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Search Engine Optimization tips for Blogger Templates (Part 2)

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Search Engine Optimization tips for Blogger Templates (Part 2)While Blogger templates may not be naturally optimized for search result status, there are many easy adaptations we can make to ensure they are more accessible and search engine friendly.

Last week in the first part of the SEO series for Blogger templates, I explained some how the head section could be best optimized for rankings in search engine results. In this part, I will explain how best to optimize the links in your blog template, which can help ensure these are properly crawled and better adapted for search engine spiders.

Back to Basics

Before we get into the intricacies of optimizing links in Blogger templates, let’s get back to basics!

SEO experts universally agree that link text is one of the most important factors of optimizing a link. Link text is the word or phrase which is used as a link in text links, like this:

<a href=”#”>This is Link Text</a>

The easiest way to optimize text links is to ensure the value of the text link tells the regular reader (and also search engine spiders) a description of where the link will lead to.

Let’s say I wanted to create a link to Kelby Carr’s post, SEO 101. A poor way of linking to this resource would be using non-descriptive link text like this:

Take a look at Kelby Carr’s post here

The link text, “here”, features no descriptive keywords related to Kelby’s SEO post, nor do the surrounding words have any impact on how this link is understood, either by readers of my post, or search engine spiders.

A much better way to link to this article would be to use descriptive text within and around the link:

Are you looking for SEO tips? Kelby Carr’s article describes the basics of search engine optimization with particular reference to blogs.

You can apply this technique to any manually created links in your blog, whether this be in your blog posts or links within your blog template (for example, links to important pages). Search engine spiders will reference the keywords contained in the link text more easily, while readers will prefer the experience of having a full description of where the links will lead to.

Using titles in your links

Links can be optimized even further by adding titles within the anchor tags, like this:

<a href=”#” title=”This is title text”>An example of link text</a>

The “title” of an anchor link should be exactly that: a descriptive title which explains something about the link. Titles offer even more information about the link to search engine spiders, and when a reader hovers their cursor over a link with a title in the anchor tag, the title will appear in a small box to provide a visual description.

Going back to the original example of linking to Kelby’s SEO 101 post, I could add the title”SEO 101″ to the link, which is also the title of her post, like this:

>Are you looking for SEO tips? Kelby Carr’s article describes the basics of search engine optimization with particular reference to blogs.

Hover your cursor over the same link text in each of the examples above. Do you notice the difference? If you use this technique for all manually created links in your Blogger blog, both search engine spiders and regular readers will notice the difference too!

Applying these techniques to your Blogger template

These techniques are easy to apply to any manually created links in your blog template. But what about your blog title, link lists and labels which use code generated by Blogger specific tags?

Even though such links are not generated by regular HTML anchor tags, there are methods we can use to optimize them by using keywords which are relevant to your blog, and by adding title tags.

The methods you can use are slightly different, depending on the link you wish to optimize. So I’ll go through the most prominent links you may wish to optimize in your own Blogger template with instructions on how these links can best be optimized for search engines and accessibility.

Your Blog Title/Home Page Link

In Blogger templates, your blog’s title in the header section provides a link to your blog’s home page. By default, this is displayed as a regular text link (featuring your blog title as the link text), though you can also opt to use an image instead of the blog title.

Your blog title is one of the most important factors of SEO, so you really need to ensure this is well optimized if you want your blog to rank highly for related keywords in search engine results. Whether you use regular link text as your blog title, or choose to use an image instead, you can still ensure this link is well optimized and adequate to your blog’s SEO requirements.

The widget code for your blog header contains two distinct sections of code: one for instances where link text is used to display your blog title (and link to your home page), and one which generates the correct code for when an image is used instead.

If you are using regular text to display your blog title, you’ll discover that it’s very easy to optimize this link. Simply go to Layout>Edit HTML in your Blogger dashboard, check the box to expand the widget templates, then locate the following section of code:

    <!--No header image -->
    <div id='header-inner'>
      <div class='titlewrapper'>
        <h1 class='title'>
          <b:include name='title'/>
        </h1>
      </div>
      <b:include name='description'/>
    </div>
  </b:if>
</b:includable>
<b:includable id='title'>
  <b:if cond='data:blog.url == data:blog.homepageUrl'>
    <data:title/>
  <b:else/>
    <a expr:href='data:blog.homepageUrl' title="A Link Title Here"><data:title/></a>
  </b:if>
</b:includable>

The text which I’ve highlighted in bold red is additional code which I have added to the template in order to give this link a title.

You can optimize this title by using descriptive keywords which are relevant to your blog subject. For example, if you are writing a blog about blogs, and your blog title is “The Cat’s Whiskers”, you could use a link title such as “The Pussy Cat Lover’s Blog” to provide adequate reference for search engines and readers alike.

