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  • Warren: Blogging and Social Media definitely go hand in hand. Having a successful social presence can do a lot for a...
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    To say that I’m not a fan of Blogger is probably understating things a bit – when it comes to business blogs, their system is certainly way down the list of blogging platforms that I’d choose or recommend.

    However, when it comes to their owner Google, then as part of their foray into the world of blogging, Blogger is a crucial part. Firstly, in spite of my reservations, they certainly helped the personal blogger (and splogger – but that’s a different story) by buying and developing Blogger when blogging was still something that the general public knew nothing about and businesses had never considered them as a serious marketing tool.

    After that, they introduced a blog specific search engine which, although it doesn’t match Technorati in the level of information that it offers, is still blog specifc and is updated very quickly through pinging. Recently, they have also bought Feedburner which is the preeminent RSS tool – a key element of blogs around the world.

    So what have they done now? Well, in many respects, nothing as innovative as the elements that I have mentioned above, but nevertheless, something which is significant … although it may not sound it. They have added blogs to their universal search engine.

    So what is good about that? Well firstly, this is the selection that you can make on Google’s homepage which currently allows you to choose images, news, maps … etc or others. In the near future, you should also be able to choose blogs as well as an individual “category”. This is a real change and step forward for blogs because of the preeminence and influence that Google has as a Search Engine which will in its turn benefit blogs more than simply having the blog search engine as a separate entity.

    So, yet again, Google leads the way in terms of accessing and referencing blogs … so let’s take advantage of the elements that they offer and use them to our advantage!

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    Promoting books with blogsOver the weekend, I popped into Waterstones book shop in Richmond a frequent haunt in the days before Amazon and still a favourite one. On this occasion, rather than my normal top floor seat in the business and foreign language section, I had to be content with the ground floor (baby + pram + no lift = ground floor) and so spent a few moments looking through the books on the current Best Sellers lists.

    There were some authors there that I recognised, and a number that I did not. What I certainly did spot was the number of books which were connected in some way either to either TV programmes or films currently on at the cinema. Jamie Oliver at Home was at the top of the hardback list while Atonement sat astride the paperback list with Nigella Lawson, The Bourne Ultimatum and Michael Palin’s New Europe all making top 10 appearances. Now, good as they may be, one thing is certain. Without the publicity afforded by the TV shows or cinema appearances, these books would never have achieved the same level of sales or enjoyed the same level of success.

    So whats my point? Well, although only a very small number of books published have TV help to promote them, all books need promotion to succeed. One such promotional medium which is available to all authors is a blog, and its a good one at that! Using a blog allows you to get in front of your potential readers, engage with them and hopefully really grab their attention done correctly, it can not only give a feel for the book but expand on it and pique the interest of potential buyers, readers and future loyal fans.

    Setting up a blog to promote your book should be an automatic step in the book promotion process and it can be a very powerful approach. However, there are some elements that you should bear in mind to make sure that it will be as effective as possible:

    • Give your Blog the same title as your book: that way, when you are promoting the book via the blog or simply promoting the blog, you are still always focusing peoples attention on the key thing you want them to remember, your books title

    • Use the same domain name too: for exactly the same reasons, make sure that you buy the domain containing your books name and develop your blog there. You are writing the blog on a specific subject and for a specific reason so make sure that you have a specific domain too. Youve probably seen film companies do exactly the same to great effect with websites to promote their films (eg. Atonement) ... so follow their lead!

    • Make sure it is linked visually with the book: take the graphics from the cover of your book and build these into your blog so that the two are instantly associated. This will really help from a branding point of view and, when someone sees the book online having visited your blog, then it will trigger their memory too

    • Make use of the layout and design: just like a general business blog, make sure that the layout and design works for you to achieve your business goals in this case, promoting your book. For example, get your newsletter sign up box and your RSS subscription logo (I recommend running both) prominent on your blog to encourage signups and then use that information to grow your supporters

    • Incentives and Promotions: remember that incentives work – if you’re not convinced then pick up a copy of Freakonomics and see why you should rethink. They do! So, perhaps you can give a chapter away free as a taster, or offer an ebook which develops on some of the themes you discuss in the book. You could even go as far as Seth Godin did when he gave away his book the IdeaVirus in ebook form … this in turn catapaulted the paper copy into the best sellers list! We might not all have the pulling power of Mr Godin, but the principle is a very powerful one

