links and traffic from the industry leaders as part of the process.

You can see me trying this out with Fred Wilson’s AVC blog last year (an incredibly popular and well-respected blog in the VC world). Fred wrote a post about Marketing that I disagreed with strongly and publiclyand a day later, he wrote a follow-up where he included a graphic I made AND a link to my post.

If you’re seeking sources to find these “popular conversations,” Alltop, Topsy, Techmeme (in the tech world) and their sister sites MediaGazer, Memeorandum and WeSmirch, as well as PopURLs can all be useful.

#19 – Aggregate the Best of Your Niche

Bloggers, publishers and site owners of every variety in the web world love and hate to be compared and ranked against one another. It incites endless intrigue, discussion, methodology arguments and competitive behavior – but, it’s amazing for earning attention. When a blogger publishes a list of “the best X” or “the top X” in their field, most everyone who’s ranked highly praises the list, shares it and links to it. Here’s an example from the world of marketing itself:

AdAge Power 150

That’s a screenshot of the AdAge Power 150, a list that’s been maintained for years in the marketing world and receives an endless amount of discussion by those listed (and not listed). For example, why is SEOmoz’s Twitter score only a “13” when we have so many more followers, interactions and retweets than many of those with higher scores? Who knows. But I know it’s good for AdAge. 🙂

Now, obviously, I would encourage anyone building something like this to be as transparent, accurate and authentic as possible. A high quality resource that lists a “best and brightest” in your niche – be they blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, individual posts, people, conferences or whatever else you can think to rank – is an excellent piece of content for earning traffic and becoming a known quantity in your field.

Oh, and once you do produce it – make sure to let those featured know they’ve been listed. Tweeting at them with a link is a good way to do this, but if you have email addresses, by all means, reach out. It can often be the start of a great relationship!

#20 – Connect Your Web Profiles and Content to Your Blog

Many of you likely have profiles on services like YouTube, Slideshare, Yahoo!, DeviantArt and dozens of other social and Web 1.0 sites. You might be uploading content to Flickr, to Facebook, to Picasa or even something more esoteric like Prezi. Whatever you’re producing on the web and wherever you’re doing it, tie it back to your blog.

Including your blog’s link on your actual profile pages is among the most obvious, but it’s also incredibly valuable. On any service where interaction takes place, those interested in who you are and what you have to share will follow those links, and if they lead back to your blog, they become opportunities for capturing a loyal visitor or earning a share (or both!). But don’t just do this with profiles – do it with content, too! If you’ve created a video for YouTube, make your blog’s URL appear at the start or end of the video. Include it in the description of the video and on the uploading profile’s page. If you’re sharing photos on any of the dozens of photo services, use a watermark or even just some text with your domain name so interested users can find you.

If you’re having trouble finding and updating all those old profiles (or figuring out where you might want to create/share some new ones), KnowEm is a great tool for discovering your own profiles (by searching for your name or pseudonyms you’ve used) and claiming profiles on sites you may not yet have participated in.

I’d also strongly recommend leveraging Google’s relatively new protocol for rel=author. AJ Kohn wrote a great post on how to set it up here, and Yoast has another good one on building it into WordPress sites. The benefit for bloggers who do build large enough audiences to gain Google’s trust is earning your profile photo next to all the content you author – a powerful markup advantage that likely drives extra clicks from the search results and creates great, memorable branding, too.

#21 – Uncover the Links of Your Fellow Bloggers (and Nab ’em!)

If other blogs in your niche have earned references from sites around the web, there’s a decent chance that they’ll link to you as well. Conducting competitive link research can also show you what content from your competition has performed well and the strategies they may be using to market their work. To uncover these links, you’ll need to use some tools.

OpenSiteExplorer is my favorite, but I’m biased (it’s made by Moz). However, it is free to use – if you create a registered account here, you can get unlimited use of the tool showing up to 1,000 links per page or site in perpetuity.

OpenSiteExplorer from Moz

There are other good tools for link research as well, including Blekko, Majestic, Ahrefs and, I’ve heard that in the near-future, SearchMetrics.

Finding a link is great, but it’s through the exhaustive research of looking through dozens or hundreds that you can identify patterns and strategies. You’re also likely to find a lot of guest blogging opportunities and other chances for outreach. If you maintain a great persona and brand in your niche, your ability to earn these will rise dramatically.

Bonus #22 – Be Consistent and Don’t Give Up

If there’s one piece of advice I wish I could share with every blogger, it’s this:

Why Bloggers Give Up Traffic Graph

The above image comes from Everywhereist’s analytics. Geraldine could have given up 18 months into her daily blogging. After all, she was putting in 3-5 hours each day writing content, taking photos, visiting sites, coming up with topics, trying to guest blog and grow her Twitter followers and never doing any SEO (don’t ask, it’s a running joke between us). And then, almost two years after her blog began, and more than 500 posts in, things finally got going. She got some nice guest blogging gigs, had some posts of hers go “hot” in the social sphere, earned mentions on some bigger sites, then got really big press from Time’s Best Blogs of 2011.

