Where to place your keywords?

A number of well researched keywords can be used all over your article but it is effective to place them where search engines and your readers can detect them easily. People tend to scan pages, usually only the first page, for the information they are looking for. They are not prepared to read everything you write but only the stuff they need and scanning is one way to do that. If you write about keywords I suppose it is logical to put it your blog post title. If you describe a process or explain something, let your readers know this perspective and the title is a great place for that.

Blog title and blog post tile

The main purpose of a title is to get attention and make your readers want more. Your title should not be so concise that it is not inviting readers to read the whole article neither do you want to trick people by writing about something that has got nothing to do with the title.

If it is appropriate place a keyword in the title and use it at the beginning rather than the end. Also keep in mind not to make the title too long otherwise you end up with only half of it in the search results in Google. In that case it is better to opt for a sub title or a head line.

Headers and sub headings

Headlines are another effective facilitator for scanning. They give readers a quick overview of what is in the article. Placing a keyword in a header is effective but again keep in mind that it should be appropriate. Don’t become a so-called keyword bomber or – stuffer.  Google does not like this and your blog may be blocked rather than climb the search engine ladder. As long as your article reads natural and creates a great user experience, include a keyword.

Content, ‘About Me ‘and links

Keywords can be placed in the rest of your content, the ‘About me’ page and in links to your other posts. It is very likely that several posts have the same keywords as some of your previous posts and it is logical to refer to them. There are ratios in place on the amount and frequency of keywords in an article but I will have to dig a little deeper before I understand what the full impact is of those.

Apparently emotional terms in your titles and headers appeal more than a functional description of an article’s content.  This is based on the fundamental desires that drive our behaviour. It does not matter what you call them or how many there are but some core desires include love, security, change, contribution, curiosity and achievement to name a view. Such words or values in your content attract more attention as they appeal to our needs and wants. From a search point of view, your readers may put such words into search engines to find what they are looking for.

Another interesting factor is that you can use synonyms for your keywords. Search engines have algorithms that take synonyms into consideration and rank them accordingly. This applies more to English sites than to other languages. This is interesting as you have more creative freedom to write a great post while optimising SEO tactics.

And THAT is to my opinion still the best achievement – optimising SEO while at the same time keeping the user experience to an optimum.

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Rethinking blog audience and design

I am currently having another go at my future blog about ‘Gourmet and Style‘. And it drives me crazy to have to make important decisions on it appearance and structure. My graphic designer and in the meantime good friend, is in charge of the looks and one of my daughter’s friends is the mind behind the structure.

It has not been easy so far and the two times I have been presented with a new design it has thrown me even more. It is hard to get across how you want your blog to look if you don’t really know yourself if that is structurally possible. Also it is hard to imagine in advance what all the different elements look together when they put on one page.

In my case the first attempt looked like a supermarket recipe card and the second was compared to a “Better Homes and Gardens” article. Both smart and attractive enough but not what I have in mind. The question is now ‘what do I have in mind?’ I was recommended to create my own blog page design with ‘cut and paste’, like children do.  In that way I can create a composition that I like and works.

I actually really like the ‘time-line’ of Facebook and the reason I find it attractive is because of its lay-out. It is the little picture set in the large header and the different columns over the page. It breaks up the monotony of rectangular blocks and lines. Both designs that were offered to me were too blocky and had no little quirky items that break up that sequence.

Who am I writing for?

This is only one of the issues as yesterday I had an interesting exchange regarding target audience with a male from a different age group.  He was the one who compared the design to a “Better Homes and Gardens page. He did ask me why I did not write for his generation. My answer was that he was not my target audience and he replied’ why not?

Really!!! Thorough and pedantic as I may seem I have to admit that this threw me quite a bit and I feel that I need to step back and review my goals for this blog. With the result that my ideas about the design may change.

The pro’s and con’ of creating

It is great to start your own business or website because you are in charge, you can make decisions and you are able to create your own conditions. But this is not as easy as it sounds and you have to be very confident that you make the right decisions. Or you just have to choose which way you go and run with it.

I have decided to do the following: I really hoped my blog would be finished by the end of June 2012. I am planning a trip to Europe and wanted to kick-start my blog with articles about gourmet and style from a European perspective.  I will still do that but I will start with a hosted site and template just like ‘Blogexercise’. When I get back from Europe in August I will re-assess the self-hosted version.

Not much new today however common issues for other bloggers as well!

How is your search engine visibility?

