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There is no doubt that blogging is a powerful tool for content marketers and SEOs. However, the simple days of recording your daily activities in a sort of online diary has grown to become a much more complex endeavor, especially for those who intend to use it for marketing.

The reason blogging became the mess many companies see it to be is simply that too many put too much emphasis on blogging and tried to make it something new that can drive away beginners or website owners with its complexities.

Blogging can do wonders for your SEO and your business, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed with blogging, chances are you’ve reached that tipping point. You are also probably making some common mistakes that are rather simple to fix. Most likely, you just need to simplify.

A simple way to simplify is to just narrow your focus a little more. If you find yourself trying to cover vast themes and ideas in your blog, you are using the wrong format for your thesis. For every blog post, try to stick to a single idea. You may think you’re doing that, but consider it like this: while a country like Portugal may be “one topic” it can be broken down into so many subtopics. Pick one of those subtopics, and then see if you can break it down more. If you’re interested in the local culture, zoom in more on the music. Maybe pick a specific style of music that is most relevant or interesting and focus on that.

Similarly, even if you choose one fairly specific topic that you are knowledgeable on, you can still feel compelled to write endlessly, but you probably shouldn’t. Longer posts can get a little more attention and earn you some credibility if they are well done, but articles reaching 2,500 or more words should almost certainly be considered for another medium than a blog. By over-reaching on blog post size, you can throw off the scores of people who scan for information, and limit your own output possibilities.

Depending on the size of your business, bloggers can also end up in a chain where five or six people have to sign off on every single blog post before they can go to publish. In reality, you only want two to three people being the deciding council of what content is going to the public. Two or three people are enough to ensure there are no big thematic mistakes or smaller errors like typos or factual inaccuracies, but the more people you add to that process, the more likely you’ll have to deal with more arguments about what is fit to be published.

Speaking of editing, even one-person blogging teams can get stuck in the process of over-editing. Blogs don’t have to be perfect. You want to appear reputable and intelligent, so you don’t want to put out something chock full of mistakes, but web writing is informal. You don’t need to spend the time editing a blog that you would something in a newspaper or any other type of professional writing. Your audience isn’t looking for that.

For the most part, you can feel comfortable sticking to one, or possibly two rounds of editing at most for any post. You want to ensure there are no huge cohesion errors you didn’t notice in the throes of writing, but if you misspell one work, it won’t be the end of the world.

Of course, there are many more ways you can over complicate blogging as a process. Sujan Patel recently wrote about some ways that bloggers tend to make everything more of a mess than they should. You want to put out quality content, but most of the time keeping it simple will just make it easier to see the good work you’ve done.

All backlinks are not created equal. Everyone knows that. But, with the number of linking opportunities out there and the number of backlinks a site is expected to have, inexperienced SEOs tend to take a quantity over quality approach that can end in penalties from Google.

Vetting your backlink sources isn’t hard, but it takes a bit of extra time for sorting through the massive number of sources at your fingertips. Think of it as choosing sources for a paper you had to write in high school or college. You’re expected to have a certain number, but your grade, or in this case your site’s ranking and reputation, can be hurt if your sources aren’t reliable sources.

But, do not fear young SEOs. If qualifying your potential backlink sources still seems vague or daunting, Sujan Patel from Search Engine Journal created a list of seven questions you can ask of your link opportunities to ensure that you’re only spending your energy on links that will help your site. Having a ton of backlinks is counter-productive if none of them have any value.

New business have a lot to manage in a short period of time if they hope to be sustainable, and one of the most important marketing tools they can use is SEO. Establishing your company online is a huge step towards establishing your business in your community, and the only way to get popular online is to have a website showing up in the search rankings.

In the past, creating a respectable website with good content would have been enough to get your page on the search results page, but the internet is now an incredibly competitive arena. To get your website on the front page, you have to create great content while also managing a number of ranking signals that Google and Bing use to rank websites.

These signals are read by “bots” or “spiders” that index web pages and all of their internal information, which are sorted by algorithms that decide what pages get ranked where. There are seemingly countless signals, and it can be overwhelming when you are just getting started.

Startups trying to understand SEO often feel completely confused by the barrage of technical information out there, but there are some basic steps you can take to get started. Sujan Patel has five rules you can apply to running your website which will help any fledgling business firmly ground their online presence.

