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25 tips to optimize your blog for readers & search Engines

Wonderful list of ways to optimize your blog for readers & search engines from Jennifer Slegg.

Too many to list here, but like my source for the post, Jennifer Laycock from Search Engine Guide, I’ll share my favorites. My comments are bracketed.

1) Dump The Default Template – Looks Count!

I cringe when I see a blog using the “out of the box” WordPress or MovableType template. Hire a designer to create a unique look for your blog, or at the very least, take advantage of some of the free templates available and customize it a bit with a unique logo or a slight color upgrade. [Music to the ears of Brian Biddle and Greg Storey in LexBlog design]

5) Offer Posts Via Email

Some people just don’t get RSS. So cater to them by offering them an option to get your blog posts by email instead. The most popular service to do this automatically is FeedBlitz, although there are also many other tools available to do this.

8) Pay Attention to How You Write.

One of my favorite bloggers has the unfortunate habit of writing detailed long entries… without a single paragraph break and with the double whammy of also writing with a font size smaller than usual. If I look up for a moment, it is hard to find my place again in her 1000 word entries. As a result, I don’t read it as often as I would like to, simply because reading it is such a painful experience. [Must be talking of a few lawyers I see]

11) Don’t Forget Navigation

Is this blog part of a larger site, such as a corporate blog on a site for a major company? Don’t just link to the main page of the blog. Syndicate your recent headlines in the sidebar to encourage visitors on the main site to check out the blog too. [Way of the world for future law firm websites]

14) Have Descriptive Titles

Some blog software actually makes your entry titles seem pretty repetitious in the search engine result pages, and can result in a lower click through than you might have had otherwise with highly optimized titles. If your title’s say something like ‘Jason’s Tech Industry Rants & Ramblings Blog >> New Xbox 360 title announced for April release’ you should change it to ‘New Xbox 360 title announced for April release’. Unless you are well known as an authority blog in that market, the blog name is simply wasting crucial space at the beginning of the title tag and causing the rest of the entry title to end up getting truncated in the search results. And make sure your titles actually enhance the entry and don’t leave the reader wondering what on earth the blog entry could be about. Ensuring you have great titles when you have a small readership and are depending on search engines to send you readers is one of the first steps you should take to optimize your blog.

17) Spread the Link Love

If you are blogging about a story, link up the original story as well as other’s commentary on the same topic. When you do so, you will often make those bloggers aware of your blog’s existence (if they weren’t already) when people click from your blog to theirs. And it also increases the odds that they will either link to you on that story or on something you blog about in the future. [Make note WSJ law blog]

18) Be Aware of Your Anchor Text

When you link to someone’s blog entry, or even a previous blog entry on your own site, make sure you link well. This means instead of linking to someone’s blog entry with the anchor text ‘click here’, you link to them using anchor text related to the blog entry, such as ‘Jason’s scoop on the new Widget Xbox 360 game’.

19) Create Unique Stories

Bloggers love to link to other bloggers. When you write original blog entries, rather than just rehashing something someone else has already said, you increase the odds that someone will find yours interesting enough to link to and talk about. And a reader of that blogger’s blog might read the entry and decide to write something about what you said as well, meaning yet another link as well. And if you are fortunate, it will go viral, meaning suddenly it seems like every blogger in your market space is talking about what you wrote. [Note to self]

21) Ping Other Sites

When you add a new blog entry, you might want to ping site such as Technorati and FeedBurner to let them know you have a brand new blog entry on your site. You can also now ping Google’s Blog Search as well for faster indexing in their blog search engine at blogsearch.google.com. Automatic pinging is an option in the control panel of most blog platforms including WordPress and MovableType. And Ping-o-Matic offers a service that allows you to quickly pick and chose what to ping.

Read the full post, it’s chockfull of ideas.

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