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Get More Blog Traffic Blueprint [Week 5]

by Steve Scott | Join Him On Facebook

Welcome to the 5th week on how to get more blog traffic. In this series we discuss specific methods to skyrocket your blog traffic stats.  If you’ve missed anything I recommend checking out the directory to the ”Get more Blog Traffic Blueprint

Today I want to talk about SEO – Specifically those on-page factors that help improve your rankings in the search engines.  I make no claims at being an SEO Guru.  In fact many of the self-proclaimed “gurus” out there are not really gurus.  Everyone is “sure” what SEO works best and many of the best methods are not always backed up with facts.

The Importance of Keywords

There is little doubt that keywords are the BIGGEST factor for on page SEO.  I will delve much farther into keywords and keyword research in an article later in the series.  To “cut to the chase,” make sure that every article at least has a main keyword it is geared to with a keyword density of about 2-5%.  Also make sure that (if possible) the keyword is in the title, and REGARDLESS that the keyword is used in the “slug”.

Anchor text is essential for off page SEO.  It is not AS important for on page SEO, but it still has a place.  If you are linking to other internal pages try to utilize keywords for pages you are linking to.  If you are linking to another URL try to utilize keywords for you are trying to rank for on your page.  NEVER use anchor text like “Click Here. “

Use Keyword-Rich URLs

Most people understand the importance of title and URL.  Having an attention grabbing title is a very important factor for posts.  If a title is not interesting to the reader chances are the reader will go no further into the article.  When possible there is SEO benefits in using the keywords in the article title, preferably as early as possible.  If you sacrifice keywords in the title for the sake of a good title (which is perfectly acceptable) make sure you DO include the keywords in the URL “slug”.

Slug (title tag):

A Slug has nothing to do with the invertebrate critter that leaves a trail of slime.  The “slug” for a webpage is what is the second half of the “permalink” that is seen in the URL.  For instance in this article the permalink is: http://www.stevescottsite.com/get-more-Blog-Traffic-week -5.  The “slug” in this is: “get-more-blog-traffic-week-5”.  It is not always the same as the title.  It should actually often NOT be the same as the title.

A title is meant to engage readers.  Your slug should engage reader AND be more SEO compliant.  Default Word Press creates the permalink as your site name plus title of the article.  This is something you will often desire to at least edit slightly.  Readers AND search engines should see the main keywords in the slug.  You will want to take fluff words and connecting words out of your title to ensure they get seen.  For my example, I simply took out the word “blueprint”.

What to do with the URL Slug:

1.        Take “fluff” words out of your title.

2. Take out wasted, “connector” words. (the, that, what, when, where, is, in, if, I, about, who …etc)

3.       Make sure main keywords are in slug if not already in title.

4.       Do not have a “huge” slug.  Try to limit it to 3-5 words.

Editing your slug in WordPress is easy.  When you make your article, right beneath the article title is the permalink.  Hit the “edit” button and input the desired phrase.

Check your Site Load Speed:

I am sure you’ve heard it before, but speed is a very important factor for SEO.  Visitors are not going to like waiting for pages to open.  Google also has a problem with slow loading sites; it doesn’t like them.  You need to take a hard look at your site.

1)      Remove unneeded add on’s and plugins

2)      Keep images as small as possible

3)      Take the steps necessary to get your site load speed as fast as possible.

There is no reason to rehash the “how’s and whys,”   let’s simply go over some practical ways to increase site load speed.

The first thing you need for site speed is a benchmark to know WHAT your actual site speed is.  Here are a couple of places you can check out site speed:

1)      In Google Webmaster Tools there is a section under “site performance” that shows speeds of locations around the world for your site.

2)      In addition to checking it out your speed on Webmaster Tools there is another site that everyone should check: WebPagetest.  This site is awesome.  It gives your waterfall views of site load times for specific location and formats.  If you get an “F” for an area; you know what has to be worked on.

Once you have an idea of what your speed is try to see what you can do to decrease your blog load time.  Here are some useful tools to add to your WP to increase your blog load speed:

1) W3 Total Cache

2) Autoptimize

3) cSprites For WordPress

Images and videos:

Images and videos can make a page a lot more interesting.  They can also make the load speed of your site a lot slower.  Attempt to place videos on article pages rather than on your website.  Crop pictures and ensure the photos are small as possible.

Use Proper Headline Tags

Headline tags are the tags that are used to bold and enlarge sections and titles.  Your “Title” should always be an H1 tag and hopefully include your primary keywords.  Other section titles should be H2 and H3 tags and contain primary or secondary keywords and key phrases without resorting to “spammy” use of keywords.