If you are blogging for success and want your blog to be found you will need to increase your search engine visibility. Search engines provide web browsers with relevant information based on the keywords that were used for the search. You will attract genuine readers but unfortunately also spammers. The way to deal with the latter is to ensure that your blog has some kind of spam tracking software that filters unwanted comments before they are published.

One of the ways to increasing your search engine visibility is the use of keywords. The trick is to select a small number of keywords and place them in your article in such a way that it enhances the natural flow of your content. You don’t want to sacrifice the experience of your users for the sake of SEO. Search engine optimisation is a means to an end and it should not be your sole goal!

What is exactly quality content?

Most articles about SEO will tell you that one of the most important factors is your content. Google likes quality content. My first question is ‘how to define quality? It could be a matter of opinion. Let’s be honest there are websites  that look classy and offer great information and can be found on page 3 while others are full of ads, appear less user friendly but they are on page 1.

As an exercise I Googled “quality content” and read the first post on page 1. It says the following:

“The key to website success is quality content. Quality content is something that your visitors will enjoy reading, watching or listening to and will refer their friends, colleagues, family members and others to it”.

Nice sentence but how does it make you any wiser? I may think that something is quality content but you may not agree. I think my blog “Blogexercise’ looks nice, classy and offers good information. Still my audience is small, growing but nevertheless small. So who decides what ‘quality content’ is?

Apparently Google does, but on what is that based? Google has a tool called ‘Google Webmaster Tool” and as long as content stays within the guidelines of this tool, it is technically not considered spam even if it is so-called ‘shallow content’.

In whatever way it is said, it is so subjective to my opinion. And opinions and perceptions changes over time. With the increasing knowledge of the effects of SEO, new technologies, faster computers it becomes more complicated to define something although I do like the way Google describes the following.  According to Google, “high quality content” is content that you can send to your child to learn something”.

Just think for a moment of the implications of that statement…..

How to select keywords for your blog

Since I started having a closer look at SEO I have found myself checking my blog a lot more. Every time when I publish a post I keep an eye on the amount of views and comments I get. Quite exciting to be honest to see the figures and as a result I have become more interested in getting up in the rankings.

Also interesting is that I have received a lot more comments since I explore SEO and it seems that this topic is close to many readers’ heart. Some comments have been bizarre but most of them are useful and give me the feeling that I am adding value to people’s websites and blogs.

So thanks for all the positive and inspiring comments!

How to choose effective key words?

‘Is there a magic formula to ‘find out’ what keywords to use?

This is how I ended my last post. I have been trying to get an answer to this question and have again found out that there is a lot written about keywords. I am trying to simplify it and have picked some of the main points to work with. Let’s start at the beginning.

  • You have a blog and write content for it. Your aim is for people to find you, to read and ideally subscribe to your blog
  • You have an idea who your target audience is and you write your posts accordingly
  • You want this audience to find your blog when they search for information. In other words you need to anticipate what words they put in search engines such as Google and Yahoo
  • If you can anticipate such words you can use them as keywords in your blog
  • Search engine spiders depend on keywords to find your site therefore a lack of keywords in your blog prevents the spiders from finding you and consequently your readers as well

Keyword selection is an important part of your marketing strategy and is vital for your search engine optimisation. The words in your blog are indexed by search engine spiders who classify your blog content.

To my opinion one of the main objectives of your site is to provide a satisfying user experience. If you have been capable of selecting appropriate keywords and place them in your blog content, you will attract more searches and your readers will be able to find your information. It is as simple as that!

The process of keyword selection

Brainstorm keywords:

Once you have defined your target audience, anticipated what words they search, you can start brainstorming possible keywords. No need to be too hard on yourself at this stage as the main aim is to get a list with keywords. Be creative, persistent and stay clear from words that are too competitive.

For example if you want to write about ‘organic herbs’ don’t use the word ‘herbs’ as a keyword. It is too general and you will compete with every other site that has anything with herbs on it. Use a keyword phrase instead that indicates that you write about ‘organic herbs’.

Research keywords:

The next step is to research the effect of your selected keywords. There are a number of specific tools for this purpose but before I go further into this topic I like to widen my research. Examples of keyword search tools are ‘Google Trends’, Word tracker and Trellian Keyword Discovery.

Placing keywords in your content:

Place keywords in the content of your blog ensuring to maintain a natural flow. You have to use them where they make sense and where they facilitate a better search result for your target audience. Ideally each page should have 1-3 related keywords.

