Guest post: “Easy SEO: How to Really Get Found on the Internet”
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important topic for bloggers. I turned to Steve Tannuzzo, the talented copywriter whom I’m glad to call my friend, for his insights into how you can use SEO effectively.
Even if you don’t care about SEO, I think you’ll enjoy Steve’s writing, which lives up to his statement that “My mission is to replace boring, hackneyed copy with words that zing and sell.”
Easy SEO: How to Really Get Found on the Internet
By Steve Tannuzzo
So you’re writing a blog but very few people are reading it. Now what?
Perhaps you’ve learned some tips and tricks that were “guaranteed” to elevate your search engine rankings. You may even have tried a few suggestions from website articles written by so-called search engine optimization experts, yet your blog is still starving for readers.
If you’ve taken the advice of these alleged pros, you’ve probably kept your keyword frequency between 3% and 7% of the article’s total word count. You’ve chosen accurate meta tags for the description of the blog post and your title tag is, in your humble opinion, a Google magnet.
You may even have avoided the pitfalls of sloppy SEO: You resisted overstuffing endless keywords into your coding. You didn’t list your town along with 40-50 surrounding towns in your site’s footer in a shameless attempt to build a local following. You didn’t intentionally misspell names and words in your meta tags to ride the coattails of your competition and capture the bad-speller demographic. You understand that Google is smart, and you didn’t run afoul of their rules.
So what gives?
Here’s the problem: Google and other search engines use complex algorithms to determine exactly how they decide their rankings. These formulas, rules and calculations are subject to change and no one is really sure exactly how or why they alter them. So for the immediate future, here is the best advice I can give you to get found on the Internet. That is, until the next time the search engines stir the algorithm stew.
Seven Ways for Your Blog to Get Found and Read
1. Choose Your Headlines Carefully. Make your title stand out from the crowd. Be specific to your article’s content. Imagine how someone might search for your article and use those words in your title.
2. Use Multiple Headlines. While Google may have lost its love for keywords, they really have a thing for those header tags. Use those h1 and h2 options rather than using a larger font and making it bold. Apart from your title, use sub-headers throughout your article.
3. Choose a Searchable URL. If you owned a dog-walking business, you’d get a lot more hits with www.walkmydogboston.com than you would with something like www.wmdenterprises.com.
4. Use Keywords Sparingly. Put away the calculator. 3-7% is just a guideline. If you’re overusing certain words and phrases, you’ll know it. Your post will sound like spam—and no one wants a blog that reads like that.
5. Build Your Reputation. Volunteer to be a guest blogger. Have websites with related content link back to your blog. Get your name and the name of your website mentioned on other sites. Pick one or several social media platforms to promote your latest articles. Inbound links from reputable sites like Twitter, Digg, LinkedIn and Facebook tell the Google-bots that your site deserves respect and attention.
6. Think Small. Let’s say you’re a foodie and you want to blog about bread. An article on baking bread will yield endless pages of search engine results. You’d be much better served writing about, say, sprouted grain bread. It’s a specific topic with a cultish following. It’s perfect for search and it’s a more interesting read. Think of it as narrowcasting as opposed to broadcasting and apply this rule when choosing bite-sized topics related to your business. You may be pleasantly surprised to find your blog getting more traffic when casting a smaller net. They’ll read the whole post and they may even comment on your blog. That’s when you’ll really see the start of a regular readership.
7. Write for People, Not Search Engines. This may be the most important lesson of all. You could be sitting atop the search engine rakings with cleverly strategized SEO, but once someone clicks on your site, you’ll need to deliver the goods. Choose a voice that doesn’t talk down to your readers. Be relevant. Teach something new. Engage and entertain. Make your posts worth their while. Balance how your readers find you with the outstanding content you give them with each new post.
And that’s it. You don’t need an advanced degree from MIT to unravel the mystery of Google’s evolving algorithms. You probably don’t have the time. But if you follow these reasonable rules, you’ll build a solid readership and a reputation for delivering compelling content.
Steve Tannuzzo is the owner of Tannuzzo Copywriting. He helps people grow their businesses by providing clear, goal-specific copy that gets them noticed and increases their profits. His specialties include advertising copy and social media marketing content. Visit his website at www.tannuzzo.com and follow him on Twitter @BostonProWriter.
Excellent advice, especially #7! Keyword-stuffed text usually reads pretty awful…it’s always best to write for humans first.
I also recommend paying attention to your title tag — the words that show in the blue or gray bar at the tippy top of a web page. Google still (for now) pays attention to them, and most blogging software allows you to input your own title tags (or you can find plug-ins, which is what I use in Word Press).
Oh dear, I forget about title tags most of the time. Is the main point to put key words in the title tags? Does it matter what else is in the title tag–like the automatically generated WordPress reference to the date of publication in the title tag of this post?
The title tag should come in under 70 characters. Place the most important keywords at the front of the tag. A good rule of thumb is:
Sometimes leading with the company name is preferred as a way to strengthen the brand. However, I prefer most relevant keywords up front.
If you’re using WordPress, consider the very popular All-in-One SEO Plugin, which will prompt you for title tags, among other things.
Are you using this approach with your blog? Or can you point me to a good example of blog title tags?
Yes, I do use it for my blog. For example, the post titled “5 Classic Ad Copy Strategies That Never Fail” has the title tag “5 Advertising Strategies…” because I wanted the words “advertising” and “strategies” together. This practice has boosted my Google ranking. While the number 5 isn’t a good keyword, it’s a great way to draw in those humans I wrote about–the ones who will do the reading. Lists have proven to be more accessible to Internet readers. Again, it’s a balance of getting found vs. getting people to click and read.
Thank you for explaining with a specific example!
Thanks for the good advice; SEO usually makes me want to shoot myself.
Great advice from a great blogger. And thanks for the tip re: WordPress’ All-in-One SEO plugin!
WordPress SEO All-in-One Plugin. Hmmm. Thanks. Margaret
This was well said “write for people, not search engines.” Its the quality of your content not the quantity. It is always enjoyable to read your blogs. Great stuff!!