July 23, 2013

Search Engine Optimization Basics for Bloggers




If you are a blogger or webmaster, I have a question for you - How many of you are familiar with the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? I don't think I can find many bloggers or webmasters who haven't heard of this term. May be you are already experimenting with advanced techniques too. I'm not sure about webmasters, but I know that bloggers are very fond of SEO. Why don't we just talk about it?


Search Engine Optimization


It's not rocket science. Eventhough you believe it is, you won't have a hard time understanding basics though. For bloggers, search engines are one of primary traffic sources. You can either hire someone to do optimization for you, or basically you can assure your blog and its content are optimized for search engines. Here I'd like to address some SEO basics that can be applied by anyone who knows how to write a blog post.

Firstly, SEO is an Internet marketing strategy which associated with search engines. Secondly, search engines are not smart enough like human beings. Thirdly, SEO is not the salvation of bloggers.


Why SEO?


SEO wouldn't be necessary if search engines alone could figure out and offer perfect answers to the searchers. Neither, PageRank. Well, let's hope for it in future :) RIGHT NOW, you need to help search engines to help you in return.

By applying SEO techniques, we make our content pages more search engine friendly, and search engines can get a better understanding about the integrated content. Hence we can count on that it will deliver our content to the needy people to make use of our content.


Let's Get to the Basics


Basics matter! That's where things get started. Below you can find a sample search result, and I've indicated the elements - title, description and permalink. A few core elements of a search result which you need to pay attention.


Here I'm gonna address some SEO concerns which the publisher or blogger has the total control. Usually they are called as "On-Page SEO Factors".

First off, let me define two terms I'm gonna use here - Post title and Page title. Unless, I believe you will find they are confusing.

Post Title - Post title is the title you assign to your post. For example, this post has the title "Search Engine Optimization Basics for Bloggers"

Page Title - Page title is what you find mentioned on the web browser tab or title bar. You can hover your mouse pointer to find what it is. It's what search engines will index along with your content.

Mind you, sometimes you may find both post title and page title are same. But technically it isn't :)


Post Title


As like a catchy newspaper headline convince you to read the whole story behind it, the post title alone can convince a person to read your post too. Not only human beings, but also search engines consider title as an important element which may describes what is particular page about.


When a searcher perform a search online, search engines look up page titles they indexed and gives priority if the search keywords match with the words in page titles. Therefore, accurate and effective post titles can be the key for search engines to deliver your content to the targeted audience.

Eventhough accurate and relevant titles will be search engine friendly, it doesn't mean you should dump your creative titles and use pretty straightforward title to impress search engines. Brief, descriptive but unique titles can be adored by many. See if you can balance creativeness and search engine friendliness in your title. Even if you can't, don't be discouraged. Title is not the only element you can count on.


Page Title Structure


In addition to the post titles, the structure of your page titles can help boost SEO effectiveness of your pages too.

For example, take a look at below page titles:

1. Search Engine Optimization Basics for Bloggers - Mayura4Ever

2. Mayura4Ever - Search Engine Optimization Basics for Bloggers

3. Search Engine Optimization Basics for Bloggers

You may not find much difference except for addition of the blog title along with the post title in two of them. But it isn't the same for search engines. Now read them again and list out first word of each page title.

1. Search

2. Mayura4Ever

3. Search

It's a good practice to have your blog name mentioned at the end of the page title or not having it mentioned at all. Remember, I'm just referring to your blog posts not the static or homepage.

Search is a process of seeking and delivering content that match with user's search keywords. For search engines, the first keyword they read in a page title matters too. Having your blog name prior to the post title can be a disadvantage over the other blogs which has no blog name associated with their page titles. Wanna take the opportunity?

If you are a Blogger user, you can read how to customize your page title structure.


Search Description


When it comes to SEO, search description is another important element you need to think about. You won't be defining search description while you writing your blog post and you need to write it separately. If your post title alone can't express what is your post is about, you can use search description feature to summaries or elaborate your post content.

Search engines can look into your search descriptions and do when users perform a search. If a search query matches with the words in your search descriptions, your content get listed in search results too. In case if you decided not to have a search engine friendly post title, here's your opportunity to include the keywords you missed in your title.