    • Use your blog marketing opportunities: just as you would do with any blog, use the mainstream blog marketing opportunities to spread the word about your book. As a start point, comment on other relevant blogs, submit your blog to blog directories, use links and trackbacks and get your RSS feed into RSS Directories. Here are some other blog marketing methods Id recommend considering

    • Dont forget your offline and other online marketing: the more targeted traffic you can get the better so dont forget to use other methods which will benefit you. Ive listed some ideas incorporating both online and offline methods in a called 52 ways to promote your blog.

    Of course, you need to make sure that you can deliver the content – but this should be the easy part, you are the author after all! :) Take the opportunity to expand on the themes that you covered in the book, talk about adjacent areas that lead into the subject matter of your book and talk about background areas which will be of interest but which you were unable to include in the book itself.

    Use the blog to pique the interest of readers at every opportunity and ensure they remember the name and branding clearly – give them a link to Amazon or your preferred outlet too. Display comments and recommendations from others who have already bought it and ask them to refer people to your blog who might enjoy it. Intrigue them and give them every opportunity to decide that they wish to buy BUT … a word of warning … avoid overtly / directly selling to them.

    Above all, enjoy doing it, just as I enjoy sitting and reading what others have written, whether I’ in a Richmond book shop or online. If you enjoy it, then it will shine through in the writing on your blog. When that happens, your readers will be able to share your enjoyment and enthusiasm and, as likely as not, then enjoy reading your book as well.

    Footnote: if you are considering writing a book but need help and guidance as you do it, then can I recommend a chat with Mindy Gibbins-Klein “The Book Midwife – you’ll find it will be time well spent!

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    Landing PagesWhether you use a blog as part of your company marketing strategy or it is your only online presence, youll no doubt be looking to promote your blog as widely as possible.

    Unfortunately, much like normal websites, it is not simply a case of build and they will come there are, however, lots of ways to encourage visitors and readers, some of which are outlined in the
    52 methods of blog promotion.

    Consider Landing Pages

    Whichever ways you choose, I would encourage you to also adopt one of the key elements of successful online marketing and develop specific relevant landing pages to complement the marketing. In case you are wondering, a landing page is the page on your blog that visitors arrive at after clicking on your promotional creative, whether that is a Pay Per Click advert, email marketing link, magazine or newspaper advert or a Word of Mouth recommendation.

    You should make the page completely relevant to the keyword phrases they have been searching on in the case of Pay Per Click advertising or the subject matter of the promotion – effectively, your first goal is to reassure the reader that the page (and by implication your blog and company) really does provide what they are searching for.

    This is equally effective when you are marketing offline, perhaps in magazines or at seminars, as you can create individual landing pages which offer information which is going to be relevant to these groups – then just provide them with this URL rather than your homepage.

    What are your aims?

    A landing page needs to be focused not only on where your reader has come from but also very clearly on what you want them to do and where you want them to go as a result of reading it. There are a number of different options which are nicely summarised by Seth Godin as follows:

    • Get a visitor to click (to go to another page, on your site or someone else’s)

    • Get a visitor to buy

    • Get a visitor to give permission for you to follow up (by email, phone, etc.). This includes registration of course.

    • Get a visitor to tell a friend

    • Get a visitor to learn something, which could even include posting a comment or giving you some sort of feedback

    The information that you decide to have on each specific landing page and how you build the page will depend on what you want to achieve with it. The whole page should point to the “call to action” that you are looking to achieve, but at the same time should motivate your readers by showing them the value in it. It that means using a “giveaway” as a taster then do that too.

    Creating the Landing Page

    You could use a highly relevant single post or, more appropriately, a category page, with a specific sticky post at the top to make sure that you press home your message. Lets face it, posts on business blogs will tend to be specific and focused on a particular subject or subject area.

