All raspberry blowing aside, search terms are vital for getting complete strangers (besides the ones you have on your social media lists) to check out what you posted on your blog. You could do what the spam bots tell you to do and repeat one long tail keyword three to five times in your post, replete with italics, bold and headers, but your readers would likely attempt a virtual mob scene in the hasty exodus.
(All links will open in another tab to show examples. You will not lose your place by clicking a link inside the post.)
Where is the balance?
Quite frankly, search engines strike it through using ranking algorithms which defy the keyword and long tail stuffing suggested by SEO gurus since day one. Both Bing and Google are using an algorithm similar to the one originally introduced with the website Ask Jeeves. Why? They are more intuitive than merely counting the frequency of certain words.
However, the search engines still do not recognize sarcasm (or straight humor) as a proper language. If you are looking to have your blog on platypuses found, do not only call them the nature’s little practical joke. Stick with synonyms and support phrases.
What is a support phrase?
Support phrases are a combination of keywords and long tails. If you are blogging about the construction of staircases, words and phrases to support a good blog include:
- Attach banister rail
- Carpenter’s glue
- Secure stair treads
If you use the phrase how to build a staircase five times, but fail to mention the pertinent parts of the basic steps to building stairs, you are failing your reader. Search engines are finally thinking like readers.
In the search engine game, you are not shooting for a turkey. Think baseball, not bowling.
Even if your blog is eclectic, you can still be found by the search engines. If your posts are eclectic, the same does not apply. Stream of consciousness posts flit from one subject to the next. While the experience can be good for readers, search engines will not answer a reader query of funny blogs about foot odor, guacamole and dryer lint.
Titling blog posts is relatively important. The title lets readers know what is in store. Off the wall titles are great headlines for social media. Occasionally, unusual blog titles get really unexpected traffic. The last example gets porn SI on M3’s search terms list every week.
The safest bet is a common sense title which will draw readers into the post. Bait and switch titles are a strike. Do not title a post about doll house miniatures Decorating the Taj Mahal. You will confuse the search engines and make readers looking for photographs of the palace rather angry.
Long titles are useless. Search engines only recognize the first 60 characters of a title. This includes your website name (including the .blogplatform) and the date (if yours includes it). You waste a lot of characters before they begin counting the letters in your title. Apply the KISS rule: Keep it short and simple.
If you want the long title for headline effect, choose a short, keyword dense slug.
Death of a blog is a sad thing. While in real life spiders like dead things, search engine spiders are the exception. When the search bots come to call, they are looking for fresh content. If they can manage to make it by once or twice per week, give them something to crawl. If they find nothing new enough times, they will stop crawling past altogether.
Has your intuition ever missed the target entirely? Count on the search engine to produce similar results. If you look at your search term list to find really bizarre search terms, do not be offended. It mostly means there are enough long tails and support phrases in your blog post to get the spider’s attention. Alternatively, it means there is no pertinent content matching the search term.
As is the case with real life spiders, their eyesight is not to be envied. They read misspellings, broken words and tongue-in-cheek phrases as though you intended to write about the search term they found on a random post.
Worth 1,000 words…
There is an elaborate screen which attaches pictures and graphics to posts.
Many people are visual learners. In order for them to understand what you are writing, they need to see the pictures which correspond to the words. When you upload a picture, take the time to enter a description. Use the keywords you used to find the picture and/or the ones which make the picture match your post.
Name your picture something besides IMG-2149-2006-07-31-1845. While the date and time of the picture may be relevant to your remembering the circumstances under which it was taken, the string of numbers means nothing to a search engine.
This is not the place to be creative, however. Name the picture according to the subject of the frame. Is your subject Alfred R. Farnsworth? Is someone looking for Freddie? You may skip the proper name as a title. Is Freddie changing the O-rings in boat motor? That is a picture someone may well want to see.
The biggest resource you have for getting your blog found by a search engine is common sense. Give the readers what they want by not trying to game the system. Create solid content which is useful for your readers. The time they spend on your pages and posts will make the spiders wonder what you have which is so interesting.
Take It Away
- Write an interesting title which bears on your content.
- Write content which fulfills the title, regardless of keyword density.
- Write for reader satisfaction.
- Ignore odd search terms.
- Choose, upload and tag photos and graphics appropriately.
- Use common sense.
What is the most annoying search engine fail? What do you do when the search engines return irrelevant results to you?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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