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Search Engine Optimization tips for Blogger Templates (Part 1)

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Search Engine Optimization tips for Blogger TemplatesThese days, there is much discussion of how blog content can be optimized for search engines in order to receive better rankings. But have you considered how your blog template can be optimized too?

There are many themes available for WordPress users which are intrinsically styled for SEO. Unfortunately for those who use Google Blogger, such resources are few and far between.

Over a short series of three posts, I’ll share some of the tricks I’ve discovered which you could use to optimize your Blogger templates for search engine spiders, and achieve better rankings in search results.

In this part, I’m going to start from the top by explaining how your blog’s URL, title and meta tags can be easily optimized with a little thought and some slight changes to your Blogger template code. I’ll also explain how your blog’s title can be best optimized, even when using an image in place of the title and description text.

URLs, Title and Meta Tags

These are often considered the three most important components of search engine optimization, and can be easily optimized for Blogger powered blogs.

Your Blog’s URL

Whether you are posting on a BlogSpot subdomain (e.g: yourblog.blogspot.com), or have chosen to use the custom domain feature (e.g: www.yourblog.com), the URL of your site should reflect the content of your blog.

Choose your blog’s URL wisely, and if possible ensure this contains a keyword or two which is relevant to your content. If you are writing about cats, for example, a URL such as “thedogsdinner.blogspot.com” will do you no favors with Google, whereas a URL like “thecatswhiskers.blogspot.com” almost certainly would 🙂

The Title Tag

The <title> tag is a very important feature of any website, and is displayed most in search engine results.

In Blogger templates, a title tag is generated for each page of your blog (including the main, archive and post pages), which differs depending on the actual title of the page.

The title tag is called in your template like this:

<title><data:blog.pageTitle/></title>

Your home page will only feature the actual title of your blog, whereas post pages will feature your blog title, plus the title of your blog post.

When writing titles for your posts, you should bear this in mind to ensure your titles are keyword rich which will help your posts be indexed more easily by search engines. Try to place the most important keywords close to the beginning of the title, as many search engines limit the number of characters which are used in titles, both in their listings and in search results.

If you don’t mind hacking your template a little, you could even choose to display the title of your blog post before the blog title in post pages. This technique would ensure that keywords in your post titles would be indexed much more easily, and can result in far better search rankings for your posts. For this, you should read Widget Based’s post: Changing the Blogger Title Tag for full instructions and the appropriate code to use.

Please note: For some reason, Blogger does not now support the hack I mentioned above. If you have already used this method in your template, this will continue to work for you. However, you will not be able to edit your blog’s template while this is still in place and may well get an error message explaining that a <b:section> is not permitted within the <head> tags. I can only assume that Blogger have somehow changed the way templates are parsed, and will be sure to update this section if I can discover an alternative method.

Meta Description and Keywords Tags

Many SEO experts argue that meta description and keywords tags are being depreciated in search engine results. Google for example, generally ignores the meta description tag and generates it’s own description. However, many search engines do still make use of these tags so it can be useful to include them anyway.

Meta description and keyword tags are not automatically generated for Blogger templates. Since we have full access to the HTML markup of our Blogger templates, we can add these manually below the title tags.

One important consideration you should understand before adding meta description and keyword tags is that search engines look for different descriptions and keywords for each page of your site. If you simply add these to your template in the commonly accepted form, the same content will be distributed across all pages of your site, which search engines may well regard as spam.

So here’s the trick: only use these meta tags for your home (main) page!

This is easily achieved by wrapping your meta description and keywords in conditional tags which will then only appear on your main page.

For example, if I was writing a blog about cute cats, I could include meta description and keyword tags like this:

<title><data:blog.pageTitle/></title>
<b:if cond=’data:blog.pageType == “index”‘>
<meta content=’Cute cats and fluffy kittens for feline friends.’ name=’description’/>
<meta content=’cute, cat, kitten, fluffy, feline’ name=’keywords’/>
</b:if>

The parts highlighted in bold are those tags which prevent the data between them from being generated for the item and archive pages, so you can be sure not to spam search engines with repeated descriptions and keywords for your blog.

The example above could be used as a basis for adding your own meta description and keywords, by simply changing the values to those which are better suited to your blog.

Optimizing your blog’s title heading

Headings offer search engine spiders useful references about your content when indexing your site. You will probably be aware of the hierarchy of heading tags, which ranges from <H1> through to <H6>. Of these, the <H1> tag is considered the most important. In Blogger templates, the H1 tag would usually contain the title of your blog.

Blogger allows us to upload an image to the header section, which can either be used as a background image, or instead of the regular title and description text.

Those who choose to use an image instead of the title and description will not have the H1 heading tag present in their template. So if your blog title uses keywords which would be relevant to search engine results, you would be missing out on an important factor of SEO!