Embed Keywords in Images

For speed purposes images can slow down a site.  That does not mean they are worthless.  They can certainly be aesthetically pleasing and increase reader enjoyment.  More importantly they are a chance to use a keyword.

One important thing to know is what Google sees.  When Google views your image they do not see the images itself or have any idea what it is.  They know it by the alt tag.  Title pictures with a useful title, but make sure the Alt text has descriptive phrases AND a use of one of the most relevant keywords or key phrases.  One word of caution:  resist the urge to “keyword stuff” these alt image tags.  Like anything else if Google feels you are “keyword stuffing”  they are as likely to penalize you as anything else.

Write Awesome Content

We have already discussed content for blog traffic so I will not go deeply here.  One thing must be mentioned, the first paragraph.  Keywords should be mentioned here at least one time.  If possible, use the primary keywords once in the opening sentence and once somewhere else in the opening paragraph.

Meta Description

A WP add on like, “All-in-one-SEO-pack” will add a Meta description for you.  Often this is good enough.  Usually it takes the description from your first paragraph.  When you post see what that meta description looks like.  The first few lines will be what the user sees in Google search results, with keywords highlighted.

If for some reason there is an intro that does NOT have keywords and all pertinent information in it, make sure this is changed for meta description.  The more tailored this is to what the user is looking for the better CTR will be from the Google search results page, thereby increasing blog traffic.

Well, I will admit this was a little dry and boring week of training.  It is important stuff, though.  The good side is that once you get these steps down they are not hard to implement.

YOUR Goal for This Week

In the next seven days, I want you to check out your site speed.  Get a bench mark speed.  Do what you can to decrease the size of images  (cropping etc.)  Take a hard look at your WordPress plug-ins and install and test the plugin’s to lower your site speed.  Ideally site load speed should be under 4-5 seconds.  The faster the better.

Take Action. Get Results.




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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan Renfrew @LifestyleDesign

Cool Steve.

Like the blacked out pics, I hope this decreased your load speed. haha.

Load speed was not something I was particularly aware of. Tho I checked it out, between 5 – 6 seconds, Ill need to have a look over some plugins.

What I have found from the webpagetest you linked to is that DISQUS and the Facebook like box take a little longer to load than anything else on my blog.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention Steve. You d’ man.

bLAZE yOUR tRAIL

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Steve@Lifestyle Design

Thanks Ryan.

I will admit speed is something I am still working on too. I have it down to 3-6 seconds, but definitely still a “work in progress”. It certinaly is an important factor that many people overlook.

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Ralph@Retirement Lifestyle

Steve,
I never knew how to check my speed before. Now I just have to do it. A question you might address is how do you know if you are getting value out of a plugin. I have lots. Some I understand. Others are there because they were recommended. Many supposedly do things that are important but in the background so you never notice them. Is there any way to get control of plugins, cull the unnecessary onew (after you find out they are unnecessary) and axe the bad ones?

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Steve@Lifestyle Design

To be honest I am not sure. I know some addons I really like. Some may be “nice” but not worth the trade off. Some like askimet, commentluv, and all in one seo, are more than worth their weight. Ones that streamline and increase speed, I would assume usually have a bigger positive effect than any negatives.

I would say make a list of all the ones you do not know what they do and read what it says on wordpress.com about them. Cross off anything that sounds really beneficial, then it is just a matter of running a speed test with the program enabled and one with it disabled to see how much difference it may make.

I am not an expert on streamlining my site, but something like that is something I plan on doing going forward.

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Adam Paudyal

Steve,

Great points on using keywords and site loading speed. I have never checked my site loading speed. One more thing to add on to my to do list…haha

Later..

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Steve@Lifestyle Design

Thanks Adam,

Site speed is not likely an emergancy, but it is often something that people do not often think about, and besides annoying PEOPLE. Google has stated that it is a factor in SEO. (how big that is…who knows)

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Jazz Salinger

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the excellent advice and links. I’ll be checking out my site load speed, too. I click away pretty quickly from blogs that load too slowly so I really need to make sure mine is up to speed.

How much faith do you have in Wordpress themes that claim to be SEO friendly? Do you think they live up to their claims and are worth having?

Thanks again for another great installment in getting more blog traffic.

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Steve@Lifestyle Design

I feel their must be something to what they say, they package it up pretty well. Is it worth it to pay for themes that cost real money? That is a little tougher to say. I know Scribe wasn’t “bad” speed wise out of the box. I have not really experimented (or know ) enough yet to make a real definitive statement. My strong guess is that they must have some solid foundation to those statements, but I am not sure of the degree of how much an improvement they have.

