Say what you might about the New SCN, one thing that's for sure is that the new blogging tools and hosting has taken the community to a new level. SCN blogs are now getting indexed by external search engines so that they now appear in search results and the text editor is light years ahead of the old one. While getting into search results is one thing, getting to the top of those results is another.
With external search engines being a key source of site traffic, a higher search result ranking means more people will see your blogs and read them. Applying some basic principles of SEO (search engine optimization) will make you blogs easier to find and increase the chances of them appearing higher in search results.
I've broken this blog down into five parts that will guide you through the fundamentals of SEO for blogs on SCN.
It's for People, After All
Never forget this: you're writing for other people, not Google. Google wants to be the best search engine in the world and that means giving users great results they can use. To achieve this, Google is increasingly bringing human elements into its search algorithm. Frightening as this may sound, it was inevitable given the sheer volume of user activity now being shared online and Moore's law that lets Google do increasingly more with that information. Google's getting better at this and gone are the days where you can stuff a page full of keywords and link to it from all over and then see that page at the top of search results: Google's after quality pages and increasingly judging it based on human terms.
Choosing the Right Keywords
A keyword can be a single word or a combination of two or more terms. Getting a high rank for a keyword is easy when no one is looking for that keyword so you have to anticipate what keywords your audience will be looking.
Google's keyword tool provides you with keyword search statistics and synonym suggestions absolutely free. This is your playground to test keywords and their variations to make sure they're what people are searching for. It can also be used to validate that Google has made the association between keywords and their various abbreviations, acronyms and synonyms.
I have to admit that keyword selection for SCN blogs will mostly be a no-brainer because you'll mostly be writing about specific topics or products and Google has already established the connection between their spelling variations. Still, this is a handy tool for when you're not sure.
Strategic Keyword Placement
Keywords are what people search for and a search engines job is to match those queried keywords to a webpage. To help this process along, it's important to place keywords in highly visible, or weighted, positions: placing a keyword in the URL or title is more valuable than when it appears in the body text. This makes sense after all: if you put a keyword in the URL or title, I guess that means you're blog is going to be about that!
Put extra attention when you compose the title of your blog: on SCN, the blog URL is generated from the title (they're the same). Additional keywords should appear in headings within the body text, formatted as headers. Don't forget some often missed opportunities like the file name fore an image you're embedding and adding tags to your blog (under Properties below the text editor). Finally, don't overdo it: just add the keywords where it makes sense and don't go overboard!
There are parts to this: you're writing and its formatting.
Writing & Composition
As I said earlier, you're writing for people: your audience wants to see fresh ideas, new insights and unique content that they can enjoy reading. Don't write for the sake of writing: write because you have a unique personal experience you want to share or have something valuable to bring to the community. And don't forget to inspire your readers: there's nothing like a great conversation happening at the bottom of a blog post!
Here are some basics:
- Compose an attractive title that encourages people to click it from search results
- Start with a brief introduction about what the blog is about
- Separate main ideas with descriptive headers that contain additional keywords
- Add links to other places and compose the linked text carefully (i.e. don't use Click Here)
- This will also save you from having to re-hash something already explained elsewhere
- Conclude with some final thoughts and a call to action
- Proofread and use the spell checker
Use correct formatting to make the text attractive to readers and ensure that search engine crawlers read the text for what it is: headers (<h2>), paragraph text (<p>), and so on. Use the native formatting to avoid visual noise and clashing with other site content. I've already dedicated a blog to this where you can read more: SEO: The Devil is in the Detail
Generating Inbound Links
Sharing on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or wherever you hang out online also brings traffic to your blog. When other readers like, +1 or re-tweet, it provides search engines with quality signals about what people like and having your blog at the center of a trend will help boost its search rankings. At the same time, don't forget that no one wants to share boring or re-hashed information with their peers: they're looking for blogs that brings value to their lives, working or otherwise.
Truthfully, there's no magical formula for getting to the top of search results. Google is in the business of providing its users with what they are looking for and your efforts should be concentrated on providing just that: fresh, original ideas that appeal to the SCN community. Just don't forget to dot the "i"s and cross your "t"s in the process.