Quality Content For Humans and Search Engines
In this final post on Christian blogging tips I want to spend a moment about on page optimization. On page optimization is where you make your blog and blog post optimal for search engines. Again I am no expert but I have learned a few things that will help you rank better for search engines and also some tips that will help your readers enjoy the experience better.
Google Panda Update
Last winter around February, Google instituted an algorithm change that messed with a whole bunch of people and websites. It was called the Panda update. They were attempting to weed out websites that were weak in original content and were designed to just be enticements for advertising and making money. This update has caused many people to have to make changes to the way they design their websites and the placement of their content on their pages. There is a general consensus that your content needs to fill approximately 50% of the space above the fold now minus the header. I am probably a little shy of that goal on my blog. This means that if your ads, widgets, and other gadgets fill more than 50% of your blogs real estate above the fold then you are not getting as good of rankings as you could. Now remember to not include the header in that calculation. Secondly the Google Panda update went after duplicate content. So make sure that you do not have repeat posts, or text widgets that say the same thing all over your blog. Now a little blurb like I have at the bottom is fine because all my other content eliminates it from being all the same but if you have long worded text widgets that end up being larger in whole than your content in your blog post, then you have a problem. Also make sure that your categories, search pages, and tag or label pages are not being indexed by the search engines. That would also cause duplicate content on your blog.
On Page Optimization Factors
Google is now tracking how fast your page loads. They take into consideration how much time it takes for your page to load for the average person. They do this because they have decided that the user experience is important and if your page takes a long time to load, then people get impatient and do not get what they want when they want it. Lot’s of advertisements, widgets and pictures and video’s slow down the time it takes to load your page. So large header graphics, large video’s and lot’s of cute little gadgets can actually be hurting you. There are some things you can do about this. You can use a picture compression tool to make your pictures look the same but have a smaller file size. You can eliminate the ads or gadgets that really are not helping your blog or making you money. You can use YouTube video’s that you upload to YouTube or find on YouTube and just embed the code rather than loading the whole video on your website. Just do a search for increasing page speed and you will get a lot of good ideas.
Bounce rate is the amount of people who come to your blog and then bounce back to Google or where they came from. Google again looks at this and determines that if they did not stay to investigate further or look deeper then your blog might not have quality content or what people are really looking for. For those of us that provide information sometimes that does not seem like a fair metric to judge us by but you can’t fight with the big G. Make sure you have clear navigation to all of your topics and blog posts. This is again where WordPress excels over Blogger but a Blogger table of contents is possible to make if you research it. Put a related articles widget at the bottom of your blog posts to give people a place to read further. Add some text links to the bottom of your blog post that you recommend them to read concerning your topic. These will help you keep people on your website longer and have them read more than just 1 page.
Interlinking is where you have text links in the main body of your content that leads to other blog posts or pages on your website. This has 2 effects that are beneficial to your on page optimization. Most people forget that links to other blog posts not only can come from outside sources but also from your own blog. They can share page rank making your blog posts more powerful. They also show relevancy. They show how your blog is based on a certain theme if they all connect together somehow. They also give keyword relevancy to the blog posts as well. Now there is a fine balance here. If you put too many interlinks in your post content then it detracts from the user experience and starts to look spammy to the search engines. Nothing irritates me more than going to a website and having to scroll down over Google adsense ads at the beginning of the blog post just so I can get to the content. I suggest no more than 10 total links in your blog posts. That means both interlinking and links to other websites. Wordpress users can find some great plug-ins that will do this for you.
There is a part of the search engine algorithm that takes into account social networking confirmation signals. That means that the more Facebook likes, Twitter tweets, Google plus 1′s, and social bookmarks on sites like Digg and Delicious are taken into account concerning how good your content is. It was called the Caffeine update. It is important that you have a way for people to give you those confirmations. If you don’t have a Facebook fan page, make one. If you don’t have a Twitter account, start one. I didn’t have a clue about Twitter and how to use it when I started. Now I have almost 1400 followers. Show your Facebook fans and Networked Blogs followers. When people see that they give you more credibility. A person who has followers must have something good to say! Sign up for Only Wire. It will help you set up accounts on all the major social bookmarking sites and then you can submit your blog post once through them and they will submit it to all the accounts. It is a great time saver.
Well I hope you have enjoyed this series on Christian Blogging Tips. I did not do this for any search engine results or to become a blogging guru. In fact the amount of search done for Christian blogging is dismal, but I wanted to help all of you that follow me and have blogs of your own so that through all of our efforts we can help the world meet Jesus.