I’d guess there’s hundreds of new bloggers on the web each day who have all the opportunity Geraldine had, but after months (maybe only weeks) of slogging away, they give up.

When I started the SEOmoz blog in 2004, I had some advantages (mostly a good deal of marketing and SEO knowledge), but it was nearly 2 years before the blog could be called anything like a success. Earning traffic isn’t rocket science, but it does take time, perseverance and consistency. Don’t give up. Stick to your schedule. Remember that everyone has a few posts that suck, and it’s only by writing and publishing those sucky posts that you get into the habit necessary to eventually transform your blog into something remarkable.

Good luck !!!

Source: SEOmoz.org

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Wake Up SEOs, the New Google is Here

I must admit that lately Google is the cause of my headaches.

No, not just because it decided I was not going to be not provided with useful information about my sites. And neither because it is changing practically every tool I got used since my first days as an SEO (Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Gmail…). And, honestly, not only because it released a ravenous Panda.

No, the real question that is causing my headaches is: What the hell does Google want to go with all these changes?

Let me start quoting the definition of SEO Google gives in its Guidelines:

Search engine optimization is about putting your site’s best foot forward when it comes to visibility in search engines, but your ultimate consumers are your users, not search engines.

Technical SEO still matters, a lot!

If you want to put your site’s best foot forward and make it the most visible possible in search engines, then you have to be a master in technical SEO.

We all know that if we do not pay attention to the navigation architecture of our site, if we don’t care about the on-page optimization, if we mess up with the rel=”canonical” tag, the pagination and the faceted navigation of our web, and if we don’t pay attention to the internal content duplication, etc. etc., well, we are not going to go that far with Search.

Is all this obvious? Yes, it is. But people in our circle tend to pay attention just to the last bright shining object and forget what one of the basic pillars of our discipline is: make a site optimized to be visible in the search engines.

The next time you hear someone saying “Content is King” or “Social is the new link building”, snap her face and ask her when it was the last time she logged in Google Webmaster Tools.

Go fix your site, make it indexable and solve all the technical problems it may have. Just after done that, you can start doing all the rest.

User is king

Technical SEO still matters, but that does not mean that it is synonym of SEO. So, if you hear someone affirming it, please snap her face too.

No... content is not the only King. User is the King! Image by Jeff Gregory

User and useful have the same root: use. And a user finds useful a website when it offers an answer to her needs, and if its use is easy and fast..

From the point of view that Google has of User, that means that a site to rank:

  1. must be fast;
  2. must have useful content and related to what it pretends to be about;
  3. must be presented to Google so that it can understand the best it can what it is about.

The first point explains the emphasis Google gives to site speed, because it is really highly correlated to a better user experience.

The second is related to the quality of the content of a site, and it is substantially what Panda is all about. Panda, if we want to reduce it at its minimal terms, is the attempt by Google of cleaning its SERPs of any content it does not consider useful for the end users.

The third explains the Schema.org adoption and why Google (and the other Search Engines) are definitely moving to the Semantic Web: because it helps search engines organize the bazillion contents they index every second. And the most they understand really what is your content about, the better they will deliver it in the SERPs.

The link graph mapped

The decline of Link graph

We all know that just with on-site optimization we cannot win the SERPs war, and that we need links to our site to make it authoritative. But we all know how much the link graph can be gamed.

Even though we still have tons of reasons to complain with Google about the quality of SERPs, especially due to sites that ranks thanks to manipulative link building tactics, it is hard for me to believe that Google is doing nothing in order to counteract this situation. What I believe is that Google has decided to solve the problem not with patches but with a totally new kind of graph.

That does not mean that links are not needed anymore, not at all, as links related factors still represent (and will represent) a great portion of all the ranking factors, but other factors are now cooked in the ranking pot.

Be Social and become a trusted seed

In a Social-Caffeinated era, the faster way to understand if a content is popular is to check its “relative” popularity in the social media environment. I say “relative”, because not all contents are the same and if a meme needs many tweets, +1 and likes/share to be considered more popular than others, it is not so for more niche kind of contents. Combining social signals with the traditional link graph, Google can understand the real popularity of a page.

The problem, as many are saying since almost one year, is that it is quite easy to spam in Social Media.

The Facebook Social Graph from Silicon Angle

For this reason Google introduced the concepts of Author and Publisher and, even more important, Google linked them to the Google Profiles and is pushing Google Plus, which is not just another Social Media, but what Google aims to be in the future: a social search engine.

Rel=”author” and Rel=”publisher” are the solution Google is adopting in order to better control, within other things, the spam pollution of the SERPs.

