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    SEO in business blogs for rankingIt really is a total waste of effort setting up a business blog if your sole intention is to use it to enhance your Search Engine rankings. If you do, then youre not just missing out on the important benefits that blogs offer, youre also missing the point of blogs altogether. Oh, and in the process, youll also be jeopardising the success of your own, right from the word “Go”.

    “But I thought a business blog would help my Search Engine rankings!”, I hear you cry. “Absolutely”, I reply, “it will. Enormously so!”

    The thing is, thats not the point.

    Running a blog will give you the chance to do so much more, whether you are looking to use it to initiate dialogue with your readers, build trust and foster new connections with customers and prospects, carry out market research or customer service, or indeed any of 101 different business uses that blogs can be put to.

    And thats where your focus, effort and attention should be directed – your readers – not simply on helping your SEO efforts!

    However, if you do spend the time to keep the content of your blog focused on what your target audience wants then, believe me, the much lauded “Google Juice” will flow naturally because of what you write and the way that you write and structure it. However, it will do so as an automatic by-product rather than the sole aim.

    The same values hold good in all areas of social media – concentrate on the people you are talking to and what you are talking about and youll go far. Social networking sites, for example, are called that rather than Google Ranking sites for a reason. If Google is your main reason for being there then the networking activity will ultimately die, killing your presence on the site along with it.

    I might add that if you use these tools to do nothing more than sell, then youre also missing the point and once again youll find that this comes back to bite you. Using social media to employ the same “old school” marketing tactics that we, as consumers, are rejecting en masse shows a lack of understanding in my book not only of the medium but of people.

    Anyway, enough ranting about this – back to my main point. Business blogs are great in providing enhanced Search Engine opportunities but try not to focus on this to the exclusion of everything else or you risk losing everything. Focus instead on your readers and I guarantee that your SEO desires and requirements will follow.

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    SEO in business blogs for rankingIt is an absolute waste to set up a business blog with the sole intention of using it to enhance your Search Engine rankings. If you do, then you will not only be missing out on the important benefits that blogs offer but also jeopardising the success of your own, right from the word go.

    “But I thought a business blog would help my rankings!”, I hear you cry. “Absolutely”, I reply, “it will, enormously so!”

    But that’s not the point. Blogs enable you to do so much more, whether you are using them to communicate with your readers, build trust and connections with both customers and prospects alike, carry out market research or customer service, or indeed any of 101 different business uses that they can be put to. And that’s where your focus, effort and attention should be directed, not simply on helping your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts!

    If you do these things correctly and keep the content of your blog focused on what your target audience wants then, believe me, the so called “Google Juice” will flow naturally because of what you write and the way you write and structure it, but as an automatic by-product rather than the sole result.

    Ive seen the same issues come to light elsewhere recently as well. I belong to a couple of online business networking organisations and on one of these, Ecademy, there has been a lot of debate recently following Googles last algorithm change. This resulted in the site not delivering page 1 results as regularly as it had previously been prone to do due to its structure and overall page rank. A number of people have commented that there has therefore been a drop in value of the site because of this and have been asking whether it remains worth the subscription.

    My response again is that the Google / Search Engine benefits have to be viewed for what they are an excellent by-product which is great to have. However, the reason for joining a site like that is to help foster relationships with other business people and provide networking opportunities. Thats why its called a Business Networking Club rather than a Google Ranking Club. Google juice is great but that cannot be the main reason for your being there or else the networking element will ultimately die, killing the site with it.

    And the same is true with blogs. Business blogs are great in providing enhanced Search Engine opportunities but try not to focus too much on those or you risk losing everything. Focus instead on your readers in your blog and I guarantee that your SEO desires and requirements will follow.

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    I’ve mentioned a number of times how important title tags are and how useful they can be (and need to be) in different aspects of search engine optimisation for blogs. So I was glad to see that in one of the first sessions at the recent BlogWorld conference over in Las Vegas, that this subject was covered again by the speakers.

    However, as I listened to extracts from the session, there was one element that I picked up and hadn’t considered that was mentioned by Andy Beal from Marketing Pilgrim, and it’s one I’d like to pass on here. But first a little background.

    The title of the post (or Post Title) appears at the top of each individual post on the blog, whereas the words which appear at the top of the browser window is the so called Title Tag. Hopefully, the image below will show the distinction between them.

    Normally in blogs, there is a close relationship between the two elements because most blog software automatically creates a Title Tag from the title of the post, usually mixing it with the name of the blog something like

    “Better Business Blogging >> Title Tags are great”

    To an extent this is good because it it gives a distinct and relevant Title Tag for each page (which is positive) and it’s done automatically for us (which saves us time). However, even better is to have control over both elements individually which is where the SEO Title Tag plugin comes into its own if you’re a WordPress user as it disassociates the post title from the title tag.

    Anyway, where exactly do these two elements appear :

    • RSS feed – Post Title

    • Blog Search Engines – Post Title

    • Main Search Engine results – Title Tag

    • Search Engine Optimisation – Title Tag (primary) and Post Title (secondary)

    Anyway, what is the suggestion? Well, simply to change the title and the title tag after a few days so that you can appeal to the different groups that will be reading them. Basically, different people use the RSS feeds and blog search engines from those who might be searching with the main search engines. So target each.

