Many fallen warriors have gasped their dying breaths in mud, sweat and blood, crying plaintively to the heavens, Why doesn’t Google love me?
The answer to this could be anything from content to coding, but let’s not focus on the negatives here. Instead of tearing down your original work, let’s take a look at different ways you can bolster it into success and search engine history. Here are 20 things Google really appreciates in a well-written blog post.
The lifeblood of SEO is a strong set of keywords. Keep them simple and easily integrated into the text. If you’re posting a cupcake recipe, for example, you should sprinkle “cupcakes,” “baking,” and “desserts” throughout your post. If you rent giraffes for extreme sporting events, “giraffe racing” should be right at the top of the page.
What’s the point of your piece? Google isn’t going to read it, so make sure the pertinent information is readily available in the code itself. As a bonus, your users will thank you for not posting a giant wall of text.
These will tell Google what your post is all about, helping it categorize your content for better processing through its dark and terrifying algorithms. Don’t ever forget title tags, because they’re one of the simplest and most effective ways to market your blog.
A meta description is that little preview of your post that shows up in search results. If you don’t formulate your own, Google will just pluck something out of your document, robbing you of the chance to direct traffic to your website like an expert ringmaster. It’s like buying a big black hat and never using it.
Alt text serves two purposes: One, if someone’s browser or mobile phone won’t load your images, alt text will give them a concise description of what they’re missing. Two, Google will take note of any keywords in there, improving your ranking and furthering your cause for well-made cupcakes.
Clean, tidy HTML is a great way to please your robotic Google overlords. They hate anything with complicated or incomprehensible style attributes, so when you’re coding your blog post, try not to go overboard.
Inbound links tell Google you have good content that people are talking about. Like referrals at a job fair, they also prove that you’re on a reputable, trustworthy site that isn’t spam. Don’t be afraid to capitalize on this gullible system by forcing all your friends and family members to give you inbound links like they’re Jesse Pinkman and your site is a Nazi meth lab.
In addition to regular keywords, it’s important to use their synonyms and variations as well. Let’s say there’s a famous giraffe racer in Kenya who would love to rent Big Orange for his next tournament. What if he searches for “fast giraffe” or “giraffe for sale” instead of the more obvious “giraffe racing”? Are you going to deny Big O his day in the spotlight just because you couldn’t be bothered to use a thesaurus?
If possible, avoid giving your blog post an overly-complicated permalink such as http://www.blog.com/if-you-want-to-kill-your-ex-heres-what-you-need-to-8276363kjkkkp. Try to squeeze your keywords into something simpler, like http://www.blog.com/ten-tips-for-hiding-the-body.
Are you doing the Harlem Shake? Galloping with Gangnam Style? While Google doesn’t pay much attention to the ebbs and tides of viral video, one thing it will notice is your video tags.
This won’t work if you’re just guest-blogging for someone else’s site, but if you run your own, it’s worth the energy to create an XML or HTML sitemap. This allows Google’s ghostly tendrils to index the content from all your pages instead of just a certain post, which in turn boosts your chances of gaining a foothold in their hierarchy and appearing on the front page.
Many bloggers don’t even think about gaining traffic through pictures, but that’s why Google Images was created. Well, that and other reasons we won’t get into here. But it’s easy to take advantage of the system if you give your images relevant, descriptive file names, like “deodorantexplosion1” instead of just “1.” Who’s going to search Google Images for “1”?
This isn’t strictly necessary for a good blog post, but it can help prevent Google and other search engines from running into technical difficulties when their spiders skitter through your page. Invalidated source code can cause a lot of problems that you don’t even realize at the time. If you’re struggling to put your blog on the map, the problem may run deeper than your red fonts on yellow backgrounds.
Seriously, there’s nothing Google loves more than an attractive, well-rounded pair of keywords. Use them in your posts, use them in your meta descriptions, use them in the aforementioned alt tags. Splash them across your headers and integrate them with all your links. Keywords are the difference between a successful blog post and a feeble wail from page 19.
Welcome Google with open arms by supplying your site with its own robots.txt file. Again, this is only useful if you run your own blog, and it won’t actually do much for the individual posts you’ve already uploaded. Its benefits, however, will reverberate across your site, making it that much easier for Google to love your future posts.
Pingbacks are notifications from other sites that have linked to yours. Like inbound links, Google can’t get enough of them, because they eliminate a lot of its hand-wringing about the legitimacy of your post. It’s also fun to see people linking to your new post you worked so hard on.
Search engines adore links, and nowhere is this more important than Google, the most popular search engine on the planet. It isn’t enough to simply code little blue lines all over your post, however. You need natural looking anchor text (the text that actually directs people to your site).
It’s impossible to overstate the important of neat, uncluttered code. Try to avoid the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors that you find on basic blogging sites, because their easy interface comes with the price of junky and unnecessary code. Google crawls through millions of websites a day, so if you make it too difficult to find, analyze and cataloge your blog post, their algorithms simply won’t bother.
You’ve probably heard this all the time from SEO experts, but it’s true. At the end of the day, quality content is what matters.
You won’t attract a soul if your posts aren’t fun, engaging and informative, and that applies to both Google and everyone who stumbles across your site. So roll up your sleeves and get blogging! Practice makes perfect; don’t slack on quality.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.