If you are a blogger, you will be incentivized in marking your content with Author and link it to your G+ Profile, and as a Site, you are incentivized to create your G+ Business page and to promote it with a badge on you site that has the rel=”publisher” in its code.

Trusted seeds are not anymore only sites, but can be also persons (i.e.: Rand or Danny Sullivan) or social facets of an entity… so, the closer I am in the Social Graph to those persons//entity the more trusted I am to Google eyes.

The new Google graph

As we can see, Google is not trying to rely only on the link graph, as it is quite easy to game, but it is not simply adding the social signals to the link graph, because they too can be gamed. What Google is doing is creating and refining a new graph that see cooperating Link graph, Social graph and Trust graphand which is possibly harder to game. Because it can be gamed still, but – hopefully – needing so many efforts that it may become not-viable as a practice.

Wake up SEOs, the new Google is here

As a conclusion, let me borrow what Larry Page wrote on Google+ (bold is mine):

Our ultimate ambition is to transform the overall Google experience […] because we understand what you want and can deliver it instantly.

This means baking identity and sharing into all of our products so that we build a real relationship with our users. Sharing on the web will be like sharing in real life across all your stuff. You’ll have better, more relevant search results and ads.

Think about it this way … last quarter, we’ve shipped the +, and now we’re going to ship the Google part.

I think that it says it all and what we have lived a year now is explained clearly by the Larry Page words.

What can we do as SEOs? Evolve, because SEO is not dieing, but SEOs can if they don’t assume that winter – oops – the change of Google is coming.

The New SEO graph

 

The 4 Critically Essential Off-The-Page Search Engine Optimization Factors

In our last lesson we talked about the things you can do on your website to help it rank well in the search engines — in other words, the “on the page” factors. In this lesson we’re going to talk about the external factors that can influence your rankings — the “off the page” factors.

Your Google PageRank

Before we get into the “hows”, it’s important that you understand a little bit about Google’s PageRank. PageRank is Google’s way of indexing all content and websites based on importance in the internet community. It’s an important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, and by understanding a little of how it works, you’ll have a better idea about how to boost your rankings in the world’s most popular search engine.

To establish the “importance” of your page, Google looks at how many other websites are linking to your page. These links are like “votes”, and the more “votes” you have, the greater your online “importance” and the higher your PageRank.

And higher PageRank is an important contributor to higher search engine rankings.

It’s not as democratic as it sounds, however: Not every page that links to you is given equal “voting power”. Pages that have a high PageRank have more voting power than pages with low PageRank. This means that the “boost” a link gives to your own PageRank is closely related to the PageRank of the site that’s linking to you.

For instance… receiving just ONE link from a PR5 page might well give you more benefit than receiving 20 links from PR0 pages. It’s quality not quantity that’s important.

The equation for working out how much PR value you’ll get from a link looks something like this:

  • PR = 0.15 + 0.85 x (your share of the link PR)
  • By “your share of the link PR” I mean that every site only has a certain amount of PR “juice” to give out. Let’s say a page has 100 votes. Lets say it has 20 outgoing links on that page. Then each link is sending 5 votes to the other site. (100 / 20 = 5) That is a simple way of looking at the share of the PR of the link. In reality the higher-placed links get higher voting power, (e.g. 10 votes each) while the lower-placed ones will get less, (e.g. 2 votes each).

There are many other factors at play that determine the PageRank of a page:

  1. The amount of PageRank flowing in to your page. PageRank can come from other sites linking to your page, but also from other pages on your website linking to your page.
  2. Your internal linking: As I just mentioned, PageRank can also come from other pages on your website, trickling from one page to another through your internal linking, menus and such. The trick is to “sculpt” the flow of your PageRank so that it “pools” in your most important pages. (In other words, don’t waste your PageRank by linking to your “contact us” page and site-map all over the show… add rel=”nofollow” to those links to stop the PageRank leaking through to them.)
  3. The number of pages in your website: the more pages your website has, the higher your PageRank will be.
  4. The number of external sites you link to. Again, think of PageRank as being something that “flows”. By linking to lots of other websites you’re letting your PageRank flow out of your page, rather than allowing it to pool. Try to have reciprocal links wherever possible, so that the PageRank flows back to you.

The best piece of advice is to keep these points in mind when building your site and try to avoid any on-page factors which might be detrimental to the “flow” of your PageRank through your site. Once you’ve done that, work on getting quality links from quality websites. The easiest way to do this is to fill your website with useful, relevant information that makes people want to link to you!

And remember: PageRank is just part of Google’s ranking algorithm. You’ll often see pages with high PageRank being outranked by pages with lower PageRank, which shows that there’s much more at play here!

#1: Build lots of 1-way incoming links

Do this through article submissions, directory submissions, submitting articles to blog networks (such as the PLRPro blog network), buying links (e.g. from digital point forums), and so on.

