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How to Rank Your Blog High in Search Engines

Every blogger dreams of getting a lot of targeted traffic from search engines. Because first of all – organic search traffic is absolutely FREE and secondly it gives the blogger a wider reach of audience. For instance, I’m from Malaysia but I believe a lot of you who are reading this are from different parts of the world. So a blogger doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to his own locality but with the help of Search engines his blog can reach out to the whole world.

Search Engine Optimization For Blogs

So Today I have decided to share some of the simple tips that anyone can implement in order to “Optimize” their blog and get good ranking in the search engines. Please note that this tutorial is not only limited to ‘blogs’ but any website that exists on the web. However the article has been written for bloggers in mind so some of the things may be a bit different for other types of sites.

Step 1: Know Your Self – Select a Niche – Set a Goal

The first step is to know yourself and your blog, so that you know exactly what you are writing about. Many bloggers just blog about their daily ramblings (like a personal diary). So if you are a blogger who only keeps your journal for your daily ramblings you are probably witting about – what you had for lunch, how much did your kitty ~poo~ today (jking) etc….

Is there anything wrong with that? Well absolutely not! Its your blog and you can write about anything you want. However the problem raises (especially among the asian bloggers) when it comes to “earning money from blog” or “getting international traffic”.

Unless you have a selected a “niche” (or many niches) that you are comfortable talking about, its very hard to attract traffic just by writing about ‘random’ stuffs.

For example – if you are a female blogger and you are particularly interested in fashion, your posts can be targeted for the fashion world. Your daily ramblings that you put up in your blog will then be more “fashion” related. E.g. new cloths you bought, picture of the latest shoe you saw in the mall etc. Similarly, if you are a car freak, your blog posts can be slightly partial about cars, racing, modifications, sound system and so on. A blogger can choose as many niches he/she wants like- politics, food, cooking, fashion, pets, lifestyle, dining, travel, technology etc.

So you should ask yourself, what are the topics that you are more comfortable to talk about? Whats Interests you? Once you have gotten that answer, slowly sail your blog to that direction.

No, You don’t need a new blog or a domain to do that. You can start writing ‘on your niche’ in your existing blog. And I’m not staying that because you choose fashion, you can’t write about “politics”. Remember, Its your blog so you are the Boss. You can write about absolutely anything you want. However if your writing has a particular focus, it would be easier for your readers to categorize your blog as a part of your respective niche. Even fashion and politics can be blended together if you are creative! (Think about it…)

So once you have selected your comfort zone, set a target for yourself. For example, how are you going to measure your success? It can be in terms of No. of visitors, No of RSS subscribers, Earnings from Blog etc.

Step 2: Optimize the Title of Your Blog Home Page

This is probably the most important “on-page optimization” factor that is the most easy to do. The title of your blog is what everyone sees on the top of their browser when they visit your blog. For search engines its the most important determining factor of what your blog is all about. So for instance, If your name is “John Doe” and you want everyone to find your blog when they search for your name in Google, you MUST put your name “John Doe” in your blog’s Title Tag. So You can perhaps format your title tag like – “John Doe’s Blog” or “John Doe – Recipe Blog” etc.

Bad Title Examples:

“My Daily Ramblings”
“My Blog”
“My Blah Blah”

Why are the above bad Titles? Because no one is actually going to search for “My Blog” in google. You should put something in your title that you think people will search for. Try to get some of the important keywords in your title, such as – your name, your blog’s name, keywords from your niche etc. So If my niche is digital cameras & photography, My title can be:

“John Doe: Digital Camera Review Blog”
“John Doe Digital Camera Blog”
“Digital Photography blog by John Doe”

……and other combinations that makes sense.

Step 3: Meta Tags Optimization

Even though not all meta tags are not as important as before, Meta Description tags are still very useful and a determining factor for increasing your chance of ranking in the search engines. So sometimes Title tags can’t do it alone, if you also optimize your Meta Descriptions tag, you have a higher chance of succeeeding.

A blog’s Meta description should contain a brief description of your blog focusing on the areas and niches that you often write about. This small piece of text can be considered as a selling snippet, if a reader finds it appealing he is likely to click and go inside your blog to find out more information. But if your Meta Description is too generic and isn’t written too well then there is a good chance that your blog will simply be ignored even though its probably ranking well in the search engine. Check out an example of a good meta description:

Example of a Good Meta Description

Now Why do I call the above a Good Example? Because:

  • The meta description is descriptive enough for a reader to know what to expect from the blog.
  • It contains important keywords – For instance, the name of the photographer is specified (e.g. Laura Novak), The type of photography is also described (e.g. Wedding & Portrait) and her locality is also specified (e.g. Wilmington, Delaware).
  • The meta description automatically appeals to someone who is looking for a wedding photographer in Wilmington. So If the searcher sees this result in the search engine.

