Crazy about ice cream

Ever since I started doing SEO I’ve had several friends contact me seeking help getting their blogs found in search.

While I love meeting up with friends to discuss blogs and SEO over coffee (especially if they’re buying me a Crema cappuccino), I thought it would be a good idea to actually create a blog post about it so that they, and you, can refer to it when creating their own blogs.

Blogs and SEO: The Best Platforms

First of all, I believe WordPress is the easiest blogging platform for SEO, at least for now. While I love Tumblr, and I’ve been known to use Blogger, in my opinion WordPress is the easiest to optimize. Now, this may not be true if you don’t have your own domain (e.g. if you’re using myblog.wordpress.com you may not be able to use the same plug-ins). But if you own your domain and are paying to have it hosted, then WordPress is excellent.

There are so many free and inexpensive themes and templates for WordPress that you can create a blog that looks pretty much however you want it to for next to nothing. Also, while Tumblr is incredibly easy to share, there are countless plug-ins available on WordPress to make it just as share-able, if not more.

I realize this sounds like an ad for WordPress, and I apologize. WordPress isn’t perfect, but if you need an easy solution for blogs and SEO, I believe it’s the way to go.

Blogs and SEO: What Do I Write?

1. Write what you know. 2. Write what other people want to know more about.

Write what you know: simple. What do you want to say? What do you know that other people might find interesting? What’s relevant to your industry, artistry, or whatever it is that you do? Be sincere and write according to your own expertise.

Write what other people want to know more about. To find out what people want to know about, do some basic Google searches on your blog’s overall topic or purpose, filtering by “Discussion.”

Google Search by Discussion

First, click on “More” to find the “Discussions” option.

Google Search Discussions Filter

This will show you page after page of questions that people have about your topic, and it might give you ideas on what to write about.

Blogs and SEO:
How Do I Optimize It?

Optimizing your posts is a two-step process: understand the way people search and implement that knowledge in the code (don’t get scared by the word “code.” I explain more below).

Google’s keyword research tool is a great way to know what people are searching for and the level of competitiveness for those search terms (a.k.a. “keyphrases”).

The keyword tool allows you to type in some of your ideas, then Google will actually make related suggestions according to how people search online.

Google Keyword Research Tool

So you can see that more people search for “how to make ice cream” than “making ice cream.” I can use this knowledge to create a blog post that responds to the way people actually search for information. [Note: I titled this blog “blogs and SEO” because more people search for that than “blogging and SEO.” I did my research.]

Also, since my ice cream blog isn’t going to be incredibly popular, at least not at first, I’ll want to go for some of the less competitive terms. So even though a lot of people search for “ice cream maker” the fact that it’s a highly competitive term means that I probably don’t want to try and compete just yet.

Old Fashioned Ice Cream Maker

So now that you know what people type into search when they’re looking for your topic, you can put that knowledge to work for you in the code. BUT I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HTML OR CODE OR WHATEVER YOU CALL IT! you’re thinking. Yes. And that’s fine!

The great thing about WordPress is that you don’t need to know HTML to create an optimized post. Hooray!

First, install an SEO plug-in. I usually use All In One SEO Pack, though there are others that are probably just as good. What this plug-in does is add meta-data to your posts and pages, including the browser title and meta-description. The browser title and meta-description are what people see when your site shows up on search, before they actually click on it, and the search engines read that information to find out what your post is about.

Now, you’ll want to go to All In One under Settings on your WordPress dashboard and make sure you have it filled out appropriately. What do you want your blog’s overall title to be (not each post, but the whole thing)? Sure “Ms. Lovely Cow Lady” is nice, but why not name it something else, too? Maybe “How to Make Ice Cream with Ms. Lovely Cow Lady” (you know, if you need the branding aspect).

Browser Title - All in One SEO

When creating each blog post, the All In One boxes will show up at the bottom of the edit screen, and you can create a browser title and meta-description for each unique post. [Note: the meta-keywords tool / box is basically useless, so don’t worry about it.]

All In One SEO Pack

Now, as for the content of your blog post, make sure you include in your post the keyphrases that you and Google agreed on. You don’t want to overdo it or use those phrases unnaturally, but here are a couple tips.

Include the keyphrases in a Heading tag. If you know HTML, that means an H1, H2, or H3 tag. If you don’t know HTML, then WordPress will give you the option to select one of the heading tags (only use heading tags 1-3 for SEO value). [Note: In this blog post, I’m using the H2 tag each time I write Blogs and SEO:.]

Heading Tag in WordPress

Blogs and SEO: Pictures

Pictures are great. People will read your blog if there are pictures in it. A big lump of text is daunting, but if it’s broken up with images it’s slightly more palatable.

If you don’t have your own images or photos to include in your post, then you can use a paid stock photo site or check out Wikimedia Commons for photographs and graphics that you can legally use.

Make sure your photographs have a name that makes sense. If the file is skiuurio123-harvardsiuouio-444444.jpg, then rename it to something that fits: ice-cream-cone.jpg. Also, make use of the Alternate Text option when uploading your photo. Include what your blog is about and/or what it’s a photo of.

Naming an Image - Alt Text

Okay, so now your blog is ready to go! Post it, share it (Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Digg, etc.) and let your friends know. I also suggest pushing it to Feedburner, which I’ll talk about in another post.

Blogs and SEO: Analytics and Off-Site

While I’m not going to go into too much detail here, I’d suggest installing Google Analytics into the head of your blog so that you can track how people are finding your blog. You might be surprised at what people are searching for when they find you, and you can use that knowledge to create posts in the future that your readership will be interested in.

Another basic principle of SEO that applies to your blog is getting (good) links: if high-quality, external sites share your information, then Google will trust you more. For example, if your amazing post about the chemistry behind making ice cream is linked to from a chemistry professor’s class website, Google will think that you’re pretty important and will rank you higher. Tell your friends about your blog, and encourage others to share it.

Hey look, that’s us! Thanks, Dawn!

That just about sums it up! It can take awhile to feel comfortable using these tools, and if you’re going to be blogging a lot you might want to learn some HTML. However, you don’t need to be tech savvy to blog well.

Did you know that Commerce Kitchen does SEO consulting? We can help set you up with an optimized blog and provide you with our knowledge and expertise to ensure that your blog and site are found in search. After all, we are Internet Superheroes.

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