How to Use SEO to Improve Your Website Ranking in Google

by Sherryl Perry

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Much is written about SEO (search engine optimization) and there are many firms that specialize in optimizing websites. There are also some simple steps that you can incorporate into your own website or WordPress blog with very little effort. Steve Hippel may have summed it up best in a guest post that he wrote for my blog: SEO Should Be A Habit Not A Headache.  Since I’m often asked what can be done to get your website to rank higher in the search engine results, I’ve put together this short list of articles (from my blog) to help you get started. As always, feel free to interact in the comment section and share your best tips and suggestions too.

4 SEO Tips to Optimize your WordPress Blog

This is one of the earlier articles that I wrote on SEO but it has become my go-to resource to direct people to when they ask me “How can I get my website found on Google?

For those of you in a rush, the four tips are:

1) The Title of your Blog Post

2) Meta Description Tags

3) Formatting Text as Headings

4) Optimize your Images

Google Authorship and SEO

A more recent guest post written by Stuart Henry is “What Google Authorship Means for SEO”. You won’t find a how-to on verifying your Google Authorship or getting the Rel=Author tag to work on your site in this article but Stuart does build a case for setting up your Google authorship. Not everyone agrees though and there’s a friendly discussion going on in the comment section. Personally, I believe it’s helped me a lot.

Although it’s not conclusive proof, comparing my Google Analytics based on the period from when I first set up the rel=author (compared to the corresponding prior time period), the number of visits that I received from organic searches has increased by 95%. I’m sure there are other contributing factors but I didn’t consciously make any significant changes to my SEO strategy. It certainly hasn’t hurt me.

(Look for an article from me on how to setup Google Authorship in the near future.)

SEO Tips for E-Commerce Websites

If you have an e-commerce website, and you missed Meghan Wolff’s article “Top 8 White Hat SEO Tips for E-Commerce Websites”, you may want to check it out.

For those of you in a rush, the eight tips are:

1) Use META Tags

2) Incorporate Relevant Keywords

3) Create Clear, Descriptive URLs

4) Write Meaningful Anchor Text

5) Know How to Build Backlinks

6) Always Interlink Between Pages

7) Write Image Descriptions

8) Update your Content

Of course, anyone interested in SEO would benefit from incorporating Meghan’s tips and they’re all things that you can do with a little effort and as Steve suggests, repeat until it becomes a habit.

What are your thoughts? It’s true that Google is always adjusting their algorithms and no one wants to rely on any one source of traffic.  We need referral and direct traffic as well. Organic search traffic is free and with a little effort (and no financial investment), it is possible to optimize your site well enough that you will get more traffic. Now, keeping your website visitors and converting them into customers and clients is the next step but hopefully, a little SEO will at least help get more eyes on your website.

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremygg March 15, 2013 at 10:13 pm

I’m still new when it comes to SEO especially when there are a lot of web terms I’m trying to grasp. In every way possible, whatever suggestion and tips provided, I’ll do my best to implement it on my website. I guess the learning process never stops and at least for now, I can see some improvements. At the moment, I’m using a different content platform just to find out how things work. I hope I don’t sound negative in any way, but wordpress is still too technical for my understanding.

By the way, thanks for the helpful tips especially on the related links that brings it a step further. The concept that is explained clears up a lot of misconception I had earlier.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 16, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Hi Jeremy,
Thanks for letting me know that you found my tips helpful. WordPress does not have to be technical. It actually can be explained very simply and it’s one of the easier CMS (content management systems) that are available today. It is also very powerful.

A big advantage to building your site in WordPress is that you can easily control and move your website. Whereas, if you use a proprietary software system to build your site, there’s a good chance that you can’t move your site in the future and you’re faced with either staying with them or rebuilding your site from scratch.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Top 6 SEO and Social Media How-To Posts of 2012My Profile

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Keyuri Joshi
Twitter:
December 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm

This is a superb compilation of articles and knowledge. In the ever changing world of SEO, I don’t know what I’d do without you and your blog. Looking forward to your post on Google authorship. I tried playing with this once before but had a conflict…
Happy New Year Sherryl!