But be careful…

Purchased links can sometimes be more powerful than links you get by more natural methods… but Google will penalize you if they know that you are buying links. One way they’ll nab you is if you buy a link on a monthly lease and then end up canceling it. One link might not be enough to send up the red flags, but some people buy and cancel hundreds of links in this manner.

A better idea is to buy lifetime links from places like forums.digitalpoint.com, and to try to find links from websites that are on topics relevant to your own.

#2: Get some links from good sites

By “good sites” I mean websites that have a high PageRank, or sites with a high “trust” factor (such as Yahoo, Dmoz or sites with a .edu suffix). If you can get good links to the pages on your site that generate the most income for you, even better — if you can improve the ranking of these pages you’ll get more traffic, more conversions, and more money!

#3: Make sure that pages you gain links from are, in fact, indexed.

A link to your site won’t count for anything if the page that is linking to you hasn’t actually been indexed by the search engines. The search engines won’t see the link, and they won’t give you any credit for it. I see a lot of people submitting their sites to article directories and search directories, and then ending up on a page that the search engines don’t visit. This is pointless!

The good news is that it’s pretty simple to get all these pages indexed. All you have to do is let the search engines know about the page yourself. To do this you need to set up a webpage outside of your main site, such as a free blog or a Twitter.com profile. Make sure that the search engines are indexing this page, of course, and then every time you get a new link to your main site, write about it in your blog or Twitter profile! The search engines will see this and visit the other site — hey presto! The page is now indexed, and you’ll get credit for your link.

Important: Don’t link to this blog or Twitter profile from your main money website. Doing this will create a reciprocal link loop…

#4: Don’t loop your links

Reciprocal links aren’t as powerful as one-way links. This is why you want to receive one-way links from other websites wherever possible.

But there are also things called “reciprocal link loops” which are like bigger versions of this. I mentioned one in the last tip… A links to B, B links to C and C links to A. That’s a loop… it eventually comes full circle back to the first site. A “link loop” can get pretty large, but if it eventually ends up back at the start, it’s still a loop, and all links within the loop become less powerful. Small loops are the worst, but try to avoid loops wherever possible.

That brings us to the end of our critical off-page factors for search engine optimization. In part three of this five-part mini-course I’ll talk link building strategies: Keep an eye out for it!

Easy Ways To Optimize Your Site For SEO- Quick Overview

Are you losing your mind and pulling your hair out trying to crack the code of search engine optimization? Look, I have been there so let me enlighten you on a few easy techniques I have picked up along the way to help you get more traffic and make more sales through your websites and web 2.0 properties.

Fist off there is no magic formula to SEO no matter what guru says so nor is it a complicated process expressed by so-called SEO experts. Basically it comes down to common sense on how things work on the technical side of things online.

First off is keywords. If you are driving traffic to your websites via keywords you ought to know how to utilize them to the max for best case scenario. Using the keyword in your domain, description, title, and tags is very important but do not over use them in the body of text. One time in bold is enough and have your main keyword supported by other keywords in your text but most importantly write naturally using slang and proper language associated with your topic. There are SEO tools to help point this out if you are using a blogging platform in case your eyes miss it. 🙂

Next is competition. can you compete against a giant keyword term? You could but it will take a very long time to catch up, so best stick with things you can compete with. Usually staying under 100,000 competing pages is key to ranking on the first page. Look at your competition and take note of their domain age, page rank, and backlinks. This will determine what it will take and how long it will take to out rank them.

And then there is backlinks. This is a very important step to insuring you rank in the top 10 or even #1! It is not how many backlinks you have but where they are coming from. An example: 25 links from PR5 to PR9 sites will outrank 10,000 links from junk low page rank sites, period. I should also point out that these links should be relevant to your niche. If you have a site on “SEO” then most of your links coming in should be from SEO type sites and not “basket weaving” for instance. This way you can easily become untouchable in the rankings.

Good luck!!! 🙂

Important SEO Suggestions That You Simply Have to Keep in Mind

There’s a good number of material online that teach you about SEO. It is still tough, nevertheless, to get off the ground if you do not have experience with SEO. Some of them push forward but several of them just abandon it and move on. What individuals new to the subject need to understand is that you simply need to invest effort and time into SEO prior to seeing outcomes. SEO takes fairly a bit of time to master, so do not get discouraged. In the following paragraphs we will probably be discussing numerous SEO suggestions that you simply can apply inside your beginning stages.

Firstly, you ought to make sure that you simply are utilizing anchor textual content hyperlinks the proper way. Anchor textual content is the word that goes within the hyperlink. You’ve to possess the anchor textual content in both your outgoing and also the incoming hyperlinks. This is crucial simply because readers wish to know what the hyperlink goes to, and search engines can also inform exactly where the hyperlink leads and also what the content material is about.