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Fran Aslam

Hi Steve:

Today is the traffic day. I read the post, I almost wrote the same things in my articles about blog traffic, except the uploading time. This was new to me. Besides this, there could be other reasons for uploading time, for example too many tracking cookies, how can we determine the real reason for uploading slow. The site you mentioned to check the loading time, can determine the reason for longer up loading time too.
Awesome details.

All the best
fran A

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Peter J

Hey Steve,
I am so glad that you shared that webpage test because i can just see that half of the load time is wasted on all the images on my site.

I never knew so much of the behind the scenes stuff going on with my blog. Thanks so much!

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Steve Scott

The good thing is that once the behind the scenes stuff is taken care of you do not have to deal with it again and again too… unlike some other SEO

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Fran Aslam

Hi Steve:

After the comment I tried to see the actual speed of my side and it cam out to be 3.126.
Then I should try to make it better. I feel it is average. I did read in your report and
at another site, that writing a HTML code in the image source helps optimize the image,
that I do not know how to do yet.

fran A

Reply

Steve Scott

3.2126 is not bad at all. Of course you can always likely tweak it to get better, but that is nothing to be ashamed at!

Yeah that site has a lot of power. I really need to dig deeper into it and increase my own knowledge on that subject. I am sure that is barely scratching the surface of the things that can be done via speed.

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Fernando

Wow, this is actually really useful information!
I will have to take a look to the other 4 posts before this one.
I agree in the way I also think it’s all about using the right keywords.
Hope to see you around :)

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Ryan

Hi Steve.

It is the first time i come to your blog which is really impressive with many good information. All the things you listed above is defenitely important for SEO but i dont really know about speed loading is very important like this. I will check the speed loading of my blog.

Thanks for your sharing.

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Alex@amazon niche sites

Nice series you have going here Steve, and I like that you touch on Site Speed as a contributing factor – because I learned recently that the speed a site loads is a big factor in how Google views your overall SEO strength.
Even more so, I like that you included “Write Awesome Content’ because without it you are dead in the water. Content is the petrol that drives the vehicle. Everything else is just the flashy accessories that make the trip that much more enjoyable.

Oooh, I like that analogy – think there is a post in there.
Now to come up with a clever title….

Respect!

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Tristan@Blogging Tips

I saw a cool site the other day: http://whichloadsfaster.com/. You type in the URLs of two different sites and it tells you which is faster. Not terrible practical, but pretty cool :)

These are all pretty solid SEO tips, Steve. SEO kind of pisses me off because there is TONS of conflicting information out there. But the things you mention in this post seem to be the tried and, most importantly, TRUE methods of SEO.

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Steve Scott

I agree. Google has only made general statements of how the algorithm works. Much of that is many months old (PR we see is now 9 months old) and may simply not be true anymore since they are constantly tweaking and updating the algorithms.

At best many aspects of SEO are (very) educated guesses, and at worst they could be completely wrong.

Do enough of what is generally considered “right” and you will win, but I hate it when people say things with absolute 100% authority, because what was 100% yesterday could not be true today with the way Google works.

I do think there are people who do know enough to be considered “experts”, at least relative, but the problem is that everyone who knows a few tricks thinks they can slap that label on.

I wish there was a standardized set of SEO rules and an actual Google run course with a test people could take, like c++ certification.

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Dia

Hi Steve,

This is an excellent post my friend on SEO. Having the keyword in the title and the slug are crucial. I must say that I don’t include the popular keywords in the first paragraph all the time. I usually include them some where in the article. It makes sense that they should be in the first paragraph if it is possible. One question about keyword, do you usually go for words that have been searched in the previous month more than 10,000? less or more?

My site speed is 6.5, so I guess I have to work on this aspect of my blog.

Thanks for sharing my friend :)

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Steve Scott

LOL,

Just because I state what you “should” do, doesn’t mean I always do it either. I mess up the first paragraph thing myself a lot. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes just because i do not think of it. Ultimately writing for readers is still most important IMO.

Generally I look at finding ones that have been searched less than 100,000 times. This makes them a little more competetive and I have a shot at getting a few to pop (particularly with longtail versions)

For articles I do not sweat keywords too much. -Perhaps I should- But it is important to at least make sure frequency, placement, and usage are decent so it has a fighting chance at ranking.

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JimiJones@PersonalDevelopment

Good stuff, Steve.

I tested my site and got a 4.265 so I’d like to optimize the speed to make it faster. I also need to work on compress text and images. I keep the images at 72dpi and will play around with that a bit. I think I’ll install the w3 Total Cache to start with.

