In recent years, weblogs have grown from a band of sharp-tongued outlaws to the darlings of online marketing. From Stonyfield Farm Yogurt to the Republican National Committee, it seems that everyone has a blog, or two, these days. Whether you are an individual out to bring in an income through running ads on your site or a large business with a blog on the site as a way to create relationships with potential clients, you are today’s Big Thing on the Internet. Naturally, the major search engines should be catering to your every need. But you make it plenty hard for them! Your site lives and dies by content that changes every day, so it’s difficult for search engines-which are also trying to index the entire rest of the Web too-to keep up. But little by little they are catching up.
Challenge: Keeping Up with New Search Options Blog-specific search works differently from standard search. Instead of going out and wandering through the zillions of web pages on the Internet every day, blog search engines sit back and watch for changes that come in through the “wires.” This means that you’ll need to do things a little differently to get your site included in these engines. In Part III, we’ll walk you through the “need to feed” that will get your blog or podcast listed. Until the summer of 2005, everybody was asking, “Who is going to be the Google of blogs?” Now it looks like it’s quite possible that Google will be the Google of blogs, with its long-awaited blog search. Other major search engines were not far behind, and as of this writing, Yahoo! and AOL are chomping at the bit with blog search engines.
Despite the flood of “mainstream” search engines getting in on the blog search action, bloggers still need to be very aware of smaller, blog-specific search sites. You can find links to current biggies and up-and-comers on the companion website at www.yourseoplan.com.
Advantage: A Link-Friendly Culture Showing up on the blog-specific search engines isn’t going to get you very far on its own. Blogs are part of a very special subculture on the Internet, usually called the Blogosphere, and you need to tap into that subculture to gain visibility. Blogs need incoming and outgoing links-lots and lots of them-to succeed.
But, lucky for you, no other sector of today’s Web is as link-happy as the Blogosphere. The Blogosphere is a very social place. Even if you usually cross to the other side of the street to avoid chatting with a neighbor in the “real world,” you need to force yourself to be a much more gregarious animal online. Time-consuming as it may be, reading other blogs is one of the best ways to connect yourself to a community, and ultimately build links and visibility for your own blog. But be careful: one thing you must never do when visiting other blogs is leave a spam comment, saying nothing more than “Visit my blog!” Bloggers are merciless in their punishment of etiquette-breaking behavior such as this.
Challenge: Optimizing Every Post Since your site probably doesn’t have a traditional site map, with sections, subsections, and conversion pages, you won’t have traditional landing pages to focus your SEO attentions on. Instead, you will have to put your time into making every post a better place for searchers to land. All of the SEO rules we lay out in this book for landing pages-rules like including keywords throughout text, writing great titles, and using search engine-readable HTML text-should become part of your every post.
Does it go without saying that you are going to need to update your blog very, very frequently? We sure hope so. Since your whole existence as a blogger is about writing excellent content, you’re already well on your way to search-friendly site optimization.
Challenge: Domain Considerations One of the reasons blogging is so popular is the availability of free blog hosting services. But while free hosting is a great idea for personal sites like “The Knibbe Family Thanksgiving Web Page,” it could work against your blog’s SEO potential. Not only will a URL like knibbefamily.blog-megaservice.
com reduce your linkability, it may also leave you subject to the advertising choices of the provider. Other bloggers will be more likely to take you seriously-and link to your blog-if you aren’t using one of the free blog services that forces you to work within one of their domain names.
Advantage: A Venue for Personal Touch Any salesperson will tell you that making a sale is about trust. If you are trying to sell something through your blog, you have a great opportunity to give your audience a chance to get to know and trust you.
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