Blogs & SEO OK, search engines love blogs, which is a good thing for you. It means with simple techniques, you can have a blog that ranks well for selected phrases and gains added exposure for you. If you choose to operate only a blog, thats fine. If you choose to run a blog along with an actual website, fine again.

Before you go out and grab yourself an account with Blogger, there are some things youll need to know. All of the basic tenants of search optimization that apply to websites apply to blogs, so the basic SEO knowledge youre building will be useful even if you choose only to run a stand-alone blog.

The Power Of Blogs

Bloggers are generally seen as some of the most cutting edge content creators online today. They state their opinions and say it like it is , thats the real power of the medium. Its ability to allow anyone to express themselves worldwide almost instantly is also part of its power and a search optimization tool. When optimized well and submitted to leading blog directories, its completely possible to have 4 or 5 references to your own blog on the first page of search results for the targeted phrase. 

Baseline, what platform to use

There are several options available to choose from when looking for a blogging platform. They range from free to paid-for and may be fully supported or unsupported. A decent free, fully supported option is http://www.blogger.com/ .

While Blogger has limits such as not allowing complete access to all the meta data, its very easy to set up and maintain. Plus its fully supported, so you never have to worry about coding and databases. Blogger will allow you to place Google Adsense ads into your blog, provided you have an Adsense account. Perfect for generating revenue form blog traffic and something well cover more on later. If you want more direct control over your blogs appearance, layout, structure and features, an open-source platform might be just the ticket. By their very nature, open-source items are free to everyone. The drawback is that they are rarely built by professionals and often have limited direct support.

Open-source items tend to be built by very talented folks who are excellent programmers. They may, in fact, be programmers by day, but they built open-source items on their own time, for the most part. This simply means youll have to rely on community-based posting forums to ask questions about your platform. Its a good idea o have some understanding of how to work with code before you start playing with your open-source blog, as theres no quick, easy reset button if you muck things up. Now that Ive scared you enough about open-source options.

Constantcontact

Ill recommend https://www.constantcontact.com/website/builder/ whole-heartedly. This is a platform I currently run and its been great so far. Its also been a learning experience, as Im not a SysAdmin or programmer by day, so many things Ive had to learn on my own. Bblog has a feature called , trackbacks. These are simply the URLs for each article you post. Trouble is they are visible on the bottom of each post, and when found by spiders scrapping sites for URLs to spam, you may end up with THOUSANDS of spam comments to moderate EACH DAY. There is a simple fix for the problem, though, so dont let this deter you from exploring this option. There is an active support community for Bblog (pronounced bee-blog), so you do have somewhere to turn when you need help.

Moveable Type

It takes time to get the answers, but the folks there try their best to help when they can., and its free, so its tough to fault it, really. https://movabletype.com/ offers their Typepad & Moveable Type platforms and is another strong blogging option, though they are not free. Moveable Type option run through an agreement with outside hosting companies. 

I chose to request a refund after learning how difficult these system would be to install on my server. This is a reflection on my lack of knowledge as a Systems Administrator, though, so if you have some basic SysAdmin experience, it might be straightforward for you. Here are some other options you can explore , they are a mix of free and paid-for options:

WordPress – http://wordpress.org/ 

Live Journal – http://www.livejournal.com/ 

Drupal – http://drupal.org/ 

Tumblr – https://www.tumblr.com/

Medium – https://medium.com/

In the end youll have to be honest about your level of technical expertise and decide from there. 

How to Title the Blog

This is what you are going to call your blog. This title is different from the title youll use for each article you post. If youre writing a blog on apples, the title of the blog might be The Apple Blog. The key to remember here is to use your keyword research to target the best keyword or phrase to use in the title of the blog. 

Writing Article Titles

Article Titles

The key here is to establish the keyword you want the article to rank well for. If youre posting an article on Red Delicious Apples, then be sure to include that phrase in the article title. After that, try to write a title that is catchy. Saying Red Delicious Apples is fine, but using The Health Benefits of Red Delicious Apples is more likely to catch a readers interest. Just be sure to construct a title that reflects the content the reader will find in the article itself. Its a bit of an art, but after a few posts youll get the hang of it. 

