Your Blog with an Eye on the Needed SEO (Right from the Start)

We all know that we need to pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization) whether we are experts or not (or whether we want to be experts or not!). So, how do we start a new blog, equipped with the needed SEO foundations, without losing our head or losing our enjoyment of creating the blog?

Let’s discuss that!

A blog is one of the most powerful digital marketing tools you have at your disposal, but only if you know how to reach your target audience. Blogging is one of the quickest ways to increase your following and build your brand.

Even though there are millions of blogs online, it’s easy to make yours stand out even in the midst of the competition. In fact, even if you are like me and already have quite a few blogs online, that doesn’t mean that you cannot venture out and create yet another unique and brilliant blog!

We could probably sit down and list all of the fun aspects of the creation of that new blog, especially if it is one for which we feel passion. However, if no one is listening, it can get a bit lonely, eh? That is why it is so important to ensure that we are getting the word out, or more accurately, that we are drawing traffic to our blog, so that we have that audience.

By having that audience, it can help us to grow our passion even more and that will come out in the quality of the content that we produce on our blog. What is one of the most foundational aspects to growing that audience? It is ensuring that our blog is SEO optimized, right out of the starting gate.

Ok, have I really told you something that you don’t already know? After all, that is likely one of the reasons that you visit seochat.com, eh?

Ok, back to our topic… we can always “get the word out” at intermittent, strategic, and/or consistent intervals (preferably), but if we don’t start with a blog that has the basics, when it comes to SEO, we have a lot more work ahead of us. And, who wants to work when we can be producing content with all that brilliant passion, instead?

So, let’s get it started correctly, eh? In other words, it is easier to work “smart” than to work “hard,” right?

Getting Started… First Steps

Getting your blog up and running is much easier than one may think. In less than 30 minutes, you can have your blog up and running. So, without further adieu, let’s have a look and see how we can set up a blog in a few quick steps. Then, we will come back and talk a bit more about that SEO.

Choosing a Platform or Approach

Deciding where you want to create your blog is step one. If you are looking to save money, WordPress.com is an option. By far, it’s the largest blogging platform in the world, with an endless array of plugins and add-ons. You pretty much have an infinite amount of choices when it comes to designing your blog. There is also an option to host a WordPress installation in a self-hosted environment.

To Host or Not to Host (Also, To Register or Not to Register… a Domain)

Before we go any further, you need to decide whether you want to self-host or go with a free alternative. While there are pros and cons of both options, take note that with a free service, you won’t be able to have your own domain name.

If you are just blogging for fun, that’s okay, but for businesses trying to make a name for themselves, it is much better to go with a paid service where you can “own” your domain. (Technically, you are registering a domain name and leasing it, but many times people confuse that with ownership and it is called “owning” a domain, in slang terms.)

Along with SEO, this (“owning of the domain”) can increase website traffic by leaps and bounds. You see, having your own domain establishes your brand and your credibility. It helps to build trust in your business.

Design Your Blog

Designing the blog is where you get to choose your theme. Before jumping in with both feet, think about your business and what type of vibe you want people to get when visiting your blog. While creativity is key, you want to make sure whichever theme you choose goes hand in hand with your product and/or the service you will provide.

Even if the service is “only” the delivery of content (no shame in that!), it is still a service and the delivery of the product of your digital content. So, keep that in mind when deciding what you want your site to look like.

For an excellent in-depth discussion of these topics, visit this article on setting up your blog: “How to Start a Blog.” Then, come back here and we will continue our discussion on getting those SEO foundational blocks in place.

SEO is King

After you have set up your blog and brainstormed some ideas of what you want to blog about, it’s time to hone in on SEO. Remember, we are still putting together the framework for our search engine optimization foundation even as we build our blog (site), so this is just the right time to do it, remember?

Like we said earlier, SEO is what brings visitors to your blog. It is what keeps the conversation going. It is essential to your success as a blogger, as a publisher of digital content.

Due to the fact that every blog post you write actually becomes a web page, you need to make the most of the SEO opportunity. Write about keyword-rich topics that you would search for online if you were a consumer. SEO is far more than a few strategically placed words throughout your blog.

It is a matter of knowing which words to use, and when. It is also a case of knowing why these keywords and keyword phrases work so well (in drawing traffic). Now, use that knowledge!

