Is your blog optimized? Are you losing readers to competitive blogs and web sites? According to Dave Sifry’s last State of the Blogosphere post/report, Technorati is tracking nearly 27 million blogs and there are about 75,000 new blogs launched every day.
How can a blog stand out with this kind of competition? Like anything else, there’s no silver bullet answer. One thing you can do is to optimize your blog. Blogs can generate traffic without search engines, but WITH search engines it can be even better. Why optimize your blog?
- Increase rankings of the blog on BOTH regular search engines as well as blog/RSS search engines
- Increase traffic to the blog from multiple sources such as social search (Yahoo MyWeb, Google Personalized Search) and social bookmarking sites (del.icio.us, Digg, Furl or Blogmarks)
A blog is pretty much a website that uses a content management system that offers a RSS feed, so most standard SEO tactics apply. There are also optimization tactics specific to blogs. Here are a few blog optimization tips:
Consider keywords when writing your blog post titles. Some blog software allows plugins that can suggest keywords. Otherwise, you can use Google Suggest or one of these free keyword suggestion tools: Digital Point, SEO Book or Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Keywords should NOT determine your content (unless it´s an AdSense blog).
Optimize the template. Make sure post titles appear in the title tag and append the title tag (hard code) with the most important phrase for your blog.
Example: "50 Ways To Write a T-Shirt Slogan – Search Engine Journal"
Search Engine Journal is included on every blog post title tag automatically.
Also use the blog post title as the permalink. If you´re using keywords in the blog post title, then they will occur as anchor text in the permanent post link. While you´re at it, just make the post title a permalink.
Make it easy for your blog readers to subscribe and include RSS feed subscription buttons or "chicklets" in a side bar or on a dedicated Subscription Info page. Here´s a handy RSS Feed Button creation tool.
Optimize Categories. When you create categories for your blog, be sure to consider keywords in the titles. When you post, be sure to default to a general category that is relevant no matter what the post is about. Choose multiple categories on each post when appropriate.
Social bookmarking sites can be excellent sources of traffic to your blog, so be sure to make it easy for readers to bookmark your blog posts. You can do this by adding some code to your blog template for each of the major social bookmarking sites. Here´s a tool for social bookmarking links. Here´s another tool that uses icons instead of text links.
Ping the major RSS feed and Blog search engines each time you post. This can be configured with blog software such as Movable Type or WordPress to work automatically. If you´re using Blogger.com, then you can do this manually with Pingomatic or Pingoat.
Comments and Trackbacks. Be sure your blog software is configured to send a trackback ping to blogs that you cite within your posts. Pay attention to press releases distributed by PRWeb. If you cite a release, and ping the trackback link, the press release will in turn link to your blog. This is better for driving traffic than for link popularity.
Make useful comments on other blogs. Your name will be linked to the blog url that you enter. Do NOT make comments that offer no value to the blog post. Do NOT use keywords in the field for your name, use your name or blog name.
Submit your blog to RSS and Blog directories. Also submit the blog to regular directories such as (DMOZ, JoeAnt, GoGuides, MSN Business Central, etc) that have categories for blogs.
Offer RSS to Email. Anywhere from 10% to 40% of your blog traffic can come from individuals that perfer to read blog posts via email. There are several free services available for this including: FeedBlitz, Squeet, Zookoda (this one is more for using blog posts as a weekly newsletter), RMail and Bloglet.
The important thing to remember is that no matter how many optimization tactics you employ with a blog, there is no substitute for quality content. Blog optimization is only as effective as the quality and usefulness of the content you´re optimizing.