    However, to get the developed landing page we outlined above then ideally you should create one which is tailor made for the job. If you are using WordPress, then this is very straightforward just create a page (rather than posts) which sits outside the chronological structure of the blog and link directly to that. With other systems, you should be able to use the same functionality that you use to create your About page .

    In terms of content, try answering these questions as you create each landing page:

    • What benefit am I offering? (may be more appropriate than what service or product)

    • What specific group of people do I want to appeal to?

    • 5 reasons why they would be interested in what I have to offer?

    • What do they need to do to take the next step? (ie. subscribe, buy etc)

    It is helps, you could consider that each landing page is really a summary of all the pages covering the product or service you are offering which needs to be motivational and persuasive without being hyped.

    So to summarise – I’m not suggesting that we start to turn our business blog into purely a direct sales tool. Far from it. However, the blog is a business tool and we should use it to develop connections and new opportunities as best we can to support the marketing activities we employ to promote it and our business. Astute use of landing pages will help to achieve this.

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    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]

    I realise that this might be verging on a bit of an obsession with me, but I dislike standard generic blog templates with a passion. Just to clarify, these are the templates that are supplied as standard with the blogging software – one such example is the basic Kubrick template that comes with WordPress.

    It’s not that they are bad as such because they’re not. The trouble is that they aren’t going to help the aims of your business blog very much either and, in certain circumstances, they will actually hinder your goals.

    So what are the main reasons for avoiding the generic templates and making sure that you use a more bespoke one for your business blog?

    • Differentiate yourself – to run a successful business blog, you will need to spend time setting up and writing your blog. Let the look and feel of your blog support and promote your posts and help to differentiate them;

    • Avoid looking like a splog: “splogs” are “spam blogs” which are most often created automatically and, because of this, use the basic template that the software is supplied with. You only have a few seconds to attract a new visitor to your site so make sure you don’t give the wrong first impression;

    • Show that you care: don’t hamper the good work that you are putting into other aspects of your blog by displaying a lack of care and effort in how it looks. You want others to care about what you are writing about so show that you do as well;

    • Optimise your Information: generic templates will never optimise the information in your blog to make the most of what you are writing. To use your content properly, select the right software and then getting your template working for you;

    • Highlight your important elements: you need to use your blog layout to promote and highlight the elements which are most important to your business – get a template which displays your sign up box and your special promotions in the prime positions.

    Ideally, get a blog design which is going to fit with the aims and requirements of your company and what you want to achieve with your blog. If not, then at least choose a template which appeals to you and work with it to achieve your business objectives.


    Make sure that your blog template supports your business goals and so avoid the generic templates your software comes with!

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    I’ll admit that usually I’m not a fan of lists, hence you won’t find many long ones here at Better Business Blogging. However, when they are recommended by people like Brian Clark at CopyBlogger or Darren Rowse at Problogger then who am I to argue?

    Although I have presented this as a single list, there are really three distinct groups of techniques that I would recommend that you consider in here – firstly what I would call “Blog methods”, then the more general online marketing methods and of course offline marketing and PR techniques. We’ll be looking at all of these on an ongoing basis at The Blog Coach.

    In the meantime, here are 52 Great Ways to market your blog:

    1. Submit your site to the main web directories – you�ll find a good list at Directory Maximiser

    2. Make sure that the whole of your blog is indexed on the main Search Engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN/Live

    3. Get a Google Sitemap on your blog to help to get it fully indexed

    4. Participate in online business networking sites such as Linked In, eCademy and SoFlow

    5. Make it easy for your readers to bookmark your blog on the social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Del.icio.us, Furl etc.

    6. Make sure you submit your blog to the main Blog directories (Good list here and here)

    7. Also submit your blog to the main RSS directories

    8. Ensure that you automatically ping the main blog Search Engines and Directories suach as Technorati and IceRocket to get instantly indexed – good list of pinging addresses