Using Keywords Properly

As with basic search optimization for a web page, youll want to use the keyword or phrase a few time sin the text of the article itself. Even if you are simply posting a press release on something related to your topic, you can write a brief intro to the release yourself and mention the keyword once or twice in the intro. Press releases are often not written with search optimization in mind, so you will have to take this into account when using them as content for your article. Editing the press release is frowned on, as the original authors were trying to announce something newsworthy and changing their copy is not what they expect of folks using the release. For this reason, I usually write a simply intro or preview myself, with my own thoughts, to ensure the keyword Im after makes it into the post. 

Short and Sweet

As with normal web pages, try to target between 200 and 300 words. Theres no really hard and fast rule here, so write as you see fit, following the basic search optimization guidelines and in the big picture, youll be fine. Some posts will be longer, some shorter. Some will be simple reprints of press releases or a post of a series of images from an event. Just dont try to write a book , your readers will not read it all and the spiders wont care about the extra work anyway. 

Writing actual articles

Writing the actual articles you will post can seem like a daunting task. Yes it requires some creativity. Yes it requires a command of the language youre publishing in. Yes you should try to be as professional as possible. In the end, though, you may simple write down and post your own opinion on a topic. You may choose to follow an event and post press releases to update readers. You may use quotes form other articles and link your readers back to the full article elsewhere. This is the beauty of blogging , you are not constrained by any rules as to what is expected. 

How long

Blogs are not that different from websites, so again, writing between 200 and 300 words of unique, topic-relevant content should be fine for each article you will post. Dont fret if you cannot get past 100 words. Dont fret if you go past 500 words. Use these numbers as guidelines and build form there. You will be surprised how quickly you read the 200-word mark when you set out to expand on a topic a little bit. Just make sure to follow the basics about including the keywords/phrase a few times in the content and let your fingers do the rest.

What to Write About

What to Write About

Well before this point you will know what the topic of your blog is about. Your keyword research will have led you to discover a host of related items. Start back with that keyword research and start writing. When you begin expanding on the topic itself, start offering opinions on things and offering updates on the latest news related to your topic, youll quickly realize there is no shortage of items to base blog articles around. If you havent figured this out by reading other blogs, they are a great place to express your opinion on things. Good or bad, youll find some folks that will support you. Even if they dont, the old saying applies: , Any press is good press. One key point to remember is this: while youre trying to get your articles ranked well in the SERPs, always write them for your human readers. Those are the folks who will spread the word about your blog.

How to Label Categories

Its a good idea to break your blog up into categories. By doing this you create a clean filing system within which to house your posted articles. It makes it easy for readers to find what you have posted on particular aspects of your topic and, more importantly, it allows you to use specific keywords within internal links. These keywords within internal links play a role in how your blog may be ranked by the engines.

Skip this option and youre missing a golden opportunity. By the very nature of how blogs are constructed, these internal links with keywords will appear on almost all the pages created when you post articles so theres no need to go looking for keywords on various pages to link to other areas like on a website. As always, reference your keyword research to determine what you should use when labeling categories. These categories do not need to be labeled with the most popularly searched on phrases for your topic, but the keywords used should appear in your research list with some level of traffic on them. Theres no point in ranking # 1 for a phrase with one search a year on it. 

Where to Submit your Blog/RSS Feed

Allowing the spiders to crawl your blog and index it is great, but you can be more proactive that that with blogs. There exist a number of directories and RSS , feed aggregators that accept blogs and/or , feed type submissions. Since your blog platform will allow you to , syndicate your published content (meaning its easily packaged for sharing with others), its a simple process to send your , feed URL to these places for inclusion and distribution. (RSS means , real simple syndication). Each service has a slightly different signup process, so read the terms and conditions carefully and follow the rules. Some will require you place a small bit of code into your blog somewhere, and you should do this. Without this exchange, they may not accept your feed for distribution. Unlike websites, this reciprocal exchange is the way to go right now.

