Web content creation and search engine optimization go hand in hand. You have great writing skills, but still wondering why your content is not getting higher ranks in SERP's? Maybe you are not paying attention to some basic SEO techniques that can help your blog posts achieve good ranks in relevant search results. Let's see some basic SEO tweaks, that are easy to implement and can do wonders in optimizing your blog's content for search engines.
Use Dashes Instead Of Underscores
If is often debated whether we should use dashes or underscores in the url. Everyone has it's own opinion and generally people end the debate by saying "It's a matter of personal preference, both do well". Well, here's what Matt Cutts has to say about it...
So if you have a url like word1_word2, Google will only return that page if the user searches for word1_word2 (which almost never happens). If you have a url like word1-word2, that page can be returned for the searches word1, word2, and even “word1 word2″. That’s why I would always choose dashes instead of underscores. To answer a common question, Google doesn’t algorithmically penalize for dashes in the url. Of course I can only speak for Google, not other search engines.
We can see, he clearly states the advantage of using dashes over underscores. This fact is further supported by the default url structure in Wordpress, Blogger and all other major blogging platforms. All of them automatically use dashes instead of underscores.
Optimizing Pics (SEO Friendly Images)
Use of illustrations in blog posts is quite common, and almost all of us use them every now and then to make the posts more sticky and readable. If we are using images in our posts, we must also know how to make them SEO friendly to get extra traffic from search engines. If optimized correctly, we can get very good traffic through 'Google Image Search'. To clearly understand this optimization process, lets take the example of an image shown below.
1. Naming Files Correctly
Choosing a file name that correctly describes the context of the image makes it easy for the indexing bots to categorize it in a better way. Wrong way to name the above image is IMG02056.jpg.
How about ball.jpg?
Hey, that's obvious buddy.
What if we name it blue-ball?
And how about plastic-blue-ball?
Hah, that's excellent...
2. Descriptive <alt> Tag
Let's take a look at the HTML code, that we use in embedding the images in blog posts.
i) Bad Approach
ii) Better Way
<img src=/images/blue-ball.jpg" alt="Blue ball"/>
iii) Best Way
<img src=/images/plastic-blue-ball.jpg" alt="An air filled plastic blue ball"/>
Note the descriptive alt tag, that will help in better categorization of the image while indexing will be done by various search engine bots. This will increase the chances of this image being shown in relevant image search.
Wrapping Contextual Text Around The Image
Make sure you embed the image right in the middle of the related content, with relevant titles and descriptive text. This will further help the bots to better categorize and index the image.
Smart Anchor Text
Linking out to resources and information is an essential ingredient of any blog post. Whether we are linking to any external blog/website or doing cross-linking (internal linking) of posts, choosing a proper anchor text increases the relevance of the content to which it is referring. Proper anchor text helps in achieving better ranking in SERP's and is one of the most important part of on-page optimization process. Here is an example that shows proper implementation of anchor texts.
First take a look at this example with poor anchor text as well as redundant text.
Blogger has introduced a blog exporting feature to easily export a blogger blog with minimum efforts. To know more about it click here.
Now the same paragraph revised with optimized anchor text and stripped redundant text.
Blogger has introduced a new blog exporting feature to easily export a blog with minimum efforts.
In the first example, not only text is redundant, but the phrase that we have selected for the anchor text has no relevance to the post to which it is referring. On the other hand, in the second example we have stripped off the redundant text and have chosen a relevant phrase that accurately define the content of the page to which it is going to refer.
Optimized Permalink Structure
An optimized permalink format helps in boosting the rank of your posts in search results. Blogger does not allow manual modification of permalink structure, but it has fairly good automated permalink generation system.
On the other hand, Wordpress allows you to modify the permalink structure as per your needs. Not only we can create a global permalink structure, but can also edit the permalink at the post level. By default, Wordpress has a cryptic permalink structure such as http://www.yourblog.com/?p=123. Here post id is included in the URL, giving no indication about the content of the post.
The permalink structure should be such that robots can easily identify the content through it. To change your Wordpress blog permalink structure go to 'Settings -> Permalinks' and click the 'Custom Structure' option.
Fill the following structure tag in the text box to create most search engine friendly URL:
After completing this setting, the permalink structure will be something like http://www.yourblog.com/seo-tips-for-bloggers, which clearly tells the robots about the content that is associated with this URL.
Create XML Sitemap and robots.txt
Create a robot.txt file to prevent robots crawling useless or duplicate content. You can create this file in a simple text editor and saving it as robots.txt.
Here is a typical robots.txt file with some common entries that indicate those paths that should not be crawled by bots.
After creating this file, upload it at the root of your blog's domain.
Creating a sitemap ensures that robots can easily understand the structure of your blog and can easily crawl the content. There are many online sitemap generation services that can be used to generate the map. Wordpress bloggers can use the Google sitemap generator plugin to automate the sitemap creation process. After this plugin is installed, every time you will edit or post on your blog, this plugin will automatically update the sitemap.
Over To You
What other SEO tweaks you do on your blog? Does it include optimized meta tags, inter-linking of posts and keyword stuffing?