After some time, as lengthy as you are doing every thing the proper way, you’ll see a steady incline of your website within the rankings. Just make certain you steer clear of irrelevant words for example “click here” within the anchor textual content. Search engines do not like that and will likely give you a penalty simply because your website isn’t related.

You should be aware of exactly where your hyperlinks are coming from. If you have your hyperlinks coming from websites that aren’t what you would like, then the search engines won’t make sure what signal you are attempting to send to them.

This will count as votes in opposition to you and you’ll get more votes in opposition to you as lengthy as you’ve more hyperlinks like that. Make it thumb rule to possess your incoming hyperlinks from only reputable websites. To put it an additional way, your hyperlinks ought to come from websites having a higher page rating. One hyperlink from a website having a higher page rating is far much better than a hundred hyperlinks from a poor website. It is easy to be lured into utilizing a tactic like this, but make sure that you are aware of this.

You ought to also make sure to use keywords inside your site’s headlines, as you would like them to be recognized by the search engines. Add your keywords inside your H1, H2 and H3 tags to give the search engines a clue. You would like to inform the search engines in as several methods as feasible that your website has related content material. It is also great to possess keywords inside your header tags so that individuals can simply inform what you’re discussing on your website. In optimizing your website, you need to think about these elements.

Thus, SEO is comparable to a puzzle in that you simply have to put all of the pieces within the proper place. The very best method to solve this never ending puzzle is to keep learning and understanding the numerous changes that maintain happening. It’ll not take you a lengthy time to see things clearly and you’ll soon turn out to be an expert at rating websites for competitive keywords. Anything is feasible if you work at it.

Top 10 Tips for SEO Newbies

Please enjoy these award-winning Top 10 SEO Tips for webmasters and website owners. Too many people make the mistake of spending thousands of dollars on just Pay-Per-Click (Sponsored Ads) campaigns before they realize that most people click on the non-sponsored listings more than “Sponsored Ads”. There are several hundred techniques to achieve higher ranking in the search results, but these Top 10 SEO Tips are in my opinion the most valuable and timeless. They are also current, as I’m making a point to update this list respective to changes in search engine algorthims.

SEO Tip #1: Find the Best Keywords

It would be a waste of your time to optimize your website for keywords that are not even being searched for. Even if you do get top placement for a broad keyword that isn’t what most users are looking for, Google will calculate the number of times users did not select your listing, and the number of times they returned to the search results to choose a different website. Trying to beat this calculation is futile and more often then not, just a huge waste of time and energy.

Therefore you should invest some resources into finding the best keywords; those that turn searches into purchases or leads. Buying Sponsored Ads and paying for high end design and usuability is best place to start. However, there are several SEO tools and SEO software available on the Internet to help you find the best keywords; most of which are offered by the search engines themselves and are completely free.

Here is a core principle of the Top 10 SEO Tips: When using any SEO tool for doing keyword research, start by keeping your searches ambiguous, creating categories, and drilling down to create small clusters (or silos) of keywords. The results will always return new suggestions and ideas, sometimes surprising ones that you may not have thought of. In the Sponsored Ads, these clusters become your ad groups. With your SEO, they become the directories (or taxonomy) of the content you’ll want to have on your website.

Behavioral-targeting and using Long Tail Keywords are an excellent way to get higher ranking quickly forkeywords that generate sales, and will have longevity to them in the search results. Poor keyword examples would be: kindle, nike shoes, roommate new york. Here are some examples of keywords that are ideal for SEO:

    • Buy Used Amazon Kindle Online
    • Nike Shoes Kobe Mens Size 10
    • Find a Roommate in NYC

SEO Tip #2: Discover What Your Competitors are Doing

It’s a fact and one of my Top 10 SEO Tips, that search engines analyze incoming links to your website as part of their ranking criteria. Knowing how many incoming links your competitors have, will give you a fantastic edge. Of course, you still have to discover your competitors before you can analyze them.

Your analysis of competitors should include these extremely important linking criteria (super SEO tips), such as:

        • Competitor rank in the search engines
        • Quantity AND quality of incoming links (prioritized)
        • What keywords are in the title of linking page?
        • % of links containing specific keywords in the link text
        • The Google PageRank or MozRank of linking pages
        • The popularity of the linking domain and the linking page (measured by links & mentions)

Aside from using some of the awesome SEO software mentioned on this website, here are some things I personally do when researching a competitor:

        • Click the link to their Site Map page and see what keyword you find in the links
        • Get a savvy web person to find and parse their XML Site Map to find keywords in page names
        • View the HTML title and meta tags of your top competitors to compile a list of needed content

SEO Tip #3: Write Very Linkable & Sharable Content

An article is not a sexy thing to look at here in today’s online marketing world. Generic content can’t be slapped together and thrown online with the hope that it will get high ranking for the life of that page of content. Think about the book the Long Tail that I linked to above. I do because the content was meanful and useful to me in my career as an SEO Expert. The content could have these attributes if it has any hope of earning and sustaining higher ranking in the search engine results (many of these came directly from Google):

