While Blogger templates may not be naturally optimized for search result status, there are many easy adaptations we can make to ensure they are more accessible and search engine friendly.
Last week in the first part of the SEO series for Blogger templates, I explained some how the head section could be best optimized for rankings in search engine results. In this part, I will explain how best to optimize the links in your blog template, which can help ensure these are properly crawled and better adapted for search engine spiders.
Back to Basics
Before we get into the intricacies of optimizing links in Blogger templates, let’s get back to basics!
SEO experts universally agree that link text is one of the most important factors of optimizing a link. Link text is the word or phrase which is used as a link in text links, like this:
<a href=”#”>This is Link Text</a>
The easiest way to optimize text links is to ensure the value of the text link tells the regular reader (and also search engine spiders) a description of where the link will lead to.
Let’s say I wanted to create a link to Kelby Carr’s post, SEO 101. A poor way of linking to this resource would be using non-descriptive link text like this:
Take a look at Kelby Carr’s post here
The link text, “here”, features no descriptive keywords related to Kelby’s SEO post, nor do the surrounding words have any impact on how this link is understood, either by readers of my post, or search engine spiders.
A much better way to link to this article would be to use descriptive text within and around the link:
Are you looking for SEO tips? Kelby Carr’s article describes the basics of search engine optimization with particular reference to blogs.
You can apply this technique to any manually created links in your blog, whether this be in your blog posts or links within your blog template (for example, links to important pages). Search engine spiders will reference the keywords contained in the link text more easily, while readers will prefer the experience of having a full description of where the links will lead to.
Using titles in your links
Links can be optimized even further by adding titles within the anchor tags, like this:
<a href=”#” title=”This is title text”>An example of link text</a>
The “title” of an anchor link should be exactly that: a descriptive title which explains something about the link. Titles offer even more information about the link to search engine spiders, and when a reader hovers their cursor over a link with a title in the anchor tag, the title will appear in a small box to provide a visual description.
Going back to the original example of linking to Kelby’s SEO 101 post, I could add the title”SEO 101″ to the link, which is also the title of her post, like this:
>Are you looking for SEO tips? Kelby Carr’s article describes the basics of search engine optimization with particular reference to blogs.
Hover your cursor over the same link text in each of the examples above. Do you notice the difference? If you use this technique for all manually created links in your Blogger blog, both search engine spiders and regular readers will notice the difference too!
Applying these techniques to your Blogger template
These techniques are easy to apply to any manually created links in your blog template. But what about your blog title, link lists and labels which use code generated by Blogger specific tags?
Even though such links are not generated by regular HTML anchor tags, there are methods we can use to optimize them by using keywords which are relevant to your blog, and by adding title tags.
The methods you can use are slightly different, depending on the link you wish to optimize. So I’ll go through the most prominent links you may wish to optimize in your own Blogger template with instructions on how these links can best be optimized for search engines and accessibility.
Your Blog Title/Home Page Link
In Blogger templates, your blog’s title in the header section provides a link to your blog’s home page. By default, this is displayed as a regular text link (featuring your blog title as the link text), though you can also opt to use an image instead of the blog title.
Your blog title is one of the most important factors of SEO, so you really need to ensure this is well optimized if you want your blog to rank highly for related keywords in search engine results. Whether you use regular link text as your blog title, or choose to use an image instead, you can still ensure this link is well optimized and adequate to your blog’s SEO requirements.
The widget code for your blog header contains two distinct sections of code: one for instances where link text is used to display your blog title (and link to your home page), and one which generates the correct code for when an image is used instead.
If you are using regular text to display your blog title, you’ll discover that it’s very easy to optimize this link. Simply go to Layout>Edit HTML in your Blogger dashboard, check the box to expand the widget templates, then locate the following section of code:
<!--No header image --> <div id='header-inner'> <div class='titlewrapper'> <h1 class='title'> <b:include name='title'/> </h1> </div> <b:include name='description'/> </div> </b:if> </b:includable> <b:includable id='title'> <b:if cond='data:blog.url == data:blog.homepageUrl'> <data:title/> <b:else/> <a expr:href='data:blog.homepageUrl' title="A Link Title Here"><data:title/></a> </b:if> </b:includable>
The text which I’ve highlighted in bold red is additional code which I have added to the template in order to give this link a title.
You can optimize this title by using descriptive keywords which are relevant to your blog subject. For example, if you are writing a blog about blogs, and your blog title is “The Cat’s Whiskers”, you could use a link title such as “The Pussy Cat Lover’s Blog” to provide adequate reference for search engines and readers alike.