Of course this description can be improved and further tweaked, but I guess you already got the general idea of having a good meta description.

Important things to include in your Meta Description:

  • Include your Selling Point– Tell your readers what they want to hear through your site’s Meta Description, and you will definitely get some advantage over others in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). For instance – if you blog about digital camera and photography then including a phrase like “Digital Camera Review & Advanced Photography tips” may result in more clicks and visitors because your description will exactly match the flavor of search performed by the user.
  • Keywords – Including some of your keywords (E.g. Wedding Photography, Photography Tips, Camera Review) will give you some advantage in Google’s relevancy algorithm.

Step 4: Structuring Your Content

Another important thing is to structure your content so that its becomes more readable. Important text should go in top and less important text should go in the bottom. Usage of Bold, Italic, Heading (h1 tags) is a must. If you properly structure your content, it will be more readable for your readers and it will also help the search engines to determine what is more important. For example, when you write a new post, always choose the Post title carefully. Whatever you choose as the title becomes the Header of the particular page and it appears in “big letters”.

So if your post heading reads “I am Bored…” and inside the post only the first two line is about ‘why you are bored’ and after that the whole post is about How to cook cheese macaroni…Its just not going to work! Ask yourself, How do you usually read a newspaper? Do you start reading from the left and read every single word? No – we usually “skim” a newspaper and we look at the heading and if the heading interests us, we read the news beneath the heading.

Blog kind of works in the same way, if you have a poor heading you can’t expect people to read the whole entry. Similarly a Search engine will not consider your Post very related to “cheese macaroni” unless your heading has the words inside. So a Post title “How to Cook Cheese Macaroni” is better compared to “I am Bored….”.

Things to Remember:

  • Always use short Post Titles. Think of something that people may use to search for that particular post and use it as your title.
  • Always Use Header Tags (h1, h2, h3) effectively. If you have a big article, break it down into different sections and give each section a sub-heading.
  • Use Bold, Italic where necessary. Its often good to highlight important words so that they are easily noticeable to your readers as well as to the search engines

Step 5: Image Optimization

No matter what type of blog you are running, You must use a lot of images! Human eyes love images and its often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Its actually true! If your blog has a lot of images, it would be a lot easier for you to engage your users. Moreover You can get additional traffic from Image search engines like (Google Images). When You are putting an image in your blog, you must optimize it for the search engines so that the search engine knows what the image says… (Search engines are dumb and so they can’t see inside images…yet).

Some Important Image Optimization Elements:

  • Alt text : ALT text or Alternate Text is the text to describe your image when your mouse moves over an image on your web page. The text should be meaningful but short. You can use your relevant keywords as ALT text. If your browser can’t display the image for some reason, the alt text is used in place of that particular image.
  • File name : always use meaningful file name for your images, use names like “apple-iphone-cover.jpg” instead of meaningless “DSC24045.jpg”. Keep image file name same or similar to the ALT text.
    Image Title : always use the title tag in images which will show the title as tool tip when a user moves his mouse over the image. Example of an image with title tag: [img src=”http://imagelocation.jpg” alt=”Image description” title=”Title of the Image”]
  • Image Linking : Whenever you want to link to your image, use the image keywords in your link text. Example: use “view an Apple iPhone”, instead of “Click here to view” as the anchor text.

Step 6: Keep your blog Up-to-Date

Search engines loves fresh, new content, so always feed them! Not only your blog will grow automatically if you always add something to it; search engines tend to come and spider your website more often if they always find something new. So you will have a higher chance of ranking high in the search engine if you keep on adding fresh, quality and unique content.

If you follow the 6 steps that I mentioned above, you blog will already be considered as one of the Search Engine Aware blogs. You will definitely see some improvements in your ranking as well as traffic.

Those of you who are using Blogger, Xanga, WordPress, Typepad and other blogging platforms and doesn’t know how to change “title” or meta description, I’ll definitely try to put up separate instruction guide for all of you. But there are hundreds of good resources already available on the internet, and you can simply do a Google search to find them =)

This guide is no way complete and its very basic as I have particularly wrote it for Newbie bloggers (especially those who have absolutely no idea about SEO). So if you run into any problem you are free to put your questions in the comments or you can always email me at – me[at]saadkamal.com.


