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					How to Optimize Your Blog for Google
http://www.s           February 17, 2011

                                  Using Google to direct traffic to your blog can quite
                                  literally translate into gold. Or at least money with which you
                                  could buy gold.

                                  This article will show you how to easily optimize your blog
                                  for search engines.

                                  Let’s be clear on few points before we begin. When search
                                  engine optimization (SEO) is done the wrong way:

                               It’s a spammy attempt to manipulate the search-engine
        It’s SEO experts selling a guaranteed top-10 placement.

When SEO is done the right way, it’s NOT guaranteed and it’s NOT immediate, but it is

Now let’s cover the basics.

What’s your blog about? The topic you cover will, to a large degree, dictate your
placement. If you said “real estate” or “automobile” or “website hosting” or “SEO,” you
will have a LOT of competition. You could help things a bit by focusing on YOUR
geographical area (as in “real estate in Pasadena, CA,” for example).

But remember, some topics are extremely competitive and therefore more
difficult to crack, making it on the first, second or third page of the relevant search.
This part is paramount because most Google sleuths don’t make it past the second

On the other hand, if your topic is obscure and very specific, PLUS the space is not
densely populated with competition, you can conceivably end up as a top search result
for that topic. This is assuming that you’ve implemented sound SEO practices. And
that’s what this article is about.

Who are you targeting? Who is your audience?
Having a crystal-clear understanding of who your audience is and what THEY’RE
searching for helps you narrow your focus and increase your chances of
having an effective SEO campaign.

If all this sounds too complicated, you could just pay someone to do it. If you do decide
to outsource SEO, you should set aside a minimum of $3,000 to $5,000 monthly for a
dedicated SEO professional.

Now that you know the cost, are you a little more motivated to learn how to do it
yourself? I would encourage you to ask around and get some quotes. Here is what you
would be paying for:

A good SEO person will have varying degrees of proficiency in:
       Data analysis
       Search engine algorithms

Those are the skill sets off the top of my head.

As I see it, you have three options:

1. Hire a dedicated SEO person/team.

2. Hire a part-time SEO expert who can dedicate a portion of his or her time to your
page rank. This might be all that’s needed for most small- to medium-sized businesses.
(Note: Page rank is a non-geeky way of saying “Google search-engine algorithm.”)

3. Learn the basics yourself. The basics will get you pretty far.

In this article I’ll focus on the last one—learn the basics yourself. So how do you do
this? Well, you’ve come to the right place. An important part of any SEO strategy
will be keyword discovery and implementation. This article will focus on those
two factors.

Harvesting and Piggybacking
I recommend a three-step process in your keyword discovery process.

#1: Get into their heads.

A great place to start understanding what keywords are desirable is to find out what
keywords are used by your comps (comps is a real estate term for comparable

We do this by first inspecting what keywords are used on your comp’s web page.

In your browser, usually under “view,” you can “view source” of the webpage. Here’s

Takeaway lessons from the video:

       There will be a LOT of gibberish in there. But all we’re looking for are “meta
     tagged keywords.”
       Manual research allows you to get into your comps’ heads.
       View several pages to get a good sense of what your comps are trying to rank
       Repeat the process for another 3-4 comps.

#2: Piggybacking: Leverage Automation and Your Comps’ Research.

Go to and type in a word or
phrase that is relevant to your business.

Takeaway lessons from the video:
       Google Keyword Tool will return related phrases, often many that you didn’t
     even think of.
       You can export these results, view monthly search numbers and sort phrases
     by popularity.

After you’ve performed this on your top five comps, collected the data and exported
your finding into a CSV file, you’ll have a pretty good idea of:

       What people are searching for (it’s almost never what you think it is)
       What your comps are indexed for
       Where you fit in

Now that you’ve harvested keyword information and effectively piggybacked on your
comps’ research, you should narrow your list down to a manageable number (100 or
so keywords).

The keywords that YOU are going to use should reside at the intersection

       Most relevant to you/your post/blog/website
       Most highly searched for
       Least used by your comps

Note: While recommendation #2 is a good guideline, do keep in mind that less often
searched-for phrases tend to have higher conversion rates.

#3: Implement: Apply What You Learned.

It’s time to install and learn how to use a nifty little WordPress plugin called All in One
SEO to quickly, easily and effectively utilize the information gathered during the
harvesting and piggybacking research phase. If you’re not running a self-hosted
WordPress website, this is not for you.

Download and install All in One SEO plugin. Click on the video for a little bit of

Takeaway lessons from the video:

       WordPress makes it very easy to add plugins; however, you shouldn’t install any
     plugins that haven’t been tested. Here are instructions on how to set up a
     WordPress sandbox on your laptop.
       Some plugins (like All in One SEO) are must-haves. Others should be installed
     only if absolutely necessary.
       All in One SEO will have to be configured globally, on per-post and per-page

All in One SEO Pack Configuration—Global Settings
Plugin status:

You can enable it or disable it.

Home Title:

If left blank it will default to whatever you configured under Settings/General/Site Title in
WordPress. However, don’t leave it blank.

Note: According to’s SEO ranking factors survey, page titles are one of
the most important factors.

Entering a bad or blank title is NOT advisable.

Home Description:

While description ranks lower on the page rank scale, it’s paramount to have it filled out
appropriately. Search engines will display the description immediately underneath your
web page. There it’s best to have a human-friendly call-to-action type of

Check out how Barnes & Noble have a human-friendly call-to-action message.