Linking to your Blog

If you already have a website up, running and indexed, and are now starting a blog to expand your content offering to users, make sure you link the site and the blog. Using the right anchor text on the website can help the blog a bit, and more importantly, will ensure the blog gets found by the spiders quickly. Take the time to look through your stats to figure out which pages are most popular with your users and ensure that at a minimum, a link to your blog appears on those pages. Its a quick way to get users to find you newest offering and start spreading the word. 

Frequency of Posting

This one is simple. Try to post a new article to your blog every day. Failing that, every second day. Bare minimum should be 3 times per week, and not three in one day, once a week. Your goal is to show that the blog is being actively maintained and fresh content is being added frequently. This will keep the spiders coming back regularly, which will ensure that fresh content is being crawled and indexed by the engines. if you start at the pace of one post a day, after a month or so youll have shown a solid history.

After this, skipping weekends, or even going on vacation for a week isnt going to pose a problem for you. You will most likely find that youll end up addicted to posting things. Soon youll notice as new-worthy items pass your way, youll be posting multiple times each day. This is good for your blog, good for your readers and will be good for business, too. 

Moderating Comments

Moderating  blog Comments

You will have to make a choice on whether youd like folks to leave comments on your blog or not. All the platforms have the ability to allow/disallow this function. Allowing comments is a great way to build , community with your readers, and they are more likely to spread the word about you when they know you are , real and they feel connected to you somehow. There is a downside, though. Some systems, notably the Bblog platform, end up attracting , Comment Spam.

Comment Spam is an unfortunate reality of blogging for many folks, though it is manageable. Spammers employ robots that crawl around and look for comment boxes to fill in with their spam message. In systems without visual ID boxes (those nifty little pictures with words in them), these robots can post hundreds of comments an hour to one of your posted articles. If youve set your system to allow comments to go live, they will , leaving you the mess to clean up and, in some cases, causing the engines to take note of , your questionable taste in linking. Setting your system to moderate comments, though, can limit the problems for you. You personally will still need to wade through the hundreds of spam comments awaiting approval before being put up on the live blog, but at least they never went live. Since most spammers using this trick are touting adult content, etc., this is a good option to keep your good name intact with readers. Nothing can kill a blog faster than spam comments with hundreds of links to adult content. A third option should allow you to turn off comments altogether.

Each system will differ slightly, but it will all become part of a fast process when you learn the system youre on. Do the research first, though, and ask questions about this stuff to make the right choice before you start posting. I personally use Bblog (and now, WordPress). I have run into the comment spam issue. I have solved it to my satisfaction , meaning its not happening any more. One quick tip , if theres an option which allows , trackback URLs to be turned off , take it , turn them off and avoid 99% of the spam problems. These URLs are simply the actual URL for a posted article, shown on the screen. Those robots the spammers use cruise around looking for exactly those URLs to scrape and send their spam to through the comment fields on each post. Turning this option off, or, as in my own case, removing it from the coding, means they have no URL to scrape.subdomain is basically like another whole website.

Subdomains have been targets of spammers, so be careful when using them.

Subdomains look like this: The subdomain replaces the www in the URL. Youd want to use subdomains when you have topically RELATED content to display, but content which is not on-topic for the actual website itself. Seeds are related to gardening, though the sites main focus is gardening tools.One really great thing about subdomains is because they are actually part of the main website, they avoid any sandbox penalties Google applies to brand new websites.You can use keywords to name the subdomain, but this was the trick spammers used to use  create endless numbers of subdomains off of one already indexed website to get the newer pages ranked quicker. Avoid doing this and stick to using a subdomain when it makes sense.

If you already have a website, and wish to expand the focus to a related topic, the subdomain might be the way to go rather than simply creating new folders and adding new links into the existing nav. The new, subdomained website are can have its own look and feel, layout, etc. while still remaining topically relevant to the original site.Cross-linking between the main website and the subdomain will not give you any benefits, so just place links where they make sense between the two.

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