Blog SEO

Search-Engine Friendly Blogging

You may have read or heard a whole lot about the "buzz" factor or the importance of blogging, or how anyone without a blog is going to be left behind. Blogging is a big part of the Web 2.0 phenomenon. Yet you may still have great big unanswered questions about how to make a good blog. So did we. After we did the work to figure it out, we put this page together to try to answer the bigger questions and get you set up for good blog search-engine placement.

If all of this seems like too much work, we offer blog design services. Contact us for more information.

This page is about blogs, and how to get a blog ready for the search engines and your public. After you check your blog against the points on this page, register your blogs at the major blog search engines and directories. The basics covered here are so that your blog will be allowed or accepted into more of the blog directories and search engines.

It is a somewhat long page, but we've organized it into sections for you. Let us know if you have any comments.

Before we start..

While you can have a feed without a blog and this page will still help you, we assume you've got a blog. It may be a business marketing blog or just for personal use. You may have started with a blog creation tool or service, and it may or may not be hosted elsewhere.

Any time you edit your blog's templates, we recommend following standard procedures for safety and data protection. First make a back-up, then make your changes on the current version (not the back-up), then carefully check that the changes produce the desired result, then look for whether or not those changes caused anything else to change undesirably.

If you have trouble with anything here, check our blog glossary for the simplest definitions we could make for the terms we use or that bloggers commonly use.

Whenever we thought more advice could be helpful, we included a "MORE ADVICE" link.

What is a Blog?

Obviously, you have some idea what a blog is or you wouldn't be here. But what is beneath the user experience? What makes it tick? What is a blog basically? [I know this already, skip this section.]

A Blog, or weblog--at its most basic and in its most common form--is an XHTML website with dated entries that are always listed in reverse-chronology (meaning most recent at the top). It is common for a blog to offer a syndication-formatted feed of recent posts (such as RSS), but not required. There are archives of all old posts, which can be categorical or chronological. After the blogger posts about something, subscribers can be allowed to post comments about that post. Usually, there is a biographical (about) page and a list of links to other blogs called a "blogroll".

Behind the scenes, there is a blog software tool in use that serves up your entries as either posts on a web page or as a feed, when served as webpages, the code is XHTML, and when served as a feed that contains the same content as the blog, it is in some form of XML, usually RSS or Atom. The blog pings certain other sites when new content is posted, letting them know about the new content.

There are more things blogs can do beyond the above. However, our definition most closely resembles what the blog search engines and directories are expecting and what the majority of them will accept. If your site does not fit into the above description, it is not a blog according to the blog search engines.

How do I get my blog indexed by the Search Engines?

To get indexed, your blog must get crawled by a search engine robot. By robot we mean the crawler (such as Googlebot) that the search engine sends to your site to automatically pull your content into their database to be indexed. In order for the robot to pull that information cleanly, your XHTML code needs to be valid. This means that your page says what code language it is in and sticks to that one code throughout. In the case of blogs, that is XHTML.

You have to have valid code for most blog search engines and blog-specific directories to add you. This means:

  1. Valid XHTML code on the site
  2. A valid XML feed of your most recent posts

MORE ADVICE: About blog code languages.

DOCTYPE Declarations in XHTML

Your XHTML blog pages all need to say what code language they are in. This is done with a DOCTYPE declaration, which should be the very first thing in every HTML and XHTML document. To check the document type, navigate to your blog in your browser just as a visitor would. Click on "view source". At the very top of the resulting code page, you should see something like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"
<html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en">

This code can vary.

If your page starts with just <HTML>, it means you have an incomplete doctype, and your code will never validate as XHTML. This usually won't keep people from visiting your blog or make your blog stop working, but it will be a problem when robots come to crawl. You solve this by editing your template, also known as skin. Find the <HTML> tag and replace it with the full and complete doctype declaration as shown above.

Now you can check whether your blog index (your blog's home page) is valid XHTML code.

