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Six Simple Steps to Sterling SEO: Blogger’s Edition

Every blogger wants the “secret weapon” for SEO: the one super-ninja trick that’s going to get your ranked and get you traffic. News flash: it doesn’t exist — the last 20% of that climb to the top is brutal, and takes time, money, and skill. But absolutely any blogger can skip past the first 80% of their competition with a handful of relatively simple exercises that will get you ‘silver medal’ SEO that’s worth building on. Here they are:

Use Your Categories Correctly
Categories might seem like they’re designed for your reader rather than a search engine, but they work wonders for SEO when properly used. Your Categories can be used to make your older posts easier for spiders to find (which means they stay listed longer, which means more traffic.) Just as importantly, every Categories page has the chance to rank on its own, which again means more eyes on your posts.

So what is ‘correctly’? Simple:

  • Less Is More: Your blog should easily be focused enough that you can fit everything into 8-12 categories. More than that, and your category pages will start to suffer ‘thin content’ penalties as they have only a few posts in each one.
  • One Is More: Each post should slot into exactly one category. If you commonly assign multiple categories to each post, you will risk weakening your entire site’s mojo with repeated duplicate content issues.
  • More Is More: Finally, find a plugin that allows you to add some text to each of your content pages, and create an introductory paragraph that will fill out the content and maybe drop a keyword and some LSI. Again, we’re looking to help the category pages rank on their own terms.

Previous 1 2 3 … 28 Next
You’ve probably seen some variation of the above line on dozens of webpages. But did you realize that stock out-of-the-box WordPress replaces all of that with a single “Older Entries” link? What do you think that does not only for the user experience, but for a search engine spider that’s programmed to ping down several links at once?

Proper pagination encourages the spider to visit more older posts, again keeping them listed and getting traffic. It’s also better UI, which helps you with the Panda algorithm. Using a plugin that gives you a more Google-like pagination interface is easy and great for SEO.

Wait, didn’t we just see this? No. We’re not talking pagination anymore, now we’re talking about the simple “Previous Post” and “Next Post” buttons that appear at the top of a blog page. These are good for a few reasons: first, like the two prior items, they allow spiders to crawl your content more easily (are you sensing the theme here?) Second, they encourage visitors to stay longer and visit more pages — which is a metric Google is totally tracking and using to determine where in the rankings your page deserves to sit. So offering it (which is as easy as adding a plugin) is a no-brainer.

If You Liked That…
…You’ll probably like this, too! That’s the purpose of the “Related Posts” plugins, and guess what? It helps spiders delve into your content more easily!

(Why is that so important? Simply put, if a blog post is more than about 3 clicks deep into your website’s hierarchy, the chances of a spider getting to it are pretty slim. If the spider doesn’t get to it, that means two things: one, it runs the risk of being delisted as an inactive page; two, even if it’s not delisted, the page isn’t getting enough ‘link juice’ from your own internal linking structure to meaningfully rank for anything, regardless.)

“Related Posts” also have the same effect as the “Previous/Next Post” buttons on users: the longer you can keep them interested and reading, the better off you are.

Use Your Title and Your Title Tag Differently
It’s an intuitively obvious move to put the same text in your article title, and (via whatever SEO plugin you’re using) in your title tag. Don’t do that! While it might be intuitively obvious, it’s a wasted chance to offer a different angle, work in a different keyword, or otherwise tell the spiders something they want to hear. Use a plural, a gerund, a synonym — just don’t copy-paste the text across and move on.

Be Social
Social sharing plugins are huge, and there’s a good reason. The more shares your content gets within the first couple of weeks, the more of a boost it gets on the SERPs. (Also, the more eyes it gets on the social media.) The more obvious and easy-to-use your sharing buttons are, the more you can make this phenomenon work for you.

And there you have it, folks: Four plugins and two best practices that are drop-dead simple to implement and will give you a huge SEO lead over the basic bloggers that are just in it for the lolz. These should be ‘business standard’ for absolutely everyone blogging to drive traffic.

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