Luckily, this can be easily remedied! Provided you are using an image instead of the title and description in your template, here is how you can solve this dilemma:

  1. Go to the Layout>Edit HTML section of your Blogger dashboard, and ensure you have checked the “Expand widget templates” box.
  2. Look for the styling code for the H1 heading in the <b:skin> portion of your template. This may look something like this, though there are variations across different templates:

    #header h1 {
    margin:5px 20px;
    padding:45px 20px .25em 10px;
    line-height:1.2em;
    text-transform:uppercase;
    letter-spacing:.2em;
    font: $pagetitlefont;
    }

  3. Within this portion of code, you need to add the following line:

    display: none;

    Here is how this could appear when added to the style declaration above:

    #header h1 {
    margin:5px 20px;
    padding:45px 20px .25em 10px;
    line-height:1.2em;
    text-transform:uppercase;
    letter-spacing:.2em;
    font: $pagetitlefont;
    display: none;
    }

  4. Next, you will need to add the <h1> heading tags within the header widget. For this, you will need to locate the following section of code:

    <b:if cond=’data:useImage’>
    <b:if cond=’data:imagePlacement == “REPLACE”‘>
    <!–Show just the image, no text–>
    <div id=’header-inner’>
    <h1>Your Blog Title</h1><a expr:href=’data:blog.homepageUrl’ style=’display: block’>
    <img expr:alt=’data:title’ expr:height=’data:height’ expr:id=’data:widget.instanceId + “_headerimg”‘ expr:src=’data:sourceUrl’ expr:width=’data:width’ style=’display: block’/>
    </a>
    </div>
    <b:else/>

    You’ll notice that I’ve added the H1 heading (highlighted in bold) where it should appear in the template code. As we have set the style of the H1 heading to “display: none;”, this ensures that the H1 heading is present in the HTML markup of your blog pages, but that the title itself is not visible to the casual viewer.

This technique ensures that your blog’s title will still be indexed as effectively as if you had used the image as a background instead. Furthermore, by adding this H1 heading manually, you could even expand on your title slightly with a short description which contains keywords relevant to your blog content.

Note: if you use an image as the background to the title and description, or do not use an image in your header at all, you don’t need to worry about this issue, as the H1 heading will already be present in the mark-up of your pages!

Allow search engines to find your blog!

Finally (and most importantly!) you should ensure that search engines are able to crawl and index your blog.

The easiest way to check this is to look in the settings of the Settings>Basic section of your Blogger dashboard. Close to the bottom of the page is an option to “Let search engines find your blog”. You must set this to “Yes” if you want your site to be crawled and indexed by search engines.

If you have mistakenly set this to “No”, Blogger will add a “NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW” meta tag to your blog mark-up, like this:

<meta content=’NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW’ name=’robots’/>

Such a tag will prevent search engine spiders from ever indexing your site.

This may seem obvious to most of you, though you’d be surprised how many people have not checked this setting!

Further resources

Here are some useful sites you may like to refer to for further information about the tips suggested in this post:

In the next installment of this mini-series, I’ll explain how all of the links in your Blogger template (including those contained in widgets) can be optimized for search engines and better rankings.

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Meet Daniel Cowen-Rivers of TravelWeekli.com

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Blogging can lead you to many opportunities. All established bloggers now have been through the phase of being a new comers. They have experimented one way or another along the process. Trying different things out does help in determining your own style and strategy.

We’ve interviewed bloggers covering various niches in Meet the Bloggers. For this episode, we’d like to introduce Daniel Cowen-Rivers. He’s a budding travel blogger. Read on to know more about his journey across the globe and a

1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?

Daniel Cowen-Rivers

I am a budding travel blogger who travels the world and shares my experiences and travel expertise via social media and through my blog. I got into blogging as I wanted to share my traveling tips and photos with others to make them travel more before global warming destroys the world.

2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?

I chose traveling to share my love of seeing the world and different country’s way of living. I also wanted more people to find out about the world we live in.

3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?

AdSense. I have a few paid ads but not that many as I am still new to the game. I’ve started blogging since February of 2017.

4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?

I did not know about DA and SEO that I know now is very important in order to get sponsored post.

5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?

The blogs are:

  1. Backpack With Me
  2. Bradley Bow
  3. Hand Luggage Only

6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?

The three services that I recommended using to help your blog are:

  1. Yoast  A blog in called SEO by Yoast. This makes optimizing my blog post easier to rank higher on Google search.
  2. OneNote – I’m constantly making notes for future articles. As I always have random moments where I’m going by my day and I just randomly have an idea for a blog article. I always carry my phone to write the note in OneNote.
  3. MailMunch is a plugin for WordPress that comes with email subscription templates that you can place in certain parts of your blog and I made mine as a popup.

