Tag Archives: Search engine optimization

tools for better blog topics

Tools to Uncover New Topic Ideas for Your Blog

Can’t seem to think new topic ideas for your blog? It’s next-to-impossible to maintain a successful blog unless you are publishing fresh new content on a regular basis.

Regardless of your blog’s niche, you can uncover topics by using the tools listed below.

Google Trends

If you aren’t using Google Trends, you are missing out on one of the easiest ways to uncover hot new topics for your blog. The homepage of Google Trends will reveal some of the day’s most trending Google Search keywords. This alone can prove useful in identifying trends for which you can blog about.

But if you really want to go the extra mile, try searching for a keyword associated with your blog’s niche in the search box at the top. Google Trends will display a chart of the keyword’s search popularity, as well as its projected popularity. Remember, you want to blog about topics that are currently and/or expected to be popular. If a topic is trending downwards, it’s best to avoid it.

Topsy

Another excellent tool for bloggers is Topsy. Technically, Topsy is a “Twitter, Search, Monitoring and Analytics” tool, for which it does phenomenally well. But you can also use it to find new topic ideas for your blog. Upon visiting the homepage, enter a keyword that’s associated with your blog’s niche into the search box. Topsy will then reveal tweets containing the keyword. You can narrow your selection down by adjusting the settings on the left side of the page. If you only want to search for photos, for instance, change the search option from “Everything” to “Photos.”

Hubspot Blog Topic Generator

The Internet marketing website Hubspot has a nifty little Blog Topic Generator that does just that: reveals topic ideas based on your keyword selection. I searched for the keyword “Chihuahuas,” and it revealed the following five topic ideas:

  1. Think You’re Cut Out for Raising a Chihuahua?
  2. Take This Quiz: Why We Love Chihuahuas (And You Should, Too!)
  3. 10 Quick Tips About Chihuahua
  4. How to Solve the Biggest Problems With Chihuahuas
  5. 15 best blogs to follow about Chihuahuas

While they aren’t the most thoughtful topic ideas, the Hubspot Blog Topic Generator is still a fun tool that can spark some ideas of your own. Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s free to use.

Google News

We can’t talk about blogging tools to uncover new topic ideas without mentioning Google News. The search engine giant’s “News” platform is updated with timely current event-style web postings within minutes of them being published. Just head over the Google News, enter a relevant keyword, and Google News will reveal recent web postings containing that keyword. Keep in mind that most of these ideas will be time-sensitive, not evergreen. In other words, you’ll need to craft a new post about the topic in a timely manner; otherwise, it will become irrelevant to your target audience.

Which tools do you use to uncover new topic ideas? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/soniabelviso/

increase visibility

How to Get Your Blog Noticed by the Search Engines

Where does your blog rank in the search engines? If it’s several pages deep for its target keywords (or not indexed at all), it’s probably time to do a little SEO work. Search ranking plays a direct role in both the quantity and quality of traffic that a blog receives. Therefore, it’s important for bloggers to optimize their blogs for higher search rankings.

Check Your Permalinks

Search engines use hundreds of different ranking signals to determine where and how to rank websites. One of these signals is the URL structure. Ideally, your blog should have permalinks that reflect the post or page’s content. This page, for instance, uses the following permalink: http://www.mybloggerz.com/how-to-get-your-blog-noticed-by-the-search-engines. As you can see, the URL is based on the post title, which is “How to Get Your Blog Noticed by the Search Engines.” This is a more meaningful and relevant permalink than a generic URL like http://www.mybloggerz.com/?p=123. If your blog uses the WordPress content management system (CMS), you can adjust your permalinks by logging into your blog and accessing Settings > Permalinks.

Keep on Bloggin’

Far too many bloggers initially set up their blogs, publish a couple of posts, but then fail to take any additional action. You can’t expect people to follow your blog unless you publish high-quality content on a regular basis. Content is the driving force behind every successful website, and blogs are no exception. Try to get into the habit of publishing 1-2 posts per week, more if you have the time. Thanks to the scheduling feature found in most blogging platforms, you can set up new posts to be published at a later date.

Beware of Spam

Most experts will agree that visitor commenting is a helpful feature that should be enabled on blogs. Each time a visitor leaves a comment, it creates new, unique content for your website, boosting its overall engagement. However, the downside to visitor commenting is that it will likely attract spam — comments that are left strictly for marketing or other commercial purposes. Allowing these spam comments to flood your blog may deter search engines from ranking it high, simply because the search engines will view your blog as a source of spam. To prevent this from happening, set up visitor comments to require approval before publishing.