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Hi Keyuri,
I’m glad you liked this post and that overall you find my blog valuable. I think there are a lot of simple steps that bloggers can take to improve SEO without obsessing over it. I remember when I first started using heading tags and making sure that the headings included the keywords that I wanted to optimize for. That one simple change made a noticeable difference in my traffic from organic searches. I did post the how-to article about establishing Google authorship and setting up the rel=”author” tag. So far, a few people have let me know that they were able to set it up on their sites. I think it would be valuable for you. After seeing the video of you on TV, I’m beginning to appreciate how much of an authority on parenting you really are.

Happy New Year to you too!
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How To Set up Google Authorship & the Rel=Author TagMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Josh, I usually do a better job of telling people what my time frame was! It was 3 months. Also, I apologize for not replying to you sooner. Things have been a bit hectic here but there’s no excuse for not replying. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How To Set up Google Authorship & the Rel=Author TagMy Profile

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Nathan C Brown
Twitter:
December 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm

While I don’t know what Sherryl’s time frame was, I can testify to similar results – I hadn’t performed any SEO work, or even updated my social networks, in 2 months, and yet after adding Authorship verification to my posts each of them jump a full PR level up. Of course it could just be timing or coincidence, but with no backlinks for 2 months I’m fairly confident that the PR boost was due in no small part to adding the rel=”author” attributes.
Nathan C Brown recently posted..Off Site SEO with Free Link Building StrategiesMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Hi Nathan,
Thanks for letting us know that you benefited from adding Authorship too. It makes a difference and I just wrote that article I promised on how to establish it. I have not noticed an increase in my page rank yet but I was just alerted to an issue on my site related to “Replytocom URL’s” that was causing my blog to leak a lot of link juice. Thankfully, a reader alerted me to the issue when he noticed that after leaving a comment, he received 47 backlinks from that page! (I honestly had never heard of replytocom issues before.) I believe I’ve solved the issue now. So, hopefully, with that resolved, I can eek out a higher rank. BTW – expect to see a post about my replytocom issue at some point. If it affected me, it affects others too.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Change a WordPress Theme and Keep your SEO Meta Tag DataMy Profile

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Prime Aque
Twitter:
December 9, 2012 at 9:46 pm

So far I am using blogger, and I am trying to use or follow this useful techniques.
1. I and my team are planning to build back links in its naturally way, such as submitting original contents to trusted article syndication sites/article directories; submitting relevant contents to social bookmarking sites and commenting to blog posts naturally. Everyday, I browsed for information about SEO tips and/or making money topics, so, I should interact in the comment system before leaving!

2. Keywords – am really doing my best to use keywords effectively as well as a regular update like posting daily…

Anyway, thank you for this helpful post.
Prime Aque recently posted..Why it is Important to Make Your Blog Design More Attractive?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm

It sounds like you’re well on your way to driving traffic to your site Prime. One of the habits that I always recommend that my clients develop is to track the different strategies that you implement. That way, if you see either an increase or decrease in your website traffic, you should have a good idea of what you did that affected it.

Next week, I’m publishing a 2-part article that Meghan Wolff wrote for me called the “The Ultimate Guide to Generating Backlinks”. I hope you come back and hopefully, you’ll find it helpful.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Tracking Changes to Your Website Blog and Social Media StrategyMy Profile

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Abdulrahman Hawari
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Hi Sherryl,
Thank you for the tips and I really want to know how to Improve my website ranking in Google. You help me to organize it more than before and give me more knowledge on
”SEO Tips for E-Commerce Websites”
3) Create Clear, Descriptive URLs
And
7) Write Image Descriptions

I want to know more about soon.

Thanks

Reply

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Hi Abdulrahman,
WordPress now defaults to using your blog title as the URL for your article. (You’ll see that the URL for this page is the title of my post.) So, writing a clear descriptive keyword rich title will help with SEO. For example, in the title of this post, I’ve incorporated the keywords SEO, website, rank and Google.

One thing to keep in mind when writing your title is that search engines do not handle special characters well. Therefore, if your title includes characters like “&” or apostrophes, you’re very likely to have something like %20% showing up in your URL. My theme has a field for “Custom Title Tag” which I use to enter my title without characters. If you don’t have a similar field in your theme, you can edit the permalink. Ideally, you would want to do that before you published your post.

As for writing image descriptions. keep in mind that search engines do not “see” images. That’s why it’s very important to fill out the meta-tag information for media such as photos, graphics and video. You may find this article that I wrote helpful: http://keepupwiththeweb.com/tips-for-optimizing-photos-and-graphics-for-your-blog/.

