Blogging Archives

Part Four

SEO Basics
SEO is often thought about after a person has set up their blog or website. But, SEO best practices are bred into the site or blog as it is being developed, designed, and updated. We’re all about the SEO here. Our training class, SEO Launch Secrets, will be available May 11th, 2010. Remember that you can still get your early bird coupon by entering your email on the sales page.


What the heck is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Search engines are an excellent source of completely free traffic that continues to pour in for years to come but it usually takes a long time for a brand new site to begin getting traction in the search engines which is another reason why it makes sense to consider it from day 1. Here is an important point – ANY blog can build up a significant amount of search engine traffic over time even if that blog does not naturally lend itself to SEO. Why? Simply due to the sheer amount of content that gets posted to a blog.

If you create a few good articles every week (say 3), that really adds up over time. In a year you will have around 150 posts! Every single one of those posts can rank in the search engines and even though they may not all be individually optimized for specific keywords, they WILL bring in some traffic.

Backlinks… Learn it, know it, live it!

This lesson covers SEO basics and covers on-page optimization (making sure that your post is optimized towards your chosen keywords). However that is only one half of the SEO process and is arguably the least important half.

If Google has two pages that are equally optimized towards a keyword then how does it decide which one to rank higher? There are many factors but one very major factor is the backlinks to the page and these are simply links from another website.

Over time you will want to grow your backlinks as much as you can as this helps you rank higher and higher. With esourcedevelopment.com I must admit that I rarely pay much attention to on-page SEO as I tend to just write what comes to mind without really worrying about keywords. But over the last year or so we have attracted thousands of backlinks which means that whatever we do choose to write about will still bring us search traffic because this blog ranks well for terms in the posts.

You don’t need to worry too much about building backlinks at the beginning, but you do want to know how to do the basic on-page SEO so that when you start to create your first few posts you can be sure that you are getting it right.

SEO is a massive subject and is an industry in itself. SEO consultants will often charge companies thousands of dollars to optimize their websites because of the power it has to draw so much traffic.

Optimizing Your Posts For On-Page SEO
The first step in optimizing your posts is knowing what keyword phrase you want to target. It is possible to target more than one but much more difficult. Now one thing that I would emphasize here is that as a blogger, particularly if you are starting out, if you have no idea about what keywords you want to target then just don’t worry about it as its best to concentrate on writing good content rather than thinking about search engines. But if you’re writing a blog about digital camera’s for example and writing a post about a particular model then it makes sense to optimize that post to the model of the camera as that is something that would be searched on in Google.

This list is taken directly from SEO Launch Secrets. It covers where you need to place keywords in your article posts:

1) The title – at the very beginning if possible. This is the single most important element.
2) The post content – you need to make sure you are writing about what you want to target! Don’t overdo it but make sure it appears a handful of times throughout the post. Ideally, your keyword phrase will appear at the beginning, middle, and end of the article. The more the better, but no more than once per paragraph.
3) Tags – WordPress and other blogging platforms allow you to add tags to posts and this is a great way to add keywords to any post.
4) The URL – if you are using WordPress then this is very easy to do because it has a feature to allow you to convert your post title into the URL and we have a video that demonstrates how to do that later in our SEO Launch Secrets course.

These are the most important places to put your keywords and this is all you really need to know when you’re starting out. By the way if you don’t know how to do this stuff don’t worry because soon in the course I’m going to be getting onto the technical stuff and we have a bunch of free videos that show you how to do this technical stuff.

What if you already have an established blog?
If you already have a blog and this is the first time you have thought about SEO there are some things that you can do to tweak things. One thing that you should NOT do is change your post URL’s because Google will still be indexing the old ones and if you change them you will have broken links.

However what you can do is change your titles and the copy text in your posts. One mistake that people often make is putting their keywords at the end of their title rather than at the beginning. For example, if you are targeting the phrase “make money blogging” which is best out of these two titles:

– 10 Great Ways to Make Money Blogging Today!
– Make Money Blogging – 10 Killer Ideas!

The latter title is more SEO-friendly as it puts your keywords at the beginning so you can go back and tweak old posts in this way if you like. You can also check through the post itself making sure the keyword appears a few times and if your blogging software supports tags then make sure you tag it with your keyword.