48 Comments

  • Reply Dr. Nicole Sundene |

    Hi there- Thanks for this post I found it very informative! Some of the things…like the pics and such I don’t quite understand. If you have time and want to check out my website http://KitchenTableMedicine.com to let me know what I am doing right/wrong I would really appreciate it.

    I guess my question is how to SEO the diverse content. One post may be about depression while the next post may be about olive oil. How does google interpret a site like mine? What can I do to tighten things up better?

    If you have any pointers I would appreciate it because I know I am doing something wrong and just can’t figure it out.

  • Reply Saad |

    Hallo Dr Nicole

    Thanks for dropping by.

    I’m sorry that I didn’t really go into much technicality about the specific HTML codes that needs to be written/edited in order to get those things done (e.g. setting up meta tag or giving a alt tag in pictures).

    The reason is, most of the things can actually be done from a graphical user interface (in wordpress/blogger) and nowadays very less amount of ‘hard coding’ is actually necessary.

    For instance, you asked about the picture thingy – so let me explain that in a moment. If you go to this page of your website: http://www.kitchentablemedicine.com/how-to-treat-a-hobo-spider-bite/ you will notice that there is a picture of a spider (hobo spider).

    Now a search engine can’t really see inside the picture. So it can’t actually differentiate between a hobo spider and a washing machine. So Unless you tell the search engine using a “alternate text/alt text” what that picture is about, the search engine will be clue less.

    I believe you are using wordpress as your blogging platform; so basically you can easily put alt tags to your images when you upload them using your wordpress picture uploader. If you are using the new version of wordpress, they call alt text “caption”. In previous wordpress version, there was always a field called alt text and another field called description that lets you specify the text of your picture. So in the place of “Alt Text/Caption” simply put some text that describes the picture (e.g. Hobo Spider). [ If you can’t find any such option do let me know and I’ll provide you a screen shoot ]

    A blog can have a lot of diverse content and that is why it is important to have individual Title and Description of all pages. So If a post is about Depression, you can set a very strong unique title and description for it (with all the keywords inside).

    E.g. Title of the Post: Coping with Depression
    Description: This article teaches you self depression therapy and depression coping tips to help you deal with severe depression. Learn how to deal with depression with a healthy lifestyle.

    Notice How I am targetting a lot of keywords related to depression that has high search volume:

    1. Coping with Depression (2400 Searches)
    2. depression therapy ( 4400 Searches)
    3. self depression therapy (2400 Searches)
    4. severe depression (480 Searches)
    5. how to deal with depression (700 Searches)

    [I am getting this data from a paid keyword research software, You can however use Google’s free tool called “Google Keyword Tool External” – Just google it]

    So basically if you are very careful when writing your title and description, you will be able to tighten things up better. For instance, if a particular keyword has too much competition in Google, its better to target a synonym or long tail keyword instead which has less competition + less search…But definite chance of securing no 1 spot. E.g. Its harder to rank for “Depression” but it may be easier to rank for “depression therapy” or “depression cure” etc.

    I’ll be writing more posts on keyword research, competition measurement and meta tags. So Stay tuned for my updates.

    Please subscribe to my blog via RSS or email from the top right.

  • Reply Saad |

    @runseorun – Thanks :) your wordpress tool looks awesome. I’ll definitely try it out…

    I was actually looking for something like this. Is it bug free?

  • Reply runseorun |

    Actually I developed it for myself. But thought that it’ll be useful for others as well, so converted it to a plugin. I’ve tested it for WP 2.5+. But i guess it’ll not work for older versions. However, I can convert it to any other format — that will not automatically insert post tags — to work for any wordpress version. Anyway you can drop a comment to that post for any problems :) See you.

  • Reply Mitch |

    I like these, but I think the two most important are #4 and #6, especially #6 because if you’re not writing all that often, then you don’t have the chance to develop a following, even if you’re doing everything else correctly.

  • Reply Eli Shares |

    Hey Saad,

    Great and informative tips you got here. I’m kinda “new” in blogging and I’m writing a personal blog. I’m not sure whether I’m going the right way but try to check it out – http://elishares.blogspot.com – I would really appreciate your comment. What do you think about my niche?

  • Reply Saad |

    @Eli Shares – Thanks for dropping by!

    I went through your blog and I really liked it. It has a wonderful design + you seem pretty good at blogging as well. The way you are adding pictures in your posts makes your blog more readable and attractive.

