Professional Service Blogging – Part 4: Get Found

Previously in this series, I explained why your blog can’t be all about you, how you can say something interesting, and how to how to keep the reader’s interest. In part 4, I’ll finish by helping you get found.

1. Make it Easy for Search Engines to Find Your Posts

PencilsSearch engines want to give visitors the best answer they can, as fast as they can. To do that, they scan millions and million of sites, then rank them based on how informative and authoritative they are.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of showing search engines that your post (or web page) is a great answer to someone’s search and should be near the top of that list. It’s all about choosing 1-2 keywords (phrases that someone might type into Google) and using them strategically throughout your post.

Choosing Keywords

Choose your keywords carefully. The way you describe something (“good deals on footwear”) might be different from how someone will search for it at Google (“cheap men’s shoes”). Try running potential keywords through the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. Ideally, you want phrases with a lot of searches but low competition.

Using Keywords

Search engines consider everything on the page, but they give special weight to:

  • Page/Article Title
  • URL/Permalink – Keep it short, and leave our unnecessary words.
  • Headings – Make sure they’re marked with h2 and h3 tags, so search engines know that they’re headers. The h1 tag should be reserved for your title. (Most blog software will do this automatically.)
  • Link Text – Never use “click here” when you can say something more descriptive.

You should also use your keywords a few times in the text of your post, but make sure they sound natural — and don’t overdo it. Google is very smart, and it will notice if you’re writing for search engines rather than for your readers.

A Little Help

If your blog is in WordPress, use a plugin like the All in One SEO Pack or WordPress SEO by Yoast, which give you more control of how your posts appear in search engine results.

2. Write Headlines that Makes People Curious

The most interesting post in the world won’t get read if it doesn’t have a good headline. Don’t just tell the the reader what the topic will be; give details — what big question will the post answer? What conclusion will you come to? What will the reader learn?

Describe the benefit the reader will get from the post. Promise to answer a question or solve a problem the reader has.

For example:

  • [Do something] like [world-class example]
  • What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]
  • [number] Ways to [blank]
  • Do You Know the [number] [blank]?
  • [number] Types of [blank] — Which Are You? / Which is Your Project/Company?
  • The Lazy [blank’s] Way to [blank]
  • Little Known Ways to [blank]
  • Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]
  • How to [task] that [rewarding benefit]
  • Who Else Wants [blank]?
  • Do You Make These [blank] Mistakes?

(Some of these ideas are from How to Write Magnetic Headlines on Copyblogger. This article series is a terrific resource, and I highly recommend it.)

To test your headline, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Imagine that you’re reading through your Twitter feed or RSS reader, and you come upon your headline. Would you click on it? Remember, be intriguing and be specific.

3. Use Social Media to Get the Word Out

Social media accounts are a great way to announce new blog posts. Every Spin post is mentioned on Atomic Object’s Twitter feed and Google+ Page. We also promote business-related posts on our Facebook Page and LinkedIn Page. (We also submit Ruby-related posts on RubyFlow, iOS-related posts on ManiacDev, and Java-related posts on jGuru.)

It’s also great when employees share your content on their personal social media accounts. Individuals are seen as a more authentic source.

4. Keep Learning More

There’s a lot out there about becoming a better blogger and bringing more traffic to your site. Here are a few of my favorites:

This post is the last in a series of four about professional service blogging. You’ll find the others here:

  1. It’s Not About You
  2. Say Something Interesting
  3. Keep People Reading
  4. Get Found