Once you make changes it can take a while for Google to pick it up and act on it so don’t expect results overnight!

Note that if your URL’s are not optimized then it is possible to restructure them to better ones and do something called a 301 redirect to tell Google that the link has changed.

Part Three

The Naming Game
Our Internet Marketing blog is called “eSource Development” and the domain is at esourcedevelopment.com. We thought long and hard regarding a name – We were trying to think of something relating to making money
online but couldn’t think of anything that didn’t sound cheesy so we took our store name, eSource, and made it a development site since a majority of our business was web and software.

Topic Selection
When we first started our development / marketing blog we were already a successful web and software development company operating under the name eSource, and that’s what we initially blogged about. However as the months passed we found ourselves learning and blogging about topics I didn’t know about at the start, like niche marketing, social media, javascript, list building and so on.

Whether you are starting a blog from scratch or you have an existing one, use what you thought about in the previous lesson to think about what direction you are going to take your blog and sketch out some of the specific topics you can cover.

When it comes to writing your posts you will be able to organize them into categories which makes it much easier for new readers to find your posts and its easy for them to see at a glance what your blog is about. When you just post a mish-mash of posts on all sorts of topics that are not really related then it can be more difficult to turn a one-off visitor into a regular subscriber.

Posting Schedule
Many people advise you to blog every day when launching a new blog with the theory being that the more you post the more people will come to your blog, and the more often Google will index your site. However as a blog reader I find that blogs that post every day or even multiple times a day are simply too much – I can’t keep up with them. We try to post about 2 times a week which seems to be the right balance for our type of site.

When we say “schedule”, we don’t really mean that literally. As long as you post at least twice a week, the exact day and time of the postings do not matter. Sometimes, we’ll write 2 posts and schedule the second one to post the next day so there is a gap between postings. Most popular blog sites will have this feature.

I know your anxious, but starting out with an every day posting blog then settling in to a twice a week blog might look bad to some. It is much better to start out with a gentler blog schedule and see how it goes for a few months rather than over-commit yourself at the beginning and then burn out a few months down the line.

Posting Style
Some people suggest that you alter your blogging style to fit your target audience but in our experience we find that it never works to try to blog in a style that is not uniquely you. Your blog is a reflection of you – your thoughts, your findings, your interests and passions.

I used to teach at the University of Phoenix… Not so much by choice but by necessity. I had written a course for them on Data Communications and Protocols. I was then told there were no teachers for it, so I signed the contract to teach the 10 week course. I had never taught before so I read a couple of books real quick and tried to find a “style.” Guess what? It was a complete waste of time! Do you know why? Because the best teaching style is your own style, not someone else’s. As soon as I did that the teaching was easy. I was comfortable and coherent because I was talking and acting like me!

The moral of the story is simply to blog in your own style, whatever that means! Some people are very conservative, some people use very colorful language, others like to be controversial, others are very dry and matter-of-fact. Whatever you are, simply be who you are and write as yourself.

Part Two

What type of Blog should I start?

Before starting a new blog it helps to define what your goals are for it as that will guide you in every aspect of its development. Somebody who wants to build a blog to promote an existing business will do things differently than somebody who is blogging for a political cause for example. Whether you have already got a blog or are about to start one, take a moment to think about the following factors and as you work your way through these steps have your answers in mind.

Target Audience
Think about who your target audience is for your blog. Are they male / female? What is their income? Are they married? Have children? Are they tech-savvy? A young tech-savvy male is far more likely to Digg your posts than a mom who doesn’t even know what RSS is for instance. Your audience will respond differently to monetization also. The same tech-savvy male is much less likely to click an ad than the mom. Is your target audience somebody who is likely to carefully read through your posts in detail trying to glean as much information as possible (older crowd for instance) or are they a “give-it-to-me-quick” kind of person? These factors will affect your content and writing style. The former may respond well to in-depth how-to posts whereas the latter will likely prefer quick, easily-scannable lists. If any of the things I’ve mentioned here don’t make sense to you, don’t worry as we will get to those in future posts! We’re just trying to give you examples so that as you progress through these posts you’ll better understand what aspects will be more applicable to your particular blog.