If your blog is hosted, your code should validate even if you've never thought about it. It should also validate if you have used WordPress or Movable Type standardly to create your blog.

Blog Validator

Enter the URL of your blog to check if your blog has valid XHTML (example:

Invalid code will have to be gone through error by error to find and correct. It may be in the entries themselves or in the templates your blog is made from.

MORE ADVICE: Fixing invalid blog code.

If your blog validated, you will be offered a snippet to display on your blog that declares your code valid.

Blog Feed Validation

Your feed is there so that visitors may subscribe to it and so that robots can have easy access to your most recent posts. The XML feed is expected to be in either RSS or Atom format. Many blog directories and search engines won't list sites that don't have valid feeds, so your blog's feed must also validate.

MORE ADVICE: About RSS and Atom.

Validate a Blog Feed

Enter the exact URI for your feed below, to verify that your feed is in valid RSS or Atom format (example:

A feed is a single file listing numerous posts from your site, that separates your blog's entries from everything else. Gone are your templates, your styles, and everything in between. Even if you don't plan on making your feed public, you should have a feed for robot purposes. The data is neat and compact. Even if your site goes haywire, your feed will often work.

Having a feed also adds to the places where your blog can be listed and found.

If both your blog and your feed validate, good for you! Now you can focus on making sure your blog is the friendliest it can be to the visitors and search engines that come to your page.

Whether your blog is valid or not, if your XML feed is valid (RSS1, RSS2 or Atom), you will still be able to submit to some of the search engines but not blog directories.

What is subscribing and why do I want people to do it?

If a blog visitor likes what they see, they may subscribe to your feed by clicking on your subscription link. People use an aggregator (anything that gather feeds for them and serves them up to the subscriber is an aggregator) to subscribe to your feed, and then from that point on, they will continue to receive updated posts without actually visiting your blog for as long as you stay on their subscription list. Your content is regularly grabbed by the aggregator and then displayed within whatever context the subscriber wants - as listings on their personalized Yahoo! page, as banners scrolling across their email program, as emails, as newspaper style listings in a feed reader, or any number of other ways they are displayed. There are a thousand uses for feeds.

You want subscribers because it is a way of staying fresh in your visitors' minds, placing more content in front of their eyes, and getting yourself a little more out there.

In order to accomplish this, it is recommended that you place a general "XML FEED" orange button on your blog that links to your feeds actual location. It is recognized by most people, useful to the majority of feed aggregators, and keeps you from having twenty different buttons in your sidebar (one for Yahoo! subscribers, one for NewsGator, etc). However, for some publics, the twenty different buttons works better. Here is a great place to go to get help automatically generating subscriber buttons.

If you want to keep track of your subscribers, you can get a FeedBurner account. You tell FeedBurner your feed's URL, and they turn it into a feed on their system and tell you that URL. Then you run all of your subscriber buttons to the feedburner URL instead of your own URL. This will provide you with detailed statistics. It is not easily reversed once put into place. It takes the focus off of your own site's feed, but some think it is worth it so that they can know the number of subscribers. Pretty soon, there should me more easy ways to find out how many people are subscribed to your feed without sending the traffic to a place like FeedBurner.

How fresh does blog content need to be?

The most important part of blogging is fresh, interesting content. Blog search engines sometimes display results chronologically. If you wrote about "widgets" ten minutes ago, but someone else wrote about "widgets" five minutes ago, they get listed first in a search for "widgets".

To get registered everywhere, you should have written at least one post today, at least five posts this week, and have had your blog for at least three months. if you don't have all of that going for you, you will still get into some search engines and directories, but not all.

Personal bloggers should try to post every day at least once. Business blogs should post slightly more often than their competitors. New posts will need to be made at least three times a week for some search engines to list a blog at all.

One or two places require you to have posted within the hour that you submit. That is a little extreme, but it does give you an idea of how often blog search engines expect fresh content. Posting every hour may not be feasible, but post as often as you and your blog's public can comfortably handle.

