Not wanting to get ahead of myself, I thought I'd start with an overview of what is SEO in the context of blogging. Of course, I look forward to going into more detail in the future, but we gotta start somewhere, so might as well start right at the beginning! ;)
There are as many ways to understand optimizing your website as there are SEO "experts"... In many ways, good SEO is a science, while great SEO is an art. However, before you become an SEO Artist, you got start with a "good" solid foundation... With that in mind, here's the anatomy of blogging SEO:
On the highest level, good SEO strategy focuses both on the stuff you can do on your site (on-site SEO) and the stuff you can do elsewhere on the web that affects how your website ranks (off-site SEO).
On-site SEO includes things like the articles you write, the titles you use, the tags you create for the post, and the page (or URL) structure you use for your site. But here's where blogging really helps! When you blog about stuff relevant to your market, the most important elements of your on-site SEO take care of themselves! No kidding. Blog platforms like ActiveRain and WordPress doing a great job optimizing your page/URL structure, metatags, etc. As long as you write relevant content then much of your on-site SeO takes care of itself. Of course, you could always improve your content, and you will with experience, but in terms of generating traffic and clients, you really should be focusing on off-site SEO....
Off-site SEO is all the stuff that happens elsewhere on the web that links back to your site... And this is the money stuff! If you have to focus anywhere with your SEO efforts... as a new blogger you want to focus on ways to generate more quality inbound links! But before I got deeper, I should probably give some background on the three most relevant terms.
Off-site SEO Terminology:
- Inbound Links. In SEO circles, we often talk about "inbound" links because those are what can really help your site's ranking. But in reality, every link is both an "inbound" and an "outbound" link. The term you use really depends on your perspective. For example, when I link to this post about affiliate marketing on 4realz.net, it's an "outbound" link from this ActiveRain blog and in "inbound" link to 4realz.net.
- Anchor Text. This is simply the text you use when you link to another site. In the above link, the words "affiliate marketing" are the anchor text.
- No-follow link. Because of all the link gaming that was going on around the web, google created a concept of a "no follow" link. This allows website owners (i.e. bloggers) to link out to another site without passing that site any of the SEO benefits (often called "google juice") to the other site. For new bloggers, the most common place you'll see "no follow" tags are in the comments of blog posts. In practice, this means that if you put a link in a comment on most blogs (including all activerain blogs!), then a "no follow" tag is added to your link that takes away the SEO value of that link. The result is that if you're going to link to another website in a blog comment, do it because you think it will add value to the conversation, not because you think it's going to help you off-site SEO!
Traditionally, when real estate agents wanted to get inbound links to their site, they joined directories, where they could get one big fat link back to their homepage. However, from the search engines point of view, many of these directory links were pretty poor quality because often the only requirment to get listed was that you paid the appropriate listing fee. The result is that the search engines have severly discounted the value of directory links (and links to your homepage in general), so that it takes a lot more than getting yourself listed in directories to get your website to rank for most real estate terms.
What is a "quality inbound link" and how do you get them to your website?
The concept of "quality" links is something I'm going to save for another post, but here's some backgrond on how to get them to your site.
As real estate blogs have earned the trust of the search engines over the past few years, they've become one of the fastest and most common ways to get quality inbound links... The result is that the easiest way to get your blog to rank quickly is to reach out to other bloggers. I've seen lots of people find success by linking out to other bloggers, leaving comments on their site, bonding with bloggers on social networks and (sometimes) directly reaching out to them via email and phone calls. Once you've bonded with a blogger, my experience has been that good bloggers will look for ways to link out to you!
The great news about this kind of SEO (i.e. reaching out to bloggers) is that it's pretty timeless. This type of strategy has been working since the begining of google and I've been teaching this for years (see my post on the importance of linkation for an example post from December 2005)
There's so much more to be said about generating quality inbound links, but before I go there, I think I'll save some of the details for another post. In the meantime, if you really want to dive a bit deeper, check out my post on getting SEO value out of your social media efforts...