Blogs unto themselves are very powerful tools for your website when it comes to your SEO efforts; whether your blog is a part of your website or stands independently. Search engines love new, relevant content which a blog will always give you lots of…if it’s used correctly and frequently. There are basics of blog seo that most blogging softwares inherently provide which make a blog a great SEO asset:
• Generally, a very clean and crawlable code structure
• The capability to generate unique meta data for each of your pages or posts. Many also provide you with automatically generated meta data (which I recommend against), BUT this will provide you with generally unique meta content.
• The availability of additional plug-ins for your software which extend the software’s capabilities. These include advanced SEO plugins, tag clouds, custom menus for adjusting link structure, etc.
• Categories and Archives to sort and organize your posts
• Comments and “Ping Backs” which add even more new content to your posts, with little effort on your part. These comments and ping backs, when used properly, provide you outbound links to other relevant sites as well as usually providing some inbound links to you from other relevant sources.
• Bunches of other stuff, but you get the point…
All said? Blogs and Blog SEO are all good!
Dwight and I recently attended PubCon in Vegas. PubCon is a conference for web masters with a particular emphasis put on SEO. The entire experience and trip was great! I got Dwight to fall in love with craps, he taught me about Caribbean Stud Poker and it was my first trip to Vegas. But most importantly I learned a lot about SEO and got to interact with some other very smart industry folks.
One of the best things about doing a conference like PubCon is that I learned a lot of new things, re-learned a bunch of old things and remembered a lot of things that I didn’t know I had forgotten. Taking new information, old information, and forgotten information and connecting all the dots is a pretty cool experience too.
One of the “Duh! I’m an idiot” moments happened when I sat in on a couple of sessions about Blog SEO and I would like to share some of the finer points or my revelation with all of you. I’m going to assume that you have a basic understanding of SEO practices and if you’re confused, you can read some other posts in our blog or check out some other resources to get up to speed.
Biggest Blog SEO Mistakes
There are a lot of SEO mistakes that you can make, but these are just big silly ones that most people never think of. I’m even guilty on some of my personal blogs. I’ll try to cover the top five blog SEO mistakes that you’re probably making on your blog and try to write another post about another five mistakes as soon as I can. If you want us to evaluate your blog’s SEO or want to learn more about what you might be doing wrong, please contact us.
Automatically Generated Meta Data
Remember up above I said that most blog software automatically generates meta data for you (but I recommend against it), this is one that I am certainly not guilty of. Never allow a computer to make your decisions for you. A blog is not going to write optimal titles, keywords and descriptions for your blog posts or pages.
Concentration on keywords in your title and description will never be done by your blog software with as much love and consideration as you can give it. You know what your post is about and you should know what you’re trying to rank for. Taking an extra couple of minutes to think about your pages content and what you want to rank for and then inserting those keywords into a well thought out title and description will always be worth the time. We recommend WordPress blogs to our clients and WordPress has a couple of great plugins that you can use to accomplish this custom meta. My favorite plugin for this on WordPress is the All in One SEO Pack.
Having Multiple Homepages
There are many pieces to SEO that “new media” advertising agencies and crayola toting web designers don’t know. But they love telling their clients about “SEO” don’t they?!?! This is one of them.
All websites, directories, pages, blogs, posts, etc. have multiple addresses. Usually four addresses each. Zuh? What does that mean? Let me break this down. The domain for our website is tmprod.com and it has four different addresses for our homepage. They are:
The file is the same; index.php which sits in our root directory of our website. Because it’s called index and is located in the root of our website, this indicates that it is the homepage of the website. But how are those four addresses different?
Two of them include the www Cname, which is technically like a subdomain of our website. It specifies that the site is on the world wide web (that’s what www stands for). Other cNames could be things like mail.tmprod.com, ftp.tmprod.com, webmail.tmprod.com. Each of these is different than the rest and serves a different purpose. In fact, each of them is a different “website”. Typically, when a domain is setup like tmprod.com, it is setup to point to the same IP as the www. prefix. BUT, they are in fact two different domains.
Two of these addresses also contain the file name, index.php. Google and other search engines will look at https://www.tmprod.com/ and https://www.tmprod.com/index.php as two different pages. Even though the file is in fact the same. If you go to https://www.tmprod.com/ it will load the index.php (homepage) into your browser. But the address doesn’t specify it.
Why is this bad? Mostly, because it creates duplicate content in the search engines. It looks like you have four different pages on your website saying the exact same thing and which have the exact same meta data. That’s BAD!
