A quick guide to On Page SEO and Off Page SEO for bloggers
If you have a blog and post regularly it will take you two weeks of posting before you decide that you need to know more about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). If you blog but have yet to jump into the whole SEO thing, you’ve probably got a few questions. So let’s start right at the beginning and what is the most useful to know – On Page and Off Page SEO.
On Page SEO for bloggers
On Page SEO refers to the SEO that is on your blog itself and in your blog’s structure as well as in the content (your blog posts and pages).
SEO – Start with the content
It’s always easier to start with the part you are most familiar with. Start with optimising your content. You should start with a keyword or phrase in the title, then check that your permalink shows the words rather than a page or post number. To change your permalinks check out SEO for WordPress blogs for the “how-to”. I also like Scribe for checking over my content and it’s a tool I recommend to all my blog coaching clients; it helps them focus and tweak their content accordingly.
If you use a premium theme such as Genesis or Thesis you need to look at your SEO settings in your Dashboard. If you click the Genesis / Thesis tab you will see SEO settings where you can add information
Meta descriptions are also important, not just for On Page SEO but because this is the information that a search engine pulls through and presents to the searcher aka as your ideal customer/ ideal reader.
Internal linking and deep linking <—- sounds heavy, but it’s not.
It’s important that you link to other relevant sections of your blog or website in the content. This helps readers and search engines navigate around your site more efficiently. It also helps you find scraped content. You can see all through this post I have linked to other useful posts on my site, that’s internal linking.
Tags and Categories
If a blog was a book, the categories would be the chapters and the tags would be the index… Some bloggers love tags, I can’t stand them and although people tell me that tags are great for tag surfing around a site, I have never used them for this purpose. In fact I think I am tag blind…
When you tag your post and display the tags, each tag is a hyperlink.
To me it looks cluttered, but it might work for you and your readers. Also tagging enables some plugins to show related adverts in your sidebar.
Categories can be renamed to work better for your On Page SEO. I tend to post in few categories – blogging, marketing and ebooks. I could have sub categories such as blogging for business, personal blogging or basic blogging. This would make things easier to navigate around for the reader and when I do my site revamp this will take place. I have other categories and sometimes I put them in two – now this is something that a lot of people say you should not do and for good reason – duplicate content penalties. When this happens I make sure not to index the second category.
Birds on the Blog is a multi author blog, the categories are also a persons name so that the content can be ordered by person. To avoid duplicate content penalties the categories section is no index meaning the category searches won’t hinder our SEO efforts. This way of using it means we get the most from accurately categorising the content. I am happy to take further guidance on the whole category thing so feel free to chip in your thoughts on the subject.
Alt tags for images
Images should be tagged so that your readers that need visual aids (screen readers) can have the image described to them. This is a good thing that is often abused, some people love to stuff the alt tags with heaps of keywords. If you choose the right image stuffing the tags with keywords is not needed. You can always add more images to the content to reflect the changes in your chosen topic.
Off Page SEO
Backlinks are links to your site from other sites. They generally come from forum signatures, commenting on other blogs, a guest post or someone on another site talking about you and linking back to your site. You should try and get a few backlinks each week and the easiest most organic way to do this is to comment on other blogs. Don’t obsess over “nofollow” or “dofollow” links, you will need a variety as that looks natural.
Graham Hunt has an interesting and useful article on setting up a backlinking network using Posterous.
Commenting on a blog that uses CommentLuv is cool not only for the backlink but to show your latest post under your comment. Like with the meta description above, if you comment on a blog make sure you leave a good, helpful comment and then a relevant blog link via CommentLuv. This is not just about the links; a helpful comment will mean people will click through and read more of what you have to say.
Digressing just a little… CommentLuv premium allows you to select your popular and relevant posts in the dashboard. This means you don’t have to add a link in the comment and risk looking like a self promoting spammer (even if you are a self promoting spammer ), you can select the option in the drop-down menu and choose the most relevant post to the conversation.
Back on track…
Guest posting and article marketing are still popular ways to get the right kind of backlinks. The guest posts should always be relevant to the audience and you should not take liberties with the amount of links you put in the post. Over on Birds we have been known to strip excessive links from guest posts much to the annoyance of the writer (but y’ know what, 17 self serving links in 4 paragraphs is stupidity).
When commenting in forums your anchor text is important. If I left a link at the end of a comment that said www.saraharrow .co.uk people would know that I have a vanity website. If the link said “the business of blogging” and when you clicked the link it brought the reader to www.saraharrow .co . uk the reader would have a better idea what to expect.
You should vary your anchor text and when you guest post you should vary the anchor text you use in your bio. The bio is the little bit at the beginning or end of the post that tells you more about the author of the post. Just like the guest post should be written with audience in mind, so should your bio. If you guest post on the blog of a competitor or someone in the same industry make sure you write a suitable bio for that post. Example: You are both copywriters. To write in your bio “for the best copy-writing in the world visit xxx” is a bit strong and very disrespectful. Highlight a non competing service and link to that instead.
For the record, some bloggers just won’t care what you put in your bio and link to. You need to consider how it looks to a first time visitor and act accordingly.
On Page and Off Page SEO play important roles in bringing your blog search engine traffic. Implement both of them for best results.