The Successful Strategy and Use of Keywords

When used properly, keywords (and keyword phrases) should have the following characteristics:

  • They are only used a handful of times in your post. Overkill of keywords will only have your post flagged as spam by Google.
  • They flow naturally throughout the conversation of the blog post.
  • They are a combination of several words or a single word that directly relates to what you are blogging about in that post (or series of posts).

Continuing Your Success

In the world of online marketing, your focus needs to be on developing a relationship with your visitors. Proper and strategic use of SEO can get the traffic to the site, but you also need to ensure that you keep your audience combing back to the blog/site for more brilliant and entertaining digital content.

This is done through your effective relationship-building process and keeping the conversation going. That is why a well-written blog combined with strategically placed keywords, combined with that personality of YOU, will help build your online reputation and over time, increase traffic to your website. It is like a well-oiled circle. Then again, who oils circles?

You Have Been Doing Content Research Wrong… Now Do It Right!

Alright, so the title of this post might be a little clickbaity for my tastes. But I stand behind the statement: you are probably researching your articles the "wrong" way. Or, you are at least probably not going it as efficiently as you could be… which could be detrimental to both the results of your work, and your overall productivity.

The Stages Of Article Research

Unlike academic research, which we all learn in school and often get bogged down in, online content research is pretty simple. Unfortunately it is that simplicity that can often lead to mistakes, or just bare facts that don’t hold as much detail as our readers could use.

Instead of doing the usual source citation, you should break your research down into two stages. The first is the research you do before, and the second is the research you do during the article writing process.

Pre-Research

Before you write is the pre-research, as in pre-writing. This is where you are going to find your general facts that will support your post. This is also where you are going to draw your primary sources, which will be linked through the body of your content.

I always prefer to follow the 3x rule. You want to find three times as many sources as you will use, and pair them against one another. You keep finding sources in batches of three until you are able to verify each against one another.

This is a simple way to ensure you are finding non-biased, verifiable facts, and not baseless opinions. With misinformation running rampant thanks to lazy bloggers and social media, this is a very important process.

You don’t want to become one of those bloggers posting factual inaccuracies like they are gospel truth. Not only does this add to a serious problem in online content creation, but it impacts your authority. We all know how important that authority is to the growth of a brand.

Your article is going to be broken into sections and subheadings. These will steer your research in many ways giving you more ideas which angles and problems to cover. SERPstat is a great tool letting you research niche questions:

SERPstat keywords

All of these questions may become subheadings of your future article (or inspire follow-up articles). You can export them in Excel and sort them into "existing content", "currently working on" and "future articles".

Supporting Research

Next, you have the research you do while you are creating your post. These are supporting details related to the above citations you have found. It is also where you will narrow down the links you intend to embed, if you don’t choose all three supporting posts.

This part is much simpler, and it more about giving readers additional information to follow. Sometimes I just provide a small masterlist of links for more data if the reader chooses, so I can focus more the quality of the content.

6 Tools To Make Research a Breeze

First Site Guide has a neat guide on how to brainstorm, research and creat different types of content. And here are a few tools to help out:

  1. Google Drive Research Box – I use Google Drive for pretty much everything, including writing and backing up posts. I find it much more manageable than other cloud services. One of the features I love best is the research box. You highlight a keyword or phrase, and right click. It will have an option to research the highlighted section. This brings up a side box with related sources, which you can view right in your screen. Because it uses Google results you have to be just as selective as you would be from a straight search, but it is much more convenient.
  2. Freemind – This is a great tool if you are dealing with a large post that is going to have a lot of involved research. Breaking the task down into simpler, smaller parts is a tried and true tactic. Freemind is a mindmapper tool that lets you do that. You can plan out the entire post, including linking sources so everything you need ends up in one place. All using a template that lets you easily move, edit and reformat before you ever get to the writing process.
  3. Bulk Suggest Tool – You may be wondering what an SEO tool is doing here. After all, this is about researching for articles, not for marketing. I would argue that they are technically in the same vein, but that isn’t why I included it. I have used this bulk keyword suggestion app to create lists of related key phrases I may not have thought of. This helps me to broaden my research based on what people have published or searched for online. So I may end up with sources I never would have found, because I wasn’t using the right combination of keywords.
  4. Digital Research Tool (DiRT)  – This is a fantastic masterlist of tools aimed at scholars, especially those in the social science and humanities. However, I think it is a great place for bloggers to find research tools they need for any number of purposes. They are broken down into categories, which you can select on the front page. You are then taken to the tool that is best for the job at hand. It is the best collection of research redirects I have ever found, and much more efficient than trying to keep track of everything on your own.
  5. Quora – Normally I would avoid social media like the plague when it comes to research. There is just too much garbage floating around, and opinion outweighs facts and logic at almost all times. But I will make an exception for Quora. In spite the fact that it is a platform that is very easy to abuse, it is full of genuine experts with backed up information. It requires you to offer well thought out answers, and to provide a source or reason for your knowledge. I go there all the time to find great links to scholarly articles, studies, website tools, or to get first hand soundbites from major players in the industry that know about topics first hand.
  6. MyBlogU – Speaking of experts, MyBlogU is another great place to find them. I usually go here for expert quotes as part of the secondary research process (finding backup information and supporting details). It is an easy way to add further gravity to something you have already officially cited, straight from the mouths of the people who know best.

