How to evaluate a blog – Part 7:
SEO or Search Engine Optimization
Do the test yourself: Google the main keywords which should be relevant to the blog you are evaluating. Does the blog feature on the first search page? If so, cool! That’s what we want!
How about Googling a key phrase, or key title, or some key issues which have been well covered in the blog content? Does the blog appear on the first search page? If so, the blog is on the right track.
If not, the blog needs some tweaking of the SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
More often than not, there are excellent blogs with superb content, but with a failing SEO. Their content can’t be found easily by search engines and thus won’t be properly indexed. If people can’t find the content on a blog through a search engine, the blog does not live up to its potential. A waste of resources, really…
It is even more frustrating if the blog has a good Page Rank (PR4 and up) and STILL does not feature well in Google searches.
Basic SEO is simple, and does not take a lot of time but it makes a hell of a difference. Here is a basic SEO checklist to run through, as part of your blog evaluation exercise:
- What is the blog’s pagerank? If PR 4 or higher, they are on the right track.
- Check the Google backlinks with the URL
(e.g. backlinks for BlogTips) How many other sites link to the blog? 20 or 30 is good. The more the better.
Ask the blogmaster if any efforts are done to encourage other blogs to link back. The more backlinks, the higher the pagerank, and the more prominent the blog will feature on Google searches, thus the more visitors a blog will get.
Update: Actually to check backlinks, there are tools available which give you more accurate and up-to-date backlink lists. Try Google Webmaster or Yahoo SiteExplorer for one!
- Google the content and keywords which are pertinent to the blog. Can you find the blog at all? If some keywords fail to return the blog, you might have to stress these within the blog content, by using them in the blog META description or using them repeatedly within <h> <i> <em> <b> tags within blogposts.
- Google the blog. What is the blog summary displayed on the search result page, for both the home page, as well as for blog pages? Are those appropriate? If not, you will need to change the metadata description tag.
- When looking at the source code for the blog’s home page, and the post pages, can you see the metadata “Title” and “Description”? These are a must for proper SEO.
- Do the images have “alt” and “title” tags, which makes the images easier to index-able by search engines? Often one-third of the search traffic is generated by image searches. Don’t ignore that traffic.
- Do the posts make proper use of the <h> header tags to emphasize key words? Using <i> <b> <em> tags helps too… Search engines give keywords in phrases with these tags a higher priority
- Are there any invalid out-links on the home page, and on individual pages? Invalid or outdated links are penalized by search engines, so check our out-links regularly, using this tool for instance:
- Are the tag-pages, category-pages and archives indexed? They should not, unless if you have a really good reason to do so. Tag-pages and category-pages can return dozens of useless blogposts for a certain Google search. It is better to only index blogposts and pages.
- Does the blog use an SEO tool or plugin, so they can define the meta data for the blog and the individual posts? Do they use it properly e.g. are they redefining the TITLE meta tag for posts which have a cryptic (but eye-catching) title?
- Does the blog use canonical URLs for the pages, or are the URLs cryptic? URLs like:
are much better than:
Proper basic Search Engine Optimization takes just a little effort, but gains significant returns…