    When you publish your post, use an attention grabbing headline for readers who may find you in amongst their other RSS feeds – often something time related is good and aimed specifically at your readers. But after a few days, you will have been seen by all those who are likely to find you via RSS or Blog Search Engines (which are also time sensitive) so we need to turn our attention to the main search engines. In this case, we need to make sure that we appeal to search engines with keyword phrases that we want to be found with as well as our readers, and this needs to be done in our title tag.

    So, as ever, pay attention to the needs and interests of your readers but be savvy enough to know when you have to change your focus to the search engines to give your blog posts even more longevity and ‘findability’.

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    Business Blog Post TitlesAs you sit down to pen your next post, you’ll probably already have a clear idea of what you want to communicate and how you want to go about getting that message across. Nevertheless, unless you can entice people to read what you’ve written, then all of your hard work will have been in vain. So take care with the title you use for the post as it plays a key role in that process.

    Why are Post Titles important?

    Well, they’re important in the same way that a newspaper headline is – they attract our attention, offer an insight or a “teaser” as to what the post contains and hopefully encourage us to read the full article. We have a huge amount of information presented to us every day, and so it’s really important to grab peoples attention in the short space of time that we have before they move on to something else. It the case of our blogs, we generally only have the post title at our disposal to achieve this.

    However, there is an added complication. We need to remember that we are in fact trying to attract the attention of two groups: readers (or should I clarify by saying human readers) and Search Engines.

    If they both reacted in the same way to words then things would be easy, if a little boring. However, they dont and nor are they attracted by the same things. While human readers are attracted by humour, nuance, plays on words as well as information, Search Engines are attracted purely by the words which we provide. Ideally, we need to find a way to cater for both.

    Where do we see the titles?

    However, we also have to bear in mind what people actually see in different situations and places – bear with me here, its important! The first obvious place is on your blog itself – at the top of your post is the title which will hopefully inspire you to read the post below it. Nevertheless, you are already on the blog, so in some ways the battle is already half won!

    The title of your post also appears in the main Blog Search Engines such as Technorati or Google Blog Search and in the RSS Feeds that people receive in their readers. As people browse here, then the title is critical in attracting their attention as they skim through the articles on offer. The more information that we all try to process in as short a space of time as possible then the less time we’ll have to attract attention and the more critical it will become.

    Post Titles and Title Tags

    However, when it come to the main Search Engines, things are slightly different. What appears on the results pages of Search Engines such as Google and Yahoo is not actually the title of your post but the Title Tag. This is distinct from your post title and something which you can control separately. The Title Tag is doubly important because it is an important element that the main Search Engines look at when ranking pages – they do take note of the title of your post, but they take much more interest in the Title Tag.

    So which way to go? My own preference is to keep the title interesting without making it too cryptic, and I always try to include the main keyword for the article. In addition, I make sure that, where necessary, I modify the Title Tag to ensure that that is keyword rich. (More details in my SEO series and a great WordPress plug-in from Stephen Spencer to help you).

    In other words, I try to appeal to both audiences. You are best placed to know what will appeal to your readers and you can guess that, for Search Engines, the principal keyword phrases for the post are going to be key. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to combine both as well as you can.

    This you have to read

    So where to find more information about titles, headlines and how to write them? Well, if you only go to one place, then head on over to Copyblogger’s posts on Magnetic Headlines. Highly recommended!

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    The Title Tag is one of the most important aspects that you can look at when you wish to do some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) on your Blog, so it is good to get it right from the start.

    The Title tag is used in two principal areas: when you are using a browser, it is what appears in the blue bar right at the top of your screen and tells the reader what is contained within the page. Secondly, on the Search Engine Results page, it forms the link that you click on to reach the page shown in the results.

    In the code itself, the Title tag appears in the head part of the code that makes up the page – the code will look like:

    < title >Better Business Blogging < /title >

    In this case, Better Business Blogging will appear as the Title tag information.

    You dont have many words to play with in your Title tag (between 8 and 10 is considered the most that are given relevance) so its important to use them, and ideally have your keywords included. The order that they are used allows adds weight, with words appearing earlier having more importance.

    In Blogs, the Title tag is generated automatically and usually takes the format of the name of your Blog followed by the title of the post. So if we take this page as an example, under normal circumstances, the Title Tag would be:

    Better Business Blogging >> Basic SEO in Blogs: important Title Tag

    However, ideally I would like to highlight the reference to “SEO in Blogs” and so by changing the order in the title tag using my template, I can achieve this. This gives a new Title tag of:

    Basic SEO in Blogs: important Title Tag” – Better Business Blogging

    This will help to the highlight the term “SEO in blogs” more because of its placement in the Title Tag and will give better results for these key terms with the Search Engines.

    While this should not be done in isolation, the Title tag is an important element and so due attention should be paid accordingly. Try it – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!

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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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