Source: RBertelg/Flickr.com

Source: RBertelg/Flickr.com

Website owners and SEOs have to budget their time wisely. There are a billion different ways you can try to gather traffic, but some are more effective than others. Of course, anyone that preaches that they have a quick way to get visitors is probably pushing questionable or outright terrible practices that won’t actually work, but there are also methods out there that under perform because they have become outdated or just fail to understand the field.

Sujan Patel put together a list of seven of these SEO tasks that waste precious time at Search Engine Journal. Some of these tasks are harmless, but don’t have any actual value. Checking your site traffic every day can be tempting, especially to new site owners. There is a legitimate thrill to seeing people begin to trickle onto your content, and the number of visitors is a helpful metric to keep note of, but checking traffic every day focuses too much on individual visitors and not the overall trends in traffic. Trends in traffic numbers give you much more useful information than seeing every single visitor arriving on your page.

Some of the other tactics Patel points out are downright frowned upon by the SEO community, and the Search Engines are trying to put a stop to them. Buying backlink packages was nothing more than a scheme to get sites to the top of rankings without having any actual value. It was a loophole that many took advantage of, but it has absolutely no real worth, and Google’s algorithm updates have made it very clear that the practice isn’t tolerated anymore.

Monitoring keyword density, unlike the past two, used to actually be fairly useful, but it has absolutely no function in the current SEO climate. Keyword density was never quite as important as some made it seem, but for a period Google’s system did favor sites with a reasonable amount of keywords within the content. That is pretty much completely gone now, and the more advanced search engines favor natural sounding content rather than overstuffed robotic sounding paragraphs.

Patel has even more tasks that are draining your time without giving anything back. It is easy to be tempted by easy paths to high rankings or to fall out of touch with the constantly changing SEO world if you let it happen. The best way to know where to focus your energy is to keep up to date with everything happening in SEO regularly, and to look for practices which offer long-term, sustainable growth for your site.

One of the most common criticisms hurled at SEO is that is manipulates sites based on what Google or Bing want rather than what users would like to see. Many perceive this as a conflict between SEO and good user experiences, almost as if SEO is antagonistic to an enjoyable website visit.

On the surface, this assumption makes sense, as SEO’s do tend to get wrapped up in pleasing algorithms rather than people, but good SEO and quality user experience don’t have to be mutually exclusive. There are plenty of times where focusing on both aspects of the web page create great sites that are popular for search engines, and many SEO practices actually benefit the user.

Sitemaps, for example, are an essential part of SEO strategy, as search engines do limited crawls, where many sites do not have all of their pages indexed by the engine. Having a well organized and updated sitemap, as well as simple navigation, you make sure the search engines index the pages most important for you.

Source: Flickr

These sitemaps and navigation systems have the added bonus of making users able to easily navigate a site. Nobody enjoys having to scour a website for the specific page they are looking for, and a well done navigation system quickly erases that issue.

Keyword based SEO practices also help both parties, as long as you keep your readers in mind while optimizing your text. All text-based content should be easy to read, but search engines rely on keywords in the blocks of text to understand what your site is about.

The problem is, this makes some SEOs starting placing the keyword every other word which is going to drive readers crazy. The general rules are to include the keyword in the title, headline tag, and body content, but no more than once in the headline tag and title. You can use it a few times in your content as needed, but not overdoing it is important. In fact, including the keyword too many times could actually hurt your site.

Sujan Patel over at Search Engine Journal has even more ways you can combine SEO and a user-experience focus to make web sites that make both the search engines and your visitors happy.

Yep, it’s time again for a post about content marketing! It looks like there will be plenty of these throughout the next year as content marketing stays on the tip of everyone’s tongue when talking about SEO or digital marketing.

But, pumping out quality content continuously takes a lot of time and effort, which can be difficult for a site or marketing team to maintain for a long time. This causes most to get burnt out and ideas for new content stop coming as quickly. If you’re having trouble coming up with new things to talk about and ways to present your content, Sujan Patel has some suggested formats which might help you get started at Search Engine Journal.

