Tag Archives: seo

Promoting Your Blog: Don’t Forget the Little Guys

Writing posts, for bloggers, is often the easiest part of blogging (and that’s not saying much). Beyond writing, even beyond designing your own layout, there’s the question of promoting your little blog so that others can see the articles you labor over. Most promotion involves exchanging links with other blogs.

Most blogging experts will tell you one way to promote your blog this way. I, however, have a couple of divergent points to add, based on a few realizations I’ve had over the last few months.

What Others Say: Ally with the “Big Guys” Only

The blogging “experts” will tell you to promote your site by joining forces with the bigwig bloggers in your field–doing a Google search, for instance, for other blogs on your topic will likely bring up the most widely-known sites, as the following picture illustrates:

webdesignblog
Checking out and sending blogroll requests to each of these sites is a valid strategy to follow, since even just the top three results pictured here provide you with a lot of link fodder.

There are additional strategies, such as the ones put forward by incomediary.com and postplanner.com, but most of them advocate purely making strategic alliances with larger, more popular blogs to get your “foot in the door,” so to speak.

What I Say: Ally with “Little” Bloggers like Yourself, Too

My two cents: Don’t get so worked up chasing after the “popular crowd” of bloggers that you end up forgetting about other beginning bloggers like yourself. Build up community with other small-time bloggers who are posting great articles, too.

Now, admittedly, you may not get the automatic prestige that you would from a link on a more popular writer’s blogroll. But you’ll get something a lot more worthwhile: credibility, humanity, and the reputation of just being a nice person to know, which counts for more than it seems. Our reputation as writers and as human beings is worth far more than a few links on somebody else’s site!

So how do you build community between fellow bloggers?

  • Share links to fellow bloggers’ posts on your site; perhaps even set aside one blog post a week for just links to others’ posts, like my buddy Paula does over at Geeky Shopaholic Blog.
  • Write up a post about another blogger’s site, whenever you can–give them a little extra publicity and a personal review of their site. Be honest and complimentary…and don’t forget that all-important link! (I did this for my friend Jenny’s blog, GeekyPosh.com, back in January of this year.
  • Comment on other bloggers’ posts, as often as you can. This gives them encouragement–it shows them that people are reading, which is an awesome feeling! (And don’t be afraid to share a different opinion–state it politely, and you lay the groundwork for others to share theirs, too. An active comment thread is a happy comment thread!)
  • Click through fellow bloggers’ blogrolls often to find new blogs you’re interested in.
  • Invite bloggers to be on your blogroll, instead of waiting for them to send you invites.

IMPORTANT: I’m not saying give up on allying with the bigger blogs in your category–not at all! Just don’t forget the little guys (and gals) who are trying just as hard as you are. Support each other, and who knows–you all might end up being part of the “big blog” network yourselves!

Summary

Promoting your blog does not have to be a soulless, businesslike act–in fact, if you do it right, you can feel more like you’re part of a writing community instead of feeling like a lone voice in the wilderness.

This takes dedication and commitment; I’m certainly not doing it right yet (and I rarely have the Internet connection to do so with any regularity). But I can at least take the time every week to link to great posts by my fellow writers–and that’s a great place to start!

3 Blog Networking Sites You Ought to Join

For bloggers, writing content and creating the layout are often the “easy” parts of blogging. The BIG questions are: “How do we get attention for our content? How do we attract readers?”

Part of attracting a wider audience lies in social media–using Facebook, Twitter, and any other relevant social networking sites you can think of–to share your content. But the other component is networking with other bloggers like yourself. Not only can you invite them to read your work and read theirs, but you can get feedback from them and open the door for friendly exchange of ideas. When we’re all in the business of communication, talking and sharing with others of like minds is vital!