Here is another site that provides some great data to help us analyze our sites. http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/

I also have some deactivated plugins that I will remove. Trying to keep plugins to a minimum is a challenge. I only use plugins that enhance the readers experience and provide a needed service. I see lots of sites with all sorts of bells and whistles which cause them to load very slowly. Some remind me of the old dial-up connections. :-)

Anyhow, I have additional work to do because now I’m more aware of my site speed, which I’m not completely happy with.

Thanks for the great post!

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Steve Scott

I checked out that site. Thanks for the addition. It does seem useful.

I am still concerned about my site, defintely going to make sure it is fast enough when i am done with my redesign. I sped it up some just playing with stuff before my post, but going to REALLY make sure it is fast for site redesign.

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Patricia@lavenderuses

Hi Steve

Good, practical advice today. Thanks. I so far have done all the things you have suggested in this post. Will now go and check my loading speed. Make sure it is within acceptable limits.

I know if a site takes too long to load, I bounce off and go visit someone else. Great tips to get our blog out there in the blogosphere for all to appreciate :-) Thanks Steve.

Patricia Perth Australia

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Steve Scott

Yeah site speed is definitely useful twofold. For people AND fo Google search ranking too. So it is something everyone (myself included) should keep on top of.

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Matthew Needham

OMG! Week 5 already! I have some catching up to do…off to read the earlier ones that I’ve missed.

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Steve Scott

Haha,

Time flies…I know. Glad you like it and hope you find a few good things Matthew!

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Sire

Hey Steve, I happened on your blog via the interview you did with Aussie Steve ;)

I’m glad I dropped by because I learned a very important bit of information, and it’s all to do with slugs. I never thought to optimize the slug, I’ve always left it as the default, which naturally is a direct copy of the title of the post. I now know better and for that I thank you.

Even though I never used to worry about keywords all that much, because I thought it cramped my blogging style, I’ve always known of it’s importance. I’ve only just recently purchased Market Samurai in the hope it would take the drudgery out of keyword research. I’ve only just started delving into the depth of it’s information and it looks really good. I’ve a pretty good feeling that it will help me a whole lot.

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Steve Scott

Sire,

The slug “trick” Is a great one. TBH I still likely go with the default one too often. It isn’t the “end of the world” specifically if the keyword IS in your title. But when it is not, it is really helpful.

I agree with your review of MS. I have had it a while, though I do not use it as much as I *should* I find it to be an awesome resource. There is so much more that can really be done with it than people realize.

Thanks for dropping by Sire, glad you found my site and I hope to see you here again someday! :)

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Sire

You sound a little like me Steve, you know what has to be done but a lot of the time you’re just too slack to do it. Well that may be stretching the point in your case but it’s pretty accurate where I’m concerned. :D

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Alex@Jocuri

An other great page to the ebook, Steve

You have a good point with the site speed, I know you already know that Google has decided to award websites with a faster loading speed, but they wont penalize those that load slower.
And one more thing I noticed at google, they usually prefer to show images after the keywords found near the image rather then it’s alt or title tag. I have a website with two images in a post and both have different alt tags targeting different keywords, one being related to my post title and one being totally unrelated. But when I wrote the post most of the keywords (related to the article title) were near the second image, and one day when I searched a shorter version of my title on google, it suggested I might want to take a look at the second image from my post (which if you missed it, had a totally different alt tag).

An other good point is to take care of your meta description, many people disregarded it because they know search engines ignore them (ranking wise) , but they have a second more important role, writing an attractive and high CTR description, it can bring you more traffic, even if you are not in the first place in SERPs.

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Steve Scott

Great Reply Alex!

You added a lot of really pertinent info, thanks!

I do (usually full out meta description. For the reasons you listed. But I did not know about them taking the keywords near the images. It does make some sense why they would do this (no keyword stuffing that way). thanks for the additional info.

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John McNally@Blogging for Pleasure and Profit

I didn’t find this post boring Steve, I actually liked the straight forward way you gave SEO advice.

I haven’t used keywords in any of my posts, none that I’m aware of anyway, but I have Market Samurai and my project next week is to get to grips with it, and actually do some keyword research.