        • The content is useful
        • The content is original
        • You can’t help but link to it
        • There are supportive facts and references
        • There’s enough detail that nobody can memorize it
        • Something fun or interesting is included (like video)
        • It’s not just blah, blah, blah, content
        • There’s enough call to action to invoke engagement
        • There are visual examples, charts, and references
        • You had multiple contributors who all link to the content
        • You thank or compliment someone who shares it with others
        • You have an offer, discount, or promotion included
        • How To’s and tutorials are a great way to get people to link
        • Create a controversy
        • Answer questions
        • Conduct research & discuss the results
        • Get involved with social media
        • Create lists (Top 50 Link Building Techniques, etc)
        • Get a blog and establish yourself as an authority
        • Run a service or create a product (ie: Firefox extension)

SEO Tip #4: Optimize Your Title and Meta Tags

HTML titles and meta tags should be different on every page of your website if you wish for most search engines to store and list them in the search results. Us SEO Expert’s have experimented with these two pieces of code to help us reach an accepted conclusion about how best to use them and what happens when you optimize them.

The meta “keywords” tag won’t be discussed in to much detail here, since Google has announced that they do not use the meta keywords tag in their ranking criteria. Because Google has 64 percent market share in search, that should be enough to convince you to not spend a lot of time on this attribute.

Optimizing Your Homepage Title

There are different theories about how long your homepage title should be. Since Google only displays the first 66 or so characters (with spaces), my Top 10 SEO tips for the title on anything other than the homepage would be to keep the title under 66 characters and relevant to the content on the page. However, some (including myself) argue that the value of the homepage title may warrant additional search term inclusion. Let’s take a look at Amazon and Ebay homepage titles:

        • eBay – New & used electronics, cars, apparel, collectibles, sporting goods & more at low prices
        • Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & more
        • Local SEO Services, Local Search Engine Optimization, Mobile Search, Online Advertising for Local Businesses | LocalSplash.com
        • Buy.com – Computers, Electronics, Digital Cameras, Books, DVDs, Music, Games, Software, Toys, Sports

Optimizing Your Homepage Meta Description

Same best practice applies here. Get those top terms into a description that isn’t spammy and is a clear indicator of what your website is about. Below are the meta descriptions from eBay and Amazon.

        • Buy and sell electronics, cars, clothing, apparel, collectibles, sporting goods, digital cameras, and everything else on eBay, the world’s online marketplace. Sign up and begin to buy and sell – auction or buy it now – almost anything on eBay.com.
        • Online shopping from the earth’s biggest selection of books, magazines, music, DVDs, videos, electronics, computers, software, apparel & accessories, shoes, jewelry, tools & hardware, housewares, furniture, sporting goods, beauty & personal care, broadband & dsl, gourmet food & just about anything else.

The rule of thumb here is to get your most important keywords into your homepage title and meta description.

Optimizing Subpage Titles and Meta Tags

Let’s take a break for a moment and discuss Click-Through Rate (CTR) and Bounce Rate. When you perform a search in a search engine, what shows up in your web browser is called an impression. When you make a selection, that selection is called a click. Google and other search engines record each impression and each click to help them understand which listings are being clicked on the most. They also record patterns (so stop thinking about getting all your friends to search for and click your listing). If the majority of normal search volume selects your listing, you’ll have a higher CTR and higher ranking; same applies for Sponsored Ads by the way.

That being said, if a healthy percentage of searchers return to Google’s search results (called a Bounce) and select a different listing, your CTR value will be reduced and ultimately so will your ranking.

To get and stay at the top of the search results, you need to be the most attractive listing in the search result, and you need to provide enough content to prevent the searcher from leaving your website to find a different listing.

This one SEO tip could make or break your SEO campaign. Click-Through Rate (CTR) plays an instrumental role in how relevant Google thinks your website is. By compelling users to click with clear call-to-actions (buy, order, download, beat, fix, etc) and by using value propositions (guaranteed, on sale now, etc), one can improve their CTR and search engine ranking. Oh, don’t forget to squeeze your keywords in there as well.

If you ever forget this SEO tip, just perform a search in Google for “title tag principles”, where you’ll find my listing invoking these principles. Told ya I was good at this stuff, didn’t I?

Here’s some sample syntax:

<title>Call to Action, Keywords, & Value Proposition (under 66 characters)</title>

<meta name=”description” content=”Differently worded call to action, keywords, & value proposition (under 160 characters)” />

<meta name=”keywords” content=”one to five keywords separated by commas” />

SEO Tip #5: Optimizing Your Headings and Subheadings

In college and some high schools, essays are written using a standard guideline created by the Modern Language Association (MLA). These guidelines included how to write you cover page, title, paragraphs, how to cite references, etc. On the Web, we follow the W3C’s guidelines as well as commonly accepted “best practices” for organizing a web page (page structure).