What’s the solution? Do a 301 redirect in your .htaccess file to control how your website and pages are served up. The correct address out of those four is, https://www.tmprod.com/index.php. It uses the www prefix and includes the page name. Make sure that all derivatives of your addresses point to the correct address and whenever you link to one of your pages, make sure that you use the correct format.
Posting in Multiple Categories
This is a point that is often overlooked by bloggers. We were even guilty of this at one point. When writing a blog post, sometimes it can very easily fit into more than one category of your blog.
While as an author and site owner you want to make sure that your masterpiece is categorized correctly and read by as many people as possible, this creates a pretty common SEO problem, duplicate content.
What is duplicate content? Duplicate content is when you have the same content and/or meta data on multiple pages of the internet. Sometimes duplicate content is the result of site scrapers (people who copy your content and post it on their own websites), sometimes it’s due to Black Hat SEOs who are trying (usually with a negative result) to get ranked for certain things, and sometimes it’s the result of an overzealous website owner or blogger.
Duplicate content under those first two situations usually results in all of those duplicate pages, OR all but one of those pages getting de-listed…meaning that it doesn’t show in the search results. There can also be severe penalties imposed by search engines in these situations.
But what about the third situation? When you’re an overzealous author or site owner? Google will not typically de-list you for duplicate internal content, meaning content that is the same within the same website. However, they will devalue most or all of your pages. Meaning that they won’t give them as much rank or authority as they could potentially have if they were a standalone page.
So here’s the problem and why it matters to your Blog’s SEO. If you write a blog post and place it in four different categories you are creating 7 duplicate pages on your blog.
• The post itself
• Each category page (four pages)
• The archive page for that month
• The homepage of your blog
When Google or another Search Engine sees that you have the same content listed multiple times it will de-value your pages or even worse, give the better rank to a page that you didn’t want the rank given to. Obviously you want the most rank on the blog post itself, not on a category or archive page for your blog post.
Use your categories wisely, in combination with rel=”nofollow” links and Optional Excerpts which are described below to help prevent these duplicate content problems.
Not Using Optional Excerpts
As I mentioned above, every time you publish a post on your blog, it creates duplicate content on other pages of your website. So let’s assume you did everything right and only posted in one category. You still have at least four pages that have the same content (post, category, home, archive).
Blog software, at least some of them like Word Press, allow you to create optional excerpts for your blog posts. This is basically a synopsis of the post, but in different words. You can then have unique content on your blog post itself and modify the category and archive pages (and home page if you chose to) to display the optional excerpt instead of the first XXX number of characters of your blog post.
As far as the homepage goes, you can use the first XXX characters of your blog post, or the optional excerpt, but my recommendation is not to use either. I prefer to have no blog post content on the homepage of my blog, instead just having a list of links to the newest 5 or 10 posts for each category (for site deep crawling) and some other relevant site content.
Our blog is guilty of committing this heinous Blog SEO sin! Our blog was built before I took this into consideration and one day I will go back and fix it. But retrospectively writing optional excerpts for 100+ blog posts and modifying our blog templates is going to take a little time.
If your blog is new, small or you have enough free time on your hands, I recommend that you plan and fix this wherever you can.
Not Using rel=”nofollow” Links
“nofollow” is an (x)html attribute value for the rel attribute (or simply put rel=”nofollow”) that can be applied to links on your website. It was designed by our buddy Matt Cutts at Google to help with search engine result quality and to help combat those pesky Black Hat SEOs. So what is a rel=”nofollow” and how can you use it to help your Blog SEO efforts?
A nofollow says do not crawl this page. What happens when a page is not crawled? It’s not indexed in the SERP. There are many pages throughout your site that should not be indexed. Why? Because they repetitiously display the same content and links that a lot of other pages do. Pages such as your archives and tag pages shouldn’t be crawled and indexed. Your posts are already crawled from the category pages, home pages, rss feed, etc. Using rel=”nofollow” on links your insignificant or repetitious pages helps you identify to the search engines what pages are important and which ones they should crawl and rank for their primary index.
The important pages of your blog are..the homepage, any other static page, category pages and obviously your blog posts themselves. So you want to utilize the rel=”nofollow” on any links that point to your your tag pages, your archive pages, etc. This way you can have a little more control over what pages of your website are getting ranked and indexed, and which ones are not.
Get the important ones to the top of the heap by using rel=”nofollow” in your blog SEO efforts!