I like using images and probably have too many photos for optimum loading speeds. I have a plugin that shows only the first 100 words of each post, visitors have to click to read the full article. I was thinking of keeping all photos out of this first section. Do you think this would speed up times, or do the photos in the hidden part still effect loading speed?
John

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James M@Four Sides

I was catching up on my reading this morning when I read this post, and then saw a post from John Gruber (Daring Fireball) that had an excellent rant about page titles (not the headlines). It was rather amusing how the larger media sites handle page titles, and I’m sure there is something we can all take away from it: http://daringfireball.net/2010/12/title_junk

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Randy Pickard

Like many of your readers, I was aware that Google is using site download speed as a ranking factor. And because I work on residential real estate sites, we had massive sites with which to experiment (up to 50,000 web pages per site). We did test and control testing of changes that resulted in a 35% decrease in download speeed. Result was about a 20 increase in search engine traffic to the sites with faster downloads. So, yes increasing page download speed is well worth the effort

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Matthew Needham

Steve, I think this is one of the clearest definitions I’ve read on this subject. Normally I’m not much wiser after the event that I was before as a post generally refers to one aspect such as keywords or link bait or whatever.

However, I actually understand how to use the meta tag description now, so thanks for that.

Site speed. There’s 2 aspects here. One your hosting company and secondly your site. My hosting company hosts, I understand, 20,000 websites on the same server, so speed isn’t the best, plus my own site is very image intensive.

I’ve been using Pingdom to measure the speed (also available as an iPhone App) – which also alerts me of outages. Well worth getting and a good tool to beat your provider up with or maybe to ask appropriate questions to the next one.

Also worth checking out is http://whichloadsfaster.com/ a site I’ve just come across (free) to compare your site performance against others in the same niche (or whatever).

Thanks again for sharing.

Matthew

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Steve Scott

Good points Matthew,

I also have a service that lets me know when my service goes out. (I forget which one) with an email. I sometimes wonder why I bother though, it lets me know about it sure….but what can I do about it. I guess if it went out for more than 1-2 ours that could be very important and I could call them.

That site load speed link looks good. I will check it out.

I agree about the 2 means of load speed. All you can do with external is get another provider that is faster i guess, so I did not dwell on it. But if you have an abnormally bad one, this could be certainly worthwhile!

Thanks for adding some good ideas to the topic!!

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Robert David Strong

Hey Steve,

Thank you for the information, load speed was not really something that I had ever been really worried about but it is a subject that keeps bubbling up everywhere I go. It makes sense though as people are wanting instant results and load times are crucial to get in front of people!

Thanks again

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Steve Scott

Robert,

Glad you liked the article. I hope you come back for more in the series :)

As long as your load speed is “average” it is unlikely Google will penalize. But you never know. (they have clearly stated it is a “factor” but not how much and what the standards are) However, if you can speed up a site it can only be positive for viewers and SEO

Thanks for dropping by.

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Liz

Great tips Steve, I struggled with the site speed thing about 6 months ago and ended having someone look at it. I installed the W3 Total cache plugin which really helped a lot.

Also, keywords are so important and I’m blown away when people say they don’t pay much attention to them. Your tips are all super useful.

One of the things I pay particular attention to is finding the long tail keywords, the ones that get the searches but aren’t competitively used.

For example a keyword that gets 10 searches a day without a lot of competing web pages is worth more to me than a keyword that gets 1000 searches a day that I have no chance of ranking for.

Liz :-)

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Jimmy

Questions:

1) Do you research for key words for every post? How many keywords should one have for their blogs? Do we point all our links back to one page or multiple pages.

2) In lay man’s terms can you explain meta?

Thanks steve. I am back in my usual way.

BTW can you chip in with your comment on my latest debate on PD in schools?

Reply

Steve Scott

Jimmy,

1. I do not do keyword research for every post. (Although, perhaps I should). I would start with a tight grouping of keywords around a theme topic and slowly add to ones related to it. As far as i know there is no “limit” but you want you keywords ti be sort of relavant to each other. Both. I would pick a couple articles you “really’ want people to find. Either your best stuff, a good example of the content, or the best for monetizaition and tend to send people that way. Remember that links from sites that are “relative” or even have close keywords are best.

2. Meta are description tags. Before Google they were what ranked your article. They are tags written that no person will likely ever see. (Meta itself roughly meaning “underneath) Meta tags are mostly unimportant. Meta description for pictures/graphics IS important because it is all that google “sees’ for the picture. Meta “description” for an article is also important for similar reason. Google usually places that as what is read in search results. (so you want your keywords prominent)

I will try to swing by today. I am also part way done with the interview.

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Jimmy

Cheers Scott.

Ok regarding meta tags again. Do I need to write a substantial para for it with the keywords repeated a few times?

Reply

Steve Scott

Not really. Think about the amount you see in a Google entry. (maybe two sentences) and try to have you main keywords in the first sentence. Sometimes I just cut and paste the the first paragraph. It is important but not “IMPORTANT”

Reply

Steve Scott

Thanks for dropping by and commenting Praveen! Glad you liked it.

Reply

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