If you are using an image instead of your blog title, you will need to locate a slightly different area of code and can optimize the link in two different ways:

  <b:if cond='data:useImage'>
    <b:if cond='data:imagePlacement == "REPLACE"'>
      <!--Show just the image, no text-->
      <div id='header-inner'>
        <h1 style="display: none;">Your Blog Title</h2>
        <a expr:href='data:blog.homepageUrl' style='display: block' title="Link Title Here">
          <img expr:alt='data:title' expr:height='data:height' 
expr:id='data:widget.instanceId + "_headerimg"' expr:src='data:sourceUrl' expr:width='data:width' 
style='display: block'/>
        </a>
      </div>

You’ll notice that I made two changes in the code above: the first is to add <h1> tags just before the link tags, which ensures there is a reference to a first class title within the blog template (when using an image instead of the textual title, this is omitted from the template code). By including the style reference, “display:none” this means that the H1 tags are referenced by search engine spiders, while not being displayed in the visual make-up of the template.

The second change is the same as the previous example, adding a link title inside the anchor tags, to ensure optimization for search engines and readers. As before, this also makes the link title appear when your cursor hovers over it.

Optimizing Labels Lists

In “new” Blogger layouts templates, you can add an optional “Labels” widget to your blog’s sidebar. This widget lists all the labels you have used to categorize your blog posts.

Since we do not have direct access to each label link in this list, you may imagine that it is impossible to add link titles to these links. Fortunately by adapting the code slightly, we can still add appropriate titles to these links!

If you have added a label widget to your blog, you can look in your template code to find this section:

<b:widget id='Label1' locked='false' title='Labels' type='Label'>
<b:includable id='main'>
  <b:if cond='data:title'>
    <h2><data:title/></h2>
  </b:if>
  <div class='widget-content'>
    <ul>
    <b:loop values='data:labels' var='label'>
      <li>
        <b:if cond='data:blog.url == data:label.url'>
          <span expr:dir='data:blog.languageDirection'>
            <data:label.name/>
          </span>
        <b:else/>
          <a expr:dir='data:blog.languageDirection' expr:href='data:label.url' expr:title='"Read 
more posts filed under " + data:label.name ' rel='tag'>
            <data:label.name/>
          </a>
        </b:if>
        <span dir='ltr'>(<data:label.count/>)</span>
      </li>
    </b:loop>
    </ul>

    <b:include name='quickedit'/>
  </div>
</b:includable>
</b:widget>

As before,t he code I added to make these labels more optimized for search engines is highlighted in bold red.

You will notice that I have referenced the titles for each label link using this formula:

expr:title='”Read more posts filed under ” + data:label.name ‘

As the link to each label link is generated by widget tags, we cannot add the code for each link title individually. Instead we need to use the section of the widget code which is used to generate the title as an expression, along with more descriptive link text.

Furthermore, you will notice that I added “rel=”tag” to the anchor link code. This is because Blogger labels can be used as tags which are referenced by Technorati and other sites to collect and collate information about a blog’s content.

Optimizing Link Lists

Link lists can be optimized in a similar way. If you already have a link list present in your blog, simply find the expanded widget template for your link list widget which should look something like this:

<b:widget id='LinkList1' locked='false' title='' type='LinkList'>
<b:includable id='main'>

<b:if cond='data:title'><h2><data:title/></h2></b:if>
 <div class='widget-content'>
   <ul>
     <b:loop values='data:links' var='link'>
       <li><a expr:href='data:link.target' expr:title='data:link.name'><data:link.name/></a></li>
     </b:loop>
   </ul>
   <b:include name='quickedit'/>
 </div>
</b:includable>
</b:widget>

Once again, I have added some extra code in red to show how the links in this list may be optimized with titles.

If all of the links in a particular link list are those of friends’ sites, you may also wish to add the tag rel=”friend” to the anchor link code. Similarly, if all the links in this list reference your other sites or social profiles, you may prefer to add the rel=”me” tag instead. Either of these tags may be added to the code like this:

<li><a expr:href=’data:link.target’ expr:title=’data:link.name’ rel=”friend”><data:link.name/></a></li>


These “rel” tags establish relationships between your blog and other sites, which is useful for those interested in the Social Graph API and for those who wish to link all their profiles using sites such as Ziki and OpenID
.

Final thoughts

One thing you must note is that keyword spamming is frowned upon by search engines, and could result in a negative impact, rather than a positive one! When adding titles to your anchor links, it is advisable to use well formed phrases and proper descriptions rather than simply adding one keyword after another! This will stand you in much better stead, and will also be more friendly for your readers when hovering over such links.