    9. Join a number of relevant online communities or discussion groups for your market area

    10. Maximise the design of your own blog: highlight posts or subjects that will attract and retain readers

    11. Add comments – relevant, useful comments – to other people�s threads or blogs

    12. Use Pay per Click (PPC) advertising like Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing

    13. Advertise on sites such as Gumtree or Craigslist

    14. Make sure that you run an ezine (e-newsletter) alongside your blog and make the two work together

    15. Make sure that you link out to other blogs in your blog posts and, for special recommended blogs, in your BlogRoll

    16. Join MyBlogLog to be able to make contact with other MyBlogLog users and develop relationships

    17. Set up a social network part of your blog with Ning

    18. Write your own e-book (perhaps using content from your blog) and give away free chapters to encourage visitors or subscribers

    19. Start your own meme or viral networking idea (such as 2000 Bloggers)

    20. Attend local networking groups such as BNI, BRE etc – tell them about what you do and reference your blog

    21. Set up and develop a profile on online social networking sites such as MySpace, Bebo etc.

    22. Create a free account on BT Tradespace

    23. Interview people for your own regular podcast – perhaps you could make it like your own online radio show

    24. Contact other relevant ezines and offer to write articles for them

    25. Submit your articles to article directories (Ezine Articles, Article Alley etc.)and link to your blog in the signature

    26. Submit your own ezine to ezine directories such as Ezine Directory or Best Ezines

    27. Include podcasts as part of your blog to distribute interviews, informational pieces etc.

    28. Convert some of your existing articles into podcasts

    29. Create a lense at Squidoo

    30. Distribute and syndicate your articles and podcasts via your RSS feed

    31. Offer free white papers or specialist documents which are branded with your blog and RSS details

    32. Set up teleconferences or teleseminars focusing on your main content areas

    33. Write a review of books on Amazon.com linking back to your blog

    34. Distribute press releases via online news services such as PR Web or Press Box

    35. Add a poll or survey to your blog and post/distribute the results – try SurveyGizmo if you are a WordPress user

    36. Read other blogs and leave your own comments on them

    37. Use trackbacks when you reference other bloggers� posts

    38. Create podcasts of your best posts and syndicate them, as well as submitting them to iTunes and other podcast directories

    39. Sign up to Feedburner and include the Headline Animator in your email signature and the one you use when you post to forums

    40. Make sure you include your blog address on your business cards and company stationery

    41. Customise and improve your RSS Feed using Feedburner – include special offers, sign up opportunities and make sure the feed delivers the full post

    42. Increase RSS feed sign ups by offering a sign up bonus to subscribers – how? Just ask!

    43. Offer readers the chance to sign up via email (Feedburner and Feedblitz offer the service

    44. Put files and follow ups to presentations, conferences and seminars on your blog for attendees to read and download

    45. Offer to become a Guest blogger on other blogs and invite Guest bloggers to write on your own blog

    46. Make sure to submit articles to and participate in Blog Carnivals (more on Blog Carnivals here)

    47. Optimise your blog where possible and particularly the Categories, Title Tags and Meta Tags

    48. Participate regularly in conversations on other blogs

    49. Post answers on LinkedIn Answers and Yahoo Answers

    50. Try LinkBaiting using controversial subjects or opinions � be careful though!

    51. Contact the main bloggers in your market area and introduce yourself or send details of a particular post that might interest them

    and above all,
    52. Write great content that people will want to read, recommend and link to!

    What other methods (or which of these methods) do you find work best for you as you promote your Blog? Please share them with us by leaving a comment!

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    Joshua Schachter over at Del.icio.us announced this week that they had registered their 1 millionth user while TechCrunch in their own summary also reminded us that Digg recently reported they had just passed the half million mark.

    While the numbers arent enormous in internet terms, they are by no means insignificant and they are growing. So, along with the other social bookmarking (and indeed social networking) sites, they are certainly worth paying attention to as we look to promote our blogs and raise the visibility and profile of the information we provide.

    Why in particular? Because social bookmarking provides an additional way for your readers to save your site or an individual post as one of their favourites which allows them to share it with others – this creates an additional route for people to find and potentially write about your site. In this sense, you could look at it as a sort of online version of refer a friend on steroids. Not forgetting that, as with all networking, even if the person they tell is not directly interested, they may well pass it on to others who are.