If you are using an image instead of your blog title, you will need to locate a slightly different area of code and can optimize the link in two different ways:
<b:if cond='data:useImage'> <b:if cond='data:imagePlacement == "REPLACE"'> <!--Show just the image, no text--> <div id='header-inner'> <h1 style="display: none;">Your Blog Title</h2> <a expr:href='data:blog.homepageUrl' style='display: block' title="Link Title Here"> <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>
You’ll notice that I made two changes in the code above: the first is to add <h1> tags just before the link tags, which ensures there is a reference to a first class title within the blog template (when using an image instead of the textual title, this is omitted from the template code). By including the style reference, “display:none” this means that the H1 tags are referenced by search engine spiders, while not being displayed in the visual make-up of the template.
The second change is the same as the previous example, adding a link title inside the anchor tags, to ensure optimization for search engines and readers. As before, this also makes the link title appear when your cursor hovers over it.
Optimizing Labels Lists
In “new” Blogger layouts templates, you can add an optional “Labels” widget to your blog’s sidebar. This widget lists all the labels you have used to categorize your blog posts.
Since we do not have direct access to each label link in this list, you may imagine that it is impossible to add link titles to these links. Fortunately by adapting the code slightly, we can still add appropriate titles to these links!
If you have added a label widget to your blog, you can look in your template code to find this section:
<b:widget id='Label1' locked='false' title='Labels' type='Label'> <b:includable id='main'> <b:if cond='data:title'> <h2><data:title/></h2> </b:if> <div class='widget-content'> <ul> <b:loop values='data:labels' var='label'> <li> <b:if cond='data:blog.url == data:label.url'> <span expr:dir='data:blog.languageDirection'> <data:label.name/> </span> <b:else/> <a expr:dir='data:blog.languageDirection' expr:href='data:label.url' expr:title='"Read more posts filed under " + data:label.name ' rel='tag'> <data:label.name/> </a> </b:if> <span dir='ltr'>(<data:label.count/>)</span> </li> </b:loop> </ul> <b:include name='quickedit'/> </div> </b:includable> </b:widget>
As before,t he code I added to make these labels more optimized for search engines is highlighted in bold red.
You will notice that I have referenced the titles for each label link using this formula:
expr:title='”Read more posts filed under ” + data:label.name ‘
As the link to each label link is generated by widget tags, we cannot add the code for each link title individually. Instead we need to use the section of the widget code which is used to generate the title as an expression, along with more descriptive link text.
Furthermore, you will notice that I added “rel=”tag” to the anchor link code. This is because Blogger labels can be used as tags which are referenced by Technorati and other sites to collect and collate information about a blog’s content.
Optimizing Link Lists
Link lists can be optimized in a similar way. If you already have a link list present in your blog, simply find the expanded widget template for your link list widget which should look something like this:
<b:widget id='LinkList1' locked='false' title='' type='LinkList'> <b:includable id='main'> <b:if cond='data:title'><h2><data:title/></h2></b:if> <div class='widget-content'> <ul> <b:loop values='data:links' var='link'> <li><a expr:href='data:link.target' expr:title='data:link.name'><data:link.name/></a></li> </b:loop> </ul> <b:include name='quickedit'/> </div> </b:includable> </b:widget>
Once again, I have added some extra code in red to show how the links in this list may be optimized with titles.
If all of the links in a particular link list are those of friends’ sites, you may also wish to add the tag rel=”friend” to the anchor link code. Similarly, if all the links in this list reference your other sites or social profiles, you may prefer to add the rel=”me” tag instead. Either of these tags may be added to the code like this:
<li><a expr:href=’data:link.target’ expr:title=’data:link.name’ rel=”friend”><data:link.name/></a></li>
These “rel” tags establish relationships between your blog and other sites, which is useful for those interested in the Social Graph API and for those who wish to link all their profiles using sites such as Ziki and OpenID.
One thing you must note is that keyword spamming is frowned upon by search engines, and could result in a negative impact, rather than a positive one! When adding titles to your anchor links, it is advisable to use well formed phrases and proper descriptions rather than simply adding one keyword after another! This will stand you in much better stead, and will also be more friendly for your readers when hovering over such links.
Proper implementation of the methods I’ve described here will help your Blogger powered blog rank more highly in search engine results, and with some variation of these techniques, you could even learn how to optimize other links too!
I hope you have found these techniques useful in learning how your Blogger template can be optimized for inclusion in search engine results. In the next and final post of this mini-series, I’ll explain how you can optimize the images in your Blogger template, including your header image and those contained in widgets.
For more SEO tips related to your blog, be sure to check out the Search Engine Optimization category here at Blogging Tips!
Meet Daniel Cowen-Rivers of TravelWeekli.com
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?
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:
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:
- Yoast – A blog in called SEO by Yoast. This makes optimizing my blog post easier to rank higher on Google search.
- 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.
- 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?
Three Resource Guides to Get Started with a Blog in 2018
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.
The Curious Case of Blogging Policy for Employees
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
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:
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.
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
- 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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