August 14, 2012

Blogging tips: ethical SEO

This is first of the five articles we plan on SEO. In this one, we give tips for making your blog popular without resorting to undesirable SEO practices. The next one will be on what Google advises regarding blog reputation and popularity. The third and fourth articles will expand on some of the best practices and the last post will simplify technical tweaks for those who dread terms like html, meta-data and alt-text.

Before starting the first post, let us take you to an earlier post. It gives a fair idea about what we mean by blog popularity.

Simple tips for optimising your blog for search engines

We present below tips that you often read on the web about how to give your blog a high placement on search engines. We've given our views - in italics - after each tip.
  • Give the blog a nice, specific name. Give it a good description. 
We fully agree with it; we’ll talk more about it in our third post in this series.
  • Have the blog on your own platform, not Wordpress or Blogger. 
Not necessarily. If you are a new blogger, you may like to mature your craft on these excellent platforms before going for an independent platform. However, we strongly recommend giving your blog an identity even if you are on free platforms.
  • Blog frequently. 
Yes; but a quality post once a week is better than copy-paste content seven days a week.
  • Comment on others’ blogs. 
Yes, but only if you feel like. Make your comments thoughtful. Just ‘Liked your post’ or ‘You look lovely’ look like spam. Scratching each other's backs often does not add value to the communication.
  • Write articles for e-zines and give your blog address there.
Do this only if you are itching to write a score of articles on the subject you know and have no better platform to publish them. Some search engines are reported to frown upon e-zines.
  • Write for blogs and websites that give a weekly or monthly challenge – and publish them on your blog. 
Fine only if it helps in honing your skills and inculcates discipline in you.Even then, write good stuff exclusively for your own blog.
  • Tell your friends and relatives about your blog. 
You must, if you want it to be popular. Why not ask them for their frank opinion on the quality of writing etc?
  • Email and use other methods of informing people that you wrote a new post. 
Yes, but don’t pester them.
  • Ping your posts to pinging services. 
Yes if you have a new blog; later on, it might turn out counter-productive as automated submissions are taken as spam by some directories.
  • Be present on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter and announce your blog and updates there. 
Why not? Blogs and social networking sites complement each other well.
  • Conclude the post by posing a question. Don’t write a full post but leave something for imagination. 
Be natural.
  • Give sub-headings; have images and give them good attributes; put many keywords in the top portion of a post...
There are many small points relating to showing up relevant keywords about your blog to search engines. You should use them but these should not come at the cost of natural flair of the writing. Don't stuff keywords. We'd talk about these aspects in detail in the next and third posts in this series and also while talking about sprucing up text content, in a later post.
  • Provide many links to your own other posts and pages. Go for 'nofollow' for external links.
 Linking to your related content should be done so that visitors get to visit that, not just for SEO. External links to good sites should also be done with visitors in mind. rel="nofollow" is an attribute associated with a link. When you write this text after a link in the html, the link is not associated with your site. Don't bother about it. Just take care not to give link to 'bad' websites / blogs.
  •  Use good 'anchor' text while giving a link.
Very good point. The words that link to an internal or external content should be relevant and should make sense to the reader. We'll talk more about it in the third post in this series.
  • Put lots of social media links on the blog. 
Not ‘lots of’.
  • Submit your blog to blog directories. 
Yes, to quality directories [e.g. Technorati, Dmoz] only.
  • Submit your posts to social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon. 
Yes.
  • Join forums on the subject of your blog. 
Yes, if you have genuine inclination and time.
  • Have your blog on a blogging community. 
You can have your blog in such a community. It gives you lots of visitors. But then you are tied down to it. 
  • Use link-farms – sites that get you links and visitors if you visit them and promote other blogs.
Avoid them.
  • Place advertisements on sites guaranteeing promotion. 
Bloggers have often been fooled with such guarantees. Check facts if you itch to do so.
  • Have a poll. Give away ebooks. Have pop-ups that suggest people to follow you. 
No pop-ups or other irritating gimmicks. If you can offer something genuinely, offer that. If you want people to buy something, ask them straight [of course, you should apply genuine promotional tricks-of-the-trade] and not leave them feeling cheated.
  • Give tips, and title them in numbers and hyperboles such as '5 apps that make you rich overnight'. 
Give tips only if you are an expert. Too much and repeated exaggeration and false promises hurt badly in the long run: you can't fool all the people all the time.
  • Use SEO. Put proper keywords in posts and title, place meta tags, give links, etc. 
Go for genuine,  ethical, SEO. Our next three posts are going to be on this aspect.
  • Engage an SEO expert if you want to succeed as a blogger.
That depends on your goal. Genuine SEO definitely makes the blog popular and attracts target-audience to teh blog. Beware of fake SEO experts.
  • Have quality content; keep the visitor uppermost in your mind.
We have placed it last, but it is the most importance advice that one can give to a blogger. We have dealt with it in great details in these posts: 
Blog content: quality of writing matters a lot
How to write dazzling blog posts 

 
Articles in this series:

Blogging tips on ethical SEO (present one)

What search engines love and what they hate

Use strong name n keywords to guide visitors, search engines to your blog

Use links and backlinks for blog value and SEO

Search engine optimisation for blogs: html tweaking needed?