How can I optimize my blog for the search engines?

We don't tell you what you should blog about, or how you should make your blog look. That is totally up to you. Unless your blog takes a really long time to load because your images are too big, your style will have no effect on blog search engines.

Keep in mind that your blog rankings will shift constantly for any terms that you are trying to rank for because the content of the blog search index is constantly updating. Because of this you should not expect your listing to stay in one position very long.

In spite of that, a blog, like any other site, benefits from applying the basic points of website optimization.

However, there are several additional points to consider when optimizing your blog's templates.

Your blog should provide a navigation system of some kind that leads to all areas of your site. Blogs with search navigation systems should review their site to ensure that they provide alternate navigation. Robots don't search. They only follow links.

Regularity of posts is absolutely crucial. Blog search engines place a lot of weight on recent and consistent content. If you don't post often, your blog will be disregarded no matter how well you made it.

It is important to use keywords within your posts in ways that flow with the content, like regular speech. This should be easy if you stick to a particular subject matter. A blog about apples will have all or most posts contain the word apple.

Use of your most basic keywords in your blog's framework should not be overlooked. If you can, you should edit your blog template to include keywords, phrases and meta information that is helpful to you (as per our seo points). Your primary keywords should be your blog subject matter. If you want to use any other keywords in your templates, make sure they are words you will repeat at least once on every page that the keyword is applied to. Examples of this might be your own name or a service you provide.

When you don't have your blog independently hosted you are far less able to (and sometimes disallowed to) control factors that can affect your rank and how you'll appear to the search engines. If you're trying to apply the SEO checklist we provided to a blog that offers you little control, you may find many of them cannot be applied. Because of this, we recommend independent hosting - it doesn't cost much for a domain name and an IP address. any reputable blogging host, like Blogspot or Livejournal allows you to export your blog, and many of the blog softwares will allow you to import a blog in several different formats. If you already have a successful website that is well linked up, that may not be feasible. If so, you'll need to at least make sure that you can control the next point...

Some blogs allow or require visitors to register before posting or subscribing. This does not appear to create a problem for crawlers, so long as it is the blog's index page does not enforce cookies to try to track visitors. Robots cannot choose to accept a cookie.

Make sure that any pages you want indexed by the search engines to not display with long identification tags added to the URL (for instance a URL such as has a visitor ID tag and a Session ID tag). Some blog crawlers are sophisticated enough to spot and ignore these extra tags, but some search engines will end up displaying the link in their index with the identification tags included (bad, but only for your tracking data) or assuming you have some duplicate content (bad for getting those posts to rank) and if your blog gives them the same posts several times with different urls and tags, they might assume you are spamming them (bad for your blog overall).

The easiest way to solve this is by making sure that all of the cookies are on pages that display after you've viewed the most recent posts, usually your index page.

You should also remove all the unnecessary image links on your page that may have piled up. Usually these are to blog-related sites that gave you buttons for your page, or to the site that sold you your blog software. You should copy all these kinds of images to your own images directory. Image calls act as links. Having so many links to other sites about blogs is unnecessary unless your blog is about blogs. All they will do is muddy up the theme of your blog.

Make sure the links in your posts are not just to your own blog or to other websites that you own. This must be treated more carefully because there are a lot of fake blogs created just for that purpose. You can link to a site of your own, but you should make sure that's not the only place you've linked to recently.

A "ping" is when your computer informs another computer that it exists by sending a small electronic "ping" signal. Like a computer "Hello". Pinging is used by blogs to inform places where blogs are listed, that new content has been added.

So, make sure you are pinging places that you've registered with. You can ping all day and not get added to some of the blog search engines, unless you've already gone through the submission process. Once you are registered, a ping will help get your new content crawled sooner. Pinging is not totally necessary, because the search engine robot will eventually crawl your blog anyway if you're already submitted there. The reason to ping is so that you get crawled sooner--remember that time is an important factor in deciding the rank of your blog. And it is likely that your competition is pinging.