  • List Posts – You’ve almost certainly seen lists before unless you stay away from almost all forms of media and information. If that is the case, thanks for reading this before picking up a newspaper or looking at “the cutest 25 cats sitting on things”. Yes, lists are a super common choice for bloggers and writers of all kinds. They are easy to write, and they tend to be more shared than most blog posts.
  • Interviews – Interviews have also always been popular for media, and SEO benefits for the same reasons. When you get an interview with a subject, you will automatically gain exposure to that figure’s followers and draw traffic to your own content. Interviews are also fairly easy. Make sure you understand the technology you would be using to record the interviews, like audio recorders, cameras, etc., then all you have to do is start asking anyone you would be interested on interviewing. You’ll get a bite faster than you know.
  • Reviews – If you have writer’s block when it comes to coming up with topics, reviews are a great way to keep content coming regularly while keeping it interesting for your viewers. Try to be objective and fair with your reviews, and use specific details to keep others from thinking you are just attacking other writers and creators.
  • Link Round-ups – Similarly to reviews, this is a go-to for those who can’t figure out what to talk about. Gathering collections of links has the upsides of collecting resources you might use on your own, while also earning goodwill for other creators’ content you are sharing.

Obviously, the best way to get traffic to come to your site is to just offer quality content filled blog posts informing peers in the industry. These formats shouldn’t replace the standard blog post, but when you are at a total loss for topics, these formats are handy to have in your back pocket.

When trying to pump content out for a blog, it is easy to become focused on resharing news or tips essential to the community, especially with SEO. The problem is that SEO changes so quickly, most of these posts go out of date very quickly. This is why every blog needs a good amount of “evergreen content”.

Evergreen content is the term for any posts or articles on your blog that will always be relevant to your content. Sujan Patel from Search Engine Journal uses an example to show the distinction.

If you are running an SEO blog, an article about the latest Penguin update won’t be relevant a week or two later when the next update appears. However, a post like “What is SEO?” will always be important, especially for any new readers you gain. The definition of SEO isn’t going to change, and the overall idea of the industry stays largely consistent, though you may need to update the article every few years.

Evergreen content is always up-to-date and will always be a primary interest for your readers. For blog managers, it offers more effective content, that can be re-run later with the same impact it originally had.  For readers, it is helpful because new readers are always looking for basic information.

I like to think of it like Wikipedia information. Wikipedia articles tend to consist of factual information without touching too much on “best practices” or other time sensitive issues. When someone accesses a Wikipedia article, they want a basic explanation of what something is and why it is important. If you can convey that in an article, you have the recipe for great evergreen content.

Right now one of the strongest methods in SEO is content marketing. It can help you expand your brand’s reputation and build traffic if you do it right. That’s why there are tons of articles out there telling you what to do.

Of course, even if you’re doing everything right except one important issue, your content marketing plan may still be doomed. To help make sure that nothing is holding you back, Sujan Patel has a list of seven ways you can mess up your content marketing plan.

It is a lot of work to make sure you’re doing every step of your plan correctly, but just neglecting one area can lead to a lot of issues.

 

Google’s algorithm changes over the last decade have really made huge shifts in the way we search things. They also really help developers stay on their toes.

Initially, the SEO business was all about rankings. You told your client how you would get their keywords to the top of the search, and then showed them how high they were coming up in searches. Of course, it took a while to get their site to the top, but once you did, they were content.

Now, thanks mostly to Search+, it is the job of SEOs to get their clients to stop thinking about ratings. What Search+ has done is customize the results for every search you make based on search history, location, social media usage, and other criteria. That means everyone gets results catered to them, but it also results in your client’s site not appearing high in the rankings for some people.

Sujan Patel offers some other methods of tracking how your websites are performing, all of which can be found in Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics.

There are simple reports like “visitor growth” that show how your site is trending quickly and clearly, as well as old metrics that have risen in popularity. Such measurement tools like Impressions give you ideas of how your pages are appearing for similar search terms.

Another old metric that has become much more useful is your site’s average ranking. In January, Google announced changes to how they score site’s average rankings and now it gives a much closer average of “how a link’s position in Google search results should be important.”

While the older ways of Google made it easier for you to see how your site is performing, the changes in recent months have actually been an improvement for marketing towards target demographics. Unfortunately, this means improving your analytic skills is essential if you want to succeed. You may not be able to give your client keywords to search to see their performance, but if you know your analytic tools, you can still quickly show them how your SEO path is helping them grow their business.