Proper implementation of the methods I’ve described here will help your Blogger powered blog rank more highly in search engine results, and with some variation of these techniques, you could even learn how to optimize other links too!

I hope you have found these techniques useful in learning how your Blogger template can be optimized for inclusion in search engine results. In the next and final post of this mini-series, I’ll explain how you can optimize the images in your Blogger template, including your header image and those contained in widgets.

For more SEO tips related to your blog, be sure to check out the Search Engine Optimization category here at Blogging Tips!

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Amanda is a freelance blogger and web/blog designer. She writes about Blogger at www.BloggerBuster.com and maintains several other blogs on various subjects.

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7 Habits That Can Make You a More Efficient Blogger

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Starting a blog is exciting, whether you’re using it as an extension to promote your current business or you’re just trying to maintain the blog as a personal endeavor. In any case, part of your success will depend on your ability to write new blog posts at an efficient rate; if you aren’t producing new blog posts fast enough, your audience could lose interest in your content. Similarly, if it takes you too long to write a new blog post, your profitability is going to decrease.

The solution is to focus on improving your efficiency as a blogger, so you can accomplish more in less time and end up with more raw content as a result.  

The Best Habits to Improve Your Efficiency

These are some of the best habits to improve your efficiency as a blogger:

  1. Dress professionally. If you’re working from home or blogging in your free time, you’ll be tempted to wear the most comfortable clothes and lounge in the living room while writing. But if you want to be successful and work efficiently, it’s much better to dress professionally and establish a professional work area. The idea is to treat your blog work like it’s your job. You’ll take your work more seriously, and you’ll be less inclined to follow distractions. It may also change how you think about your work and how you approach problem-solving.
  2. Practice good hygiene. While you’re at it, make sure to practice good hygiene—especially if blogging is your full-time job. The most obvious habit here is to shower regularly, but you’ll also want to keep your clothes clean, take good care of your environment, or as 14K Gold Teeth suggests, clean accessories like custom gold grillz. You’ll feel more professional in your environment and will have less clutter to distract you.
  3. Stick to a routine. Routines are vital for improving your efficiency. They help you establish consistent processes, which you can follow to save time and refine your habits. They give you something predictable to work with, so you aren’t scrambling to figure out what to work on next. They also reinforce your most productive habits, so you can continue working without thinking too much about it—in other words, they’re procrastination-busters.
  4. Set a strict schedule. While you’re developing your routine, try to create and stick to a strict schedule. For example, you might set a timer for one hour to read the latest news, a half hour designated to preparing an outline, and another hour to finish your full first draft. These temporal limitations help you avoid Parkinson’s law, which states that the amount of time it takes to do a task will swell to fill whatever amount of time is allotted to it; in other words, the tighter you set your timetables, the more efficiently you’ll be motivated to work.
  5. Keep an editorial calendar. Create a high-level editorial calendar as early as possible, and stick to it the best you can. This will help you ensure your high-level goals and priorities never fall out of your sight, and make sure you never run out of work. Set target dates for drafting and publication, so you’re always working toward something, and jot down your new topic ideas whenever you get them.
  6. Stay organized. This should go without saying, but the vast majority of new bloggers suffer from not being organized. They read new material that could serve as inspiration for a new post, but lose the original article. They set goals for themselves, but forget them or change them too frequently for them to take effect. Create a system for taking notes and keeping track of your high-level priorities, and stick to it.
  7. Keep reading on a regular basis. Reading is one of the best ways to consistently and reliably improve your writing, so make time for it in your schedule. Reading work like yours can help you generate new ideas, improve your vocabulary, and increase your fluency, so you can write faster.

Learning and Improving

It’s a good idea to track your time while working on blog-related tasks. It will allow you to gather data on your productivity habits, and ideally, see how they improve over time. If there’s a particular task that takes up a disproportionate amount of your time, you can drop it or focus specifically on improving it. If you notice a strategy is making you more efficient in one or more areas, you can use it more frequently or apply it to different areas.

In any case, the real secret to becoming a more efficient blogger is committing to improve over time. Pay attention to how your habits develop, and continually refine your approach.

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Oh, Now I Get It! How to Explain Complex Topics to Your Audience

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Technical writers have a great number of skills, but perhaps the most important is the ability to adapt your language to the level of comprehension your audience has. A highly technical and complex article can overwhelm readers or even bore them.

“But it’s impossible to delight my readers and keep them engaged when I’m talking about the

IEEE 802.11ac principle of broadband technology,” We hear you cry. And, we get it. Turning a technical article into a sexy piece of content can feel like a daunting task, but it’s not mission impossible.