Search descriptions are displayed as a snippet in search results. They can be referred by searchers to make sure if it's the right post they are looking for. Practically, it's rare that someone would spend time to read a search description prior to visit a page. Hence you can think of making the description more search engine friendly by listing relevant keywords in there, rather than writing it for users. But keep in mind to make it readable by people too. If you can balance the both aspects, you are a winner.

If you intend to automated the generation of search descriptions for posts, that can be a disadvantage. When you automate the process, your search description will have a snippet from your written post. Instead, you can make use of that space to fill in specific keywords that were missing in your title and content to expand the potential of being listed in more search engine result pages.

Not only defining search description for your blog posts, but also having it for your blog is critical enough too. Make sure you already have a search description defined for your blog.

When defining a search description, it's best if it contains maximum of 150 characters.

If you are a Blogger user, you can get an idea about setting search descriptions for your blog and posts.


Permalinks


If you are not familiar with the term, permalink is the actual URL of your page. Either, you can let it generated automatically or else you can define your own custom permalink. You can grab the opportunity to SEO your posts by defining custom permalinks.


None of your visitors would care about your page URLs. Why would they even care? But search engines do. Search engines look up for the matching keywords in URL when an user performs a search online. Therefore, you can merely use appropriate keywords in your URL to make your blog posts optimized for search engines.

Let's take an example. If your post title is “Search Engine Optimization Basics for Bloggers”, its automatically generated permalink (based on title) will be,


But if you use custom permalink option, you can define entirely different keywords as below,


Got it? Totally different but relevant keywords being mentioned in the URL :)

Take few minutes to make sure you are using the right URL structure which allows custom permalinks option, not a random number or something. Further, try not to make your URLs too lengthy by adding all the keywords you can think of.

It's best not to edit permalinks of existing posts even if they were generated automatically. Else, it may affect on existing online referrals or backlinks.

If you are a Blogger user, read how to create custom permalinks.


Headings


Are you using headings in your blog posts? Headings can be very effective in writing and may avoid readers from feeling overwhelmed too.

How do you specify your headings? Just change the size of font and make it look like a heading?

If you nodded right now, you are committing a mistake. I have no doubt that readers can find the difference between headings and normal text. But again, search engines are not smart enough to detect it. If you need to convince search engines that the specific text is a heading, you need to use appropriate tags - HTML header tags.

When your headings are tagged with proper HTML header tags, search engines will identify them and index your post content in a structured manner. Eventually, it will help your content to perform well in search too. Else, your headings are just another piece of text for search engines.

Instead of trying to make it look like a heading, find the exact tool which allows you to define headings in post editor and apply them to your headings. HTML header tags are specifically introduced for that purpose.

If you are a Blogger user, read how to specify headings properly.


Images


Your posts may include different types of content. We can't ignore images / photos. Can we?

Search engines are capable of indexing images in pages and will be delivered when users perform a search online too. A great way to bring more visitors to your blog. But, search engines can't gauge image details exactly unless you specified. To overcome this problem, you can specify a search engine crawlable description for your images. It's called Alternative Text aka Alt Text.

Specifying alt text for your embedded images will make them search engine friendly. Hence, when a user perform a search online, if his / her search query matches with one of alternative texts, the corresponding image will show up in search results under image search.

Different blogging platforms have different ways to define alt text, but it isn't hard enough to figure out. In some platforms, you can specify when you upload the image or editing image details. In some other platforms, you can define it after uploading the image while constructing your blog post.

If you would like to get more traffic via images, it's time to optimize your images for search engines too.

If you are a Blogger user, you can read how to set alternative text for images.


Are you ready to apply some SEO basics? :)




Awesome! Thanks for coming by and taking your time to read this post :) I hope you have learnt something today. Now you can share it with your friends and I'd love to hear from you too.






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Harleena Singh said...

Great post, Mayura!

I think it's not about SEO being a rocket science, but I for example get confused regarding which method or way of SEO to follow, as so many people tell so many different ways to SEO the blogs.

Prior to panda, my blog ranked high in plenty of keywords, and now things have changed! I do get search engine traffic through the non-money keywords, but my main source of visitors to my blog are the social media.

Nevertheless, one cannot ignore SEO, and I find the SEO techniques that you've mentioned as interesting and educating as well. Every blogger should know these basics, and I'd say that this is one of the most detailed and easiest to follow tutorial on SEO basics on the Internet!

I agree with your suggestions on the page title structure, search description, permalinks, headings, and image alt texts. I've read that you should try to use your keyword in all of the above for better SEO of your blog post.