Monetization
From the outset you should try to have a clear idea of how you want to monetize your blog. For example, if you are planning on selling private advertising then you’ll need to make sure that your blog theme is designed to support the sizes and shapes of ads that you want to run. If you are promoting something that is already in existence such as your services, or an existing business then you will want to make sure that you prominently work your promotional content into your blog seamlessly.

For example, look at the top of this page. There is a large header section split into two parts and each one of those heavily promotes something that we are a licensed reseller for (or something we produced). Now over to the right in the sidebar you’ll see a handful of small banner ads for select vendors and products we promote or use ourselves.  As you can see, these are not as prominent as the products in the header section but they fit nicely.

Other monetization options such as AdSense are usually easier to slot into just about any theme as there are many shapes and sizes of ads that you can use but then you need to ask yourself the question, do I place ads straight away or should I incorporate them later?

The answer is fairly simple… If you are blogging in order to earn an income then incorporate some ads on your blog straight away. The details don’t matter at first as you’ll have no traffic anyway but there is a good reason for doing it up-front: As you begin to build your blog readership they will come to expect that you are blogging for money and expect to see your ads. If you suddenly introduce them some time later some of your readers will complain, accuse you of being a sellout and so on!

Another benefit to placing ads straight away is that the audience that you build will often contain your future advertisers but they won’t think to advertise with you if you’re not in the habit of having ads on your blog. This goes part and parcel with a reseller strategy. Some of the ‘upper crust’ advertisers will need to approve you as a reseller prior to allowing you to place ads for their product or service. It’s a good idea to have some ads already in place when they check out your page to see if it is worthy.

Notice how we throw in the occasional ad now and then to get the word out?

Branding
In future posts we will be talking quite a lot about social media which is one of the ways in which I have brought in hundreds of people to my blog and established myself in the niche. One very important thing about branding is that it is very difficult to change later on. You can’t go from running a gardening blog to a new car review blog.

Right from the start think about what image you are trying to project. Are you promoting yourself like we are in our blog or are you promoting your blog name as a brand within itself (think Lifehacker, TechCrunch, BoingBoing)? If you are promoting yourself then think about graphics – do you have a standard avatar for yourself that you can use? Make sure you do because when you get social media right that avatar gets everywhere!

Changing Direction?
We have had quite a few blogs over the years. If you have an already established blog think about where it stands currently on the points mentioned above. What kind of audience does it currently attract? Is that the audience you want? What monetization are you using and are you happy with it? Is your audience responding well to it? Finally, what image are you projecting, if any?

If you need to change anything that is ok, just think about the direction in which you would like to take your blog and bear that in mind as you work through the rest of these lessons.

Here’s a little presentation we recently did regarding everything you need to know to run a successful Blog site. It gives some general information about setting up, running, maintaining, and updating a Blog of your own. We will present these lessons in several parts.

Part One

What Can You Expect From Your Blog?

Income
First of all, blogs have the power to earn money and there is so much more to earning an income through blogging than just slapping up a few ads! I’ll be talking about lots of different ways to monetize your blog. 99% of the revenue that I have generated in the last year (many thousands of dollars) has come either directly from the blog or from a product that was launched via the blog. Make no mistake – blogs can earn you a decent income! And don’t think you have to have a gigantic readership either. My Internet marketing blog has a few hundred readers which is good but nowhere near the numbers of some of the mega-bloggers out there yet it still makes me a very good income.

Branding
When you combine blogging with social media you develop the power of branding. Whether you simply want to brand yourself as a person or you’re branding a product or company name, blogs built with social media in mind can put you ‘out there’ like no other medium. People begin to see you everywhere, recognize your face, they begin searching for you in search engines. In short, blogs can make you quite famous in your little corner of the Internet and if you
happen to be promoting your products or services, this can become quite profitable.

Authority
In order to build a successful blog you will need to learn how to drive traffic to it and make it popular as a blog with no traffic is not going to make you much money. However there is another side effect of building a popular blog… as your blog begins to gain authority in the eyes of Google it becomes a powerful asset in itself and can then be used to launch other websites with a helping hand. Once you’ve built your first big blog it becomes easier to develop other Internet properties.