• Scott Herring

SEO 101: How To Optimize Your Blogging Site for Google


Part 3 of a 3 Part Series


There's another critical element of setting a solid Search Engine Optimization (SEO) foundation for your blog. You need to execute some "macro level" SEO tactics. Rather than blogging into a void, you have to make sure your website can be found. I've worked on many sites that omitted this foundational step and got ZERO traffic. And I've had joyful clients call me a day or two after tackling the basics to share that they got new business from new organic search visitors. The goal of this here particular post is to outline essential top-level techniques needed to optimize your blogging site for Google and the other search engines. Put it all together, and you'll have folks knockin' down your door.


Note, if you missed my previous article about building authority, I would suggest you look back for the background on domain authority, which is what this article addresses.



A Blog by Any Other Domain Name


If you're starting out, pick a smart domain name - that is, one that fits your niche. We write about blogging, so renegadeblogger.com fits. Michael writes smartclassroommanagement.com articles about, well, smart classroom management techniques for teachers. If you have the luxury to find a name with your industry included, do so. Keywords in the domain helps. We've outline all the basics for those getting started.


Dress in Secure Socket Layers (SSL)


That little lock icon on the URL of a website is now basically required. Most hosting providers (like Bluehost), provide free SSL certificates for your blog, which gets you that icon. Note, without it, Google Chrome displays an ominous security warning, which is a buzzkill for a new site visitor. Note, it started in October 2017 when Google announced that Chrome would display these . So get SSL on your blog. Do not pass GO.


A Sitemap for Sore Eyes


Your website needs a sitemap. And once you have it, you have to submit it to Google. If you're using WordPress, you can choose from a number of plugins to help with SEO. I'm a fan of Yoast SEO, which has the ability to create a sitemap. You can also create them manually, if you're into that sort of thing. Either way, you still have to connect your sitemap to Google.


Hot External Links


As a regular practice in your blogging, you should link to other, authoritative websites relative to the topic. Authoritative sites already have a good reputation or relevance in your industry. For example, if you're writing about insurance, linking to Aetna or State Farm is a signal to search engines about your audience. Don't link to competing articles, however -- just to helpful information from sites in your industry. It helps if you can make your links open in a new tab or window (so the user doesn't leave you forever...). WordPress has a little checkbox on the link to do so.


Don't Mess Up the User Experience (UX)


Another useful signal to search engines is that a user doesn't bounce (i.e., hit the back button right away). If your blog offers good information, that's one part of delivering a good user experience. It also helps if your site/post loads quickly (check out Michael's post) and is mobile friendly. Don't you hate it when a site doesn't display legibly on your phone? The website isn't responsive to various devices, so it makes it hard to use. Take a look at your site on a phone, man. If it sucks, fix it. Does your site look good in general (style counts), compared with others in your space? Put some lipstick on it if you need to.


Baby Got Backlinks


You get Google "juice" if sites link to your posts or your site. When a site links to you, it's called a backlink. It instantly creates more page authority *and* domain authority. A signal of that usefulness is a share on another site. How do you get that? As we always say, if your content is good, that's helpful. It could be so great that everyone who finds it adds a link in their website. Or, you could consider an outreach plan. It's kinda groveling, asking someone to link to you, but you do it so it doesn't sound desperate or spammy. "Hey, I read your blog all the time, and I write about stuff you may want to include in some of your posts too. Check this one out {insert a relevant link, not some spammy one}." But seriously, if you're engaging with other authoritative people in your industry, it can help on a number of levels. Write well, engage...


What's the Frequency, Kenneth?


One of my pet peeves is finding a stagnant blog (I have a couple myself). For a while, like when you first start out, you're invigorated and pump out a post every few days. But then you get busy, or get sick, or go on vacation, and the rhythm is broken. Quietly, you go from 90 MPH to 0 MPH. Way too much inertia. No matter what platform you're using, from WordPress blogs to YouTube video channels, posting frequently improves your Google ranking. Search engines like motion, not stagnation. Create a backlog of posts if you must. Schedule them ahead of time if you can. Keep a steady rhythm. Daily? Hard. Weekly? Manageable. Monthly? Decent, but not great. Find a level you can stick to. Michael posts EVERY SINGLE WEEK. I have blogs I post to weekly, including this one. It's a priority in my weekly plan. Make it your priority too.


Up for Promotion


Regularly share your content on social media, even older posts if they still matter in conversations. Engage with social media people in your niche. Promotion of your brand is not optional. Being in the mix is good.


Care & Feeding for Your Older Blog Posts


Random question: Do you have any houseplants? If you do, you know you have to look after them. Water them. Pick off dead leaves. Keep them in the spot for optimal light. Same thing applies to blog posts. Revisit posts to freshen them up occasionally. Cross-link materials, correct spelling mistakes, fix broken links (more on that in a moment), update headlines, touch up SEO... Spend some extra time on your best performing posts -- get even more traffic. Look at the dead wood too. Is it fixable?


Circuit Routine Maintenance


If you use WordPress, keep your system, theme, and plugins up to date (to avoid hackers, trust me on this). Also, links can become invalid. Maybe a company you linked to went out of business. More often, a link changed (i.e., the site owner adjusted something). There are many free tools to scan your site for broken links. Use one. Fix any indexing errors in Google (available from Google Webmaster Tools).


Use These Top-Level Techniques to Optimize Your Blogging Site for Google


All of the tactics described in these three posts make a difference. Especially when you're starting out, the little things get you on the radar. Building authority is a process, and each brick in the wall adds to your effectiveness. Google will see it (and yes, Bing will know it too, for the second place searchers). Look at things from both a page level and site level. As the techniques for site level show here, it's not just about the posts. The site has to execute some critical steps too. That's how you build authority and then get traffic. Use it like a checklist and you'll see firsthand!




So now you should be familiar with the basics of building authority and page authority, which reflects your page or site's relevance in search. We hope you enjoyed all three pieces of the series.



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