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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Little Known Blogger Secret That Will Drive The Search Engines Absolutely Bananas!

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In working through my last Lotus Notes post here, I noticed something that may be of use to you if you are using the tool, Blogger, to run your blog.

This is where you really start to appreciate some of the work performed by your Friendly Neighborhood Search Engine Marketing Team.

And if you are an independent sales rep, consultant or small businessperson maintaining your own blog for promotional purposes, you definitely don't want to let this optimization tip pass you by.

Check it out.

A Quick SEO Overview

First, a couple of things so you can appreciate and understand the workaround you are about to perform. This section is for the sales rep or the businessperson who knows very little about Search Engine Marketing. If you are familiar with Search Engine Optimization terms, skip down to the Ugly Filename section. But if the mere mentioning of terms like “Keywords” or “domain name” causes you a certain amount of angst, then give a quick glance through the following section.

When you first start talking with a Search Engine Marketing professional, the first thing they will ask you about are your Keywords. These are the words that you are targeting as “yours”. The words that you want to be associated with your business, your website and your blog.

When someone in your target market types these keywords and phrases into the search box on Google, it means that they are looking for something that involves this phrase. You want the search engine to find your site or blog as “extremely relevant” and put it right on the first page of the returned results. For example, let’s say that you are a real estate agent promoting yourself and you are offering prime real estate in San Jose. You want your site, and specifically a page on your site, to pop up when someone types into the search engine, “prime real estate in San Jose”.

Here are 4 things you need to look at to help make this happen:

  1. Your domain name: First secure a domain name that has some collection of your keywords in it. This is the site name that your prospects will type in, and is a part of the URL. In this example, our hypothetical real estate agent would try to secure a name with a combination of real estate and San Jose, like www.sanjoseprimerealestate.com.

  2. Page filename: The next thing to do is to actually have a page on your site with a filename that has some collection of these keywords. You’ve seen this before when improving your profile with Linkedin. Using your name in creating your public profile URL, such as www.linkedin.com/in/dalecarnegie makes your profile a lot more relevant to searched key phrases that include your name, over a profile like www.linkedin.com/in/345892.

  3. Page Content: Then there is the content inside your page. You want to have a good mix of these keywords when you create your copy while making it readable for your clients, visitors and prospects.

  4. MetaTags: Lastly, put your keywords in your Meta Tags. This will have an influence on search engine performance, albeit a small one thanks to some unscrupulous behavior back in the late ‘90s.

That’s a quick overview of using keywords to optimize your online presence and becoming relevant in your prospect’s online search. If you are selling your product or services and you want to take advantage of some of the ‘easy to use’ online publishing tools available to get your business going, these are the first things to look at.

Naturally, there are some other things to consider, but we’ll save those for another day. For now, these 4 elements are enough and the second one in particular, will enable us to improve our performance with Blogger.

Using Blogger With Pretty Titles And Ugly Filenames

Now let’s look at how to increase our site relevancy with Blogger.

First, find the “Enable Post Pages?” variable and set that to “Yes” in order to increase your search engine exposure. This will turn every one of your posts into it’s own page complete with it’s own page filename.

You will find this in the archive menu under the Settings tab in the administrator’s dashboard of your blog.

Optimizing Blogger Post Titles for Search Engines

Once you have this done, Blogger will create a separate html page for each post and it will use the post title to create the filename for that page.

And that’s great!

Except that Blogger will only take the first 39 characters! Any spaces between words will be replaced with a dash and they still count towards your 39 characters!

Complicating matters even more, Blogger only takes full words when creating the filename. So if your title has a word that starts at character 33 and goes to character 41, Blogger will not pick up the first 6 characters of that word for your title. It will remove the word completely, which means your file name is now only 32 characters long.

So here is the challenge. When most of us are promoting our posts through email or an RSS feeder, we typically make the post title presentable to attract people. We want them to click, to read further, and to take some kind of action.

As a result, we typically create a headline for our post title like, “5 ways to create compelling value for your customers with Dale Carnegie Training” or “5 Little Known Sales Secrets using Dale Carnegie Communication Techniques”. While these titles may incite some curiosity from your prospects or visitors, the file name will look something like:

  • Title: 5 Ways To Create Compelling Value For Your Customers With Dale Carnegie Sales Training
  • Resulting filename: 5-ways-to-create-compelling-value-for.html

and

  • Title: 5 Little Known Sales Secrets Using Dale Carnegie Communication Techniques
  • Resulting filename: 5-Little-Known-Sales-Secrets-using-Dale.html

This is not what you want if your keywords are industry specific words or phrases like “Dale Carnegie Training” or even “sales communication techniques”. These particular keywords never made it into the top 39-character window and they won’t make it into the filename of the post page. Remember, if my prospect types in “Dale Carnegie Training” on Google, then my post will have relevance if “Dale Carnegie Training” is in the copy, but it won’t be nearly as relevant as a page that has relevant content and a filename that includes the phrase “Dale Carnegie Training”.

So you take your key words and you stuff them all in the front of the post title like, “Dale Carnegie Sales Communication techniques” or “Dale Carnegie Sales Training Creates Compelling Value For Customers”. Then the filename of your pages will look like:

  • Title: Dale Carnegie Sales Communication Techniques
  • Resulting filename: Dale-carnegie-sales-communication.html

and

  • Title: Dale Carnegie Sales Training Creates Compelling Value For Customers
  • Resulting filename: Dale-carnegie-sales-training-creates.html

This is better. The industry specific keywords “Dale Carnegie Sales Training” or “Dale Carnegie Sales Communication” are right there in the page name. Good for optimizing the pages around specific key phrases, but these titles really don’t motivate people to click. They read like the ingredients on a soup can label.

So your Friendly Neighborhood Search Engine Marketing Team has to run a delicate balancing act between people and machines. And if you are a sales rep writing your own blog for self-promotion, then you are that team.

You have to create a title that is optimized so the Search Engine will index it favorably for certain phrases, yet it has to be compelling enough for human beings to take some action when they see it.

Sometimes these two things run counter to each other, especially if you are using the curiosity approach to getting your prospect to click on the title. What you need is a way to insure that your keywords are in the filename, but gives you the freedom to create a compelling headline for your prospects.

A Quick Workaround

Here is a way to get around this challenge and make the system work for you.

  • When creating your post on Blogger, optimize your post title for your key words so the search engines will find it easily and index it appropriately. That is, put your keywords in the first 39 spaces that you have available. Blogger will use them in your title when you hit the publish button.

  • Create you content as usual. Use compelling copy but also include your keywords in the body of the copy.

  • Publish the page as you typically do.

  • After successfully publishing the page, go back and edit the page. This time type in a title that potential prospects will find interesting and compelling.

  • Republish the page.

Now your post will have a filename that is different from your post title. For example, I could have a filename like:

Dale-carnegie-sales-training-creates.html

But I can rewrite my post title to read like:

5 Explosive Techniques To Drive Your Sales! Dale Carnegie Sales Training Reveals How!

So now there is appealing candy for the Search Engines and appealing candy for human prospects as well. This should give you an edge when you publish your blog posts.

Oh, one more thing to keep in mind. Search Engines also place a high degree of importance on where your keywords are placed in your copy.

So that title that you just rewrote to make more compelling for your human readers still needs to have those keywords somewhere in it.

Isn’t balance fun?

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