I am diverging a little from the general theme of things here at freewheelings with a series of posts on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) fundamentals for travel bloggers. If you’re here solely to read about my adventures and want to skip over the tech talk I won’t take it personally. I have a very technical background and I think there are a lot of travelers out there writing and contributing interesting and original content by the boatload and they would all be better served applying a few SEO fundamentals to help that content get found. What you find in this series is not in any way solely for travel bloggers. It applies to everyone; travel bloggers just happen to make up a good share of my readership.
This will be a five part series and it will breakdown as follows:
- Crafting Keyword Specific Posts
- The Fundamentals of a Link
- Link Building Ideas
- Building Link Wheels
- Tools to Test Your Strategy
Let’s get started.
I’ll be using WordPress for this series, but the principles apply to any blogging platform or website in general. There’s going to be a lot of talk about keywords, keyword density about search engines and about Google. I think the most important thing to remember is to never write your post or your article for Google, you’ll be doing yourself and your readership a disservice. However, if you write your post or article for your readership keeping these SEO fundamentals in mind, you’ll have a much better chance of getting found and increasing your readership.
What I’m going to cover today:
- Keyword Selection
- Keywords in URL
- Keywords in Title
- Keywords in Text
- Keywords in Meta Title
- Keywords in Meta Tags
- Keywords in Meta Description
On Page SEO
This is everything you can do on the page itself to increase the articles relevance for its selected keywords.
Off Page SEO
Everything else. Submitting your article to things like Susy Stumbles Over Travel, getting links from other bloggers, references from Wikipedia, Squidoo or any number of other services
I’m going to focus on some bogus keywords in this series for two reasons. The first is that I should be able to get a top ten Google rank quickly and easily and the second is because I need a little entertainment. I’m going to be focusing on “Kernerbal Island” and “Flying Sloth” I would advise that you start with a tool such Google Adwords Keyword Tool to narrow in on your keyword(s).
As you can see there are only 170 global monthly searches for the keywords “flying sloth” so the competition shouldn’t be too rough. Grabbing your percentage of that 170 with a top ten ranking is nothing too shabby so let’s optimize our post for the primary term “flying sloths” and secondarily for “Kernerbal Island,” which doesn’t exist. Note that this is where you are going to have to get a feel for what you can attain. I may be able to to sneak into the top 10 for flying sloths with on page SEO alone, but it would take a serious off page campaign to rank decently for “sloth.” It’s about balancing your pagerank and the amount of time you are willing to put into promoting a specific post vs. key word competition. This is one of the best tools to help you find a meaningful balance.
Keywords in Title, URL and Text
Now that we have our keywords let’s take a look at exactly where they go as we compose our article:
As you can see, my primary keywords “flying sloths” are the first words in my title. I’d keep your main keywords as close to the beginning as possible. In any theme worth its salt this will also be your H1 Header.
URL or Permalink
This is where you really need to get those keywords as far to the left as possible. Google counts spaces from the end of http:// to the keywords when they determine relevance. Also notice that I ditched all the irrelevant filler words. You should always do this, no “and” “the” “of”, get rid of them.
Body of the Article (Text)
Make sure to include all of your keywords in the first paragraph of your article and to mix it up through the rest of the text repeating your keywords and their variants. Just make sure not to repeat your keywords so much that it sounds unnatural. Keyword density should be around 5-7% of visible content.
Keywords in Meta Data
This is where you’re really going to have to stick with me. You’re post editor probably doesn’t look exactly like mine. I’m using the Thesis theme for WordPress from DIY Themes so all of my Meta Data Control is built right into the theme. If your theme doesn’t do this, you’ll need to install an SEO plugin. The best one I have used is All in one SEO. Either way, you’ll have to find these boxes :
Meta Title (Custom Title Tag)
Most SEO plugins and Thesis as well will use your post title to autopopulate this field. In most circumstances I just leave it blank so long as my post title has my keywords. This is your H1 header as well.
Jampack this with information (and your keywords) that will lead people from Google into your article and keep it under 150 charecters. This is what shows as Google’s excerpt from your article on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Meta Tags / Keywords
Your keywords again, lowercase, separated by commas. These are not wieghed heavily by Google anymore, but I believe they are still counted and only take a second. Important note: These are Meta Tags / Keywords and NOT WordPress post tags.
Check Your Work
If you’re this far through the article you have probably heard most of the A-list bloggers hawking Scribe SEO for some $60 bucks a month. I honestly don’t think that there is too much you can do with Scribe that you can’t do with the SenSEO Firefox plugin and it’s free! Let’s take a look:
83/100 is not bad at all. Many of the checks this plugin does at the bottom you have little or no control over. I aim for above 80 and call it good. If you followed the instructions in this post to the T you should be in the neighborhood of 80 already. If not, just play around with your post and rerun the test until you’re satisfied.
Solid on page SEO is the foundation of a good, well ranking blog. I’ll be continuing this series shortly as we branch out to Off Page SEO and the next post in the series:
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