It is fine to include contextual advertising on your blog. AdSense, Yahoo! Publisher Network, Amazon and others have programs for this purpose. Just make sure you don't overdo it. Ads can be displayed near posts, between posts, or anywhere on your page that you like. But if you place them inside posts, you run the risk of being banned as blog spam. Not to mention that your subscribers will drop you, and the visitors will stop coming. People have a certain tolerance for ads that should not be abused. Too many ads will usually make your blog appear to be all about the ads, and not enough about the content, even if your content is great.

If your blog uses valid html code, you will be offered a link to place on your page that says your code is valid. You can put that on your blog if you want, but it won't really make a difference to anything, except it will send some of your visitors off-site on a "checking your code" tangent (which is totally off subject unless your blog is about XHTML validity). Putting it into your template can sometimes result in having more of the "valid xhtml" link on your blog than you do of your own navigation (when wandering the blog's nooks and crannies or using the search function). Because of that, we don't really think it is a good idea to include a "VALID XHTML" stamp on your blog post pages. Feel free to put it on your "about me" page, or any other static XHTML page on your site. It is your choice, though. But, having or not having the seal-of-approval posted on your site won't fool a robot if your pages aren't actually valid later on.

What is a "Blogroll" and how do I use it to get more links?

A blogroll is really just a fancy word for a list of links. Your blogroll is your primary way of defining your "blog neighborhood". It is also your best tools for getting into other blog's blogrolls. Use your blogroll as a reciprocal link list to related sites, rather than as a place to pile up out-bound only links. Be picky enough that you don't link to any spam sites that will ask for links. Most blog software allows for fancy blogroll management. These are fine. Basically just tools for displaying links differently. They will help only to the degree that they make your blogroll more interesting to be on and easier for you to update.

MORE ADVICE:how to get links.

Make sure at least some of your blogroll is right there on your index somewhere out of the way, or you will have a hard time getting reputable blogs to want to trade links with you. Don't agree to a reciprocal link unless you plan on keeping the link posted indefinitely. Irrelevant reciprocal links are filtered out of Google anyway -- they won't help you unless the site you are linking to, and which links back to you, is actually about your subject (keyword).

Many links to your blog will happen only from having fresh, interesting content that other blogs want to link to. Your individual posts can generate a large percentage of your links from other sites. This is not a bad thing, and should be encouraged by creating some posts designed for being good to have a permanent link to (like articles or interviews). We are not able to tell you what that should be, it depends on your subject matter, expertise, fields of interest, etc... But you do have to keep it up. Posting to your blog often is crucial.

When you find a related blog that you like, you can link to them in a post, or even trackback them (also called a pingback). Considering that they are technically just another kind of hyperlink, you should use them with the same thought and care applied to regular links.

Use tags to define keywords for your posts. More about blog tags here. Tags are not harmful, so feel free to use them as much as you want.

You can create very good public relations with or your vendors , associated companies and clients by acknowledging them in blog posts, like sending thank-yous. This usually creates a good position from which to contact them, point out the mention, and ask for a link from their site to yours. They may want a permanent reciprocal link that is not in a post, and that is fine to give them. The more real communication you get into with other bloggers and your visitors, the more likely you are to develop lots of links.

The more you try to automate the creation of blog relationships, the more you're going to find trouble. Bloggers with good blogs don't often blogroll a site that they think has low-quality links on it, so try not to have flashy banner ads, links to material that your public will find objectionable, etc.

Get plug-ins and add-ons

A blog is a constantly changing website. As such, you need to set up your blog to write friendly code as it goes. This often involves finding plugins to help you add tagging and keywords to your posts. It also requires that you organize your blog posts into categories that mesh well (as topics) with the keywords you want to rank for.

Continue to the next step: Blog Search Engine Registration.

Or, you can have us register your blog at the blog search engines for you.

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Blog Set-up and Optimization Advice

Summary: How to get a blog search-engine friendly

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This page last updated 2022-05-19.

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