What are your SEO New Year’s Resolutions for 2015?

The New Year is just a couple days away and that means many website managers, social media managers and bloggers will be making lists and promises about how they will be updating their website on a more consistent basis.

I have been blogging on my mommyblog website, Redhead Ranting, for seven years and have yet to keep any consistent schedule for my blog posts. When I first started blogging I wrote every day, sometimes twice. Of course back then no one was reading my blog and without any comments for feedback it was challenging to keep writing.

Thankfully, I had a lot to say and found myself a network of bloggers who had similar style of blogs so we all read each other’s writing and left comments on each other’s blogs. Facebook changed all that but many of us are still writing. Not nearly as frequently but with nearly 1000 posts there’s plenty to read.

On the other hand I also write for many, many business websites and on those I post at least twice a week, every week, every month, without fail. It’s much easier to keep the pace when you’re paid to do it but finding interesting topics can become a challenge after several years and several thousand posts. Coming up with interesting and unique post topics is probably more difficult than the actual writing of the articles.

For my business blogs a New Year’s Resolution isn’t really necessary. I write consistently on those blogs. For my own websites like this one, my personal site and my web design business I find it much more necessary.

If you are new to blogging or managing a website choose a schedule you can maintain. Every blogger I know started out strong — posting daily or more – only to lose steam within 6 months (which just happens to be the average lifespan of a blog). Look at most business blogs or personal blogs and you see they have been abandoned. Often because there is no quick feedback anymore (and most don’t understand how to use Google Analytics so can’t see the return on their blogging investment).

The general rule of thumb is to write daily or more for a new blog but for more people that’s just unrealistic, especially if your website isn’t paying the bills and is more a labor of love. The problem is, if you want your website to pay the bills you’re going to need to add content to your site daily, especially in the beginning.

A longer post is better but if all you can manage is a 200 word post then go for it. Don’t worry so much about length of your post. It’s an added worry that can hinder your creative spirit.

Create a blogging schedule, or hire someone to manage your blogging schedule, and shoot for at least three posts a week but remember more is always better. You can’t add too much content to your website. Period.

I like to do all my writing in the beginning of the month so I spend the first week of each month doing nothing but article writing. I do it that way for the same reason I do all my chores before I go out and have fun — I don’t want any tasks hanging over my head and after 7 years of blogging writing is sometimes a test (though, I still love it more than anything).

If you’re more creative in the morning, then set aside an hour or two to do your writing then. Preferably when you have little or no distractions such as children or co-workers. If nighttime is better then write then. Do you work better at a busy  cafe? Then make the time each day to get your cup of joe and do your writing.

It’s more about consistency than anything else at this point. Get into a writing habit and you’ll never hit the writer’s wall. Okay, you might still hit the wall but if you write on a regular basis you aren’t as likely to get sidelined by a bout of writer’s block.

 

 

How Long Should My Blog Post Be?

Of all of the questions I am asked about search engine optimization the one I hear most is”how long should my blog post be?”

It’s a good question with no easy or definitive answer. Ask ten professional content writers and you’ll get ten different answers.

300 words? 500 words? 800 words?

The answer is a resounding — it depends.

Certainly a longer post must be better than a shorter one, right? Maybe.

Can you say all you need to in a concise 300 word post? Can you clearly and confidently get your point across, without ambiguity, with fewer words than more?

You see if you write an 800 word blog post but the content lacks structure, readability and especially value, you’ve done nothing but create spam.

When to write a short post – 300 words or less

If you’re updating or adding multiple products each day probably want to stick with shorter posts that simply describe the product. If your blog posts feature media such as images or videos you really don’t need to provide more than a brief description so your readers know what to expect (this is especially true if you push your content out to social media sites like Facebook or Twitter which use a short intro to your posts to entice readers to click).

When to write a medium post – 300 to 500 words

Medium length posts are more suited to updating projects on a regular basis. If you update your website 2-3 times per week this is probably a better length (and one you’ll be able to stick with).

A medium length post is easier to maintain because you don’t need to edit words down or find more words to fill it out. While more words is better for SEO (you can check out a not so scientific analysis of longer vs shorter posts here) you do need to write in a style and format that you can maintain.

When to write a long post – 500 words or more

Still there is a case to be made for longer posts. If your website is dedicated to reviewing books or movies you’re going to need more than 500 words to get to the point. You’ll likely use 1500 – 2000 words to provide a valuable review for any product whether you like it or not. Do you tell stories on your blog? Unless you’re a brilliant wordsmith you’re going to need a couple thousand words. And, if you’re like most writers, the difficulty will be in writing shorter posts than longer posts.

It’s good to keep your readers in mind when deciding on the length of a post. Most of us, myself included, have little time to read all of the great content that is available on the web. Many of us visit the same websites each day because we know what to expect when we arrive. When I come across a longer blog post, I find myself more and more bookmarking the post because I know I won’t have time to read (and comprehend) five long paragraphs of text. Sadly, there are times when I have simply moved along (without bookmarking) because I know I simply don’t have the time to read all those words.

The bottom line is to use as many words as needed to say what you have to say.

What is SEO?

If you’ve been managing a website or blogging for any length of time you’ve heard about SEO. You know you need it, but you might not be too sure about what it it. So what is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is many things but in a nutshell the things you do to make your blog or website found easily on the search engine results pages.

What are the search engine results pages? When you type in a question or a series of keywords into Google, Bing, Yahoo or any of the other hundreds of search engines, the results that are shown and they order in which they are shown, are the ranks – so to speak.

The purpose of utilizing SEO techniques on your website or blog is to rank the highest for your location and keywords.

In other words if your business is providing sales leads to realtors in Minneapolis you’d want the content on your website to reflect those key ideas. You would write about Minneapolis, where to find leads and the best leads for realtors. If you consistently write about those key words eventually Google and the other search engines will take notice and say “Hey, that website is a resource for people who are looking to buy leads for realtors in Minneapolis” and they’d send people who looking for leads for realtors in Minneapolis your way.

You wouldn’t want Google or Bing or the other search engines sending you traffic from people who are looking to buy cupcakes in Amesterdam because they wouldn’t be happy with the search results and would leave quickly (that’s called a bounce rate but we’ll discuss that at a later time). You want people who are looking for the items, services or ideas that you provide to visit your website.

The key is to get traffic from the search engines that is looking for the things you provide. The things you do to ensure the quality traffic is collectively known as SEO.

Which all seems really logical but you’d be surprised to learn how many businesses have no idea that they are attracting the wrong traffic.

SEO is making sure that your website is designed and managed for the people who are searching for your products or services. That usually comes in the form of great content creation that is relevant to your services or products. In other words, if you sell leads to realtors in Minneapolis you’re going to want to create content about Minneapolis realtors who are looking for leads you’re not going to talk about cupcakes in Amsterdam, no matter how delicious they are.

In the coming weeks we’ll be talking a lot about SEO and how you can improve your website or blog search engine ranking with good SEO practices. We’ll talk about the role social media plays and why it’s so important to set your online person up as an authority. We’ll talk about content, how to create it or where to get it, as well as using images to tell your story.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to learn all you need to get your website or blog ranking on the first pages of any search engine you choose.