Do you have a research tool to put on the list? Let us know in the comments!

How Infographics Can Improve Your SEO!

In the highly visual business world of today, the infographic (or infographics) that you use can make the difference between your online visibility and the stagnation of your marketing efforts.

Here are just a few of the ways in which using the right infographic(s) improves your search engine optimization (SEO) endeavors.

Cleveland SEO Guy Danny Todd (a.k.a. “Cleveland SEO Guy”) defines infographics this way, “Infographics are cleverly illustrated, colorful, easy-to-read, and often vertically-oriented images, showing charts, graphs, figures, and other useful information.

Chances are that you’ve seen a few in the last week. Though written content should be the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy, don’t underutilize infographics. They have their advantages.”


Quick Observations of an Effective Infographic

Let’s take a look at the infographic to the left, to get us going on the topic of infographics. It is called the “Top 5 Male Athlete Hairstyles (Infographic)” and it is an infographic by the team at Men’s Hairstyles Club.

Infographic

What can we learn by looking at this infographic?

  • Infographics can be made to share any message or topic. I mean, would you have thought of hairstyles for men?
  • Infographics can be long and vertical. (They can also be wide and horizontal!) In other words, infographics can come in many sizes and shapes.
  • Infographics tend to include text and additional images (and sometimes statistics or how-to steps, like this one does).


Benefits of Infographics (to SEO Endeavors)

So, what is the big deal with the SEO benefit(s)? Glad you asked! That is what we are presenting in the rest of this article!

And, it includes some expert tips from those “in the know.”

Benefit 1: Make the ranking process easier.

Get your page listed in the “image search” of search engines. You don’t have to be limited to only the default text search.

The Google image search is just as powerful as the text search, and people will be able to find you on two lists instead of just one.

The image database is generally smaller (as compared to text search), meaning that you automatically put yourself in a better position by even using images in the first place. If the images are relevant, you have an even better chance at doing well in the search engine(s).

Let’s not forget about Bing image search. After all, there is not only “one” game in town when it comes to searching the web. 🙂

Janette Speyer According to Janette Speyer (Partner at Web Success Team and Hot Ice Media), “If you use Google, you have the option to search for images. Once you put alt tags, keywords, and titles on your infographics, your blog will be more easily found [in the image search].

If your blog gets very little traffic, you have the advantage of [using] the images (infographics) to make up for it.” Hopefully, this moves you up to where you need to be in the ranking!

Benefit 2: Benefit by social interaction (and the resulting SEO ranking).

Gain visual recognition with your potential viewer. This leads to interaction which leads to better rankings.

As a part of that interaction, give the audience (people) something to talk about, which is the name of the game for a really well-constructed infographic.

David Leonhardt According to David Leonhardt (President, THGM Writers), “SEO is highly dependent on the perceptions of online ‘publishers.’

By publishers, I mean anybody from the New York Times to my uncle, when he posts to Facebook. Every time a company is mentioned in an article or in a tweet, it helps the SEO effort. Infographics give people something to talk about, or from an SEO perspective, a reason to talk about you.”

The major search engines are constantly determining the relevance of your content by the human reaction to it. Pictures ensure that more people interact with the content.

This is simply a fact because people react and interact with media. (Remember the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?”)

Cleveland SEO Guy On the topic of social sharing and delivering the message, Danny Todd says, “For one, they stand out amidst a sea of text. Website visitors can quickly differentiate between an ordinary picture and an infographic.

Using them just often enough keeps things interesting. They also make it easy to compress and simplify what might otherwise be exceedingly complex information, reducing extraneous details and distilling the crucial facts into an easy-to-understand format.