Build Backlinks

Search engines generally do a pretty good job at discovering new blogs and websites on their own. You can give them a little nudge, however, by building backlinks to your blog. As search engines crawl the Internet, they’ll stumble upon your link, directing them to your blog. Just remember to stick with relevant, non-paid links from authoritative sources. You can check out some of our previous blog posts for more tips and ideas on how to generate relevant backlinks.

Have any other blogging tips that you would like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/saibotregeel/

SEO-tools-graphic

SEO Best Practices for Blogging

SEO-tools-graphicWhere does your blog rank in the search engines for its target keywords? If it’s listed several pages deep (or not indexed at all), you won’t receive much traffic. And without traffic, you can’t expect to achieve any notable level of success with your blog. That’s why we’re going to discuss some of the best practices for optimizing a blog’s search rankings.

Title Matters

A blog post’s title is arguably the single most important element when it comes to SEO. Search engines typically display titles for their listings, so don’t overlook this critical element. Your post titles should be relevant, easy to understand and contain the keyword(s) for which you are trying to rank. Keep in mind, however, that Google usually only displays the first 50-60 characters of a title.

Interlink Your Posts Together

When you publish a new blog post, try to include some internal links pointing to other posts. Internal links are beneficial for both human visitors as well as search engines. They guide visitors to other relevant content listed on your website, thus lowering your blog’s bounce rate in the process, and they encourage search engines to crawl and index multiple pages, which should boost your rankings. Ideally, internal links should be created using anchor text, as this helps search engines understand what the linked page is about.

Don’t Forget the External Links

Some bloggers avoid using external links on their blogs, assuming it will send visitors away from their own blog. While it’s true that external links may offer an exit point for visitors, they will also add value to your own blog. Search engines view blogs and websites without external links as a one-way street, meaning visitors can enter but they cannot exit (not through a link, at least). As such, these websites often struggle achieve a desirable search ranking. You can show Google that your website is not a one-way street, however, by including external links to relevant, authoritative sources. Just be sure the links aren’t pointing to a direct competitor’s website.

Target Long-Tail Keywords

Okay, this is an SEO tip that works for all types of websites, blogs included. Rather than trying to target a broad keyword, you should go for a more specific long-tail keyword. While broad keywords typically receive more searches, the competition is too stiff for smaller blogs to rank high. Instead of targeting “shoes,” for instance, try “best shoes for travel,” or “great shoes under $50.” By narrowing your topic down to long-tail keywords such as this, you’ll have an easier time optimizing your blog for higher search rankings. If you need help choosing long-tail keywords for your blog, check out the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool.

Have any other SEO tips for blogs that you would like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Graphic with SEO keywords

Optimizing Your Blog for Higher Search Rankings

Still struggling to achieve a top search ranking for your blog? Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that the higher your blog ranks, the more traffic it will receive. But how exactly do you increase your blog’s search ranking?

Use an SEO-Friendly Blogging Platform

The platform on which you build your blog will directly affect its search rankings. Some content management systems (CMS) contain messy code that’s difficult for search engines to properly crawl, which subsequently harms the site’s search rankings. You can avoid this problem, however, by using an SEO-friendly CMS for your blog like WordPress. Powering tens of millions of blogs and websites, WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS. It’s cleanly coded, patched with new updates in a timely manner, and features a plethora of plugins and themes.

Beware of Duplicate Content!

When blogging, use caution to ensure that your content isn’t being published in multiple locations. It’s not uncommon for blogging platforms to place new content in two or more locations, such as the original URL, authors, tags, categories, and archives. Just because you “think” your blog post is being published in a single location doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Double-check your blog’s settings to ensure all new posts and pages are not being published in multiple locations. And if they are, use the noindex attribute to discourage search engines from crawling them.

Allow Visitor Comments

How can allowing visitor comments boost your blog’s search ranking? It’s no secret that content is a ranking factor used by Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. Websites that are updated with fresh content on a regular basis will reap the benefits of higher search rankings. While you can always create new content by hand, a supplemental method of content creation is to enable visitor commenting. Each time a visitor leaves a comment, whether it’s positive or negative, creates new content for your blog. Search engines will notice this content, taking into account when determining where and how to rank your blog.

