Good SEO for Your Blog

There has been a lot of talk about Blogging and SEO and how they work together lately. Some research shows that business blogging is on the decline, while many are turning to social media for their marketing. Other people are very wound up about the latest Google update and how it is going to hurt your search rankings. I thought we would talk about both and some SEO and blogging best practices along the way.

Social Media vs. Your Business Blog

There has been a lot of talk about business blogging declining and companies turning to social media instead. Let’s look at a couple blogging pros and cons that could have to do with this switch.

BLOGGING CON: Blogging generally takes more time than social media alone – One reason businesses could be making the switch is that blogging does take up a lot of time. Writing posts regularly can be challenging and takes a fair amount of resources.

BLOGGING PRO: Your social media content does not belong to you – Say you spend hundreds of hours creating your Facebook content and building ‘likes’ and engagement. Now what if Facebook goes down the tubes in 2013? The company is going public, the CEO just turned 28 this week and many people think Facebook is just a fad – anything could happen. Your content and ‘likes’ on Facebook belong to Facebook, not to your business. Now a blog and your email marketing list… that is content and contacts that belong to you no matter what the newest craze is.

BLOGGING CON: Social Media is cheap – Updating your social media profiles is quick work. A blog takes a greater investment from your organization.

BLOGGING PRO: Blogs are great for SEO – With each post you create, you are giving search engines what they crave… content. Also, with the frequency of new content, you give search engines reasons to keep coming back to your site to index content. Search engines do not index most social media content.

I am a big social media fan. I think it is a great opportunity for many businesses to reach new customers, engage current customers and get more people talking about their businesses. I think social media works best in conjunction with your blog and other marketing efforts. Your social media followers need a destination to go back to. Sending them to your site is a better option than to a news source, competitor or another website.

The new Google update will kill your search rankings!!! Pandas and Penguins… oh my!

In the last weeks of April, Google confirmed that they rolled out three algorithm changes. First there was the Panda Updates 3.5 and 3.6. These updates, as with all algorithm updates are to hopefully make your search results better. These latest updates are said to really be trying to track down low quality content and make sure it isn’t beating out good, quality content. Then there was the Penguin update (hey, I don’t name these things) that is trying to target websites that are attempting to spam the Google algorithm.

We’re continuing to iterate on our Panda algorithm as part of our commitment to returning high-quality sites to Google users. This most recent update is one of the over 500 changes we make to our ranking algorithms each year. – A Google Spokesperson

All this change making you nervous? Are people telling you that your website is going to suffer?

Your website may be penalized under the new updates if:

  • You are keyword stuffing your site content
  • You participate in link schemes to get other websites (not related to you or your industry) to link to you in hopes of ranking better
  • You use cloaking (showing one thing to users and hiding other content in your HTML)
  • You use sneaky javascript redirects to also display something different to users and site crawlers
  • You deliberately created duplicate content across domains to try to deceive search engines
  • You are using automatic aggregators to create most of the content on your site
  • You have a heavily templated website that is hard for search engines to crawl the content of

Sooooo pretty much all of those points listed above are the same things Google has been fighting for years and years. There isn’t a lot here that should worry the common business that is already using basic SEO best practices.

So what SHOULD you be doing for good SEO on your blog?

In this time of social media and search algorithm updates, what SHOULD you be doing to ensure good SEO on your blog?

  1. Create good quality content that people will find useful – This is probably the biggest thing you can do for your blog. Write good posts that people value. Once you do that, the rest will come organically. People will find it, link to it and talk about it. Search engines will see people like it, they stay on the page, they talk about it and link to it and then they will rank it even better.
  2. Make sure your blog is hosted on your website domain – Blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger are great but you want your blog content ON your website and not competing with it. You do not want your blog to be www.abccompany.wordpress.com, instead you want it to be www.abccompany.com/blog.
  3. Use categories and tags to organize your content – Create categories and tags for your posts that are industry related keywords. Tag posts appropriately to help organize your content for search engines and for your readers.
  4. Optimize for people – Paying attention to keywords is great but write for your readers, not for search engines. Search engines really weigh their rankings on how readers use your content. If your readers are turned off by keyword stuffing and complex articles, search engines will be turned off too.
  5. Use Google Analytics to see what is working and what isn’t – Review your inbound traffic and popular content in Analytics regularly. Write more of what people seem to like and analyze what didn’t get off the ground. Sometimes a ‘bad’ blog post isn’t bad at all… it may have just had a poor title or was organized oddly for your readers.
  6. Link in AND link out – When you are writing blog posts you should link to other posts people may want to reference on your site for more information. You also want to be sure to link out to other blogs and sources too.
  7. Use social media to promote your blog – Blogs were meant to be shared! Add social sharing to your company blog and be sure to share your newest (and oldest) posts on your social media profiles.

So the Spring 2012 version of good SEO for your blog is… keep doing more of the same. Search algorithms are always changing while they try to get better. Unless you are trying to scam the system, you shouldn’t get caught up in the hype. Social media seems to be here to stay. Many businesses are seeing great success from it but it can’t replace blogging or your website. Use new tools to help you amplify your staple marketing efforts. Always keep an eye on what is working and what is not for your businesses. Don’t let a report or article or guru lead you down the wrong path. SEO for your blog really hasn’t changed. Write good valuable content and the rest should fall into place!

Photo credit: smerikal and zidane_0120