Headings play an important role in organizing information, so be sure to include ONLY ONE H1 tag when assembling your page, and optionally using one or more subheading (H2-H6). Using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), I was able to make my h1 at the top of this page more appealing. Here’s a piece of code you can pop into your heading:

<style type=”text/css”>
h1 font-size: 18px;
h2 font-size: 16px;
h3 font-size: 14px;
</style>

Since a page full of headings would look just plain silly, my SEO tip would be to fill in the blank space with paragraphs, ordered and unordered lists, images, and other content. Try to get at least 400+ words on each page.

SEO Tip #6: Use Title and ALT Attributes

Using the title attribute is a direct method of telling the search engines and the user more information about where a link will take them if they click through it. It’s also a W3C standard for making your page accessible to those who are visually impared. In other words, blind folks can navigate through your website using a special browser that reads title and ALT attributes. Sample syntax might be:

<a href=”http://www.top10seotips.com/seo_software.htm&#8221; title=”SEO Software to Help You Get Higher Search Engine Ranking”>SEO Software</a>

The ALT Attribute is used for the same reasons as the title attribute, but is specifically for describing an image to the search engine and to the visually impared. Here’s how you might use ALT attribute in an image tag:

<img src=”http://www.top10seotips.com/images/logo-top10seotips.jpg&#8221; alt=”Top 10 SEO Tips – Search Engine Marketing Tips and SEO Software Featured by SEO Expert Steve Wiideman”>

SEO Tip #7: Optimizing File Nomenclatures

Whenever possible, you should save your images, media, and web pages with the keywords in the file names. For example, if your keyword phrase is “golf putters” you’ll want to save the images used on that page as golf-putters-01.jpg or golf_putters_01.jpg (either will work). It’s not confirmed, but many SEO’s have experienced improvement in ranking by renaming images and media. You also may receive visits from Google Images and other media search queries.

More important is your web page’s filename, since many search engines now allow users to query using “inurl:” searches. For fun, try this query in Google (copy/paste): “ebook site:.com filetype:pdf”. You’ll find all you can eat eBooks (you’re welcome).

Your filename for the golf putters page could be golf-putters.html or golf_putters.html. Anytime there is an opportunity to display or present content, do your best to insure the content has the keywords in the filename (as well as a Title or ALT attribute).

You may need to contact your IT department or webmaster to rewrite your page URLs if your website platform is non-accommodating to custom URL nomenclature.

SEO Tip #8: Tell the Search Engines What to Index

I may take a lot of heat from the other SEO’s out there for this one, especially because Google and other search engines have already helped reduce the amount of duplicate content indexed. However, I do enough search queries that begin with “site:” to know that duplicate content is still a major issue. Worse, I see a lot of files showing up in the indexes that should be hidden from the world (case in study: all the free PDF’s you’re probably still downloading from SEO Tip #7).

Optimizing Your robots.txt File

By far the easiest top 10 SEO tips you will ever do as it relates to search engine optimization is include arobots.txt file at the root of your website. Open up a text editor, such as Notepad and type “User-agent: *”. Then save the file as robots.txt and upload it to your root directory on your domain. This one command will tell any spider that hits your website to “please feel free to crawl every page of my website”.

Hopefully, you’ve already moved all the excessive JavaScripts and CSS styles into their own folders on your website to reduce the filesize and load time of the pages on your website. If you have, adding a simple “Disallow: /js/” to a file called the robots.txt will tell the crawlers not to bother with files in the JS folder and to only focus on your content, as opposed to non-important source code. Here’s an example of the robots.txt file from this website:

Example of an Optimized robots.txt File

Redirecting Duplicate Content

For consistency, it’s better to have one version of each page to get all the inbound links and earn all of the points with the search engines. This means telling Google and Bing (in their respective Webmaster Tools) to only index the http://www.-version of your website (or the non-www version if you’re “one of those types of people”). You can also use your Windows Server or a file called the .htaccess file on your Apache server to permanently redirect one version to the other.

Next, add a new tag to every page of your website to prevent other versions of the page from appearing in the search results. Just think about all the different ways we display content. There are often “Print View”, “Flash Version”, and pages with reviews, ratings and comments that append page URLs with strings such as&rating=5&view=print, etc. To correct this issue, we add a Canonical Tag to every page of the website. Here’s the syntax:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.top10seotips.com/seo_tips.htm&#8221; />

Finally, you should round up all those domains you bought and make sure they are pointing to your one main website with a 301 Permanent Redirect. Bruce Clay created a way to this efficiently which he called an IP Funnel. I’ve been the victim of this so many times being an SEO Expert. More than once, I’ve found myself scratching my head trying to figure out why a website would not get Google PageRank, only to find out later than an older domain held by the client had been displaying the same content and had been the one Google gave the credit to.

