Whatever type of blog you have — corporate, personal, or a newsblog — offering superb content alone is not enough to accumulate traffic to your site. Just copyediting that content isn’t enough either; you need to optimize every single post. That’s why, as a copyeditor here at SixEstate, I perform a variety of simple tasks while I copyedit in order to optimize content.
Steve O’Keefe, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at SixEstate, came up with the term “blog polishing.” Hence, my title is a Blog Polisher, which sounds like a sinister job description for a character in a Tarantino movie, but accurately reflects what I do.
SEO expert Bill Hartzer writes: “Optimizing a blog is just like optimizing any other website. The content and pages (posts) must be unique, they must be search engine friendly, and it needs links from other websites. If it’s a new blog, then you first need to make sure the blog software you’re using is set up so that it takes advantage of all of the possible optimization features.”
I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of SEO, since, frankly, a lot of it is over my head. I will share, however, what I generally look for in every blog post when I copyedit it, according to our house guidelines:
* Headlines, opening sentences, tags and categories should be keyword-rich. At SixEstate, we use at least six tags for each post. Categories are broader than tags topic-wise, and we use one to three per post.
* Our bloggers set up Google Alerts for target keyphrases, and we all aim to get them into the Google Alerts daily. If we don’t succeed, we change our keyphrases. Our bloggers can also track how often their own posts appear in the Google Alerts.
* Images have title, alternative text and description fields filled out. Title and alternative text field could be the same, and we also use keywords.
“The key to your blog’s data making it successfully into a search engine’s database is to… [p]rovide adequate keywords and key phrases which clearly help categorize your content,” says Hartzer, and to “[p]rovide clearly labeled tags and categories recognized by tagging service crawlers and many search engines today.”
Blogger Alex Liu suggests applying a technique called “keyword density“:
Do you mention your keywords in your blog? Repeat your keywords often. Try to keep your density of keywords above 2% and below 7%. It means you got to have keyword you aim for 3 to 6 times in every 100 words you wrote. The more often you use the keywords in your post, the more the search engines thinking your blog is relevant to the keywords.
To continue with the polishing behind-the-scenes at SixEstate:
* Our bloggers are encouraged to mention journalists’ names, titles and their publications from the news sources. We also tag both names and publications. That way, say, when the journalists we mention Google themselves, or someone else is looking them up, they find us.
* Our posts contain at least one citation from a news source, with a hyperlink and a quote in the body copy, and a linked footnote citing the source. The footnote contains the title of the article, its location and date. I make sure that each source link has its title field filled out with a full title of the article.
* We post every weekday and schedule our posts to go live at the same time, 6 AM ET. Consistency doesn’t hurt, and we hit our readers in the morning, when most browse the Internet, check email and socialize online before starting work. For holidays, we use filler posts, of the “Happy (whatever holiday it happens to be)!” type, announcing that our regular posting will resume the next day.
* We have a written set of the house writing guidelines, how-to’s (how to download an image, credit sources, create tags, etc.), and job descriptions. It’s a labor of love and compromise, and we collectively update it.
* We employ an email notification system between the bloggers and copyeditors that often doesn’t even require opening the email since everything you need to know is in its Subject line.
* There is a deadline for submitting drafts. That way, all parties know what’s expected of them, when it is expected, and how to communicate that the draft had been submitted, or will be late, or requires additional attention. It works like a well-oiled machine.
* Our posts contain at least one related, copyright-permissible piece of art, with a credit and a link in the footnote. Most of our images come from Flickr under the Creative Commons license. Sometimes we use images such as screen captures under the “Fair Use: Reporting” banner, or art with permission from the owner.
* Our bloggers are responsible for responding to comments within one working day, even if it’s a courtesy “thank-you” note; removing spam and the inappropriate comments; and notifying us when the comment warrants attention from the client. This makes us look organized, and encourages readers to comment.
Finally — and this falls within the copyediting realm, but also helps optimize: We try to make our posts easy to read. We break long paragraphs into the easily digestible two-three sentence ones, break up long quotes, put the one that stands out into a block quote, make lists, and use bullets. In this busy world of the ever-shrinking attention span, I feel like we’re doing our readers a favor, and they in turn reward us with repeat traffic.
Source: “Search Engine Optimization for Blogs,” OngKihnViet.com
Source: “7 Tips to Optimize Your Blog for Search Engine Optimization,” Pritecho.com, 07/10/10
Image by MikeLicht, NotionsCapital.com, used under its Creative Commons license.