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Dipo Dwijaya
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 6:30 am

Write Meaningful Anchor Text? Could you give me an example or an explanation. Thank you.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I’d be happy to share some examples of meaningful anchor text Dipo. In this article for example, the 4 hyperlinks are using the titles of articles as the “anchor text”. Each title contains relative keywords. So, they make appropriate links. Instead of the title “SEO Should Be A Habit Not A Headache”, I could have written a sentence around the anchor text “SEO tips” and still linked to the same article. (I hope that helps.)
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Are Your Website Visitors Sticking Around Or Bailing Out?My Profile

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Dipo Dwijaya
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Thank you for your explanation and the example.
Sometimes I little bit confuse in how to use anchor text and keywords because I heard that Google will penalize if the use of that two thing too often, is it true? What about other search engine? Do they have same policy, too? I wonder!

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Search engines will penalize you for keyword stuffing. As a general rule, I try to make sure that the content makes sense to my readers. I think of it as a conversation. We don’t normally repeat words when we’re talking. So, I apply that logic to my writing.

I don’t generally do keyword research when I’m writing an article but if I do get the sense that I’m overusing a keyword, I’ll go to Google’s external keyword tool and search on those words. It lets me know what people are searching on and I can usually find other related keywords that I can use (in addition to my main keyword). Bottom line, it has to make sense to the person reading it.

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Dipo Dwijaya
Twitter:
November 26, 2012 at 7:29 am

Great advice! Thank you very much. I learn something from our conversation, especially about how to use keyword and anchor text. I must said without doubt that you enriched my knowledge not just about what we have discuss but on how to write for people.
Thank you.

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Vandhana Karthick
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 2:54 am

I do not know how to optimize image is there any related post written by you please refer the same. I am trying to authorize my website for past 3months but nothing happened it is a dream now for me. Kindly help me with that and I am not getting much social media likes and share on my website. What should I do? Please suggest me on the same.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Vandhana

I think you’ll find this post on optimizing photos and graphics helpful: http://keepupwiththeweb.com/tips-for-optimizing-photos-and-graphics-for-your-blog/.

As for Google Authorship, I intend to write a how-to post on that topic but I haven’t yet. The problem is that I haven’t found a one-size-fits-all solution. There are so many variable that come into play. I found the solution that worked for me here: http://dempseymarketing.com/relauthor-plugin-for-wordpress/. Not only has Robert Dempsey created a plugin, he walks you through it step-by-step. Hopefully, it will work for you too.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..What Google Authorship Means for SEOMy Profile

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Vandhana Karthick
Twitter:
December 26, 2012 at 1:31 am

Does alexa ranking and google page rank are inter related, while dmoz approving a website doe they calculate these factors to be genuine and quality

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Rajkumar Jonnala
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 1:12 am

Thank you for the informative post!It`s correct “SEO should be an interest not headache”,We should love to use SEO techniques rather than feeling it as a boring task.If you love it,You will definitely move to the first page.
Rajkumar Jonnala recently posted..Tablet Android 4.0 Ice Cream SandwichMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Hi Rajkumar,
I strongly believe that just taking simple steps to incorporate SEO into your website/blog can make a big difference in the amount of search traffic that you’ll get. My Google Analytics supports that claim. :)
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Why You Should Be Your Own Google Analytics Ninja and 4 Steps To Do It – Part 1My Profile

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Atish Ranjan November 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Title and meta description must be written well and must include your main keywords. Content of the page should also be optimized and interlinked using relevant anchors. These are good practices to rank your site well. Don’t forget to use alt text for Images.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Well said Atish. Those are all great SEO tips. Not using alt-text for images is such a common mistake. Some people don’t realize that the search engines don’t “see” images. Without alternate text, there’s no SEO value at all to including them.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Need More Eyes on Your Website? Comment on Blogs.My Profile

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Ray November 19, 2012 at 11:03 pm

The title of a post is sometimes a toss up for me. I see people recommend a good SEO keyword title or phrase, and others recommend a good eye catching title. I don’t spend a lot of time with keyword research, but sometimes a little more than other posts. Usually I ask myself what would I or the average person enter in a search to find this. Then, I might mess with a few variations of it.
Ray recently posted..How To Get Backlinks From ForumsMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Hi Ray,
Your approach seems similar to mine. I do try to focus on at least one keyword in the title. Asking yourself what the average person would search on, is a good start. I don’t usually do a lot of keyword research but sometimes I do and I’m usually surprised by what I find.