SEO Tip #9: Feed Search Engines Static and XML Site Maps

Optimizing Your Static Site Map

PageRank is relative and shared throughout a website by a unique voting system created by Google. I could spend two days trying to explain how PageRank works, but what it comes down to is having efficient navigation throughout your site. That where a site map page comes in. Since every page on the website will be linked to the site map, it allows webcrawlers (and users) to quickly and easily find content. This SEO tip is one of my favorite of top 10 SEO tips.

It used to take 4 clicks to get to a product page at http://www.questinc.com. By creating a site map, users and search engines can now access any page on the site with only two clicks. The PageRank from these deep pages went from 0 to 2 in about 3 months and the ranking went from virtually not existent to #1 almost across the board for nearly 2,000 pages on their site.

SEO Tip 8 - Create a Site Map - Example

Feel free to search Google for any of the terms on this catalog page, such as MITSUBISHI Monitor Repair. See how powerful a static site map can truly be.

Using XML Site Maps

Though you may feel like it is impossible to get listed high in Google’s search engine result page, believe it or not that isn’t Google’s intention. They simply want to insure that their viewers get the most relevant results possible. In fact, they’ve even created a program just for webmasters to help insure that your pages get cached in their index as quickly as possible. They call the program Google Sitemaps. In this tool, you’ll also find a great new linking tool to help discover who is linking to your website.

For Google, these two pieces in the top 10 SEO tips would be to read the tutorial entitled How Do I Create a Sitemap File and to create your own. To view the one on this page, website simply right-click this SEO Tips Sitemap.xml file and save it to your desktop. Open the file with a text editor such as Notepad.

Effective 11/06, Google, Yahoo!, and Bing will be using one standard for site maps. Below is a snippet of the standard code as listed at Sitemaps.org. Optional fields are lastmod, changefreq, and priority.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">

   <url>

      <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc>

      <lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>       <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>       <priority>0.8</priority> 

   </url>

</urlset>

SEO Tip #10: Use Checklists and Validators

There are several ways to validate the accuracy of your website’s source code. The four most important, in my opinion, are validating your search engine optimization, HTML, CSS and insuring that you have no broken links or images.

Start by analyzing broken links. One of the W3C’s Top 10 SEO Tips would be for you to use their tool tovalidate links. If you have a lot of links on your website, this could take awhile, so I recommend trying Xenu’s Link Sleuth, which you can find on our SEO Software page.

Next, revisit the W3C to analyze HTML and CSS. Here is a link to the W3C’s HTML Validation Tool and to theirCSS Validation Tool. A new, unbelievable tool just came out that does much better than some of these older ones, and that is the Qualidator Site Analyzer tool, which you can also find listed in our SEO Software page.

The final step in the last of my Top 10 SEO Tips is to validate your search engine optimization. Without having to purchase software, the best online tool I know of for this (now) is my own SEO Audit List, which contains website-level SEO validation, webpage-level SEO structure and keyword optimization, and off-page SEO strategies you should have in your arsenal. You can also use WebsiteGrader.com and other online tools.

Other SEO Tips

If you liked the SEO tips above, you’re going to love my newest Free SEO eBook, entitled: SEO in a Day. It’s packed full of more tips and tutorials, was well as some great ideas for developing incoming links. You may also enjoy our blog at SEOSteve.com.

Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Importance of Meta Tags Information in Your SEO Efforts

META data are HTML codes that can be added in the heading of the website’s page, following a title tag. Relative to web optimization, when they mention META data, they’re usually talking about the META description label as well as the META key phrases or keywords. The META data in your website have an effect on the way in which many SE like Google trace and spot website pages. You should have at least a minimum of three META Tags that you need to utilize in order to be sure that your webpage is optimized.

META data in search engines are used for several means:

1) To let Google and other search engines know what your website is all about. Some search engines like Google is going to take the first few lines of your website page to function as the brief explanation of your website in case you don’t set an Meta description for that page. This description is a lot more important than you think it seems.

2) Meta robots tag are used for tracking purposes as most search engines also are looking for it as one factor of one’s website. For instance, if search engines like Google couldn’t find this type of tag, they are going to think that it could be listed and be placed behind links on a webpage. If you’d like to take action and rank on Google or other SE, you should make use of a META tag to identify it.

3) META data are utilized to evaluate which keywords and phrases your page will likely be shown in. So for your page to be classified in these search engines once the user looks for a certain term, these keywords or key phrases needs to be in your META Keywords. I am not sure though if nowadays, these internet SE continually employs this tag. There’s no harm in putting 3-5 Meta keywords on your source code, anyway.

There are other Meta information that SE identify and consider. On the other hand, the tags that I have discussed here are the most popular tags that relate to the majority of SE.