Thanks for sharing this informative post. Have a nice week ahead. :)

Lisa Buben said...

Mayura, Love this one for my blogger blogs. I wanted to get unique Permalinks and headings. I was just exploring them last night on my 2 blogger blogs. Thank you! I'll be back if I have questions of course :) Have a wonderful week there my friend!

Reginald Chan Xin Yon said...

Oh my Mayura! This is more than just great. Can we call it a bible?


I think detailed is an understatement here. It's great to see you take the time to write up. Please, please keep it up!


I really enjoyed reading and sharing RIGHT NOW!


Reginald

Donna Merrill said...

Another lesson for me Mayura!


Since the changes of Google and SEO I am so happy! Before it was a bombarded SEO nighmare. Now, using SEO wisely, we can climb to the top of search engines.


I have heard so many different ways to optimize SEO. But here, you make it simple and ethical to do. I must say that I've been using my own pictures because of all the trouble it is causing on even purchasing photos. Law suits everywhere here in the US.



But I do put my description in the alt text and have found it on Google Images. Go figure???



Bottom line, this is the BEST information on SEO and I will spread the word.


-Donna

Bren Lee said...

Woohoo!! SEO is something I'm still learning about. I feel like it's an ongoing process. You've explained the basics perfectly my friend. Gladly passing this one along. :)

Angela McCall said...

Hi Mayura,

Thanks for educating us. I'm not too gungho about SEOs. It's something I have to force myself to learn. 20 years ago when I used to build websites, we never have to worry about SEOs. But things has changed tremendously. I think I'm okay with my headers, permalinks, alt (photo description). 99% of the time, what I have on my heading is the same one I have on my permalink; sometime I will customize it but not often.

Majority of my traffic are referral and so who cares about SEOs. But guess that's how others find your information. Right? And so this is something we have to do whether we liked it or not. But honestly speaking I don't care about SEOs since Google keeps changing their algorithm. What's good today may not be good tomorrow.

…but you know this post is GREAT for newbies!!! very good post. :)

Angela

Viola Tam said...

Hi Mayura,


Although I am not doing much about SEO, I can grasp how much useful tips you are sharing here!! Since the technology side is often so confusing to people like me, I trust that you are giving your readers a great platform to learn more!


keep up the good work, Mayura!


Viola Tam - The Business Mum

annstaub said...

I am going to check out your tutorial on how to customize the page title. It has been bugging me for some time that my blog title shows up before the post title. I know it's better if it doesn't just like you mention, but never knew how to fix it with Blogger. Thanks!

Sue Price said...

Hi Mayura


I do the basics. I did a course with Rob Fore and have another one of his I am part way through. It is not rocket science but there are times when I am in a hurry and I miss things.



I have SEO pressor on my blog and it at least reminds we when I have missed something completely.


I do not want to be obsessed by it but we all want to have our blogs found.



I love how you explain things and this is another great post by you.

I hope you are having a good week,

Sue

Sue Neal said...

Hi Mayura - congratulations on providing another lovely clear tutorial. I think I've got all these basics covered. I was really confused about SEO until I got a paid plugin, PushButton SEO, and the training that went along with that helped me a lot. I love the way you've explained the difference between all the different titles etc. - very helpful.

Thank you, teacher :)

Sue

Arleen Harry said...

I have spent years optimizing my website. It is a good idea to see why your competition is ranking higher than you. I am not saying to copy anything, but get an understanding. Content is king and always will be. All the other things are garnish.As far as doing the SEO for the blog site, I actually hired someone from blog group. Your information is very helpful. You are one to follow. You are doing a great job and know your stuff as your Alexa Traffic Rank:

66,919.

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Harleena,

Sorry for keep you waiting for the reply dear.

Ha ha... Yeah, with those latest algorithm changes, I've got some head spinning readers asking is SEO dead for bloggers. Indeed, there are lot of posts talking about SEO, but some stuff are not really works for everyone Harleena. Gotta be careful about what we follow :)

I believe it's Google's effort to offer better results for searchers. But there are portion of users who were being affected though they were following the correct guidelines. I've been affected lately too, but recovering. Didn't make any changes either :)

You are right. Social Media taking over SEO. I think it's visible for many bloggers too. However we can ignore search engines either. I had no doubt you almost knew the basics Harleena :) You balance 'em well in your posts and never feel keywords are all over. Now that's a smart move :)

Thanks for coming by and adding more value to the topic through your thoughts and knowledge dear :)

Enjoy the rest of your week too Harleena :)


Cheers...

