Toolbox Blog: resources, tips, tricks & info for creative professionals

Posts Tagged ‘Google’

February 19th, 2009

Optimizing Your Blog for Search Engines

Everyone wants to be heard, chances are it was one of the reasons you started blogging in the first place.  A lot of beginner bloggers seem to have the “If you build it, they will come” mentality, and this just isn’t the case.   The sheer amount of blogs that exist today ensure that you will have to go above and beyond to attract readers.  This is where SEO comes into play.

Let’s assume that you are relatively passionate about your blog’s topic – which means that you are producing quality content on a pretty regular basis.  Great, that’s step one – here are a few extra things you should be changing to make the most of the search engine traffic.

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

The terms may not be familiar, but you already know what these are…you see them every single time you do a search!

results1

Title Tags should be short and sweet, they should be unique and include the main keywords you want to rank for.  For a blog, the Title Tag is usually the post’s title, but you can tweak it by going into the page’s code and looking for these tags: <title> </title>.  If you use Wordpress these are located in your Header file.  The Meta Description is just a short sentence that describes what the page or post is about.  Again, it wouldn’t hurt to stick in a keyword or two and it should be kept short, under 30 words or so.  You can write unique Meta Descriptions for each post, but to save time using the first sentence or two of the post can be a good starting point.  Wordpress even has a plugin that will do the job for you: Head META Description.

Linkage

It is good to link out to other resources and blogs.  You’ll provide added value to the readers you have, and by linking out you’ll increase the chances that other bloggers and websites will link to you as well.  You should also be creating internal links – this means linking to other posts on your blog or pages on your website within the post you are writing.  Use your main keywords as anchor text in those links and it will help those pages rank for the specific keywords you are targeting.  Having quality links to both your own content and outside pages is important, just be careful not to over do it.  Having too many links on a page will look unnatural and ’spammy’.

Images

People use the search engines to look for images as well as web pages.  If your blog uses pictures often it’s a good idea to optimize them as well.  First of all, give your images names that mean something when you save them – for example, SummerHouseFront.jpg instead of image13.jpg or the date.  You should also use alt tags to give the image a short description (ex. alt=”Summer House”) and long description tags for more detail (ex. longdesc=”Summer House on Lake Michigan viewed from the beach”)  This will help the search engines determine which keywords your images are most related to.

Final Tips

Being aware of the search engine optimization strategies used for blogs can lead to much higher referral traffic from Google, Yahoo and other search engines.  If you use Wordpress download the All In One SEO Pack wordpress plugin, it does a good job of optimizing your content and avoiding duplicate content.  Finally, be patient!  It can be a slow process and take weeks (perhaps months if your blog is new) to see increases in search engine traffic. Trust us – it’ll pay off eventually.

January 30th, 2009

Is AdSense Worth Running on My Site?

This question gets asked a lot, and the answer is almost always “It depends”.

Let’s be honest, most websites that enjoy any sort of traffic have some form of advertising placed on them.  If you have the resources, time or talent to create your own custom advertising solution that is probably the way to go.  But AdSense can be a good alternative if used effectively and, as with any advertising, the only major drawback is the potential ‘commercialized’ look of a site that runs ads.

Google’s AdSense is one of the easiest ad programs to use, so it’s great for everyone.  They place very relevant text or image ads onto your site immediately…and it’s free to use.  However, just sticking the ads on your site and leaving them won’t bring in much revenue.

To make running AdSense worthwhile you’ll have to do a bit of optimizing.  Placement is important, you’ll want to put the ads somewhere people will see them and click on them, but be careful not to make them too intrusive or your user’s will block them.  AdSense offers a pretty good variety of styles, colors and sizes to use, so be sure to test out a few and see which looks the best and fits in with your site’s overall design well.

AdSense automatically does the targeting of your ads…but you’ll want to make a few changes here as well.  The more relevant the ads are to your site’s content the more likely people are to click on them – making you more money.  They offer section targeting, which is a way to specify certain sections of your site that you would like to emphasize or downplay when it comes to matching content up with ad topics.  You can also filter out ads from certain domains with the Competitive Ad Filter.  For example, if you don’t want ads from a rival showing up on your site, or you notice a site that keeps advertising completely off topic, just enter in their domain to the filter list.

So, yes, AdSense is worth running if you are realistic about the levels of extra cash you can make and if you take the time to create ads that fit in stylistically with your current site design.

For more info, or to get started and try it out head to the Google Adsense page.

November 21st, 2008

The Dashboard – Still Growing

4+ months after launching our Web Design Dashboard and people are still visiting and suggesting new resources!  Thanks…and well done.

This week we had submissions that inspired a whole new category!  We’ve added a ‘Performance’ section under Site Maintenance with SmushIt, a picture optimization tool and Cuzillion, a tool for quickly constructing pages to see how components interact.  We’ve also added YSlow for Firebug an extension that analyzes pages and tells you why they are slow!

Last up, we’ve added Google’s new/official SEO guide in the ‘SEO Best Practices’ section under Online Marketing.  Its basically a starter guide for SEO-ers, straight from the source.

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