SEO Basics for Blogs
Anyone who runs a website or a blog quickly learns the importance of traffic from search engines. While SEO basics are becoming common knowledge for designers and marketers, blogs face different issues with search engines than traditional websites.
With blogs you have less control over the coding that is used. Depending on what blogging platform you are using, you are probably typing directly in an internet browser to add a new post. The program then generates the coding. Most modern blogging programs have been designed to create blogs that are built with search engine-friendly code. However, some control is lost for the blogger.
There are a few areas that can often be troublesome for bloggers who are attempting to optimize for search engines.
1 – URL Structure
Most blogs create URLs that contain a lot of random characters, like question marks, and no keywords or anything of value. A page will rank higher in search engines when its URL contains words or phrases that are part of the search. Therefore, getting keywords in your URL is important. In addition, many search engines won’t index pages that have auto-generated URLs, like the standard blog post page.
What can you do to have URLs that are more search engine-friendly?
Some blogging programs allow you to choose what type of URL (or permalink) you want to be created. For WordPress users, from your dashboard click on “options” and then “permalinks.” From here you will have 3 standard choices, plus the option to create your own custom permalink structure. For this blog we have entered the following in the custom textfield, “/%category%/%postname%/”. This tells WordPress to create permalinks that include the category of the post followed by the name of the post. Feel free to use this for your blog, or see some other ideas at The Undersigned and at Geek Notes.
2- Page Titles
One of the most important on-page factors for search engine rankings is the page title. Unfortunately, many bloggers do not change their page titles. In WordPress you can standardize how you want your page titles to appear by editing some code in the header.php file. Open up header.php and look for the title tag. The code between the title tags is what you want to edit. For this blog we use the following code:
This will create page titles that start with the name of the post and end with the name of the blog. Alternatively, you can get the SEO Title Tag plugin http://www.netconcepts.com/seo-title-tag-plugin/ that will easily allow you to create titles for your posts and pages.
For Movable Type users, the page titles can be changed on the settings tab. Blogger users can get more information from Control Your Title Tags in Blogger.
3 – Duplicate Content
No search engine likes to see duplicate content. Whether it is two pages on the same site with the same information or multiple pages on different sites with essentially the same information or content, the results can include pages being cast into Google’s supplemental index rather than the main index. Duplicate content is a major issue for blogs, as category pages and calendar/date pages often cause search engines to find the same content on multiple pages.
There are a few ways for bloggers to overcome duplicate content issues. One method is to use the robots.txt file to instruct search engines on which pages should be ignored, leaving just the primary pages to be indexed. For more information about creating a robots.txt file for blogs, and to see an example, visit Not So Boring Life.
Another option for WordPress users is the Duplicate Content Cure plugin.
You can also control how much content appears on your categories pages by choosing to have those pages display only the beginning of posts rather than the entire post. In this case the reader would click through to the main post page to read the entire article and search engines may not recognize the category page as having duplicate content. WordPress users can do this by editing the archive template. If you are using the default Kubrick theme, open archive.php and look for . Change “content” to “excerpt” and that’s it.
4 – Meta Tags
When designing a traditional, static website you have the option/ability to enter meta tags (descriptions and keywords) for each page. Although these tags a less influential on search engine rankings as they used to be, it doesn’t hurt to have them in your pages. However, most blogging programs do not give the user the option to add meta tags when writing a post.
For WordPress users the Add-Meta-Tags plugin will allow you to enter meta tags for any page.
While this is just a quick summary, these are the most important SEO topics that bloggers will face (as compared to those issues faced by traditional websites). By understanding the unique qualities that a blog has in comparison with a static website and knowing what options and resources are available, you can create a blog that is ready for search engines.
Published June 21st, 2007 by Steven Snell