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Lisa,



As I've covered basics for Blogger platform, thought of linking 'em in this post dear :) I'm glad you found helpful too.

Hopefully you will apply them in your future posts in Blogger. Blogger improved lately in terms of SEO, isn't it? :)

Of course, if you got any questions, bring 'em in :)

Thanks for coming over and contributing your thoughts into the discussion Lisa :)


Enjoy the rest of your week too dear :)


Cheers...

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Reginald,

Ha ha... I'm just covering the basics ;) Thanks for your kind words mate.

I know most of bloggers I've come across, including you, knew about 'em. But hope it will be a good start for those who wanna learn 'em and apply correctly mate. You know, SEO can be a madness ;)

I'm glad you enjoyed it and of course, I have few more in mind mate :)

Thanks for coming over and sharing your thoughts on this topic Reginald :)


Cheers...

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Donna,

Ha ha... Happy dancing, eh? ;) I'm really glad to hear you are using SEO techniques wisely and now it's time to accept again that you are fond of tech too.

There are so many ways to accomplish SEO effectiveness and some posts / articles online are amazing indeed! Well, I thought of addressing basics here.

I agree Donna. Using our own images can save us :) Well, eventhough you don't add descriptions, yet search engines index them. If you don't wanna show 'em elsewhere but in your blog, then you gotta block them from search engine bots.

Thanks for coming over and adding your opinions on SEOing Donna :)

Cheers...

Mayura De Silva said...

Hey Bren,


I'm sure you will master it dear :) You will know it better, when you know why you need to do 'em all.

Yeah, as the search algorithms change, there will be changes to some SEO factors :) But basics will be the same. Applying SEO suggestions blindly can cost you more than you think. So, it's always best to know what we gonna apply on our blogs :)

Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts on SEO Brenda :)


Cheers...

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Angela,

Well, SEO is something that bloggers tend to obsess with. Obsession is alright, but too much? Ugh... That's gonna kill the purpose of blogging.

Absolutely! SEO comes into play with the evolution of search engines :) You know, like Facebook. No one knew it was coming. As search engines drive us traffic, we can take the opportunity too. However social media is doing even better now.

You got it right :) Referrals are people who come across our links. But for other needy folks, search engines gonna help out. That's where we can count on SEO :) It doesn't hurt, right?

Well, I'd say hate Google for changing stuff, not SEO :D lol... If you look closer, you will find there are techniques that won't change over time. Like basics. I'm just keeping up with them and never made changes just because of recent Google updates. If we do things right, Google won't bother us at all :)

Thanks for coming by and contributing your thoughts and experiences on SEOing Angela :)


Cheers...

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Viola,


Nice to see you back dear :)

I thought of readers who believe they are not so techy when writing this one Viola :) Basics are yet too simple, isn't it? Even advanced techniques are based on basics, so you will find it's much easier to grasp when you know basics well.

Thanks for coming over and adding your thoughts into the discussion Viola :)

Cheers...

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Ann,

Ah... I'm glad to help you with that post. It's not hard enough to do dear :)


You need to decide how your page titles to be rendered while maximizing SEO effectiveness. Then you are good to go and hopefully needy searchers will find your posts via search :)


Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts on customizing page title :)

Cheers...

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Sue,

Now you're doing it right then :) Basics need to be addressed before you delve into advanced techniques and basics alone can help your content too.

I often find bloggers who trying to apply everything they find about SEO, but I see you are patient with it and decided to learn more about it through courses. Nice move :)

Yeah, plugins can be helpful with reminders :) I'm glad you got the right plugin for you. Well, glad you enjoyed the basics pointed out here too :)


Thanks for coming by and adding your thoughts on SEOing Sue :)

Now enjoy rest of your week dear :)

Cheers...

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Sue,

Ha ha... You're welcome student ;)


In this week, you defined clarity is the secret of blogging, nah? Well, I gotta come over there to read the whole story. I'm glad you found clarity in this post Sue :)

Ah... That's GREAT! Isn't is wonderful to know how many different ways are there to learn about the same topic? I'm glad to hear that plugin helped you on that, and here we are knows about basics after all.

Thanks for stopping by and contributing your thoughts and experiences regarding SEOing Sue :)


Cheers...