Home Keywords (comma separated):

What are the main topics covered on your site? That’s what should be entered here in
the order of relevance. For example “blogging, marketing, WordPress, writing,” and so

Note: Home keywords were abused in the early days of SEO (stuffed with popular but
irrelevant search words), which resulted in search engines deprecating their
Don’t overstuff. Spend a few minutes configuring and it might help. It certainly can’t

Canonical URLs:

Enabled by default and should be left as such. This helps with duplicate content, which
is a HUGE no-no. If you’re not familiar with canonical URLs, and would like to be, read
this Google webmaster blog post.

Rewrite Titles:

This controls the title-related settings underneath. We’re not going to cover them
individually. “Title” is what you see in your browser’s window title bar. If set, all page,
post, category, search and archive page titles get rewritten.

Why would you want to do this?

The default title generation setting for WordPress is extremely anti-SEO. Depending on
your version of WordPress, the default structure will most likely look like this:

Category >> Blog Name >> Post Title

This is suboptimal.

You should allow the SEO plugin to rewrite it to something more SEO-friendly,
for example:

Post Title >> Blog Name

Note: This is all about specificity. The post title is likely to have specific keywords
related to the post itself. Therefore it should be the first thing a search engine “sees.”

WordPress, if configured correctly, can now assign an SEO-friendly name to your blog
post (see below) without the help of All in One SEO.

Description Format:

Four available options, leave the default as is. It will grab the description from whatever
is set at the post level.
404 Title Format:

The box sets the page title for your “page not found” error page. The default is
“Nothing found for %request_words%”. Leave as is.

Paged Format:

This string gets appended/prepended to titles when they are for paged index pages (like
home or archive pages). Leave it alone.

SEO for Custom Post Types:

WordPress version 3.0 introduced the ability to create your own custom post types in
addition to the default two (post and page).

I really haven’t used this, so I can’t offer much in terms of practical advice. If you would
like to learn more about it, visit Custom Post Types pages.

Custom Post Types for SEO Column Support:

Related to above, disabled by default. Leave it alone.

Use Categories for Meta Keywords:

This is for those bloggers who are hyper-strategic about their category names. If
you’re like most of us, you’ll leave this one alone and add your keywords manually for
each post.

Use Tags for Meta Keywords:

Checked by default, it causes the tags you set for a given post to be used as the meta
keywords for that post. What this basically means is that your tags and your
keywords don’t have to be entered in both places. In fact, if you enter the
same word in both the Tag and the Keyword field, you might get dinged by Google.

Dynamically Generate Keywords for Posts Page:

Related to the third type of post we mentioned above. Irrelevant unless you’re using
custom posts. Leave it alone.

Use No Index for Categories and (Tag) Archives:

This is kind of a non-issue especially if “Canonical URL” is configured. It tells Google
NOT to crawl duplicate content.

Autogenerate Descriptions:

This is very cool if you can squeeze all your relevant keywords within the first 150
characters of the article.

Capitalize Category Titles:

Other than visual appeal I know of no special benefit of doing this. Google doesn’t care
if your titles are uppercase or lowercase but it looks pretty.

Exclude Pages:
Enter any comma-separated pages here to be excluded by All in One SEO Pack.

This is helpful when using plugins that generate their own non-WordPress dynamic
pages. Forums are a good example. You may decide to manage the way your forum
gets “indexed” using forum-specific tools.

Additional (Post, Page, Home) Headers:

These are not required for basic SEO practices. They’re used with various webmaster
tools but otherwise uninteresting.

Log Important Events:

This is for developers only. Once the global settings are all done, every time you write a
new post, you’ll have to configure All in One SEO tool on per-post basis. No worries
though, this one is quick and painless.

All in One SEO Pack Configuration—Post Settings

All in One SEO will place itself on the bottom of your WordPress new post


By default, the title will be generated based on your setting under Settings >>
Permalinks. You should configure /%postname% under “Custom Structure,” which will
generate the appropriate post title automatically.

If, however, you decide to enter a custom title here, it will take precedence over any
other. Why would you want to do this? Post title ranks high on Google’s “importance”
scale and stuffing your title with keywords might better your chances.

Description (Meta):

You have 160 characters to describe your post for search engine meta analysis. Use
them wisely. Remember our Barnes & Noble example? This should be a human-friendly
call to action. Include most relevant words first.

Keywords (Meta):

Put your most important keywords (search phrases) up front. Your hard work during
keyword harvesting phase pays off right here.

Your keywords should be relevantly spread across the main body of the article, tags,
meta description, keywords, etc.

Enable/disable on per-post basis:

Self-explanatory I hope. Use it in case you want to hide from Google.

All in One SEO Pack Configuration—Page Settings

Page Settings has a few more options than Post Settings. Let's work through them.

Title, Description and Keywords and Enable/Disable are the same as before.

The new settings are:

Title Attribute:

Has no or minimal effect on ranking. It’s basically a tool tip when you hover over a link.

Menu Label:

This in effect renames your page without renaming the URL.

Keyword research and configuration are some of the most important aspects of a well-
run SEO campaign. In fact, they’re among the top most important things you can do.

If you had to choose your top three most important SEO strategies, what
would they be? Leave your comments in the box below.


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