    However the bad news is – You are not a very regular at blogging. You don’t seem to update your blog frequently. So may need to improve on that. Also you can think of a more focused niche. I know you like to blog about whatever you find cool on the internet – and that is perfectly fine. But also try to select a primary niche of the blog that you are really passionate about. So for instance – if you like Gadgets and say 60% of your posts are about gadgets then you might change your focus on gadgets rather than making it too general.

    Hope this helps! Happy Blogging!

  • Reply Eli Shares |

    Thanks for the compliments and also for the feedback. I realized that my blog is too general, I just feel like to write what I feel like to write, haven’t discovered what’s my passion yet. Maybe it will take time.

    Another question about my recent post on “Blog’s Update: Comment form under the blog post”. I’ve done a huge mistake by publishing it without double checking my topic – “Blog’s Update:”. I forgot to write down the rest. When I try to google “Comment form under the blog post” my post wasn’t in the list. Now I’m thinking of deleting the post and republish it. Is it a good idea?

  • Reply Saad |

    @Eli Shares – Hi. No you don’t need to delete the content. If you have made a mistake with the title you can always edit it and wait for google to re-crawl your site. Sometimes it will take time.

    Always Use descriptive titles …..Use titles that you feel that people may actually search for.

    Hope this helps.

  • Reply Saad |

    @Vineet Kumar – HI Vineet :) Thanks for dropping by. I’m really glad that you liked it. If you have any questions you can contact me using the contact button above or just post them here.

  • Reply p@r@noid |

    The word SEO always scared me and being a new blogger I always thought that if I keep writing google will crawl my website and all of my posts will be included there.

    But i was so wrong, My tag and the permalinks where crap.
    I didn’t realize that I was missing so much.
    Probably every new blogger needs to read this article because this article explain you SEO in most common language a layman can understand.

    Though luckily I use google image search to search for Images so most of the time I did Image optimization but I missed the most important part that is homepage and post optimization.

    Thanks Saad for such a nice article .
    God bless you!

  • Reply Pavan Kumar |

    One correction: Alt tag is not the one which appears to the user when he hovers the mouse, it is title tag. Alt text will appear only when browser fails to render the image.
    Also, title tag is NOT MUST all the time for seo, title tag becomes important only if the image is hyperlinked… may be, title tag becomes more user friendly.
    Good post

  • Reply kompostela |

    But still there is someting which is not said. I used everyting you wrote about in optimization of my blog but I don’t have much traffic from the search engines:(
    Perhaps something wrong with the niche I took.

  • Reply Redesigning Web |

    Hey man

    this post have great info for promote your blog and get pr

  • Reply Karuna |

    If you want to track your images keywords, add the Extra Section below at the end of your awstats.your-domain-name.conf configuration file.

    ExtraSectionName1=”Hits on Images”
    ExtraSectionCodeFilter1=”200 304″
    ExtraSectionCondition1=”URL,\.(png|gif|jpe?g)$”
    ExtraSectionFirstColumnTitle1=”Image”
    ExtraSectionFirstColumnValues1=”URL,^(\/.*\.(png|gif|jpe?g))$”
    ExtraSectionFirstColumnFormat1=”%s”
    ExtraSectionStatTypes1=HBL
    ExtraSectionAddSumRow1=1
    MaxNbOfExtra1=10
    MinHitExtra1=1

    Replace http://www.your_site.com by the address of your site.

    Got this tip from
    http://www.internetofficer.com/awstats/hits-on-images/

    Karuna

  • Reply SEO Tips & Tricks |

    thanks for your search engine optimization tips mate, link building is the most difficult task i think. Cheers

  • Reply Formulis Web Design |

    Informative post! A lot of people tend to miss the basics of blog SEO. In particular, I liked your discussion on optimizing META description tags. Killer description tags can definitely boost traffic.

  • Reply seo |

    the post is really informational, i like that you did not left out, the meta tags optimization. sometimes we neglect how important they are to make the whole seo process work.

  • Reply SLO SEO |

    I created a tutorial on my blog on how to install and set up WordPress. This tutorial is geared toward business owners who want to set up their own website at a low cost.

  • Reply Davis T @ SEO Tips |

    Thank you for this post. It has really added to my knowledge base and I do appreciate your hard work.

  • Reply senthiledp |

    Nice! SEO is hard to start with, I know a little about it, but I think I can improve a lot!

  • Reply fever18 |

    Hi there- Thanks for this post I found it very informative! Some of the things…like the pics and such I don’t quite understand. If you have time and want to check out my website fever18 to let me know what I am doing right/wrong I would really appreciate it.

So, what do you think ?