Social Sharing

Don’t underestimate the importance of social media when optimizing your blog for higher search rankings. All of the major search engines place an emphasis on social signals like Facebook likes and Twitter tweets. Assuming you are able to attract social signals like this, you can expect your blog to rise in the SERPs.

But how do you encourage readers to share your blog posts on their social media accounts? One helpful tip is to place social media buttons directly on your blog. Instead of forcing readers to leave your blog and login to their Facebook/Twitter accounts to share a post, they can do so directly from your blog. This alone can make a huge difference in your social media marketing efforts.

Have any other SEO tips for blogs that you would like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Simple Yet Effective Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts

Can’t seem to gain any traction with your blog? Check out some of the promotional techniques listed below!

Add Images

Don’t underestimate the value of images within a blog post. Studies have shown that Internet users respond to content with images with a higher level of engagement when compared to text-only content. It will generate more comments, more Facebook “likes,” more tweets, etc.

But adding images to your blog posts has a second benefit that often goes unnoticed: the images will be indexed by Google Images and Bing Images. So the next time someone searches for a keyword related to the image in Google or Bing, they may discover your blog post. Just remember to follow the basics of image optimization, such as renaming the file name to something more relevant, using alt text, and using the appropriate file extension.

Leverage The Power of Social Media

When it comes to promoting blog posts, nothing holds more value than social media. Creating a Facebook update with a link pointing back to your new blog post can send tons of traffic to it, many of whom will share the link on their own accounts. When done correctly, this can create a viral effect in which one user shares it with another user, who then shares it with someone else — and the cycle repeats.

If you really want to take advantage of social media, add some basic sharing buttons to your blog. Granted, users can always like or share your blog post by logging into their Facebook account, but you can make it easier for them by adding these buttons to you blog. Rather than leaving your site to “like” a post, they can simply click the button. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Stay on Top of Trends

A third way to promote your blog is to publish content that’s currently trending. By definition, trends come and go, which is why it’s important to act fast when you notice a trend that’s relevant to your blog’s niche. Whether it’s a news story, current event, viral video, etc., give your perspective on the trend by writing up a short post. You can then share it on social media using the appropriate #hashtags.

There are dozens of ways to find trends, but one of my personal favorite tools is http://trends24.in/. This simple, free-to-use tool reveals trending Twitter #hashtags from the past 24 hours.

Quote Relevant People

How can quoting relevant people yield more traffic to your blog posts? It serves a few different purposes. For starters, there’s a chance the person you quote will notice your content, linking to it from their own website. Second,, search engines will notice that you are quoting an expert, possibly boosting your blog’s search ranking as a result. Third, your blog’s visitors will view your site as being a leading authority figure since it contains actual quotes.

What methods do you use to promote your blog? Let us know in the comments section below!

Lemur-with-a-long-tail

Targeting Long-Tail Keywords With Your Blog

One of the most common mistakes new bloggers make is trying to target broad, generic keywords. Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that such keywords will yield more traffic since they have a higher search volume. While it’s true that broad keywords usually have greater search volume than narrow keywords, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll reap the benefits of increased traffic by targeting them.

What is a Long Tail Keyword?

Long-tail keywords are usually three or four keyword phrases that are more specific than a single keyword. One of the benefits of using them is users who enter more specific keyword phrases are usually closer to making a purchase since they already know exactly what product or service they are seeking.

Competition

The problem with trying to target broad keywords is the massive amount of competition they have. For instance, searching for the broad keyword “health tips” on Google will reveal a whopping 876 million results. If you narrow down your niche to a keyword such as “health care tips for middle-aged women,” however, you’ll notice there are only 49 million results. That’s a pretty substantial difference, attesting to the power of a narrow, long-tail keyword.

With fewer sites competing for the respective keyword, you’ll have an easier time achieving a top rank in Google and other search engines. Many bloggers and webmasters invest countless hours of hard work into building their websites, only to discover that it’s not ranking well in the search engines. In cases such as this, the root cause of the low rankings isn’t caused by a low-quality website or lack of content, but rather it’s caused by too much competition. You have to remember that competing sites have probably been sitting comfortably in Google’s index for quite some time, and in order to boost your site above them, you’ll have to spend a great deal of time, resources and energy on SEO.

Targeted Traffic

Another reason why you should target long-tail keywords is because it yields more targeted traffic. If you run an e-commerce website that specializes in aftermarket truck parts, for instance, you’ll have a higher conversion rate and generate more sales by targeting keywords like “aftermarket truck parts” instead of “car parts or “auto parts.” Users will see your website listed in Google after searching for “aftermarket truck parts,” at which point they’ll click it to check out your inventory. If visitors click on your listing after searching for “auto parts,” there’s a lower chance of them making a purchase since they probably weren’t shopping for aftermarket parts.

