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For the 100th(!) post on Dose of Dash, I thought I would share a blogging/marketing technique that has really helped me.

search engine optimization for blogspin it dose of dash

No matter what your goals are or what your readership is for your blog, you should be following some basic SEO best practices. “SEO,” you say? “Enough with these mumbo-jumbo acronyms!” Well, let me explain what it is and why you should care.

SEO stands for search engine optimization. Company SEOmoz defines it as such:

SEO is the practice of improving and promoting a web site in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines.

Once Google starts picking up on the fact that people are clicking through to your blog via links or images (supposedly because people are finding what they’re looking for), your chances of getting ranked closer to the top of a search engine results page (SERP) improve. Basically the search engine is crawling your site for relevant key words and then indexing it so it can find it again.

SEO for images

When working with images, there are at least two things you should always consider.

  1. File name: give the image a descriptive file name. Something called louboutin-patent-shoes.jpg will be easier for a search engine to crawl and index than DSC100984.jpg
  2. Alt(ernative) text: you know when you hover over an image or a picture hasn’t loaded yet and you see a few words in its place? That’s alt text. It’s important to have because it’s another way for the image to be identified or described. It’s another chance to get some great keywords in there, so now you might write your alt text as “louboutin red soled heels.”

SEO for link-building and titles

The title of your blog posts is also important for SEO purposes. Although crazy, cryptic titles may have a better chance of going “viral” or getting clicks for the mysterious intrique you’ve created, they’re not as great for SEO.

On the other side of the coin, if your title is too similar to things you’ve done in the past, it’s harder for search engines to distinguish that this is a new page with new content, so it may get overlooked.

So what should you do? Be descriptive and make sure to get a few keywords in there, but don’t make it so revealing that no one wants to read the actual post.

Some blogging platforms let you differentiate between a title and a title tag and add in a meta description as well. These are essentially “behind-the-scenes” descriptors that search engines can read but human website visitors don’t see. WordPress.org (not the free version) has a great, free plug-in that makes all this meta stuff a breeze, so install it if you can. This way you have the freedom to use that crazy title that will make your post viral and get some good keywords in there for the search engines. In this case, the title tag shows up at the top of the browser but the title is what is shown in the actual html of the page.

And as for links within your post? Those are important too. Try and avoid making links like this:

Instead, try something like this:

Sticking to character count limits

There are character count limits for meta tags. Think about keeping your title to about 70 characters and your description to 160 characters. Search engines usually don’t include anything beyond this point, but don’t stress too much, it’s not the end of the world. The WordPress.org plug-in I mentioned earlier does the character count for you – so easy!

Final words of wisdom

Do NOT overstuff anything with keywords. This kind of practice is often counted as spam and penalized by search engines. If you’re not stuffing in a billion-and-one keywords to every title and alt text you have, don’t worry about being penalized. Just make sure your content is authentic and relevant, then use a few, select keywords to accurately describe what it is you’re posting.

Don’t freak out about it if this seems like a lot to remember when all you wanted to do was post about things that make you happy. You should still go about blogging with joy, not religiously counting title lengths and stuffing in keywords for everything you do. Just be aware of SEO and how it works and be mindful when you’re creating your content and naming your images. Once you start to employ these tactics, keep tabs on what hits you’re getting from search and you may be surprised!

I get the most hits for my Study In Style post on Mira Duma and my post on Donald Judd’s Marfa home. Let me know what you get the most hits from! It may take a little time to ramp up, though. Don’t forget that the search engines will first have to crawl and index your site.

This is just the tip of the SEO iceberg, but I hope it helped. If you want to learn more, please email me for more resources or check out this very thorough SEO primer from SEOmoz.

What do you think – was this post helpful or overwhelming?

If you thought this post rocked you might like: How to Make Your Own “Pin It” Button or my post on how to customize your blog’s social media buttons.

image is a Doisneau photograph sourced from assez-vu.com