7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?

Pick a niche category that you want your blog to be about. As well as this, one of the most important advice I have is one that you need to know when starting out, is how to improve your SEO and DA.

8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?

Just keep blogging! After a few months, I only got a few readers per day and I’ve thought to quit then. However, I’ve read that it takes people years to get enough readers to be a full time blogger. Just keep blogging and don’t stop.

9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?

I would use the money to gain more Facebook likes on my Facebook page that in turn will convert readers for my blog. This will be done by advertising the page and blog on Facebook.

10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?

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Three Resource Guides to Get Started with a Blog in 2018

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Blogging is one of the most powerful and effective ways to build a business, brand or content platform on the internet today. With more than a billion active websites on the internet today, it’s no longer about simply creating content, it’s now all about engagement and building a trusted following from an audience.

This can also be attributed to the massive use and success of WordPress as a CMS over the years.

While the concept of blogging is nothing new, there are still many people and businesses sitting on the sidelines. In this article, we are going to look at three of the best resources to help you not only get started with a blog of your own in 2018, but also how to find success in the process.

Follow each of the three steps and resources below, then begin to map out your blogging focus and content strategy.

1 – How to Start a Blog

There are currently more than 300 million blogs on the internet today. While this might seem like a huge number, there are still a lot of websites and businesses that don’t yet have a blog. At the same time, individuals, industry professionals, and anyone with a passion for writing or sharing their skill or expertise with the rest of the world, should also have a blog of their own. To see two great examples of what’s possible through the use of blogging, be sure to check out Wahaadventures and ThePennyHoarder. Both of these sites have become huge players in the world of financial and work at home resources. Not only that, they are also generating thousands of dollars in the process. Another great resource to consider following is this how to start a blog guide from WebEmployed, which not only walks through the process of how to start a blog, but also the many different ways to make money with one as well.

With all of that in mind… if you ever wanted to make money on the internet, blogging is a great way to accomplish. However, for that to actually happen — you need to actually get started!

The first step to getting started with a blog, is to simply find a reliable resource to walk you through the process step-by-step. The good news is that this is pretty simple, and there are no technical or design skills required — as long as you use the WordPress platform. WordPress is free to use and is often installed with just a click of a button through most web hosting solutions.

If you are looking for a quick and simple tutorial on how to get started with a domain name, web hosting, and also going live with a WordPress blog, be sure to check out BloggingTips’ Guide to Blogging. This resource has everything you need to walk through all of the steps mentioned above, in just a few minutes time, while also providing useful screenshots in the process.

2 – Building a Mailing List with Your Blog

Once you have your blog set up, the first thing you should focus your efforts on is creating high-quality content for your site and gaining valuable backlinks in the process. This is going to help with the SEO and organic search rankings for your site. As valuable as these components are to the long-term success and traffic of your blog, you will also need a content promotion plan in place to make sure you can keep bringing visitors back time and time again.

The sad truth is that more than 70% of the visitors that come to your site are likely never to come back. This has nothing to do with your content, but simply that there is already way too much information and website overload on the internet today.

One of the best ways to keep your audience coming back time and time again is to get them on your mailing list or newsletter. This is also quite easy to set up, as all you need is a reliable list hosting solution and an opt-in form on your site. With this structure in place, anyone can enter their email to join your list, which then allows the site owner to send out mailings at any given time.

To learn more about how to set this up, you can view this resource guide that highlights some of the top lead capture methods for getting subscribers onto your mailing. A subscription form is one of the most basic steps to getting started, but there are much better options to consider as well, such as popup windows, call-to-action buttons, and exit intent windows.

3 – How to Make Money with a Blog

Many people will start a blog with the initial goal to increase awareness and traffic to their existing brand or online business. However, what about everyone else who doesn’t already have a business or monetization method in place yet? The good news is that there are plenty of ways to make money with a blog, even if you don’t have anything to market or sell.

Some of the top blogs in the world today are generating millions of dollars every month simply by creating valuable content and finding unique ways to monetize their site and audience. The most common blog monetization methods in use today are affiliate marketing, Google AdSense, product creation, direct ad sales, or even selling services of your own.

To give you some examples of what’s working for other site owners and bloggers in the world today, check out these top millionaire bloggers. Each of their stories and monetization methods is unique. What’s also quite amazing is that each of these bloggers started from nothing and are perfect examples of what’s possible through blogging, while also being an inspiration for others.

How to Find Success with a Blog in 2018

Now that you’ve had the opportunity to view a simple three-step process of how to create a successful blog on the internet today, it’s time for you to get started.

Before registering a domain name and installing WordPress, be sure to think about the focus of your site, how it’s going to provide value to your audience, and also how you can monetize it in the process. If you already have an online brand or service to offer, you should already have an idea of how a blog can be great for business.