So, I did a good bit of research and came up with the following 3 “blogger networking” sites, which can help you share your content with readers and socialize with other bloggers:

bloglovin blogcatalog bloglines
BlogLovin’ has compatibility with Google Reader feeds, and it’s one of the foremost blogger networking sites at the moment. There’s more emphasis on connecting bloggers together, as well as aiding the interaction between blogger and reader. BlogCatalog, like BlogLovin’, has feeds available for readers, but it also provides a little more in-depth blogger-to-blogger networking. Also, there’s a “VIP” feature where bloggers can pay a fee to feature their content on the site’s front page. BlogLines is a more location-based blog feed reader/blogger networking site–it sorts blogs by physical location (city, region, state, etc.) as well as by content type. (This site is still in beta at the time of this writing, but promises to be a neat addition to blogger networking sites!)

Check these out and join up–a little more blog publicity can’t hurt! (Trust me, I’m kind of preaching to myself here too :P)

Do I Still Need to Worry about META Tags?

“META tags? Huh? What are those?” you might ask. The following are examples:

<meta name=”description” content=”An awesomely succinct description here”>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”Hi, I’m a useless tag!”>
<meta name=”author” content=”Your name here, if you’re not afraid of identity theft”>
<meta http-equiv=”content-type” content=”text/html;charset=UTF-8 (but who uses this, anyway?)”>
Many thanks to W3Schools.com for this code sample. (The comments in the content blanks are all my own opinions, though. LOL)

For most modern web designers, the esoteric meta tag fell just a little bit before our time. Tucked away in the head section of our HTML documents, these little snippets of code, like talismans, were supposed to help search engines find and index our sites, and therefore supposed to help potential visitors find us a lot more easily.

But these days, meta tags don’t quite function that way anymore. Most modern browsers don’t pay much attention to them, and neither do many search engines. So, the question remains: Are they worth even including in our webpages anymore?

The Verdict: Sorta-Kinda

Meta tags have not lost all their effectiveness, according to this article at SearchEngineWatch.com. Some search engines still do pay attention to them. But just making detailed meta tags is not the be-all and end-all SEO strategy it used to be. Nowadays, it’s far better to combine a selective use of meta tags with other strategies, like blogrolls, affiliate programs, content keywording, topsites listings, ad programs, and the like.

Meta Description: Think Twitter-Length

For your description, write a short, one- or two-sentence summary of your site, and leave it at that. No need for long-winded, essay-question-esque responses! (Ha, I need this advice more than anybody, LOL.) Since the content in meta description tags may or may not all be picked up by a search engine (depending on character limits per individual search engine), you want to make sure the content in the tag is as short and sweet as possible.

Meta Keywords: “Meh”

The meta “keywords” tag used to be of all importance, and you used to stuff it full of all the keywords you thought people would search for and find your site with. These days…don’t bother even typing in <meta name=”keywords”> into your code.

Why? It’s vastly easier on you (and more intuitive for modern search engines) if you just use the keywords a whole lot in the text of your website. For instance, if your site is about beaded jewelry, use “beaded” and “jewelry” a lot in your content. Search engines will still find you, and maybe find you a lot more easily than they would if your site’s content had very few actual usages of your ideal search terms.

Meta Author and Meta Content-Type: Don’t Bother

I’ve never known either of these tags to make much of a difference in search engines or browsers either one. (In fact, it may be dangerous for you to put your real name in such a prominent place in your source code.) Plus, the content-type, while it may have mattered in the past for older browsers, likely doesn’t matter as much anymore with more modern browsers being used. My advice: don’t worry about either of these.

Use Your Title Tag As Well!

Don’t forget your <title> tag! Though it’s not a true meta tag, it will remind your users of what site they’re looking at when they look through their browser tabs. Also, many search engines search your title tags first, even before they search your content, so it’s well worth writing at least something between <title> and </title>.

Make it short and descriptive, like your meta description tag, and you’ll be well on your way to having a site that people actually visit. (Y’know, why we spend hours before a screen typing and clicking, blinking our bloodshot eyes in a vain attempt for rest? LOL)

Summary

META tags aren’t something to lose sleep over anymore, but some of them might be helpful supplements to your other SEO strategies for making your site known. Simply craft a meta description, spiff up your title tag with appropriate text, and you’ll be set in terms of META tags.