Digital Marketing, Search Marketing Advice

7 SEO Principles Bloggers Must Remember

Writing solid content is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to marketing a successful blog. It’s important to advantage of search engines by building link equity, flattening your blog, and using other SEO tactics to make sure your content is getting the attention it deserves. These seven SEO tips can play a major role in pushing your blog up the search engine totem pole, allowing you to rank higher and therefore garner more visitors to your site.

1. Make sure your pages link to each other so your link equity is spread out

If you have a blog article with 100 backlinks and another page with 3, the page with 3 backlinks is going to have a much harder time ranking on Google, unless those backlinks happen to be cnn.com, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. However, if your page with 100 backlinks links to the less popular page, it will share link equity, thereby helping it to rank better. Re-linking all your articles to one another can be a tedious process, but fortunately WordPress has plugins for automated internal linking, such as “SEO Auto Links & Related Posts”. Check it out.

2. Flatten your blog

How information is organized into categories, pages, and subpages on a website, and how they link to each other is called site architecture or information architecture. Site architecture tends to fall into two modes: flat site architecture and deep site architecture. Deep sites tend to waste link equity, partly because the search engines see the higher level pages as more important.

The graphic below demonstrates a deep site, with four layers. Google is going to assume the category pages are the most important, because from the home page, Google’s webcrawlers will encounter the category pages first. If the majority of your content is 3 or more clicks away from your home page, the search engines will see these “lower” pages as less important, and may not even index them. The flatter your site structure is, the better its opportunity to rank well, and it will insure your pages remain in the search engine’s index to be found by searchers.

This site is deep, not flat.

3. Nofollow links to sites with which you don’t want/need to share link equity

Large sites like Wikipedia don’t really get much of a search engine ranking boost when you link to them, so you may as well save your precious link equity by using a nofollow link, which tells the search engines not to follow the link (and therefore not to transfer any of your link equity to that page).  Making a link nofollow is easy: you just add rel=”nofollow” inside that link’s HTML code, like this: <a href=”http://address.com” rel=”nofollow”>My Site</a>. If you’re using WordPress and would rather not deal with the code, check out the “Nofollow Link” plugin by Alex Jose, which makes the process a single button click.

4. Noindex pages that must be on your site, but do not need to rank

Most bloggers want their articles to rank on Google, as well as their home page (especially when searching for their name), but probably don’t need “About Me” or “Contact Me” to rank. If you have Terms of Service or Privacy Policy pages, you definitely don’t want them to rank. You should noindex them (which tells search engines not to include them at all). There are several ways to noindex a page:  modify your robots.txt file by adding Disallow: /example-directory/example-page.html, add  <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”> to the page header, or use a WordPress plugin. Search for “noindex” in the plugin directory. You also may want to noindex your archives (which is a mirror image of your blog if you are the sole author) because Google penalizes sites for too much duplicate content.

5. Delete old articles that don’t rank

If you have articles that are more than two years old, are seldom read, and have little link equity, delete them, unless you have some sort of sentimental attachment to them. In that case, noindex them so they don’t dilute the link equity of other, stronger articles.

6. Put your most valuable keyword as the beginning of your post title

The title tag is the most important on-page element to keyword optimize, so your post has the best chance of ranking for a given keyword if that keyword appears at the beginning of the title tag (often the post headline). Also make sure other posts linking to this post use this keyword as their link text (what SEOs call “anchor text”).

7. Kill your reciprocal links

Reciprocal links have zero net SEO value, because they return exactly as much link equity as they receive. If you have any, delete them unless they are there for goodwill’s sake. You could nofollow them, but then you’d be tricking the person you made the reciprocal link agreement with (which most people would agree is a “gray hat” move). Some of the best quality links you can get are run-of-site links like blogroll links (as long as the sites are relevant to your blog), so get those if you can.

For more information about setting up your site architecture, check out my article Plan Your Site So It Ranks Online [Marketing Consulting Series] at Digital Marketing Blog.

How many of these tactics are you using on your blog? (note from Jay: we’re doing 1, 2, 6 at Convince & Convert. We’re working on 5, and should tackle the rest, too).