It’s the time for sharing, so I thought I’d share a dirty little Blog SEO secret with you. The secret is that the technical part of Blog SEO is actually easy and doesn’t necessarily drive a high return. Some people might tell you it’s hard, but it’s really not. If the CMS you’re using is optimized properly, technical changes can win you a couple of percentages in traffic sometimes, but hardly ever the huge boost in ranking you’re looking for. To do that, you’ll need two things: great content and good links. And funnily enough, often the latter comes with the former.
Let’s say you run WordPress. You generate “friendly” titles for your posts, meaning titles of the format “Post Title – Blog Name” or even just “Post Title”. You’re also using a nice permalink setting with the post title in the permalink too and your theme doesn’t prevent a search engine from spidering your site, maybe even uses some semantic markup. You could, for instance, be using Genesis and one of its child themes, which does all of this beautifully. Of course, my WordPress SEO plugin can help tweak your site some more, and running it in a proper configuration, I’m certain, will get you some benefit, but the biggest benefit it can give you is not technical, it’s making you aware of how Google works, in a very simple way.
You see, in building my WordPress SEO plugin, I started with one person in mind: the user, the writer. Not the blog admin, although admittedly they’re often the same person, but the writer. Why? Because the writer has to do the SEO, not the admin. The single most important thing you can do on a page to improve its ranking when you’re on WordPress and have it properly set up, is write better copy, better article headings, and a better (SEO) title.
Blog SEO requirement: instant feedback
The reason people forget about this is because they do not get instant feedback on what their post will look like as a search result in Google, and don’t remember to care. That’s why I introduced the snippet preview. The snippet preview is only really what a lot of good SEO’s and SEO copy writers do in their head when they’re crafting a page. It looks like this:
I’m not the first person in the world to create a snippet preview like that. I am the first person in the world (as far as I know) to integrate it into the write panel of a content management system, and give you instant feedback while writing your post. I don’t want it to do things automatically, the only thing I really want it to do automatically is to remind you of possible actions to take.
This kind of thinking causes issues as well: there’s a lot of SEO plugins out there to remove so called “stop words” from your post slug and it is an often requested feature for my plugin. If you write a post with the title “Dirty little secret of blog SEO”, that would normally create a post “slug” (the term for the post name part of a URL) like this:
dirty-little-secret-of-blog-seo. With a plugin that removes stop words from your slug, when you save the post for the first time, that would be changed to
Keeping in mind that the post slug should contain the focus keyword of the post, because that get’s bolded in the search results, but it’s also a readable part of your search result, let’s ask ourselves some questions:
- Is that the best slug the post can have? No.
- Does removing the stop word give the best readable post slug? No.
- Would it be possible to generate the best slug for that post automatically? No.
- So is removing stop words automatically the right solution? No, absolutely not.
So what I decided to do, and I’m developing this right now, it’s actually not even done yet as I type this, is add a notice, within the WordPress SEO box, that tells you you have stop words in your slug. It’s then up to the writer to change the slug to something better, or not to change it at all.
This might actually be the most dirty secret of blog SEO: it’s work. Hard work in a lot of cases. But not hard work from my side, but from you. I hope that my WordPress SEO plugin will make it easier for you if you’re on WordPress, and that future iterations will help you even more, but you’ll have to do the work.
The missing piece in your SEO approach is not another plugin, it’s you, doing real optimization on your content, while thinking about what people search for. And yes, that’s hard work, and no, there’s no magic involved. Sorry.
But you sell Blog SEO Analyses, right?
Yes, I do sell site analyses, and they’re called site analyses and not just “SEO Site Analysis” or “Blog SEO Analysis” for a reason: I look at far more. You see, very often people who buy a site analysis from me say they need to rank for keyword X, often a highly competitive keyword or keyphrase. They want to rank there because they’re not seeing the return from the rankings they already have that they were hoping for. They think the solution is to strive for keywords with more searches. In most cases, this is the wrong approach. The reason? They’re already getting visitors, but those visitors are bouncing away at first sight, or at least not taking the action they wanted them to take.
Getting that ranking is only step 1. Then getting that visitor to do what you want is step 2 (and 3, 4, 5 & 6), and actually good content for at least ten more articles. So you should subscribe, through RSS, or the newsletter, right now! ( And yes, that is the action I want you to take, so do it, now! )
Top image from Shutterstock.