This is third in the
five-part series on SEO. The first post contained tips for making a blog popular with ethical SEO practices. The second one gave do’s and don’ts based on the SEO advice given by Google. In the present post we discuss in
detail two important aspects of SEO: naming and keywords. The next post will discuss two other aspects, and the last one will simplify some ethical technical tweaks that lead to better search
Give the blog a sensible, valuable name
Sensible= what makes sense to humans; valuable= what gives value.
Choose the name of your blog with care. Give it a URL [=site address that is typed on the browser to enter the blog] that makes sense and also directly relates the blog with your name / passion / product. The URL should also be easy to recall and type. It should not be too broad either [e.g. ‘poetry.com’]; such URLs are difficult to get and unless you are highly popular, you will seldom get search listing if people search for generic keywords such as ‘blogging’, ‘medicine’ and ‘poetry’.
Look at these hypothetical URLs:
http://pravizz67.blogpot.com [Good if it is a personal blog of Mr. Pravizz. He did not get the URL of his name so he added his year of birth, i.e. 67.]
http://ketpieandpotts.com [Good for a blog selling katpie and potts]
http://mylifeandtimes.blogpot.bz [Sounds good but does not relate with the blogger or his work]
http://mars2008.wordpres.com [Good as it is on mars mission 2008, but it would be bad if were Mr. Pravizz’s poetry blog]
http://traveldiariesofpravizz.blogpot.udn [Good as it relates with the subject - travel -and also the blogger - Pravizz.]
http://Purdilium–voices.com [Good as the blog is on a book titled ‘Purdilium Voices’]
http://heart-paint.tunblr.co [Good as it is on a paint called ‘heart paint’, but it would be bad if it were on heart diseases, or if Mr. Pravizz gave this name to his heart-rending poetry blog.]
http://pra-vi-zz.com [Not good even for Mr. Pravizz.]
Two other identities that instantly link visitors and search engines with the blog:
One, its title. The blog title is not URL but the title that you give to it. To see the title of IndianTopBlogs, type indiantopblogs.com on the browser or click on this link, and look at the top left of your browser. Depending on the browser, you will find the following phrase either on the tab or top bar of the browser: Best- also popular- Indian blogs; blogging advice; blog reviews. This is the title of ITB website. Notice how relevant this title is to the content of ITB.
We admit that it is a slightly complex and long title, and advise that you try to give a simpler and shorter – but relevant - title to your blog.
Second is the description. It can be slightly longer. It should explain the essence of the blog in slightly different words than the title. Can you check the description of ITB? Type Indian top blogs on the search bar of the browser and you will get ITB as one of the results. See what is written under the URL and you are likely to find this: Great blogging tips. Best Indian Blogs Directory. Top Indian blogs ranked for quality.Indian blogosphere and websites researched. Beautiful blog showcase. This is the description of ITB.
Please don’t play with the blog title once you have fixed it, unless you completely change the theme of the blog. In the case of description, you can be slightly more liberal, but only slightly.
Naming is a fine art, with sprinkling of the knowledge of brand-building. If some of today’s great brands such as Microsoft, General Electric and Wall Street Journal have names resonating with their profession, there are many others with quirky names such as Yahoo!, Google and Apple. The latter category succeeded and converted their alien-looking names [which in normal situations, would be a handicap] into powerful brands because of their pioneering product [e.g. email, search, superb engineering] coupled with commitment, leadership and financial muscle]. But why start with a handicap? Why not give the blog a name that speaks for the blog / blogger?
Give fine headings to blog posts
Give the post a heading that serves one or more of these purposes: summarises the post / introduces the subject / poses questions regarding the topic / offers help or solution to the reader / prompts the reader to read the post / breaks news / provokes. The heading should lead the reader to the body of the post.
In addition, give sub-headings when introducing a new thought or product within the post. Like heading, the sub-heading(s) should also serve the purpose of guiding the reader further.
Give sensible and relevant captions to images so that the reader relates an image with the written content the way you want him to.
