In my previous SEO tips for beer bloggers post, I talked a little bit about choosing keywords, title tags and meta descriptions. In taking a few more baby steps, I wanted to quickly hit upon Meta Keywords, Images and Hyperlinks.
This is going to be short and sweet: meta keywords are useless. Don’t waste your time filling them out or even thinking about them. None of the major search engines use meta keywords as a factor in ranking, and any engine that might use them is not worth worrying about.
To be clear, I’m not talking about the category tags and keywords that are used to fit all your posts into tag categories and to populate keyword clouds. Those are completely different and worth filling out with a few important keywords in order for your plug-ins to create indexable tag pages. But if you see a meta keyword field (usually right after the title and meta description fields), just leave it alone and spend more time enjoying a beer.
Bloggers often forget that their pictures and images are indexable, as well. (For example, this image search for beer glasses) The problem is that it’s really difficult for a search engine to rank them. A spider can’t “see” these images and distinguish which one is the best match for a query. So search engines depend on the information we can give them.
Descriptive File Names: Let’s say you are reviewing a Jolly Pumpkin Bam Bière, and you’ve taken a beautiful picture of the bottle and the glass you’ve poured it into. When you save that picture, use a descriptive file name. Instead of saving it as image1.jpg, name it jolly-pumpkin-bam-biere.jpg. That clearly conveys to the search engine that words you would like associated with your image.
Alt Text: When you add an image to your site, you also should use Alt Text to label your images. This alt attribute describes the image to the search engines and the text only appears to the user when their cursor hovers over the image. As an added advantage, it helps users with a vision impairment, or if they are searching the web with images disabled, understand what the image is if they cannot see it. This a simple tag they can be associated with your images through you HTML, or it will often be a field you fill out when uploading images to your blog.
Here’s an example of an optimized image:
The quality of the links you have pointing to your site is a huge factor in the how important the search engines think your site is. Hyperlinks are, also, huge levers in helping search engines understand the keywords you want to be indexed on your pages. Obtaining those links, in good or bad ways, is a whole ‘nother post and a trickier topic. Right now I want to address the importance of linking and the words you use in your hyperlinks.
Make Sure There Are Links to All of Your Pages: This is something that gets overlooked by webmasters. When a spider comes to crawl your site, it has to be able to access all of your pages by clicking on links on your site. It cannot type a query into your search box, and it can only navigate your site like you would without a keyboard. If a spider cannot find a page on your site by simply clicking around, that page will not exist in search engine results pages (SERPs). Make sure you are linking to your most important pages from your homepage. I can address XML sitemaps in the next post, which can help here, too.
Descriptive Keywords in your Hyperlinks: When someone links to your website with a hyperlink, they are effectively casting a vote to tell the search engines that you have a trustworthy and valid site. In addition, the keywords they use in the hyperlink will be associated with your site. (For additional reading, you can look into Google Bombing, as well.)
So, if they link to your review of Bam Biere by making the hyperlink “Look at this really cool review!”, you can thank them for the link and the traffic that comes to your site through it, but they didn’t help you as much as they could have. Having the words “really” and “cool” and “look” are not things that a user will be typing into a search engine and expecting to find your post. If that person had linked to your post with “check out this amazing Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Bière review”, you would have been passed all that good link juice and your post would be associated with the keywords “Jolly Pumpkin”, “Bam Bière” and “review”. All of which are fantastic and relevant keywords.
Make sure you are using descriptive and keyword-centric hyperlinks when you are linking to other pages on your site (like I did in the first paragraph of this blog post), and be a awesome SEO net-citizen by linking to other sites with well thought out hyperlinks. If you can get other sites to link to you with great hyperlinks, that helps but I wouldn’t hand them the words. If every single hyperlink leading to your site is exactly the same, it will eventually look suspicious to the search engines. Google values diversity, so “Bam Bière review” and “review of the Bam Bière” and “reviewing the JP Bam Bière” are much more valuable than three links that all say “awesome Bam Bière review”. You don’t always have a lot of control in how people link to you but, in this case, that can be a good thing.
That was Part 2 for SEO for bloggers. Let me know if this one is helpful, too. And, if you have any specific questions, you can send those my way, too, for a future post.