    So, who might use this as a promotional tool? Effectively anyone with something (preferably interesting!) to say or share. It could be an article or a set of useful hints and tips, it could be a drawing, photo or picture (using Flickr for example) or perhaps a podcast or video clip. Whatever the content is, the key element is the sharing and the community aspect if someone has it in their favourites then they are effectively endorsing it and recommending it to others. Best type of recommendation – from a friend or colleague. And by extension, best type of business – referral business.

    For this reason, I have added social bookmarking to my list of Marketing and Promotional techniques, in particular for blogs though it should also be considered for websites. It is an added way to gain additional exposure which in turn translates into additional visitors which you can then turn into additional revenue. Definitely worthwhile.

    So what do I have to do to take advantage of this? Well, ideally it should be as easy as possible for visitors to save your content to the social bookmarking sites and the best way to do this is with a simple link or icon which does this automatically. If you are using WordPress, then there are a number of plug-ins which will help you to do just this. Two that you might like to look at are Sociable and Social Bookmark Bar, both of which achieve it well.

    People talk about social bookmarking as the way that Search Engines in general will need to go in the future, relying less on mathematical calculations and more on individual and personal recommendations. While this may or may not come to fruition, there is no doubt that it is a developing area and one that as Business blog owners we should both be aware of and catering to.

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    Each page within your Business Blog has its own URL or address and the Search Engines take notice of the words contained within the URL as they determine its relative value when ranking pages for a search term.

    As we have already seen, the URL of posts and categories in a blog is called its Permalink and as such is very important. The default permalink in many blogging systems will simply give the number of the post such as:

    www.yourblog.com/?p=18

    or the number of the category. However, you have the ability to change this to reflect the title of your post and other elements which would give a much more descriptive URL. For example, changing the structure of the URL to include year, category and the name of the post would automatically generate a URL such as:

    www.yourblog.com/2006/business-marketing/successful-seminars-for-clients/.

    Which you select is ultimately your decision, but the second is preferable both from a visitor and a Search Engine perspective.

    Most of the elements that make up this descriptive URL are created automatically from parts of the blog that you have already put in place. The main elements that you have control over in this respect are:

    • the domain name of your blog

    • the name of the various categories you have created

    • the name of the individual post itself

    To make sure that the URL gives as much support as possible to your SEO efforts, whenever possible you should aim to get your primary keyword and at least one of your secondary keywords in the URL. In most instances, this will happen naturally as your categories are likely to be descriptive and relate to the posts that they contain, and the titles of the posts themselves will do the same.

    The ideal set up for the whole URL for the post given as an example above breaks down as follows:

    SEO for Blogs: keyword rich URL

    Therefore, each element adds weight as you go along. The Domain Name will have been selected right at the start and then you will also have decided what categories you wish to use to hold your posts. Finally the title of your individual post will generate the final element of the page URL.

    One important element to remember is to choose carefully when you decide to set up the automatic permalink format. If you change this format in the future then the permalinks of all the past posts will be changed as well. This means that if people click on pages which have been indexed in the Search Engines, they will be directed to the old address and arrive at a page which no longer exists.

    So, plan ahead and select the best format right from the start and stick with it.

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    Everything in SEO seems to refer to tags – if it isn’t Title Tags, then it’s Metatags or there’s alt tags for images. Well, here is another type and one that will probably become much better known than any of the others, particularly in connection with Blogs.

    In this instance, a Tag is like a subject or category, and it is one of the few elements in SEO which is unique to blogs because of the way that some of the Blog Search Engines use their own type of Tags to help categorise posts. They are not used instead of a normal search function but alongside it and it is the author of the post who attaches the Tags to it. The rationale is that rather than just rely on the Search Engine to categorise it in the way they wish, the blogger can also indicate where and how they think it should be categorised as well.

    Probably the best known of the Blog Search Engines which use these extensively is Technorati, though there are a number of others which offer the same format such as Del.icio.us. You also have sites such as Flickr offering the type of categorisation for photos.

    Some people believe that this is the direction in which indexing information on the web is likely to go that remains to be seen, but in the meantime it is certainly worth including relevant tags for Technorati at the least so that your visibility with the users of their Search Engine is improved. In wider SEO terms, they have the additional benefit that they contain your keywords or ones relate closely to the subject matter of the post which in itself adds to the keyword levels in the post and on the page.