So, how can you identify profitable long-tail keywords for your blog? Think about what you are trying to accomplish with your blog and choose keywords that are relevant to your blog’s demographic. Ideally, the keywords should have a moderate amount of searches with minimal competition. But most importantly, they should flow cohesively with your blog’s content and objective.

Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner Too

I also recommend using Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner Tool. Found at https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner, this free-to-use tool will reveal a plethora of information about prospective keywords for which you are trying to rank, including average bid prices, competition, and other related keywords. Note: you’ll need an Adwords account to access the Keyword Planner Tool, but you don’t have to actually spend money. Sign up for a free account and you are good to go!

Do you target long-tail keywords with your blog? Let us know in the comments section below!

blog - rss

Should I Syndicate My Blog’s Content?

blog-rss-01This is a question many bloggers ask. Syndicating your content will almost certainly bring more visitors to your site, which subsequently results in more sales/conversions, but there are both pros AND cons associated with this technique. So before you make a hastily decision to syndicate your blog’s content, you should read the following.

What is Content Syndication?

The term “syndication” is used to describe the duplication and reuse of content on web properties other than the original source.  I know what you’re probably thinking: why would I publish my blog’s content on other websites? One of the most notable benefits of content syndication is the simple fact that you can reach a larger, broader audience, many of whom would otherwise never see, let alone read, your blog. Readers will see your syndicated content and visit your blog to learn more.

Content syndication can also be used to generate backlinks, as most syndication sites include a link pointing back to the source of the content. While there’s still some debate regarding the search engine optimization (SEO) value of such links, the general belief is that it will help, not hurt, your ranking.

What About Duplicate Content?

Of course, there are some potential disadvantages associated with content syndication, one of which is the potential for duplicate content. Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that any content you syndicate will be considered duplicate in the eyes of the search engines. According to Google, however, small amounts of duplicate content won’t cause any issues. It only causes problems when content is duplicated for the purpose of manipulating Google’s search results.

However, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results,” wrote Google in an article about duplicate content.

WordPress RSS Settings

If your blog is currently running the WordPress content management system (CMS), there’s a simple way to reduce duplicate content. Log into your blog’s dashboard and choose Settings > Reading > and choose “Summary” for the option labeled “For each article in a feed, show.” This prevents syndication sites from showing your full post content. Instead, they’ll show an excerpt or summary of the post, enticing readers to visit your blog to read the rest.

Keep Syndication To a Minimum

The key thing to remember when syndicating your blog’s content is to keep it to a minimum. In other words, don’t focus the bulk of your marketing and SEO efforts on content syndication. Sure, it’s an effective way to generate traffic and drive sales, but aggressive syndication techniques could be construed as an attempt to manipulate Google’s search results — and that could negate all of the benefits it offers. Syndication should be a small part in your overall marketing strategy.

What are your thoughts on content syndication? Let us know in the comments section below!

Ways To Attract More Followers to Your Blog

social-media-church-01The success of a blog is heavily dependent on the number of followers it has. You can spend countless hours researching and crafting the ‘perfect’ posts, but unless people actually read it, your blog will ultimately fail. When people  begin to follow your blog, however, they’ll share it with their friends, like it on Facebook, and create backlinks pointing to it, all of which boosts its authority in the eyes of search engines. So, how can you attract more readers to your blog?

Display a Prominent RSS Feed Button

Notice the orange-colored RSS button on the right-hand side of our blog? You should! Clicking this button will take you to a special XML page in which our most recent posts are revealed along with a short excerpt. But the real benefit of displaying an RSS button on your blog is the ability for readers to follow it. On the XML feed page is an option to follow the blog, which visitors can click to add the feed to their reader.

Engage With Your Blog’s Readers

Another helpful tip that’s sure to attract more followers is to engage with your blog’s readers. When a reader leaves a comment or question on a particular post, take a moment to write a response. It only takes a couple of minutes to say “thanks for the comment,” but doing so goes a long ways in creating a connection with your readers. And when you develop a strong connection with your readers, they’ll feel more inclined to follow your blog.

