Apr 25, 2013
It's officially been one year since Google's infamous Penguin update. Its first birthday was yesterday (though we don't know why they didn't choose to do their Penguin update on April 25, World Penguin Day). The goal of their Penguin update was to decrease the rankings of websites violating their guidelines. Basically they wanted to decrease the value of so-called "black hat" SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing and the use of duplicate content and link schemes. Many websites were hit by this update and saw their rankings drop (some dramatically). This forced people to take a better look at their SEO tactics and clean up some of the black hat techniques they were using.
As always, we recommend using "white hat" SEO techniques. If your website has a blog or is a blog, then you're probably adding new content regularly. This can be good for SEO as Google and other search engines like new content. However, you need to make sure you are consistently posting good content (not duplicate content) that people actually want to link to and share. A blog is a great way to get started with "white hat" SEO because creating a good blog should be all about creating useful content for your readers and customers.
So here are 8 easy SEO tips to remember for your blog:
1. Titles: Keep in mind there are two different titles you should use for your blog: the header and the page title. The blog header needs to tell readers what your post is about and (hopefully) get them interested in actually reading your post. The page title is critical to SEO. Make sure you use proper keywords (without keyword stuffing) to tell the search engines what your page is about, so they can properly index your page.
2. Description: The meta description may not be as important for SEO purposes, but it does allow you to engage a potential reader who has found your blog via organic search or social share. You page may be ranking due to your awesome SEO efforts, but if no one clicks on your page, then all your hard work is lost. Improve your click through rate with a great description.
3. URL: You need to have recognizable words in your URL. Just having a long URL full of random numbers doesn't cut it. Our URLs as you can see do include some numbers - the date of the post - and that's fine, but they also include keywords related to the post.
4. Images: If your blog is all text, it probably looks kind of boring. Using an image or multiple images can spice it up. It also adds another opportunity for search engines to find your page - via image search. Just make sure you use appropriate keywords in your image alt tags.
5. Social Shares: Make it easy for people to share your content! Almost every social site including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ has share buttons you can place on your website for social shares. Keep in mind that if you're going to add them, you should also make them easy to find. I've seen many sites get creative with their share buttons, which is fine, but if I have to search for them I'm much less likely to actually share their page.
6. Encourage Comments & Respond: People have an opinion about everything and they often like to share that opinion. Encourage them to do so by commenting on your post. Just make sure that you follow the comments and make sure you respond - after all you're the one who started the conversation.
7. Link to Past Posts: Most blogs have a topic that they focus on, so many of their posts are related. Take advantage of this and give your old posts new life. You'll notice that we have a side panel that features recent posts as well as popular posts. I know when I finish reading something I'm often looking for the next thing to read, so make sure you provide your reader with an easy link to that next thing. You should also directly link to related past posts within your content.
8. Rich Snippets: You may have noticed people's pictures sometimes show up in Google search results. These are called rich snippets and they're a great opportunity to draw a searcher's eye to your post. All you need is a Google+ profile and the right code and, voila, your smiling face will show up in Google's search results (you should probably also make sure your Google+ profile picture is professional).
To implement rich snippets on your site, you need to link your Google+ profile page to your post and add ?rel=author to the end of the link. Use your name as the anchor text and make sure it matches the name on your Google+ profile. Then you need to add your site to your Google+ profile under "Links" and the "Contributor To" section. It will take Google some time to re-index past posts you add your rich snippet to, but in the meantime you can test it on Google's structured data testing tool.
You will also want to look at who is linking to your blog (and in some cases try to contact them to remove those bad links). We recommend SEOmoz's Open Site Explorer, which can not only tell you what links are coming to your website (by page), but the page authority of those links. This is only one of SEOmoz's great SEO tools. Want to try them out for yourself? Sign up for a special SEOmoz PRO 45 day free trial, allowing you to test out one of the most popular SEO software out there.
Are you just getting started with your blog? Choose .ME! The .ME domain is a great option for a personal website or blog because .ME is all about you! Register yourname.me or get creative and register a fun saying such as myblogby.me (which is available now by the way). .ME has the same SEO possibilities as .COM, but way more options and it's on sale now for only $9.99! Our .ME sale ends 12/31/13 23:59 UTC, so take advantage now and register your .ME!
Phew that was long! Since today is World Penguin Day, I want to leave you with this video of the newest penguin chick at our local California Academy of Sciences! This cute little guy still needs a name, so watch the video and then submit your idea by April 30, 2013!
*If this video does not load, you can click on "submit your idea" above to see it.
This post was written by Robyn Norgan, who highly recommends a trip to the California Academy of Sciences if you're ever in San Francisco. If you're lucky you may even have a butterfly land on you in their awesome (and very hot and humid) living 4-story rainforest!