Tag Archive: tips

4 Tips for Writing SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business. This post also appeared on Mashable’s website, where we found it and wanted to share the information.

In addition to writing for their human readers, web writers and bloggers have to consider the digital web crawlers employed by search engines like Google (Google). Your business can’t skip the task.

Since most would-be readers use search engines to find blog posts, you need to make sure that Google ranks your site highly when those readers search for terms related to your business and the content you’re writing.

You could spend thousands of dollars to have a search marketing firm optimize your business’s blog for search engines, but chances are that you can learn a lot of the fundamentals yourself, saving yourself a lot of money as long as you have the interest and the time. Here’s a basic primer on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your company’s blog.

1. Always Include Search Terms in Your Post’s Title

When Google reads a website to index it, it reads the code directly, not the snazzy presentation that humans see. The way most blogging platforms are built, the headline or title of your blog post is among the first things Google sees, and Google generally assumes the words that appear earliest are the most important. That’s why the title is the most important part of your blog post when it comes to SEO.

Think about who you want to reach with this blog post, and what that person might be searching for when looking for your business’s goods or services, then include critical words from that hypothetical search in the title. The most important terms should appear as quickly as you can reasonably fit them in. Just be careful not to make the title unreadable or awkward to human readers — that SEO effort will have been for naught if the reader is immediately turned off by the content once he or she finds it.

Here’s a pro tip: You’re not likely to win strong ranking for more than one or two search terms at once, so minimalism is a virtue here. Don’t get over-ambitious. Focus on one potential search term, then if you want to rank for a second term, write a separate and unique post specifically with it in mind.

2. Link Important Words to Earlier Blog Posts

Search engines generally assume that a blog post that has been linked to has more authority than one that has not. They also consider exactly what word or phrase linked to the post; a blog post about the iPhone (iPhone) is going to be more likely to show up in Google searches on the subject if another page links the word “iPhone” to the post.

You’ll get the most value from external links from sites that Google or other search engines already consider to be an authority of the subject (if the top blog about iPhones links the word to your post, you’ll get a huge boost), but all incoming links will still pass rank to your page, even those from elsewhere on your site.

So be sure and link important keywords to other pages or previous posts on your blog to gain some credibility and search rank. It will make a big difference. Just don’t overdo it; not only do human readers hate reading blogs so filled with links that they might accidentally click on something, Google may penalize you if you go overboard, too.

3. Hit the Tagging Sweet Spot

Most blogging platforms let you apply tags to your posts. Tags help organize your blog so both humans and search engines can find what they’re looking for. They’re terms like “consulting,” “local” or “technology” that reflect the topics and content of the post.

Google tries to recognize tags and use them to prioritize your site in its search ranking for those terms. The tags are usually links to other pages on your blog (usually a backlog of other posts with the same tag), and like we said earlier, linking search terms to other pages on your site helps too.

So by all means, add pertinent tags to your blog post, but be warned that Google and other search engines are wary of sites that try to game this system. They will penalize you in the search rankings if you use so many tags that the web indexing bots suspect you might be attempting to associate your content with unrelated topics just to score extra traffic.

The method for determining this is arcane, but a good rule of thumb from a pro blogger is that five to 10 appropriate tags are usually right in the sweet spot.

4. Use Google Insights to Find the Best Search Terms

You don’t have to play a guessing game about the best tags or search terms to link or put in your post’s title. Since Google is the most popular search engine, it makes sense to focus your efforts there. Whenever you’re not sure which terms to go with, hit up Google Insights, a web-based tool that compares the popularity of any search terms you want to know about.

For example, if your business is a coffee shop but you’re not sure whether would-be customers are more likely to search for “café” or “coffee shop,” Insights can tell you which one is more popular.

These four tips should get you on your way to having a more SEO-friendly corporate blog. Add your tips for search engine optimization in the comments below.

Basic Guidelines and Tips for Hiring a Web Designer

Web DesignThis is just a basic guideline and some tips for those persons or businesses looking for a website. I hope that you will find it helpful in your quest for finding a web designer and make the process of your website design smoother and easier. I have dealt with many clients over the past 6 years of doing web design and this is speaking from experience and my personal thoughts in making the process simpler. Most people do not understand the process of getting a website, as they are not in the field of web design. That is why, as a person in the field and with experience, I have written this article.