Here are a few content creation tips that will help you explain complex topics to your audience in a delightful manner.

Imagine That You Are Explaining the Subject to a Non-Tech-Savvy Friend

One of the most important things when creating technical content for a more broad audience is consistency. So, as much as possible try to use the same tone, level of knowledge, complexity of vocabulary, and so on. The easiest way to calibrate your writing style is to imagine that you are writing for a friend or a relative that has nothing to do with your area of expertise.

Imagine you are trying to explain a particularly complex topic to them, in a friendly and light discussion. How would you approach the subject? What elements you think would bore or frustrate them?

What helps you in the real world is adapting your style and vocabulary to the other person’s knowledge. You know that you don’t have to explain what an Internet browser does, but you might have to tell them more about the coding behind it when discussing responsive web design, for instance. Use common words and keep them engaged with a lighter, friendly style.

Adapt Your Vocabulary and Structure

Let’s take a look at how you can flip your technical writing to be more approachable. First of all: use concepts that your audience is familiar with or at least has a general idea about them.

A good start is to check what search words visitors use when browsing your website. You will identify commonly used terms that are related to the technology that interests them. Use those keywords yourself to keep visitors on your page.

Also, be careful about the structure of the text when writing online, especially when you are trying to explain something complex. Make sure to split your text into readable chunks. You can also help the reader understand the subject better by using titles and subtitles to separate the main ideas of your article.

Build up the Knowledge of Your Audience, from General to Detailed

Once you have established a common language and vocabulary between you and your target audience, start methodically presenting your topic, from general level information to more detailed aspects. Applying this rule will help you readers understand the topic better without wasting too much time. Online readers tend to ignore content that is, irrelevant or hard to understand.

While it is important to get the basics straight before getting deeper into your subject, make sure to summarize the purpose of your article at the very beginning, as it will let your audience know what they will learn about after going through it.

Use Style Tools That Help Your Audience Relate to the Topic

The fun part of writing about technical topics for a general audience is getting creative with it. Because you can’t use the “boring,” “stiff” technical jargon, you must come up with expressive comparisons, examples, and analogies. You can even evoke anecdotal evidence to support the facts since they are highly relevant for many of the users.

Helping them relate to the topic you are writing about is the key to grabbing their attention. Use day to day examples for the systems and processes you are describing, or mention the best-known similar thing. Give them examples of possible situations when they can come across the topic you are writing about and enable them to talk about it themselves.

Ultimately, is all about correctly identifying the level of knowledge your audience has. Encourage them to comment and ask any questions and keep the conversations alive.

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IT Management Solutions: What is the Key to Improving Employee Efficiency?

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There are many ways you can improve your employees’ efficiency. From decluttering the workspace to encouraging a stress-free environment, there is a whole range of things you can do to make your work life run smoother. One such technique you need to adopt for your company is an IT management solution.

What Does It Do?

An IT management solution such as SysAid takes all of the day-to-day programs that a business will use and consolidates them into one easy-to-use package. Every employee should be able to log on and complete all their work without having to leave the initial program.

It can contain such subsections as project management, customer relationship management, billing and invoicing, and a whole host of other features.

Why Should Employers Implement Such a Solution?

A system such as this allows managers to have better visibility over the company as a whole. They will be able to tell if an employee is completing their daily tasks to the best of their ability and will also allow them to see where they are lacking.

The data from the completion of these daily tasks can easily be tracked and analyzed to see where employees are struggling with efficiency. With some adjustments, efficiency can then be improved in these areas.

Project Management

One of the key reasons to install an IT management solution is for the project management aspects. A good project management program lets all employees know where they are with their projects at all times. Whether you are just working on the project or a project manager, you will be able to see the stage that the project is at and all the steps and processes that still need to be completed.

This collaborative nature helps improve speed and efficiency and stops the project becoming grounded in a lack of communication. If you are not yet using a project management system, you will notice that many small but important problems like misuse of resources will be greatly reduced.

Customer Relationship Management

By having your customer service staff use one portal for all their needs, you will see a great improvement in efficiency when it comes to handling customer enquiries. An IT management solution can contain a database with all your customer’s information. This means that if a case needs to be passed from one team member to another, there is little to no chance of any relevant information being lost in the transfer. Everything should be in place in the one database.

Invoicing and Billing

Keeping your various accounts and invoices in different places can lead to items being forgotten or double-charged. By using an IT management software, your managers and accountants will be able to successfully keep track of all costs and reduce unnecessary spending. This will improve efficiency as multiple enquires are not being made to complete invoices and other reports.

There are just some of the ways an IT management solution can improve your business. If you feel you need to improve your company’s efficiency, consider implementing one today.

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