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Arleen,

Yeah, I get it dear :) It's not copying but learning about how to do well in the competition.

The thing is we need to know what we are doing and if it's appropriate to our blogs :) I've come across bloggers who follow the techniques just because it says it will give them results. Then they realize all they were doing was SEOing but not generating quality content.

Hiring someone knows the stuff is a good idea if you don't wanna spend more time wasting on it :) But as a blogger, knowing the basics can help along the way too Arleen.

Aha... So you had a look at Alexa rank too :) Well, I'm just following the basics.

Thanks for coming by and adding your thoughts and experiences on SEOing into the discussion dear :)


Cheers...

Corina Ramos said...

Hello Mayura,


Sorry it's taken me all week to finally come for a visit!



You definitely got the basic of SEO down for blogger Mayura! I'm sure Blogger bloggers will thank you (did that make sense?)


I'm using YOAST for SEO on my WP blog and I love it because it tells me what items are missing. I go in, make the change and it'll give me a green light if I have all the components on there.


Thanks for taking time to put this together for us! Have a wonderful day and a great weekend my friend!

Kalina Slavkova said...

Hey Mayura! This post was really helpful for a beginner like me. Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to your future content!

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Corina,


No problem at all dear :) I know what you mean as we gotta deal with other activities.

Yeah, that makes sense :) Well, it's common for blogger blogging on every platform but I've listed specific links for Blogger users too.

Yoast has been a popular plugin and I like how it works too Corina :) Get updated frequently with new updates. However needs to be careful when using some options :) As you have it installed, you don't need to worry much about site-wide SEO.

Thanks for coming over to contribute your thoughts and experiences on SEOing Corina :)


You have a wonderful weekend there!

Cheers...

Mayura De Silva said...

Hey Kalina,


I hope it's not confusing and glad to hear you have enjoyed it dear :) Well, now that's something you need to grasp and follow when blogging as it would help search engines to deliver interested people to your blog.

Thanks for coming by and adding your thoughts on the post Kalina :)

Cheers...

TheSneakerStop . said...

Nice post. I just started to look around your blog and wanted to ask you a question that isn't related to this post. Sometimes when I view my blog, a blank white/black background appears, but then when I refresh, it goes back to normal. Do you know a solution for this? I've tried contacting blogger and all they said was to try and limit the gadgets that I have because I have dynamic view, but that still doesn't work. This problem goes on and off constantly and would like to know a solution.
Thanks

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Mate,

I'd appreciate if you have used Support section as it's dedicated for non-related questions :)

Anyway I've been seeing a sudden transparent background with small black / white boxes all over lately here when loading my blog too. But occurs only on Google Chrome. So thought either Blogger or Chrome team might have been updating their source code lately, which we have no control over it.

However I've just stop by your blog and I haven't seen such a background :) You can just try uploading your background image again. But I think this is out of our scope, so hopefully it will be fixed sooner.

Cheers...

Dan Black said...

These are some great basics. I'm a beginner when it comes to adapting SEO into my content. I need to make more of a point to learn how to capitalize on SEO. Thanks for this post.

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Dan,


Basics can be applied everywhere and they don't get changed overtime mate. Even if you don't care SEO, having basics implemented will help you immensely to drive traffic through search engine. You won't have to make any big changes to blogging either :)

Personally, I'm following the basics and not obsessed about each and every change expected by Google or someone else ;) We are not blogging to impress Google or search engines. Are we? ;)


Thanks for coming over and adding your thoughts into the discussion Dan :) Hope you will get most out of basics mate.

Cheers...

Dan Black said...

That's great to know man. I guess I need to have a strong knowledge of the basics and apply them even more. Thanks for such a great post!

Mayura De Silva said...

That's the tricky part Dan :) If you master basics and apply correctly, no one can stop you from getting traffic. Plus, will save more of your precious time too.


Cheers...

Ashley Faulkes said...

Wow Mayura, this is an awesome post on the fundamentals. I think I have shared this last week via Triberr, but now after reading it completely I think I gotta share it again!! Great work and great reference. Keep it up

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Ashley,


I'm glad you enjoyed the post mate :) Getting basics right here.

I think some bloggers missing the point without knowing the basics and follow practices without a proper lead. I think that's where the unnecessary obsession comes up :)

Thanks for coming over and contributing your thoughts on the post Ashley :)

Cheers...