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Jeri
Twitter:
November 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm

In the process of building an author-platform, I’ve realized I am actually starting to like learning more about the nitty-gritty aspects of websites. It’s too bad though that on most days my brain feels like it’s on overload from trying to process all this great information that bloggers like you provide.
Jeri recently posted..Author Interview: Anne AllenMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 20, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Thanks for the compliment Jeri. My brain seems like it’s in a constant state of overload. :)
Sherryl Perry recently posted..5 Essential Apps for EntrepreneursMy Profile

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Becc
Twitter:
November 18, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Thank you for an informative post. I would also be interested in reading about the back links etc. I have no clue on how linking works apart from the links to your own posts on your own website.
Becc recently posted..Good versus evil, or something or other.My Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 19, 2012 at 1:36 am

Hi Becc,
Thanks for letting me know that you found my post informative and that you too would be interested in learning more about back links. I’ll definitely see what I can do.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Basic Steps to Better Blogging, Better Branding and More BusinessMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 18, 2012 at 4:27 pm

You’re welcome Lubna. There are definitely some very simple steps that everyone can incorporate into their blogs that will help you rank higher in the search engines.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Need More Eyes on Your Website? Comment on Blogs.My Profile

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Catarina
Twitter:
November 18, 2012 at 7:12 am

Great advice Sherryl!

We all need to do the things you suggest in order to rank high on Google.
Catarina recently posted..Has James Bond become too commercial?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Hi Catarina,
Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts with us.

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Doreen Pendgracs
Twitter:
November 17, 2012 at 9:23 am

Hi Sherryl: I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned thru my SEO training with you and others is that I’ve got to avoid being too cute with my post titles. As a writer, it’s in my nature to come up with creative titles for my posts. But that doesn’t help me with the search engines as they have no idea what I’m thinking about when I wrote that! So, now I try to keep my titles shorter and more to the point. I hope that will help my SEO rankings and help more people find my blogs.
Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..friendshipMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Doreen,
You’ve made a lot of progress on optimizing your sites for the search engines and I’m confident that you will start noticing more traffic from organic searches.

As for writing titles, you can use up to 70 characters (including spaces) and I’m inclined to take advantage of that. I figure that as long as the title is still appealing to my readers, it doesn’t hurt to make it lengthy. Take this article for example. I played around with several versions until I decided on this one. Even though this article isn’t specifically about Google and SEO, Google is mentioned. Since it’s the #1 search engine, I decided to include it as a tag, keyword and part of my post title.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Why You Should Be Your Own Google Analytics Ninja and 4 Steps To Do It – Part 1My Profile

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Susan Oakes
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm

That is great Sherryl that setting up re rel=author. The one thing I find a little frustrating is quite a number of visitor searchers are secure searches so you don’t know the keywords they used. You can draw an educated guess but you lose the longtail words.

Due to the ever increasing changes especially the recent ones re links do you see that getting back links will fall out of favour?
Susan Oakes recently posted..Could You Do The Opposite To Get New Customers?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm

I share your frustration Susan. If you were to look at my GA, you would think the majority of my searches were for customer service. I’ve only written a couple of articles with those keywords and it’s basically one article that seems to have scored on it. My educated guesses come from looking at the most popular content. I certainly wish I had better data.

I have to admit that I haven’t done a lot of research on back links and I tend to rely on them happening organically. Other than commenting on CommentLuv blogs and submitting some pages to Pingler (after commenting), I really don’t have a strategy for backlinking.

I reached out to Meghan Wolff to see if she would be interested in writing a guest post on the topic. This is definitely something that I should educate myself on.

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Lisa
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm

It seems as soon as you learn something Sherryl they change it :)
I think the hardest thing for me on the retail websites is to get backlinks. Even with blogging, because the niche is narrow it takes longer. I found it easier to get backlinks to my blog on a topic that is wide vs the narrow ones. I’ve just started using more of the H2 and H3 heading, they make it easier on the reader.
I wonder how SEO compares to PPC programs. Probably much more costly but time is money too.
Lisa recently posted..Can You Start An Online Business Only Knowing Text And Email?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Lisa,
I’m a big advocate of PPC advertising although there is a learning curve and you need to stay on top of your campaigns. It’s very easy to spend a lot of money quickly without achieving the results that you desire.