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    As you might have gathered from the title of this post, content is all important in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)!

    First and foremost, it is content that Search Engines look for when they index a website or blog. So, from the outset, a blog has an ‘unfair’ advantage because it is primarily made up of words whereas websites will often be driven just as much by their graphics – something which search engines just don’t see.

    A well set-up Business Blog has an even greater advantage because it also has a well defined focus and so its content will be targeted towards a particular subject matter. This means that there is likely to be a lot of relevant content and in Search Engine Optimisation terms this is key to all the other elements you add in around it.

    Remember though that while good use of content and keywords will certainly attract the Search Engines, it is the quality of the content that will bring the visitors back, so you need to make sure that what you write is useful and “attractive” to both of them. You can certainly “overoptimise” a post and if it sounds stilted to you when you read it, then it probably will to others as well.

    So, what should you remember when you want to use your content to help your SEO and hence your Search Engine rankings? Well, try to bear in mind:

    Keyword density: this is the number of times a keyword phrase appears on the page divided by the overall number of words it contains. If you are serious about optimising, then you should aim for 5 – 7%, any more than this and it is going to sound very stilted indeed. However, do not churn out text which is keyword rich but doesn’t engage your readers – if you do, then it doesn’t matter if you are highly placed by a Search Engine because people will arrive and then immediately get turned away by the content.

    Placement on the page: Another element to remember is that where you place the text on the page is important as well. Text at the top of the page is considered to have more importance (although it is important to spread your keywords throughout the page) so this means that you should look to get the keywords in the opening paragraph and then continue this throughout the post.

    In blogs, this is not only important in the post itself, but also in the categories. It is possible to have a key article which is always at the top of the category it relates to – this article would summarise the important elements to the category and so, in the best principles of SEO, have content full of key words. Some blogging systems have the functionality built to create this so called “Sticky” post, but with our recommended system of WordPress you will need a plug-in to achieve it. The best we have found is called Adhesive although there are others which achieve the same.

    Highlight key elements: the use of bold and/or italics to highlight keyword phrases makes them stand out not only on the page but also in Search Engine terms. As with all SEO techniques, don’t overuse them but do use them in relevant places to focus on your important key phrases.

    Update on a regular basis: Search Engines also recognise that a website or blog which is constantly changing is likely to have the most up to date information and so be most relevant. So make sure that you maintain a flow of new and relevant postings … BUT, remember the idea of quality content for your readers so don’t post just for the sake of it as this will reduce the overall quality of your blog.

    So to summarise:

    • make the content targeted and well written

    • ensure that the posts contain the keywords that are relevant to the subject

    • aim for good level of keyword density within the context of the article

    • get keywords in at the top of a page or category, and then also spread them through the page
    • use ‘bold’ and ‘italics’ on occasions to give extra weight to your main keywords
    • update regularly to add new content

    But, just to re-iterate one final time, getting good Search Engine rankings is important but you must write for your readers or else all your other efforts will be in vain, so use SEO with this foremost in your mind.

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    Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is as relevant and applicable to blogs as it is to websites in general and, when done properly, is an excellent way to help both Search Engines and visitors alike to identify the most relevant websites for their search.

    By their very nature, blogs already contain elements which naturally lend themselves to good indexing and ranking in the main Search Engines. However, since blogs at one level are websites with certain specific characteristics, then the important elements used in general Search Engine Optimisation are also very relevant when it comes to ensuring that your blogs are optimised as well.

    I thought that it would be worthwhile to revisit some of the main elements and take a look at them in more detail over the coming weeks, on a one by one basis.

    The elements that we will be having a look at are those which are generally accepted to have the most relevance when it comes to be Search Engine ranking. These are:

    • Blog Content
    • Domain name

    • URL / Address of the page

    • Title Tag

    • Description Metatag

    • Headings and Bold

    • Image tags

    • Internal linking

    • External inbound links

    There are other elements which are more specific to blogs which we will also have a look at such as tags which give additional information about the post and the blog – these are used by certain blog Search Engines such as Technorati and are likely to grow in importance.

    Next post in the series will look at ‘Content’ – from an SEO point of view, of course!

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