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Blogging ain’t easy, especially when you’re starting from scratch, but there are many tools available that can make your life easier and potentially help drive more traffic to your site than you expected.
First I’ll make one thing abundantly clear, and this is a caveat you’ll read on any respectable website regarding SEO, if there’s one overarching factor that you should always consider when producing content, it’s quality.
Always ask yourself “is the content I’m uploading to the web useful, entertaining, informative, engaging or innovative?” If it isn’t at least one of those things then you’re never going to achieve any gains in traffic, audience growth or authority.
There are of course exceptions to the rule and it’s difficult sometimes to remain objective when it comes to certain seemingly low-quality websites. But then if these websites are successful, they’re obviously catering for a certain demand.
Of course if you’re also someone who spends all day creating animated unicorn GIFs then I take my hat off to you. As I said, there are always exceptions to the rule and objectivity is hard.
Anyway, no matter what you’re publishing there are some brilliant and relatively simple ways that Google can help your content be seen, be indexed quickly and keep you out of trouble.
Index your content faster
Using Google Webmaster tools you can submit a new webpage to Google for relatively immediate indexing.
If you’re responsible enough to regularly update your XML sitemap with new content and submit that to Google, then great. Although some webmasters find that it still takes Google anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to crawl it and index it.
Here’s a quick solution for you: use Fetch as Google. I tried this with a brand new article I published on another website and the page was indexed with 30 minutes.
- On the Webmaster Tools home page, click on a site you’ve already registered as your own. (Although there is a way to submit a page anonymously, which I’ll explain later.)
- On the Dashboard, under Crawl click Fetch as Google.
- In the text box, type the path to the page you want to check.
- In the dropdown list, select Web.
- Click Fetch. Google will fetch the URL you requested. According to Google this can take up to 15 minutes.
- Once you see a Fetch status of "Successful", click Submit to Index and choose whether you want to submit just the URL or the URL and all pages linked from it.
You can submit up to 500 URLs a week this way.
You can also submit a webpage anonymously by clicking on the image below.
Get your face around with authorship
Look, it’s my face next to an article I’ve written.
You can have your own face on a SERP too. We’ve written about Google’s authorship program before in why you should be using rel=author, however Google has subsequently made the process simpler.
Click on the image below for the submission form.
As you can see, all you need is a Google+ profile, a recognizable mugshot and that your Google+ name matches the name on your content.
Whether authorship improves your ranking in Google SERPs or not, it’s still a worthwhile exercise. It makes your results stand out from the rest. It increases credibility and therefore trust, and will likely improve click-through-rate.
Image search by usage rights
If you’ve gotten into trouble for accidentally using a copyrighted image, or are afraid of running afoul of a corporation or stock footage library issuing your little start-up with a fat invoice, then Google has made things easier for you.
Within Image search, you can now filter by usage rights.
There’s a lot more information on this in our article Google image search changes as well as links to other resources.
See what’s popular with Google Trends
This is very handy for writing headlines and picking out the most popular search terms to use in your articles.
Say if you run a film review website or blog and you’re having a dilemma as to whether the words ‘film’ or ‘movies’ is the most popular term to use, Google Trends will tell you in terms of search popularity.
Movies it is.
Use Google AdWords to reveal alternative search terms
You can use Google AdWords in a similar way to Google Trends, but it’s a far more powerful and precise tool that offers you alternative keywords, revealing the average monthly search amounts for that search term.
Plus it’s completely free and you don’t even need to buy any ads to use it.
- Log into your AdWords account and head to Tools and Analysis.
- Choose Keyword Planner. Then click on the first drop down menu on the left: ‘Search for new keyword and ad groups ideas’.
- Type in your prospective keywords (I’ve chosen ‘car reviews’), choose your target (UK or international) and click Get Ideas.
- Once through to the results, click on the second tab ‘Keyword ideas’.
There you will be presented with hundreds of keyword options and their relative search frequency.
This can help when it comes to creating your URLs and writing your meta description tags.
Use ‘nofollow’ tags
Add the nofollow attribute on all external links from your blog.
Don’t know what nofollow means? Great, glad you asked. Nofollow tags are a HTML attribute that tells search engines not to pay any attention to certain links that appear on your webpage.
Why would you use that? Search algorithms depend heavily on the number of inbound and outbound links to a website when determining what order to rank websites in SERPs. If your site has way more outbound links than inbound, your site will lack authority and will drop further down the rankings.
Adding the nofollow attribute, particularly to your comments section which is ripe for spammers and non-spammers alike to post their own erroneous links, will ensure that Google doesn’t pay any attention to them.
A hyperlink without a nofollow tag looks like this:
- <a href=”http://www.example.co.uk/”>link</a>
A hyperlink with a nofollow tag looks like this:
- <a href=”http://www.example.co.uk/” rel=”nofollow”>link</a>
The tags can be added manually although many content management systems automatically insert them where relevant.
With thanks to David Moth’s post on what are nofollow tags for the above.
As I said, use nofollow for your comments section and also for user-generated content (guest posts), embeds for links that you don’t particularly want to endorse but do want to highlight and any paid links which could lead to penalisation.
Speaking of which…
Here’s what not to do: artificial link building
As tempting as it may be, you will get caught eventually and Google is swift to punish.
In my article from last year what your website can learn from Google’s Rap Genius ban I go into detail about how this particular website used growth hacking to drive traffic, through the following SEO malpractice:
- Rap Genius appended lists of popular song links to guest blogs that were unrelated to the content of the post.
- It offered to promote any blog who linked to Rap Genius in any post, regardless of the relevancy of content.
Google issued a 10 day ban over Christmas, leading to an 80% drop in traffic which has taken Rap Genius a while to recover from.
So there you go, just a few tips and tools to help improve your presence and keep your nose clean. If you have any more ideas or advice, please leave a comment below.