I had the opportunity to go to the Search Marketing Expo (SMX West) in Santa Clara, California last week. Here are some notes I jotted down during the session: SEO & Blogging. For further reading, I’ve found another resource covering this topic here.
SMX West: SEO & Blogging
Andy Beal, Internet Marketing Consultant, MarketingPilgrim
Michael Gray, President, Graywolf’s SEO Blog
Aaron Wall, SEO Book
Aaron was the first speaker. In blogging, there’s infinite competition. Though, if you create unique content and having an original blog, you’ll rise among the “commodity status.” How to gain traction:
5) Social Interaction
Formatting for blogs:
1) Clean appealing design
2) Positive reinforcing tone
3) Easy to understand
4) Highlight your best pages and create an “About Us” page
5) Easy for the press to contact
6) Pictures, videos, sketchcasting, etc.
Also use bulleted lists with headers, subheaders, and attractive headlines.
Social integration is something to focus on. Comment on other blogs, give people credit on your own blog and link out to interesting content. Post regularly as well, because it gives people more reasons to keep on coming back to your blog. Highlight a comment that someone wrote and write about it – this gives that user some props and shows that you’re invested in your community.
For new blogs, you need to do a bit of push marketing. Build links, buy AdWords & AdSense, sponsor other sites, syndicate your content and try writing for other blogs as a guest blogger or come up with a contest.
Andy Beal was the next presenter. Reputation manager online tool @ trackur.com. Your blog has two users: initial blog readers & Google users. You want to get the initial blog reader’s attention with an enticing headline, some “first scoops”, asking questions, etc. For Google Users, it’s about optimizing your blog title, URL, more SEO.
Permalinks: optimize them! Set up your blog so it uses a structure that it’s a the title of the blog post. Don’t always let WordPress decide what your slug will be! Set it yourself. Include popular keywords. Try to cut it down if it’s a long post. But whatever you do, don’t change them after it’s published.
Try to get an indented link. Focus on a page that’s highly relevant for a topic. Try to build links to that ONE page. Create a VERY similar theme page. Link the first page to the second (shows to Google that you’re passing on that value). Then rinse and repeat.
When you write a post, think about a future purpose for it. Optimize your page slug for this future use. Have it be helpful, give it away, get some links… but then turn to the dark side, change the focus on the page to what you want. This is actually pretty evil… but it works.
Slacking off… get others to write content. Get some guest posts. Have writing contests so you can post them up. Perhaps give the person who wrote the content a sort of “performance payment” if the post hits a certain number of pageviews, on Digg, comments, etc.
Watch for traffic spikes. Optimize this existing content and create similar content. With this, look for new post ideas from these spikes.
Lastly was Michael. Blogs are great because they are frequently updated and this attracts the attention of search engine spiders which enables content to be crawled on a more regular basis than a static website. Blogs also are just very easy ways to publish content which companies seem to have problems with doing on a regular basis.
Blogs fit very well into social media. The fast nature of being able to get content up in a matter of seconds is something digg / reddit / social media users like.
Blogs work as Sales Channels. Its a perfect place to announce new products or publicizing any new announcements. You can also get some affiliate links on there to get some revenue.
In his opinion, there’s no better link bait than having some good content on a blog.
QnA followed with a good question about where a blog should reside (Michael said using a folder is the best and not a subdomain; Andy agreed. Do not use a (your company name).wordpress.com because you’re passing that link juice to, yep, WordPress.