Once you have placed well researched keywords in your content, search engine spiders can find your site and you will be able to offer your readers a better experience. The result may be that they come back for more, talk about your site and become one of your followers.

 

Titles and keywords

It has become obvious to me that I need to write an article about the importance of keywords in blog post titles. Two day ago I elaborated about the general use of key words in blog posts. While doing that I came across the fact that keywords in the title of your blog post have an important function.

Well guess what! After that bit of information I have changed the title of that particular article three times while it was already published. It even woke me up in the middle of the night. The final title is ‘Keywords, SEO and competence’ because that is what the article is about.

The importance of blog post titles

There are a couple of rules when it comes to post titles. I have touched some basics  in a previous blog post, but there is lot more to it. I mentioned the relevance of the title to the article, the use of keywords in your title and its length. Pretty straightforward stuff. This time I like to explore the issue a little further and look into the importance of your title when it comes to search engines. In other words what are the best title and keywords to use in order to be found?

If you write about a certain topic it seems logical to let the title reflect the content of your article – either literally or metaphorically. Even more so it is desirable to choose keywords for your post title that not only reflect your content but at the same time are terms that people put in search engines to find information. Anticipating what words your readers and followers use for their search and using those words in your title and blog post is crucial for your post to be ‘visible’ and consequently climb the rankings.

Keywords, anticipation and perception

This is not as easy as it sounds. We all perceive things in different ways and use different ways to describe experiences. That’s why languages can be so rich in their vocabulary. For any word you can find several others that describe in similar ways the issue you read or write about – let alone all the words that come into existence with the emergence of new trends and technologies.

So how to know what to put in search engines if there are so many ways to describe the same thing. Furthermore how to know what words your target audience would use to search the net. And we should not forget to mention what words Google likes to search for. It’s a science in itself!

In sum,  you want to write a blog post. Your aim and purpose is to express yourself and to get an audience. Your main goal is to please the reader and not the search engine. But in order for your reader to find you, you’ll have to use words that are ‘liked’ by the search engines.  The perfect blog post title should therefore have it all! It should ideally be interesting, original, being full of inspiration and creating different perspectives while containing those keywords that actually will be ‘Googled’ by your readers in order to find you.

My immediate question is the following:

‘Is there a magic formula to ‘find out’ what keywords to use?

Keywords, SEO and competence

As I am now well and truly on the road to SEO ‘perfection’ I feel that something has shifted. It is a little bit as the psychological Learning Model of Competence. There are four stages for learning a new skill being:

  1. Unconscious incompetence
  2. Conscious incompetence
  3. Conscious competence
  4. Unconscious competence

The state of ‘Conscious Incompetence’

Before I started blogging I was more or less unaware of search engine optimisation and was blissfully ‘unconsciously incompetent’. After dabbling a bit with websites and my current blog I became aware that SEO is a factor to consider and I became ‘consciously incompetent’. After establishing a need for SEO mastery I am now attempting to become ‘consciously competent’ and hopefully will achieve in the near future the level of ‘unconscious competence’.

A quick recap regarding SEO. In some of my previous posts I have talked about the important of the quality of your content is and the use of social media to spread the word. So what’s the next important thing?

Keywords and their use

What is exactly a keyword? A keyword is a word that helps you find information about a topic. It opens the door to useful resources. Keywords have been around long before the age of the internet. They are an essential part of any language and were originally used to support the writer’s reasoning, the composition of an article and the readers’ comprehension of a topic.

The use of keywords for the purpose of SEO has diffused this meaning somehow and many online writers use keywords for the sake of being found. This is largely due to search engines such as Google who identifies certain words in a text and compares them to a larger list of words – a so-called reference corpus. The result may be that an article can be found but not that it necessarily is of a high standard.

The trick is to use key words in your articles and blogs in such a way that they appear to be a natural part of the flow while functionally supporting the meaning of your text. The latter is important as they should describe your topic in such a way that your potential readers can ‘anticipate’ them and use them in search engines to find your article.

To turn this around, you as a writer will have to ‘anticipate’ what people may be looking for. You will have to be able to come up with words that people put in search engines to find the information that is useful to them – in other words, to find your article! You will have to assess your readers’ needs, tailor your information including keywords to those needs and position yourself in such a way that you and your blog can be found.

Sounds easy? Well it’s not! And the proof is the amount of sites that are not on the first page. It is a competitive business out there and only the best get to the top. Furthermore I am still not convinced that it is possible to be at the top without paying for it, but I’ll keep on searching for answers.