Outline

First, you should have a basic idea of what you will want and need on your website. Make an outline or a guideline of things to include on your new website. (ie: home page, contact page, contact form,  picture gallery, blog, products and/or services page, customer or client testimonials page, etc …)  This will be a big help to you when contacting a potential designer for a price quote. Some designers will charge by the page or might have a basic package price for a certain amount of pages and then a per page price for every page after. Try and make it as much of a final copy as best as you can, as making additional changes or additions down the road can or may incur more charges.

Having an outline or guideline will also help you in regards to getting your content together to send or give your designer during the building process.

Research

When you are you looking to hire a web designer (whether it be a freelance artist or a company) you should make sure you research your potential hire thoroughly. Web design is not a cheap investment, but will give you a nice return if done correctly. Reputable designers will have portfolio samples available to you and most will have testimonials from their past and current clients. You should browse their portfolio and see their websites in action. Feel free to read testimonials written by clients, but keep in mind, you will only be seeing the positive feedback from this freelance designer or business. When browsing through their portfolio you should make a note of clients and contact them directly regarding their experience with the designer or business. The research end of the process is critical as you will see what the designer has done previously, their style of work and their customer satisfaction rate.

Contact

OK, now that you have chosen your freelance designer or company, you should contact them and get a price quote. You may wantWeb Designto choose a few to contact so that you can compare prices. Have your budget in mind when you call or e-mail them and be sure to have your outline or guideline readily available so that you may give them an accurate description of what you need. The more prepared you are, the easier things will go and the designer will see you as serious and be more willing to work with you then somebody that is unprepared. In the initial contact you may also want to question the timeline it would take to get your website done. This will depend on you AND the designer working together. You will have to be efficient in getting the designer your desired content and the designer should give a reasonable timeframe in order to get it done. Please be reasonable in your expectations and deadlines as web design is not something that should be done overnight and like anything else, will take time if you want it done right.

Meeting

So now you have chosen and contacted a web designer and are ready to begin the process with your choice. Next step is a meeting with the designer. You should bring with you to the meeting, your guideline or outline, your checkbook (as most designers will require some sort of deposit to start work) and as much content as possible. A CD or DVD with your final copy of pictures and text would be preferred. (leave a copy of this disc for yourself at home or at your business as the designer may want to keep this disc for their files).  Be as thorough and precise as to what you want so that there are no communication errors. If you would like specific colors, a certain look, etc … Explain that now so that the designer is fully aware of what you are looking for. In most cases, you will be signing a contract at this meeting as well, should you choose to proceed.

Contract

A contract is very important. It will protect you in the event of the designer straying from any agreed terms and will provide a guideline to what you may need to know and what you are responsible for. Most designers won’t operate without a contract, as it protects them too.  You may take a copy of the contract with you to review it before signing it and you can even have your lawyer look it over.

Hosting

You will have your choice as to what hosting company you will want to use. Some designers may provide hosting as part of their web design package, some may provide it at an additional cost. Other designers may suggest a hosting provider to you or you may choose your own. Examples of hosting companies are www.godaddy.com www.netfirms.com & www.bluehost.com There are many hosting companies out there, you will have to find one that suits your needs and is within your budget. There are some that you may pay monthly, some that you will pay yearly. The choice is yours. If you are specific in explaining to the designer what it is you are looking for in your website, your designer can help you make the choice.

Content

Web DesignYou are responsible for the content to give to your web designer. (unless you are paying the designer extra to come up with the content) You know your business better than anyone. Content such as write-up (About Us, Products and/or Services and their explanations, etc … ) You will also be responsible to provide any pictures necessary to your business. If you would like to have a gallery (for example, a construction company might want to show before and after pictures) you should provide them in an orderly fashion to your designer and have them properly labeled. When providing written content, it is essential that you send over final copy text. Use spell-check and make sure grammar is correct.  It will make the process, so much easier.

Maintenance

Once your website is completed, you will probably need some kind of changes done down the road. Updated content, additional products and/or services, additional pictures, etc …  Discuss with your designer what the maintenance procedure is that they use so that you understand the process.