Part 3: Page Rank, the SERPs and Crafting the Perfect Blog Post
Most bloggers that have been online for a while will have picked up a few subscribers and be generating at least some traffic to their website. Depending on the niche it can be easy to develop an online profile and to build a good page ranking but for most bloggers they are going to have to compete for their share of the limelight in cyberspace. One thing that every blogger that has been at it for a while should do is to check their page ranking and Google has a service called Page Rank Checker(very imaginative) that will show the page rank ou
t of ten of any URL that is entered. A score of three or less puts your page at the bottom of the SERPs generally while pages that score seven or more are the rock stars of the blogosphere. The advantage that comes from having a higher page ranking is that the crawlers will naturally give your posts a better placement in the SERPs.
The Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs, are the most easily misunderstood part of the whole SEO process. It is easy to make the mistake of entering your name, or your site’s name, into the search engine query and when your page is all that comes up to think that you are dominating Google. In reality the search terms that you are competing for are the keywords that define the topics in your posts. If you enter these into Google the SERPs will reveal a far different story. All of your direct competition for those keywords will become immediately apparent and even blogs that have been going for years might not make the first page. There are two sides to this situation that most bloggers should look at before they write a word.
The first is that the keywords that they have chosen are highly competitive and they will have to work hard to work their way up the SERPs for those terms. The second is that they haven’t optimized their pages well enough so that the crawlers have been through them deeply enough to find everything of value on the site. Another Google service that can be useful is the Google Adwords Keyword Tool which will generate a list of related keywords and give the search statistics for them. Using the Keywords Tool can help to narrow down the list of tags that you use on your blog and is a good way to isolate keywords in your niche that can be more easily dominated. The second difficulty is generally a matter of going over your old posts and making sure that there are enough links and that the keywords are all right. This may seem like a lot of work for nothing; after all, those old posts are yesterday’s papers aren’t they? To your regular readers they might be but to the search engines they are your content and when you upgrade it for better SEO the spiderbots will certainly notice.
How to Put All of This Together in the Perfect Blog Post
It isn’t necessary to write specifically for the search engines in order to improve your SEO and in fact it can be bad to do so but good blogging generally start with a plan. Starting with a practical list of keywords is important and making sure that your site is easy to navigate so that the user experience is positive also has a beneficial influence on your overall SEO. When you write posts be mindful of staying on topic so that the content matches the keywords all the way through beginning with the headline.
A good blog post headline will, like any headline, need to catch the attention of the passing reader with a clever turn of phrase or an interesting message while also telling them something of what the story under it is all about. For good SEO the headline should have a keyword included in it to show the crawlers that the tags are matched by the content. This same principal holds true for any subheadings that are used and while it can be tempting to use cryptic headlines for artistic effect it can confuse both your readers and the spiderbots alike.
It almost goes without saying that the most important part of a blog post is the written content. The more valuable that you make your content the more that it will attract links and be cited by other websites, thus improving your SERP ranking in an organic way. This long term optimization strategy takes advantage of the real value that the search engines offer with its links to your website- longevity. Links on social media sites may have great potential for generating immediate interest in your blog posts but the shelf life of the average Facebook post is only six and a half hours while a SERP listing lasts for as long as Google stays online. Stick to the basic keyword density rules, include a healthy amount of outward bound links to reputable sites and write for your readers and you should naturally produce the sort of valuable content that the search engines will rank highly.
It is also important to blog regularly to maintain a good ranking in the SERPs. The reason for this is that if the crawlers have been to your site a couple of times and nothing has changed then they will come back less and less often and your latest post won’t make it into the results pages for weeks instead of days (or hours). Writing regular posts or connecting several posts as a series will attract the spiderbots more regularly and improve your overall page ranking.
There is a lot of debate in internet marketing circles at the moment about the value of social media links to SEO. Apart from Facebook’s ability to draw a crowd when you publish your post it also is a large database of the links that users have posted in their status updates. Because these links have been chosen by a person to share with their friends the search engines assume that they lead to a better class of information and so they have an effect on the SERP rankings. There has also been some scuttlebutt around about Google using this to push the membership of Google+. The social media effect makes including share and like buttons with your blog posts worth considering as a practical way to both attract new visitors and to encourage good SEO.
On the surface the evolution of search engine algorithms should see more blogs scoring higher rankings in the SERPs. Google wants to put you higher on the list than the webspammers but in order to do that you have to make your blog visible in the ethereal light of cyberspace. As always, well written blog posts with lots of interest, great pictures and genuinely valuable content will be successful and the bloggers that can get a handle on presenting their work to the spiderbots will get the SERP ranking that will put them in front of a bigger audience.
So what do all you bloggers out there think? What have I missed? Leave a comment and let me know. And, keep on bloggin’!