Great information you may think, but how do I decide what keywords to choose? Well my next article will be exactly about that!

SEO tactics, tips and guides

When you Google Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and blogging you can choose from the ‘Most Effective 21 Tactics’, the ‘Best 8 First Steps” or the 6 Hottest SEO Tips’ and offcourse there is the ‘Guide to’ ….

Which one to choose? Or should I go for all of them? I suppose I will have to sift through everything to find the most effective but also the easiest to understand and the most accessible techniques. I am looking forward to the challenge. I will say upfront that I am not researching the methods that cost money at this stage. That will be my last resort when nothing else works.

It’s all about content!

When scanning over the articles I am attracted to an article of Problogger and its writer Darren Browse. I have read his blog and his book Problogger and I think it is a great help for serious bloggers. Darren Rowse reckons that the most important factor for SEO is writing great content. As a fact this may be debatable but looking at his personal experience he states that this factor has contributed hugely to his online success.

This one appeals to me because I believe that great articles will attract readers. It won’t happen overnight but bit by bit. Readers who like your article hopefully pass it on, like it or share it. The good old snow ball effect!

Rowse has several other tips but he finishes his article with his ‘hunch’ regarding content. He suggests ‘writing the best information that you can come up with’. According to him that is what Google appreciates the most and searches for. Most tips for SEO optimisation that can be found on line are considered the minimum effort that every blogger should put in in order to climb the rankings. Bottom line is still the quality of your content.

What to do with great content?

Okay, you have written a great article and published it on your blog. The following questions come to mind ‘How can someone find you?’ and ‘What do you need to do so Google and your readers knows that you are there?’

Social networks are great tools to spread the word. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are perfect for sharing your content. Once you have written and published your post, seed it to the social networks so your readers, friends and contacts can pass it on. The more readers you have the more it can be passed on through their networks. Logical but effective. Not fast but a gradual growth with a potential snowball effect.

So far this is all relatively logical – yet there may be many blogs that do not take the above into consideration. The point is to create interest for your blog because of your content and not only because of your skilled application of keywords, h-tags and meta-links. They have a purpose but will eventually lose their effect if your content is not up to scratch.

There is not much new to this but it is important enough to emphasise and dedicate a post to. More to come!

Discovering, writing and believing!

Every time when you publish an article in WordPress, there is a little saying in the side column. This one below took my fancy:

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe” (Gustave Flaubert).

I like writing, I like researching a topic and I like sharing my enthusiasm about something with others. I would make a good reviewer because I like to spread the news about good things. Unfortunately I can’t keep quiet about bad things either – I am therefore also a great whinger – a quality that may annoy some, but I feel that certain things need to be said and known so there is scope for improvement.

I generally believe in good standards and I honestly feel that people should not be able to get away with shoddy methods. Many do though! I don’t like it and I will very likely object. In the past I may have objected too harsh but I am practising the art of more gentle criticism and I get good results. And I am not the only one! Apparently an unhappy customer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience and 13% dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people! Only 4-6 people get to hear about a positive experience.

Social media have impacted these figures more than anything and word of mouth has been called ‘world of mouth’ as about a third of people who have experienced bad service will share it on the internet. The average reach of social media is 45 people. Pretty powerful stuff!

What do I believe in?

Aiming for high standards has to do with what I believe in. I believe that you have to give it your best otherwise do not bother. I try to write my blog posts in such a way that it is a pleasure to read them. I aim for interesting content that is new and not repeating itself and I attempt to achieve a professional image.

Since I have been blogging I have learned many new things but I also feel that the boundaries of the ‘blogosphere’ expand with every little bit of knowledge I acquire. A couple of weeks ago I almost felt overwhelmed by the extent of things I did not know. Is that what Flaubert means by his saying? Am I on the way to discovery when it comes to blogging? Is it more than sheer knowledge that makes a believable writer?

I suppose I am discovering what there is to know about blogging but more importantly I am finding out what are my beliefs regarding this topic. According to Flaubert I will have acquired the art of writing once I have become aware of my discoveries and know how to internalise them.

Complicated stuff? Surely, but also intriguing and I will continue to have a go at it. The topic that is ‘hot’ for me at the moment is SEO as mentioned in my most recent post. I need to learn about SEO in order to believe in it and consequently write about it. A worthy goal and I think my confidence may sky rocket after I know enough about SEO to feel confident enough to start educating others.

