Dusting off your Blog? Don't Forget About Easy SEO Wins

Even if your blog only gets 10 hits a day, there are plenty of reasons to keep it in good condition, search wise. Here are some easy tactics to score a few extra points with Google.

1. HTML Titles and Descriptions

Generally, hosted blogs (like wordpress.com and tumblr.com) do a pretty good job about this (not always, though). If you're throwing together your own blog from scratch or hosting your own blogging software, it's worth double checking you got your HTML header title and description tags correct.

It's best to have the title and description match the content of the page and vary from page to page. Search engines are more likely to show it than the same content that never changes. The title should be short, less than 10 words whereas a good description reads more like a sentence.

The title tag shoud match the title of the post (with some prefix or suffix describing the blog) and the description tag should contain an excerpt of the post. Check out the example I've used in the past:

<?php $blog = true; // only set on blog pages ?>
<?php if (have_posts()) : ?>
<?php while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>
<?php
  $title = "Mike Knoop | Founder, Web Developer, and Mechanical Engineer";
  $description = "Personal archive and blog for all the awesome stuff I work on, including my current startup Zapier. Connect with me on Twitter and Google+.";
  if ($blog) {
    $title = "Blog | Mike Knoop";
    if (!$all_posts) {
      $title = get_post()->post_title . " | Mike Knoop";
      $description = strip_tags(get_the_excerpt());
    }
  }
?>
<?php endwhile; endif; ?>

<meta name="description" content="<?php echo $description; ?>">
<title><?php echo $title; ?></title>

2. Google Webmaster Tools

This is a must-use tool (from Google itself) if you're rolling your own site. It'll verify you as the owner of the site, suggest ways to improve it for speed and search, and even email you when there are outstanding problems (like available Wordpress updates).

Google Webmaster Tools are also really useful when migrating from one domain to another, such as going from a hosted blog to your own domain.

3. Google Authorship

A growing trend is to link your content to your Google+ profile through Authorship. This tells Google who is writing what content.

You can get started here.

You'll need to verify and link your Google+ profile to your site via an anchor tag:

<a href="https://plus.google.com/u/1/{{id}}?rel=author">Google</a>

And be sure to replace {{id}} with your own Google+ ID from your profile. Pretty soon you'll start to see your blog posts appearing in Google results like this:

Google Authoriship

4. Share Liberally on Social Media

After putting all the effort into writing great content, don't forget to share it! Not only will it help grow your audience (through re-shares) but you'll also feel more motivated with inbound feedback.

Thanks Wade for reminding me about some of these dead-simple todos.

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