Comment on Other Blogs

Many bloggers overlook the value in blog commenting. No, I’m not talking about visitors commenting on your blog; I’m talking about commenting on other blogs. You can attract more readers by submitting comments on blogs related to your blog’s niche. Users will notice your blog’s URL, some of whom will visit it to learn more.

SEO

Of course, another way to get more followers is to optimize your blog for higher search engine rankings. Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that high-ranking blogs receive more traffic than low-ranking blogs. Search engine optimization (SEO) involves a combination of on-site elements, such as content creation, interlinking, etc., as well as off-site elements like building backlinks and social media networking.

What’s your preferred method for attracting followers? Let us know in the comments section below!

handtool

Top WordPress Plugins For SEO

One of the perks of using the WordPress content management system (CMS) is its use of plugins. Rather than modifying hundreds of lines of code just to add a feature or functionality to your site, you can simply activate a plugin. However, plugins are also useful for optimizing websites so they rank higher in search engines — and we’re going to reveal some of the top SEO plugins for WordPress.

handtoolWordPress SEO By Yoast

With more than one million active installs, you can rest assured knowing that WordPress SEO by Yoast is the real deal. This free-to-use plugins features customizable page Titles and Descriptions, as well as content analysis, RSS optimization, Meta elements, breadcrumbs, social media integration, and more. I guess you could say Yoast is the Swiss army knife of SEO plugins, as it does just about everything. And while many other plugins offer the same or similar functions, Yoast is updated and maintained frequently, ensuring a high rate of compatibility.

Google XML Sitemap

Another SEO plugin that shouldn’t be overlooked is Google XML Sitemap. As the name suggests, this plugin automatically creates a search-engine friendly XML sitemap, telling search engine “bots” how many pages your website has and where those pages are located. This makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your website, which subsequently leads to higher rankings. Google XML Sitemap has been supported for over nine years and was recently ranked as one of the best WordPress plugins.

RSS Include Pages

Why should you use the RSS Include Pages plugin? By default, WordPress does not include pages in RSS feeds, only posts. As long as you publish posts, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’re going to publish content on pages, you should download and activate the RSS Include Pages plugin. It’s designed to include pages in WordPress RSS feeds, allowing users to read snippets of both posts and pages in their feeds.

W3 Total Cache

Speed plays a key role in determining a website’s search ranking. All of the major search engines — Google, Bing and Yahoo — use loading times as a ranking signal, meaning websites that load faster rank higher in their respective indexes. W3 Total Cache is designed to improve load times through browser caching, page caching, file compression, and content network delivery (CDN) networks.

Which SEO WordPress plugins do you use? Let us know in the comments section below!

Pros and Cons of User-Generated Content

trustrank2Do you struggle to come up with new topic ideas for your blog? If so, you may want to consider allowing user-generated content. Doing so is a great way to regularly  fill your blog with fresh, unique contents. When your blog has unique content, it will usually reap the benefits of a higher search ranking. However, there are both pros and cons to allowing user-generated content, which we’re going to discuss further.

Free Content

Let’s face it, buying content from professional authors and service providers is downright expensive. While many companies sell articles for as a little as 1 cent per word, high-quality, error-free content often costs ten times as much. User-generated content is  free. Each time a user publishes a new article, comment, forum post, etc., it adds value to your blog in the form of free content.

Higher Search Rankings

While Google has yet to reveal its exact formula for ranking websites, we know that content is a prime ranking signal. This means websites that allow user-generated content will usually — but not always — achieve a higher search ranking. New content encourages search engine bots to crawl your blog, at which point they’ll view it as being an authority figure.

Credibility

Allowing user-generated content to be published on your blog helps to build credibility. Visitors will view your blog as being a leader in its niche/industry if it contains helpful information published by other users. Of course, it can have the opposite effect by hurting your blog’s credibility if you allow the wrong type of content to be published.

Security

One of the biggest issues associated with user-generated content is the potential for malware, viruses, spyware or adware being uploaded to your blog. Even if you restrict users to uploading specific file types, hackers and other individuals with malicious intent may bypass these measures by spoofing the file name. Long story short, user-generated content can leave your blog susceptible to viruses and malicious software.

Moderation

Another hurdle faced by blogs with user-generated content is the task of moderation. Unless you want to take a chance your blog will be riddled with low value content, you’ll need to ensure all new user-generated content is reviewed before it’s published. Going through and approving or denying users’ content will ensure only quality, relevant content is published to your blog.

Do you allow user-generated content to be published on your blog? Let us know in the comments section below!