Blogging for SEO, SEO for Your Blog
Since Google announced the Google Freshness update a whole new trend of blogging for business websites has surged in. This update has affected 35 percent of searches, giving reason for companies to integrate a blog page into their main website. In general, when viewing the first few pages of search results, blogs and articles relating to the search topic appear more frequently than related business websites do (except for long-tail keyword or local searches). So for instance, if you want to buy an iPhone 5 and search for the exact term iPhone 5 (short-tail keyword), the first page will be filled with blogs, news articles, review sites and forum content on the topic. On the other hand, you may get business websites on the first page of search results if you use keywords such as buy iPhone 5 (long-tail keyword) or mobile phone stores in New York (local keyword). Shown below is a screenshot of a Google search for the keyword iPhone 5. You can see that the first-page results are all of recently updated content:
In this post we cover two different but interrelated topics: how to improve your site’s SEO with a blog and how to improve your blog’s SEO.
Including a blog on your business website can improve your site’s SEO in the following ways:
A blog page updates your website with regular fresh content. Search engine crawlers notice the frequent addition of new pages and URLs to your website and recognize this as updated content. The freshness update discussed above is taken into consideration when ranking your website.
Targeting New Keywords:
A blog adds new keywords to your website. When other websites link to your blog using these keywords, it passes link juice to your website, causing your website to rank for more keywords than it initially did.
Building Niche Authority:
A blog builds authority in your niche. You acquire expert status by posting blogs that give useful tips and instructions to your readers. If a customer has to choose between two businesses, they are likely to choose the one with an informative blog, as it demonstrates knowledge of their products or services.
Blogs are sharable on social media. This brings in social signals that help to optimize your site’s search engine rankings. Sharing your own content on social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) has a much greater effect than re-posting or sharing content produced by others. Your blogs may also increase interaction on social media, thus enabling word-of-mouth marketing.
Quality Internal Linking:
Blogs facilitate internal links on your website and these pass link authority to your home page or inner pages. You can link your product/service pages to any relevant blogs or simply link new blog posts to previous ones. If you have an e-book or a landing page where people subscribe to your email newsletter, you could include a call-to-action at the end of your blog linking to these landing pages and thus pass link juice to them. Your blog posts may also earn links from other authoritative pages, which indirectly passes page authority to your site’s pages. These call-to-action links may also positively increase your conversion rates. Another advantage of increased internal linking is the ability to use proper anchor texts. Other websites might link to yours with generic words such as click here or read more, but the ownership of your content allows the use of proper anchor texts while linking.
Images on your blog must be optimized for SEO with the use of the image alt text attribute. This ensures that your images are found via Google image search. Images have immense potential to drive traffic to your site and you increase your exposure with every new blog post that contains them.
Blogs bring links to your website naturally. You cannot encourage site visitors to link to your product page or contact form page as this would seem pushy and sales-oriented, however, you can encourage people, groups or companies to link to your blogs by delivering useful and unique content.
Some site visitors know what they want and engage with your products/services immediately. This means your website must be simple and easy to navigate to allow immediate conversion. Most visitors, however,
will need to know a lot about your expertise in the industry before they do business with you. A blog is the perfect platform to build trust among skeptical buyers. To do this, share your own business experiences or case studies to make it personal as well as sharing informational content on niche topics. As time goes on, with a growing, content-rich blog, you will build trust among your site visitors thus increasing web traffic, the popularity of your blog and website, and enriching your site’s SEO.
Here are a few SEO factors for your blog that are important to consider in order to push your blog to its target audience on the web:
Host the Blog as a Subdomain:
To obtain SEO benefits from your blog for your website you must host your blog as a subdomain of your main website and not as a separate domain or subdirectory. It is ideal to have your blog as a subdomain to your website in the form of blog.yoursite.com. This way you will only have one site to manage and the link juice pointing at your blog is gained by your main site.
Insert keywords in your content in such a way that it makes sense to readers. In other words, use correct spelling and grammar. Search engine algorithms emphasize user-experience and thus you must ensure you build your blog content around what your users want rather than search engine ranking factors.
Ensure that your blog titles contain your target keywords and keep them within 70 characters. Blog titles are seen on page titles and blog page URLs when you use certain CMS for blogging on your site, which is good for your blog’s SEO.
If you have a business website that also delivers content, make sure to claim the authorship of the content by connecting the author’s Google+ profile to your blog page. The following is a screenshot of an authored content search result. The click through rate on search results with author details is significantly higher than results with no author details. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on linking your content to your (or your blog author’s) Google+ profile. High click-through rates will eventually improve your blog’s SEO.
Social Media Integration:
Site visitors are more likely to share your content when they have easy access to social share buttons on your blog. Read more about it in one of our previous posts on Tools and Tips for Integrating Social Media into your Website. Providing social share buttons not only enriches user experience on your blog page but also helps to improve the social signals of your site, thus triggering advanced search engine optimization. Take a look at our own social share buttons on the top right column of this blog as an example of social media integration.
Share Posts on Social Media Profiles:
As soon as you post your blogs, do not forget to share them on all your social media profiles, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Post the blog with any relevant images or videos, as these have the potential to grab more attention among readers in social media circles. Create profiles on other social media sites, such as Technorati, AllTop, Networked blogs and social bookmarking sites such as, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Tumblr and Delicious and share your content on these too.
Add alt text to images. Alt text should contain not more than seven to ten words and should include at least one keyword. This ensures that the images on your blog are optimized for image searches. Pin your blog images on Pinterest, a popular social networking site for images.
Improve Interaction on Your Blog:
You can improve interaction on your blog by asking questions and inviting opinions at the end. Examples could be, Did I forget anything? or What are your thoughts on the topic? If it is a blog about two different concepts, ask your audience which one they prefer. When you share your blog content on your social media brand pages, add a question related to the blogs. Answer any comments on your blog. You can also comment on other blogs in your niche saying that you have posted on a similar topic on your blog. Use Google Reader or Google Blog Search to find other blogs in your niche. This way you encourage the interaction of users on the blog page and on your social media brand pages. This improves the reach of the blog and signals frequent activity to the search engine crawlers.
Include a “Subscribe to RSS” Feed:
Never forget to place a Subscribe to RSS option in a prominent place on your blog page. You can place the subscribe button on the sidebar or at the top or bottom of your blog posts. Take a look at a sample screenshot below that shows the subscribe button on a blog page:
Reduce Bounce Rates:
Reducing bounce rates on a blog can enhance your blog’s search rankings. Although it is not proven to directly affect search rankings, it does indicate how well your blogs retain site visitors. In order to reduce blog bounce rates, ensure the typography and styling of the blog is in an easy-to-read format. Do not include ads on your blog, especially flash ads. Re-size images and avoid any other heavy files on the blog that might increase load time.
Increasing web traffic to your site with the help of a blog is the most natural form of SEO available. Google and other search engines reward this more than other unnatural link building strategies. Invest some time in creating a good quality blog page and post frequently, about twice in a week or more depending on your ability. It is a good idea to plan your blog topics before you start a blog on your business website in order to be consistent and relevant.