What a vicious circle and catch 22!

 


The road to SEO perfection

Looking at the type of comments I got on past posts about ranking and Search Engine Optimisation, I have to draw the conclusion that I do not know much about these topics. To be honest, so far I have written all my posts out of interest and I have never thought much about how to increase my traffic and readership. It is not that I am not interested; it is more the result of a lack of time. Furthermore so far it hasn’t really mattered that much to me.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy writing about my chosen topics and I am really flattered when people read my posts. However I don’t expect it as I have not yet committed to wanting to improve my ranking. I don’t know what to make out of it to be honest. First of all I am not sure whether it is possible to climb the ‘ranking ladder’ without paying for it.  I really know too little about it to have an educated opinion about it. If, and that is – if at all, I am interested in paying to get my blog higher in the rankings I feel I will have to educate myself first.

So far I have had a variety of comments about SEO. Some were helpful, informative and thought provoking while others were awkward, intrusive, belittling or condescending. I still have all of them and I like to evaluate them a little more to see which one could hold value for me and which ones are ready for dismissal.

So maybe in a month or so I know exactly what needs to be done, what keywords to use and whether they are supposed to be bold, Italics or a different colour. Interesting challenge… Some comments I received were about things I never heard of such as ‘H tags’. What on earth are they? I have read quite a bit about blogging, may not understand all of it, and there are obvious words and terms out here that are totally new to me.

Specialist or novice?

That makes it even more challenging. One thing I have noticed – it seems that many people who have a website or blog seem to know about SEO or ‘pretend’ to do so. When I get a comment with a link to a site that supposedly can assist me, it would be interesting to see where these sites are actually ranking. Their credibility would increase enormously if they have been able to reach the first page.

For now I accept defeat that I am a novice when it comes to SEO. Fortunately I have never pretended to be an expert on the topic and I won’t advice others until I am. Unless I manage to find my way to the top I keep on searching, filtering and sifting through the countless sites full of well-meant advice. Only then when I have mastered the art of successful SEO I will start telling others what may help.

Hope you stay with me!

Has blogging got a future?

“Is Blogging dead?”

A serious question raised some time ago by American Internet entrepreneur and blogger Jason Calacanis. Calacanis says it quite frankly during an interview last year: “There are a lot of stupid people out there ….and stupid people shouldn’t write”. He feels that the blogging system has to change to stop the above group from writing. I honestly thought we lived in a society with freedom of expression.

I have written about blogging and expertise in the past and a question that comes to my mind is the following? How important is it to ‘know’ about the topic you blog about? And if it is important to be knowledgeable or even an expert how “extensive” should your expertise be?

An answer to this question goes back to the essence of what a blog is and why people blog. There are many different types of blogs. Some are informative, some are educational and some are just fun. Deep down it does not matter – point is that anyone can start a blog and use it to publish his or her thoughts. People have a voice and a blog is a means to express that voice.

Our motives to blog

It is not hard to start a blog but publishing a blog does not mean that anyone reads it. Even that may not be important to some people especially if they write for family and friends. For the entrepreneurs amongst you this may be slightly a different scenario. Your audience is more important and the size of your readership could make your blog a success or not. But does no readership mean the blog is a failure?

If I have a look at my own blog, things seem to have changed. I started ‘Blogexercise’ for myself to dabble at blogging and to learn all aspects while engaging in the blogging activity. A great opportunity I still think! Initially I did not think too much about readers and the blog was no more than a mode of expressing myself and my thoughts.

Then however, I started to get comments and followers. Feels great by the way! I am by no means an expert in blogging as yet but I am on my way to becoming knowledgeable. So by now you could say that readership could have more impact. Well in a certain way it does but it still has no influence on me writing posts and researching the world of blogging. I still go my own way and occasionally take some comments in mind and combine them with my content.

That makes it more interesting and I am somehow addressing issues that others may have regarding blogging. And that is what experts do, don’t they? So my question is the following: ‘what is against that’? Why does Jason Calacanis have such an outspoken opinion about large amounts of bloggers being too stupid to say something worthwhile’?

Calacanis reckons that nobody cares for insignificant news anymore – if you blog you will have to be an expert otherwise nobody cares. That may be, but such a view could also lead to missing out on opportunities and not having a go at something. After all Jason Calacanis must once have been a new kid on the block just as many novice ‘stupid’ bloggers out there.

Just to get a perspective….