If your infographics are relevant and informative (as all your content should be), they’re likely to be shared on social media.”

The human interaction (and reaction) pushes your content up in the search engine listings. It also gives you more organic click-throughs, a statistic that will help your ranking improve even more, in the long run.

Benefit 3: Gain the ability to use more tags.

Pictures can have tags just as easily as any other content. This option helps those of you who want to raise the count of a certain keyword on your webpage without turning what could have been an excellent article into a keyword-soaked piece of worthless dribble. How? Include infographics!

By doing this (including an infographic), you may then use the tags that are inherent in the picture as another excuse to put the keyword on your page. Google and the other major search engines will recognize this as a valid use of your keyword and associate your page more readily with it. The more easily that your page connects with a keyword, the higher your search ranking goes.

Helpful Tips from the Experts

When asking our Expert Panel what else they would recommend, regarding infographics (beyond just SEO), they gave us the following tips.

Keep It Simple (Content)

David LeonhardtAccording to David Leonhardt, “Keep it simple. If you want people to talk about you, give them something simple that they will understand.

Don’t try to create the longest Infographic of the ‘Everything about…[such and such]’ variety. Assemble a few pieces of interesting data that are tightly related, to form a single idea.”

Keep It Easy (Production)

David LeonhardtDavid Leonhardt continues, “The design does not have to be fancy, either. My most successful Infographic ever was made in a simple table format that I had whipped up on Fiverr. It will never win a beauty contest, and just might be in line to enter an ugly contest (but it looks better on Slideshare).

The key to its success is that the idea is simple and captivating, and people have been sharing it ever since.”

Gain Exposure for Your Brand

Cleveland SEO GuyAccording to Danny Todd, “Content marketing with infographics has grown rapidly in recent times, with little sign that readers are growing tired of them. The ability to condense a lot of information into a simple graphic makes them easy to follow, but the infographics can still impart well-researched knowledge.

For the content creator, an infographic can spread across the web, providing branding and SEO benefits that can last long into the future. Businesses that ignored the trend will be wondering whether they should get started with infographics now. Read more…”

Janette Speyer Janette Speyer offers this tip: “I also share my images on authority websites like Instagram, Pinterest, and more. This gives me more opportunities to be found. The ultimate goal is for people to see my blog, right? Any way you can post or syndicate those images will increase your chances of being seen.”


Expert Panel

Wondering who these experts are? Wanting to find them so that you can follow them on social media and learn more amazing tips?

Well, you’ve arrived at the right place. Here is a short listing of their biographies and social media links, for your convenience. This was made easier through the use of the wonderful online tool, MyBlogU. Thanks, MyBlogU!


David Leonhardt (President, THGM Writers)

David LeonhardtInfographics have never been central to my SEO efforts. But I have created (well, supervised the creation of) at least a dozen Infographics in my day.

These have covered fields as diverse as tech, housing, and fertility. Done properly, Infographics can be an effective form of content marketing.

Twitter: twitter.com/amabaie
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/davidleonhardt
Website: thgmwriters.com


Danny Todd (a.k.a. the Cleveland SEO Guy)

Cleveland SEO Guy

I am known as the Cleveland SEO Guy. I started in the SEO business in the 1990s when it was a far less complicated industry. Over the years, I’ve formed relationships with some of the leading SEO experts in the business.

In doing so, I’ve learned SEO secrets that very few in the SEO services business actually know. This is why I consistently rank sites in the top 10 results on Google for competitive terms, while some of my competitors struggle to achieve top 100 listings.

Twitter: twitter.com/clevelandseoguy
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-cleveland-seo-guy
Website: clevelandseoguy.com


Janette Speyer (Graphic Artist)

Janette Speyer

I started my career as a graphic artist. In early 2000, I merged my business into the digital space. At that time graphics were not searchable, so we avoided them like the plague. As more social media platforms made their way into the world, images became not only a must but a necessity.

I took to adding infographics to my blogs for those that wanted just a quick visual of what I was writing about at the time. I developed many graphics and used social media to bring more traffic to my website. The images boosted my traffic by a good thirty percent (30%).

Twitter: twitter.com/websuccess
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/web-success-team
Website: hoticemedia.com

Conclusion

In short, use infographics whenever you can in your presentations online. You gain credibility with your audience and with the major search engines! Your content is more easily found, and you will improve your overall online marketing ROI (return-on-investment) simply by formatting your research in this way.