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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Thanks so much! I just started a blog 3 weeks ago, so these tips are going to come in handy. Cheers
Great post Brandon. I’m looking forward to the rest in the series.
Thank you for sharing this information, Brandon. Very enlightening!
Good stuff man. I just put google ad’s on my forum and am thinking I need to do more. I get what I think are high dollar click on my site – averaging $0.70 so far per click, but VERY few of them. Of course the ads and my feeble attempts at ranking have only been going on for a couple of weeks.
Oh, and I’m impressed – your flying sloth SEO page is ranked 5 on google right now. Go figure!
Hi folks, I’m stoked your finding this series useful. I just released part 2 the fundamentals of a link so be sure to check it out.
Kyle, I was poking around your forum the other day. You’re pulling quite a following. I think you’ve created discussion in a niche where there are a ton of questions and not much conversation, except maybe with the support line. I really think you ought to look at integrating a blog with the forum and reaching past adsense to more direct advertising.
Thanks for supporting this site folks. I appreciate you being here.
Danee Gilmartin says
Thanks so much for the tips. As a new blogger, this is all new to me and something I need to learn. I have booked marked this for future reference and look forward to reading your series!
Vera Marie Badertscher says
This is a very helpful series, and more down-to-earth (or down to my level) than most stuff I read on SEO.
I still have questions on choosing keywords, however. My main overall subject is “travel book” or “travel library” or “travel literature”, but those are pretty general terms and the list of search terms by which people find me are generally specific destinations–Ireland, Rome, etc. “road trip” gets lots of searches, and I use it a lot but not on every post, and I don’t rank very high on that term. In either the destination or road trip example–those are used in SOME posts but not ALL posts. So my keywords change daily?
Howdy, and welcome. This is a great question. I think keywords changing daily is something most travel bloggers contend with. Most of our posts are destination specific just like you say. That’s okay, it’s a good thing. It will help us bring in more search engine terms in the long run as we build on our core keywords. You have three listed here. Personally, I would focus in on “travel library.” The main reason is that “travel library” is contained within your domain name (atravelerslibrary.com). That’s a huge help in and of itself when ranking for those terms. At first it’s probably better to focus on a single high competition keyword than trying to beat your way through three big, steel doors at once. Monthly searches on Google for that term are around 33,000 and there’s some pretty stiff competition out there.
I see you’re from Ohio. Bear with me here I’m going to try and use a baseball analogy to help get through my thoughts on keywords. Granted, I haven’t seen a baseball game in a decade, but everyone from the states has at least a basic concept of how it works. In the long term you want to rank for “travel library.” He’s the pitcher and the focal point of the team on the field. Backing him up are your infielders “travel literature” and “travel book.” Fanning out from there in the outfield are all those other extraneous keywords (destination posts) that bring you search traffic but you don’t focus on regularly. Ideally that’s what you want your search engine traffic to look like, right?
The pitcher has a part in absolutely every play on the field. Your primary keywords should, too. Of everyone else the infielders get the most action. These would be the cornerstone posts of your blog. They should be the most popular posts. Remember, every play ends with the ball being tossed back to the pitcher and your cornerstone posts should promote your primary keywords often. Your outfielders catch a pop fly from the search engines every now and again and that’s great. They toss the ball back to the infielders with a related posts link or by clicking on your most popular posts from the sidebar. The point is that your main keywords should be involved in every play on the field, your secondary keywords most of the plays and the extraneous ones as applicable. Your infielders or your cornerstone posts are the ones that are going to bring you subscribers and links and they should rally around the pitcher “travel library” while making a strong case for their own topic matter.
I’m going to cover using Google Webmaster Tools in the 4th part of this series. They have a section that illustrates site-wide keyword relevance. This is a very helpful tool in determining who you major keyword players are as your site stands now.
A couple more things you could do on page to help your SEO:
1. Pages on your blog have meta data fields just like your posts do. Setup the meta data on you main page to support your primary keywords.
2. When people link to your home page try your best to get them to use the anchor text “travel library.”
Notice: I tried to keep this post to the tried and true fundamentals of SEO, but with this comment reply we are delving into my opinion. I’m sure there are many others out there as well.
Vera Marie Badertscher says
Wow! Thanks for spending so much time analyzing my question.
“main page” puzzles me, though. My home page is the ever-changing place where new posts show up, so there is not really a “page” to set metadata on.
I started my blog using the term travel library liberally, but moved away from it because it did not seem to be a search term than anybody uses in real life, and I wasn’t getting anywhere with SEO. But you make a good argument for using it more.
While your main page or home page is an ever changing place the one thing that remains constant and gives it a solid description is its Meta Data.
I think the one thing we all underestimate is the time and amount or work it takes to rank for a broad term like travel library. It would take a focused campaign that could last a long time to do so. If that term pulls 33,000 monthly from Google I’d guess it into the neighborhood of 50,000 total across all search engines. That’s a lot of traffic and it’s not going to be easy to get. If you’re in it for the long haul just start building towards it. Sooner or later you’ll get there.
Donna Hull says
Thanks Brandon for a series that is also understandable. Extremely useful.
I have a question about a blog post’s title. If keywords are in the url plus the Custom Title Tag, is the blog post title still important? I’ve been under the impression (perhaps a mistaken one) that if the Custom Title Tag and url have keywords up front, then it won’t hurt to have a catchy title in the blog post, without keywords. Your advice?
Donna, you are exactly right. The custom title replaces the name of the post on your blog for SEO purposes. That way you can have one name for your direct visitors (the catchy title) and another for the search engines (the custom title). Of course those that come from a search engine expecting one title will find your catchy title when they arrive. No worries, what counts is that they made it to your blog in the first place. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll add that to the tutorial. And thanks for stopping by.
Bilety Autokarowe says
I loved this article!!! Appreciation!
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