Starting a blog is easy, but finding long-term success is usually a struggle for most bloggers. This is often because new bloggers think content creation is going to send loads of traffic to their site. However, with so many websites on the internet, this simply isn’t the truth. You need to have an effective content creation and marketing plan in place to compete.

Read through each of the resource guides above and also think about your blogging content creation and marketing strategy before getting started. This will likely only take a few minutes of your time but will make a huge difference in the overall success of your site.

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The Curious Case of Blogging Policy for Employees

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Blogging has always been a platform to discuss ideas and spark conversation about topics, even when it comes to business. Its flexibility and use-cases are what makes blogging great to begin with.

The same thing can be said with most tools available at your disposal for your business nowadays. From learning management systems to gamification platforms, they help motivate employees and encourage high levels of performance over a sustained period.

However, there are cases when technology can be harmful to your brand, even if indirectly.

For employees, blogging can be a means to to vent out their frustration at work. Some need to release the stress they’ve been keeping from their colleagues. While this process may be healthy for their well-being, the same cannot be said about the employer.

If you happen to be at the wrong end of the stick in this situation, then you’re probably suffering the aftermath of whatever they wrote on their blog.

You need to avoid any instance that your employees are expressing their resentment to their jobs using this medium.

While employees are people too, this does not absolve them from acting out of spite and recklessness. They need to be accountable for whatever they do that could affect the company they work for.

Therefore, you must set up a blogging policy to guide employees on how to conduct themselves online and outside of work.

Why do you need a blogging policy?

For business owners, a blogging policy is your safety net. You can’t control what people say or do outside of their work hours. However, what you can control is how their words and action affect your business.

A blogging policy in place will protect your business from anything defamatory your employee might say or do. Just as much as you value the work your employees do, you also need to protect the interests and image of your company.

A blogging policy doesn’t necessarily expose your employees to legal action. What the policy needs to remind your employees is accountability. What you want are not only hard-working employees but also responsible ones. You want to be working with people who respect what your company represents. If they can’t observe your blogging policy, then they might not be the people whom you want as your employees moving forwards.

Your blogging policy also applies to social media. People use social media more often than a blog as a platform to express their opinions. You can use the policy to cover the blogging and social media activities of your employees to exempt your company from their online activities.

What to include in your blogging policy

What to include in your blogging policy?

When drafting your blogging policy, you need to cover as much ground as possible. You don’t want to leave stones unturned for whatever reason. By being exhaustive in your policy, you exclude your company that you’ve worked so hard to build from sharing their opinions.

Below are the basic ones that you should cover in your policy:

Expressed consent

If your employee features your company on a blog post or a social media update, then you must require them to mention that their views were written and expressed in the content do not represent the views of the company. This rule also applies to your competitors that employees will mention on posts or updates.

At the same time, you need to request them to mention to you or the assigned managers about the post they’re writing that mentions your company. This courtesy preempts you and the higher-ups to anticipate the content and gives you a chance to visit the post at your will.

As long as the employees observe the conditions in your policy on their posts, then they should be in the clear. If they act on behalf of the company, then they cross your blogging policy, and you have grounds to take action against them. You can forbid them from using your logo without your permission to avoid the possibility that readers think that the employees represent your company on their blogs.

Confidentiality

The confidentiality clause is usually included in the contract they sign before stepping foot in your office. However, there’s no harm in reiterating the fact that they are forbidden to share sensitive information about your company to the public. Subjects that are not allowed include but are not limited to:

  • upcoming product releases
  • sales figures
  • number of products sold
  • trademarks
  • private information or those that have not been released by the company to the public

You need to be clear about the topics that employees should not discuss on a public platform to prevent them from divulging sensitive information. Encourage them to ask your PR Officer about topics that they can mention so they can avoid legal trouble.

Respect and privacy rights

If your employees paint your company in a negative light, then you have grounds for legal action against them. The last thing you want from them is a negative perception from the public, which could affect your sales performance if things escalate.

You also need to inform employees that any derogatory statements made about your company in their posts affect not only your business but also the other employees that have nothing to do with the post in the first place. Not to mention, you can terminate your contract with these employees, if push comes to shove. Surely, nobody would want that mess in their hands.

Wrapping it up

The blogging policy provisions above simply suggestions on how you approach this issues to your employees. I don’t claim to be an expert on these things. However, it doesn’t make me wrong either. The entire point of this post encourages you to cover all the bases of your business and protect it from any potential harm that your employees may commit against you. Therefore, you need to consult a professional to help you draft your policy and make it iron-clad and airtight as possible.

Also, it’s also best to mobilize employees to share content from within your company through employee advocacy. Instead of employees posting stuff on social media beyond your control, you can incentivize their social media and blogging activities to the benefit of your company.

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