Use effective keywords to guide the visitor and the search engine
Keywords are guideposts within the text content: on one hand they keep the reader focused on the topic and on the other they guide the web searcher to the content he’s looking for. For example, if your blog is on economy, it will have words such as GDP, inflation, stock exchange, budget, balance sheet and forex naturally in URL, title, description, headings and sub-headings, widget headings and the body of posts. If a search is made on one of these words [=keyword], the search engine will put your blog on the first page or the 11000th page depending on how important and relevant your blog looks to it in relation to that keyword.
Keywords that are generic in nature and have a broad appeal [e.g. industry] produce millions of results when someone searches for them, and it is impossible for most blogs and websites to come up in the first few search pages. Searchers too do not usually get the information they look for. Therefore, searchers generally use multiple-word expressions to narrow the search and often change the expression completely midway [e.g. industry > film industry > Hollywood > Hollywood trends > Hollywood earning trends > Hollywood earning trends 2012]. The beauty of the modern search engines is that they can relate a number of similar expressions to the searcher’s requirement. It is possible that your blog comes in the first page for a keyword that is not there at all on the blog but the search engines finds value in your blog in relation to that keyword!
If you care for long-term value of your blog, you’d always think of great content, and if you want that content to reach people looking for it, you must use keywords effectively.
Using keywords effectively is no big task, and hardly any blogger needs the services of SEO experts to do keyword tweaking for them. Take these steps and you will find a sustained rise in popularity of your blog:
- Having decided the theme of the blog and the topics you would be covering, write down who your target audience are / will be.
- Write as many single and multiple-word expressions on which people [out of the target audience] are likely to search the web. Don’t worry if many expressions are just synonyms of one another. List them according to their relevance to your theme and importance. Keep only about a dozen top expressions. Retain a mix of single-word, two-word and multiple-word expressions.
- Look at the blog’s URL, title and description. Check whether you can use some of these expressions.
- Look at the headings and sub-heading of the posts you have already written. Check whether one or more of these expressions find a place there. If not, see how you could introduce these keywords without in any way diluting the quality of the content.
- Look at the body of individual posts. Repeat what has been said above for headings.
- Have you put categories and tags / labels with these expressions? Can you choose some of these expressions to bunch a number of posts and put them at the end of posts with the caption ‘You may also like to see…’?
- Can some of these expressions, if used as widget titles, add value by way of cross-referencing, highlighting an aspect, etc?
- Look at the images and videos, tables and other visual elements. Have you put these expressions in the caption and description of these elements?
There are many other ways of putting keywords on a webpage, some relating to html. [We’ll talk about some of these in the last post of this series.]
What is said above should not lead you to believe that keywords are more important than the content. Nor should you feel that keywords are natural in all types of content [e.g. Will you write a poem with keywords in mind?] If you get obsessed with keywords, you are likely to mar the quality of content, suffer bad reputation, put off visitors and be penalized by search engines.
Let’s take you to a hypothetical example in which a keyword has been stuffed here and there. Suppose we create a blog with the URL http://GDP-GDP-GDP-GDP.com and give it the title GDP, GDP, GDP. Let’s also give a lengthy description to it in which we use GDP ten times. Let the blog have ten posts, each with heading in which GDP comes twice and body text in which GDP comes thirty times. Let’s also make sure that the expression GDP comes in the text repeatedly irrespective of whether its placement looks natural and deserving when we read the posts. Will the blog come on top of page 1 of Google when somebody searches for GDP? Chances are that it will come on one of the search pages in a few days but soon it will disappear as the search engine will have penalized it for ‘keyword stuffing’.
That takes us to this question: How many and what type of keywords should you put on the blog and not be penalised? Well, the general answer would be that you should put a variety of keywords and not repeat the same expression again and again. In addition, you should use keywords only in a natural way, especially in the body of posts. The desirable number of iterations of an expression per 100 words would depend on the subject and its treatment in your blog. [For example, in this post, the word ‘blog’ has come a hundred times without it sounding unnatural, and if we replaced ‘blog’ with ‘website’ etc, we’d be confusing the reader rather than helping him.] Generally speaking, major single-word and two-word expressions should not be more than 2-3% of all words. Like in all other aspects, ITB’s guiding principle would be to ask whether you’re doing so in an ethical and natural way.