I recently wrote a 3-part series on Google AdWords for the Business Knowledge Share group on Linkedin. Anyone interested in reading it can access it here: http://linkd.in/UM7HEn. (This is a member only group.)

My opinion is that if you carefully hone PPC ads to reach targeted customers who are ready to buy, your chances of making a conversion is good. With the right keywords,, you can target your ads to people who are searching on keywords that reflect buyer-intent. Relying solely on SEO, you’re bound to get visitors in research mode.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Use SEO to Improve Your Website Ranking in GoogleMy Profile

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Lisa
Twitter:
November 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Hi Sherryl,
I just started a small one this a.m. after reading your blog yesterday, I will have to check your 3 part series to be sure I did it well. Thanks for sharing that in your response.
Lisa recently posted..Can You Start An Online Business Only Knowing Text And Email?My Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 17, 2012 at 5:43 pm

You’re welcome Lisa. Good luck with PPC.

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Rose M Griffith
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Thanks, Sheryl, you always have information that teaches me and that I can put to good use on my website/blog.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Hi Rose,
You’re very welcome. Thanks for letting me know that I’m providing you with information that you can use. That’s my goal. :)
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Ping Your Website Blog and When Not ToMy Profile

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A.K.Andrew
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 9:36 am

As always , a really helpful post Sherryl. You also answered my question as to what H2 headings are, in the link to your former post. It always comes up when I do my Yoast SEO check & up to now I have just ignored it. I will now give it a go.
Thanks so much Sherryl :-)
A.K.Andrew recently posted..Receiving a Sunshine Award for BloggingMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm

It’s amazing how much using headings helps with both the search engines and to visually break up your page. I didn’t use them myself when I was new to blogging. Now, I make it a point to use keyword rich headings (like the ones that I have in this article).
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Change a WordPress Theme and Keep your SEO Meta Tag DataMy Profile

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Leora
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 5:28 am

Sherryl, these are all great tips. One that is not emphasized in this post is incoming links (it seems to get a mention as backlinks in the ecommerce section). You can have great on-page SEO but no or few incoming links. There are many posts on that topic, but it is one that shouldn’t be ignored in thinking about SEO.
Leora recently posted..Print a Web Page with CSSMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 9:19 am

Thanks for the reminder Leora. Backlinks are important. That would be a good topic for another article, possibly a guest post by someone who has a successful strategy for backlinking. :)

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Jackie
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 2:03 am

Interesting stats on the increase on the rel=author change Sherryl. I agree I think you have to try something, and draw your own conclusions on if it works for you or not.

It’s something that I must get sorted out myself, I’ve attempted to set it up in various ways a few times, but without success. I’ve obviously broken something somewhere ;)

I’ve just put it in the ‘deal with that later’ basket for now. I’ll have to come back and read that post of yours when you write it and see if you can’t whip me into shape :)

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 9:13 am

I tried writing that post once before Jackie and abandoned it. :) The problem is that every situation is unique. I tried setting it up myself and ran into errors. Then I was successful but I wish I had taken screenshots while I was doing it. (At least, I don’t remember taking screenshots. I should check. That would make it easier to write the article.)

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Jackie
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm

That so funny Sherryl :) If you’re anything like me you probably have taken shots, and put them somewhere “safe” :)

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Jackie
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 9:20 pm

That so funny Sherryl :) If you’re anything like me you probably have taken shots, and put them somewhere “safe” for future reference, only to have them disappear into the black hole of the hard drive :)

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Susan Cooper
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 12:44 am

Ah, the never ending battle and discussion on how to improve an SEO score. The fact is, it will never really end because it is constantly changing. All of the suggestions mentioned above will help. The most important thing is to keep it up and to stay aware of any trends and corrective actions needed to continue whatever trends we are seeking to achieve. I am constantly learning. Because of all your suggestions, (which are many) I am able to continue to improve. :-) I am very grateful for that. :-)

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 16, 2012 at 9:10 am

Hi Susan,
It is a never ending battle. That’s good that you’re learning and keeping SEO in mind. A lot of the really simple things like meta-tags, optimizing images and using headings can make a real difference. It’s so easy to just get in the habit of incorporating those steps into your blogging. As always, thanks for dropping by. :)

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