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  • Blogging, SEO & ROI: A Blueprint for Traffic

    Blogging and SEO A popular way to increase traffic to your website is with a blog.  But it takes more than simply writing posts to be successful. Your success blueprint must include search engine optimization (SEO) and return on investment (ROI).  Without them, you are merely writing words for visitors who stumble across your blog instead of proactively engaging prospective customers. When you write for a particular audience, you are more likely to be successful.

    You can take specific actions to optimize your blog.  The more your optimization succeeds, the more ROI you will realize. Blogging is not for everyone – it takes time, skill, and dedication to continue to see results from your blogs. You should plan to post at least one well written post daily for maximum results.  In addition, your blueprint for traffic should include the following actions.

    Design Site to Appeal

    A cool site design is just as important for blogs as non-blog sites. If you can afford it, have your site professionally designed.  If not, consider using WordPress or similar content management system that allows you to customize your blog.  Never leave anything in default mode.  Add relevant and engaging graphics.  Take a look at other blog sites to see what you like and incorporate those elements into your own. Your design should be inviting and memorable. A benefit of WordPress is the variety of plugins you can use to improve the feel and use of your site.

    Identify Keywords to Target

    Each time you post an entry, you will need to assign it to an appropriate category.  When you first create your blog, you establish categories based on broad keywords. This is where you begin your optimization.  Select your categories based on the keywords you plan to target in your blog topics. Include phrases and long-tail keywords.  Same goes for your tags.  These are the keywords that search engines use to index your postings.  If your tags are too broad, you may struggle to get your blog postings listed high enough on search engine results pages (SERPs) to get noticed.

    Write for Readers Who Will Share

    Blogging for SEO requires high quality content writing. Without it you simply will not get the SEO benefits you expect. You want readers to comment on your posts.  You also want readers to share your entries with their friends.  When they do, you begin to accumulate quality backlinks for SEO. But the only way this will happen is if you produce fresh content that actually interests readers.  Do your homework and find out what your readers want to know.  What topics do they want to see covered in your blog?  What types of new information can you provide that they cannot get elsewhere? You should look at competitor blogs to see what they are doing.  Which postings get the most responses from readers?  Why?  You can even survey your current readers to see what they are interested in seeing on your blog.

    Optimize Headlines and Written Content

    There are several ways to optimize your postings for search engines.  Your headlines are one way.  Carefully construct headlines that use keywords but are still compelling. Headlines should capture reader attention and imagination. Be creative but always honest.  Never mislead readers with your headline – it should be relevant to the content in some way.  Same goes for your blog posting description.  Rather than a separate description that summarizes the post, readers often prefer to see the beginning of the article to see if they want to read further.  This means your opening paragraph must be engaging so they will click on the link to read the entire post.  The rest of your post should also be optimized with keywords.  Think of the tags you plan to use and incorporate those keywords into your content. Don’t overdo it – keyword stuffing on blogs can get your site penalized by search engines.

    Diversify Content

    Not everyone likes to read lengthy blog postings.  To keep your audience interested, it’s a good idea to mix things up. Use videos, audio, and even infographics to engage different audience members. Of course this begins by knowing your audience. The more you blog, a greater understanding of your audience will develop.  Be prepared to adjust your content accordingly so you can keep everyone coming back for more.  Don’t overlook original videos and images which are included on SERPs. If you can create your own images, you have another opportunity to attract traffic to your site. You can also use stock photos (in accordance with license). Use the alt tag to describe the image and include a keyword for SEO.

    Reciprocal Blogging

    Invite guest bloggers to post on your blog and try to be a guest blogger for others.  This is a great way to get and publish quality content and additional links. It also builds your online reputation which helps you with SEO.  Any blog you guest write for should be relevant to your own.  Unrelated postings create low quality links that offer very little value to your SEO efforts and can actually be problematic if you have too many.  Carefully select your own guests and the blogs you would like to be invited to write on.  Choosing authority sites boosts your SEO and ROI.  You can easily find guest blogging opportunities through search engines.  Sites exist for the sole purpose of connecting bloggers with one another. You can also find guest blogging opportunities through your social media connections.

    Participate in Reader Communities

    There are plenty of reader communities you can join, including other social media platforms. For example, if you are a member of Google+, you can use your circles to share your content. But you can also learn from them.  What are the common themes you are seeing in discussion threads? Turn those into informative blog entries.  Look for new angles to approach the topic.  Be controversial (but not offensive).  This is a great way to target your message to readers who you know already have an interest in the topic.  Find forums for your niche and join them. And don’t forget your competitors.  You can learn just as much about your audience through your competitors as through your own direct involvement. Comment marketing is a valid SEO tactic that can help you build more backlinks to your blog.  Never spam – always leave valuable comments.

    Integrate Social Media

    People who use social media are great content distributors.  You can’t go wrong putting this virtual army of ambassadors to work for you.  Begin by deciding which social media platforms will be most beneficial. At the moment, the most popular ones include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. But these may not be helpful to you if your target audience does not use them.  Once you have settled on a handful, setup an account if you do not already have one.  Carefully construct your profiles.  You should position yourself and business as an authority in your niche. Understand you will be using social media to build your brand as much as driving traffic to your blog.  So you will want to connect with others already established on the platforms you have selected. Then you can begin sharing your blog posts with the hope some will go viral.  You can further promote your blog by hosting events on these sites.

    Add Social Media Buttons

    On a more technical level, this deals with the actual inclusion of social media buttons on your blog.  At the conclusion of each post, allow your readers to share the post with their friends. Have several different social media buttons available that they can use for this purpose.  Make it easy for them to do so.  Limit the amount of registration needed.  You don’t need to collect their life history here – you just want them to forward your content on to others interested in the topic.

    Use Results from Analytics

    Always monitor your blog traffic to see where visitors are coming from and what they are doing when they leave. You can see what readers are saying about you.  The most important aspect of analytics is using the information you obtain to improve your performance.  You want to duplicate your successes and avoid those components that aren’t working for you.  You may learn that one of your social media platforms is not driving significant traffic to your site. Switch it out for another one to see if the new one produces more high quality traffic. High bounce rates are a good indication you may need to make changes in either your traffic source or content.

    It can be difficult to attract significant traffic with your blog without proper optimization tactics.  Stream of consciousness writing is not conducive to business blogging.  You need to plan your blog entries and write with care.  Use photos, videos and audio strategically to further engage your audience. It is okay to refer to older posts in your new entries. And don’t be afraid to refer your readers to good works of other bloggers. The more value you provide readers, the more loyal they become which increases your ROI.

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