Blog SEO Begins on the Home Page

It’s easy to get so caught up in posting fresh content for your blog that you forget to take care of one very important page: your blog’s home page. You might be surprised by how much authority and how many links – and visitors – this page can attract if you optimize it properly.

Scott Cowley brought this to my attention in a post for Search Engine Journal. Many blog home pages don’t have much content of their own beyond each day’s new posts, which makes optimization a challenge. So what can a blogger do?

Well, let’s start with the title of your blog. Cowley noted that most blogs just use some variation of “Company X Blog” as their title. That might be okay if you’re focused on branding, but it’s not very descriptive; in fact, it’s kind of boring, which may be the last thing you want if you’re trying to attract visitors from the search engines. Picking a highly-competitive title like “SEO Blog” isn’t necessarily the right answer, either.

So what should you put in your title? Michael Martinez uses a very simple description of what his blog is all about in his title: SEO Theory and Analysis. You can take the same approach, but you need to do some keyword research.  What topic do you want to make the focus of your blog? Do you even want to call it a “blog”? If you’re writing a blog that gives step-by-step descriptions of how to code smartphone applications, for instance, you could use words like “tips,” “hacks,” “tools,” “how-tos,” “tutorials,” and more. Cowley encourages you to “Get creative with a thesaurus” to find “less-competitive, more attainable words.”

Next, plan to optimize everything on your blog’s home page that you’d ordinarily optimize on every other page. This means paying attention to your blog’s title tag, H1 tag, body content, and internal links pointing to the page. You might have to add a few code tweaks to pull this off, because, as Cowley observes, most blogs aren’t set up to optimize the home page as you would a normal page.

The title tag and meta description should be a breeze; you can easily use keywords there. But what about the H1 tag? You’ll probably need to add one above your regular posts. You can give it something very short and descriptive that won’t detract from the rest of the page. Likewise, internal links shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Any writer worth their salt can come up with a sensible and creative way to link an article to a blog’s or site’s home page, especially when they’re covering the field of SEO.

The sticking point for blog home page optimization, however, is content. Most blog home pages don’t feature much static content. Post pages, on the other hand, give you hundreds of words with which to work SEO magic. Regular bloggers often put their static content in an About Me page. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but that’s not where your posts will get read, and hardly anybody will link to it. You need to get some static content on your blog home page, where it will do some good.

So how do you accomplish this? Cowley notes two different techniques. One way is to build a sidebar into which you incorporate static content. If you do that, however, that content will show up on every page, not just your blog’s home page. That amounts to an unacceptable dilution of your SEO effort.

So forget about the sidebar. Instead, consider adding a block of text that comes just before or just after your most recent posts on your home page. Make sure you code it so that the text shows up ONLY on your blog home page, and not on any other page of your site. Cowley observes that not many bloggers are doing this, “but it enhances the SEO in a way that an optimized title tag alone can’t.”

You can use this static content to talk about the topics you plan to cover. For example, “This blog will document my journey as I attempt to learn one new craft every week for a year and use every one of them to embellish one dress.” (Okay, I get crazy ideas sometimes). You can talk about your background, dreams, hopes, approach to your blog…anything that’s relevant.

Don’t go on for too long, however. You really hope that your visitors will want to read and keep up with your new posts, so the point of this static content on your blog (beyond the obvious SEO purpose) is to whet their appetite for your posts. Cowley linked to one example he described as “awkward.” I checked it; at almost 300 words, it seemed overly long and set off my “keyword stuffing” meter. But you can look at it as a starting point of sorts, upon which you can improve.

You might want to try various different lengths and phrasing to see what works best. Having read Cowley’s example, if I were doing this for my own blog, I’d shoot for around 200 words in two to three short paragraphs, and try to use my chosen keywords no more than twice per paragraph. (Cowley’s example used their chosen keyword a minimum of 10 times, and I’m not counting all of the phrases that were clearly derivations of the keyword). I’d keep it for at least a month or two, do some analytics, and then decide if I want to tweak things. That’s one of the truths about SEO: nothing is static forever, not even static content. Still, this is one piece of static content that should help the rest of your (dynamic) blog. Good luck!

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