Designing With 18 SEO-Friendly Blog Tactics

That article is about Designing With 18 SEO-Friendly Blog Tactics. When I first began to design/redesign blogs for clients, I questioned everything. Over time, I began to feel that working with the various blog platforms is a little like the Serenity Prayer; “…Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can (time and budget being in place, of course).” Working with the SEO-centric digital marketing firm, McDougall Interactive, gave me a unique perspective on blogs, their search-value, and how to enhance SEO through interactive design and content strategies. I’ve put together a short list of highlights below – hope this is informative.


18 SEO-Friendly Blog Tactics For Interactive Designers

Blog Platforms

Choose your blog platform for SEO attribution in the CMS/admin area. Each methodology for building a blog has its own positives and negatives. Make sure the system you choose fits the client’s profile. As the blog stakeholders get more sophisticated, they will ultimately judge you on how easy you made things for them, not on how easy things were for you.

Keyword Research

Do your own keyword research and identify (and resolve) any disconnect with the client’s understanding of their keywords. Take the time to get smart about SEO, search-value, traffic analysis, and key terms. Be sure to have in-depth discussions with your clients and be very sensitive to “disconnect.” Above all, get these keyword adoption issues ironed out before you start designing a blog that doesn’t work for “their” search.

Design For Scalability

Do your due diligence regarding the future needs of the clients. Will they need a shopping cart or product galleries? Do they need to feature their white papers and webinars? This becomes important when clients want specific blog platforms, but haven’t considered each blog platform’s hallmarks. Anticipating these needs at the front-end of a design project can also save hours of redesign while the design’s still in-process and $1000s of dollars in retrofitting a website in the future.

Premium Real Estate

Design the blog as if real estate is at a premium – because it is – don’t succumb to grand visual gestures when tightly-focused, yet visually appealing will do. Websites designed like posters can have great visual impact, but rarely have the structural organization to be scalable or the content required to be SEO-friendly.

SEO-Friendly Navigation

Let visitors (and search engines) slice the content quickly with SEO-friendly navigation and then watch the visitor’s behavior closely through analytics. Creating search engine-friendly navigation and menus can have additional user experience value for the visitor.

Perfect Static Pages

Build static pages that build on the visual brand and have content that maximizes lead generation. Static pages increase the search value of any blog by offering ample opportunities to link out to valuable content and link in to specific blog posts, as well as by fixing SEO-friendly URLs to the blog in a more permanent way than the blog posts can offer. The consistency of the data in the HTML code of these pages and URLs/metadata help search engines index the blog for key terms and topics for which you want to rank.

Think About Padding

Designing an elegant brand and presence for a blog can be quickly undone by letting the blog’s content end up in a compact, unreadable block of text. Unfortunately, the CMS/admin/database management aspects of most blogs are crafted to handle and manage data – not to display the data in a visually appealing way. Use CSS to customize the look and feel of the text and ensure that columns and text have the right visual padding around them and between them. Designing for content is all about communicating clearly and if visitors find the content unusable, that’s bad for your SEO.

Content Links

Coach your clients to link their blog content back to inner pages on their main site (if they have one) and vice versa. This tactic helps increase organic traffic to both sites and allows your visitors to wander inside your space. The more you engage and anticipate their investigations, the longer they’ll stay and that’s good for the search engines.

Adopt SEO-Taxonomy

Map categories, tags, menus, URLs, permalinks, meta data, and blog posts to important keywords and topics. Categories especially should be focused on main keywords and phrases because they end up on every page of the blog. Tags should be secondary and tertiary terms that create linking structures that build their own network inside your content over time. Designers can not afford to overlook these key principles.

Link Older Posts To Traffic

Self-refer to older posts as links in a blog post so the visitor doesn’t have to use search features or guess which category contains an topic. Bringing key blog posts to the forefront on the home page and on inner pages is a worthwhile strategy too. Pushing traffic across your blog is very search engine-friendly.

Design For RSS Feeds

Design and develop every blog with RSS feed capability and make this an important feature. Make the sign-up process clear and easy for the visitor who wants to stay informed about what your blog is about. Search engine algorithms track subscribers and the incoming traffic that RSS feeds trigger.

Are Widgets SEO?

Most widgets and feeds aren’t SEO. Sure they add value to your blog for the visitor, but most widgets can be broken into two groups: feeds and outbound links. Feeds are ultimately duplicate content for which your blog won’t get credit and outbound links are just that; outbound. That’s where most of the juice is going – passing from your blog to some other web presence – and what if when you hand them off to someone else’s site, those visitors never return? Save the widgets until your blog has real value, search engine presence, and a following. Then let other boggers approach you about being in a widget on their site!

Stop The Spinning Tag Clouds

Tag clouds are a great way to visualize information – I love them. I use them all the time when on blogs and websites. But tag clouds that exist as motion graphics are hard to use, have almost no SEO value because they aren’t typically indexed by search engines, and can often sap a visitor’s energy and focus that should be directed towards important links and conversion points.

Lead-Generation Forms

Don’t design one into a blog (or any website for that matter) unless there is an internal marketing strategy that has been approved by stakeholders for dealing with the results that the forms generate. Oh, and offer something that is truly valuable to each visitor who signs up. Without these two elements, this is an concept that should be tabled until it is fully-fleshed out.

Call-Now − 1-800-XXX-XXXX

In my experience, a client or organization that insists their phone number be placed in the banner or prominently featured on every page of their website doesn’t understand how this undermines search engine optimization or how it weakens or spoils search engine analytics. If a phone number must be included on webpages, it must be a number specifically-designated for web visitors so this can be tracked internally by stakeholders for SEO.

Use Media For SEO

Media in a blog post (videos, slideshares, webinars and images) offer opportunities to link out (and in) to important content which betters the overall search results. Now that YouTube videos are ending up in search results, this is a practice that must be incorporated into design and development.

Fonts As Text Or Graphic Elements

With full adoption of Web Open Font Formats (WOFF) perhaps a year or two away and fonts that are cross-browser compatible already available from some type foundries (EOT & WOFF), interactive designers can now choose to adopt font styles that match pre-existing collateral and branding -and- that can be indexed by search engines. Using graphical texts for logos and taglines and embedded in images and motion graphics may be necessary now, but very soon this won’t be the case. If you can mandate adoption of web open font formats now, you should.

Websites (and Blogs) Are Living Entities

Search engines index content and monitor web traffic. These are not fixed concepts and are subject to change. If your interactive design project’s success hinges on organic search traffic at all, you must amend your designs toward a content-forward approach and open dialogue with the client about their future design requirements for A/B testing elements on their site based on web-traffic analysis and changes in search engine algorithms.

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