January 12, 2010

How to optimize your most visited blog pages

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Welcome to the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media. Today guest contributor Michael Martine will offer tips on how to optimize your most visited blog pages.

Guest post by Michael Martine

Are you leaving money and opportunity on the table? You might be if you haven’t optimized your blog’s most visited pages. You should know what the most popular pages are on your blog and look for opportunities to optimize them for better reader engagement and conversion.

This is what web analytics is really for — not just visitor counts. What is working on your site? What isn’t? Analytics will tell you by revealing patterns of visitor behavior so you can make better content and conversion decisions. One thing nearly any analytics program, such as the free Google Analytics, will tell you is what your blog’s most visited pages are.

Take a look at your blog’s “top 10.” Are you surprised by which pages are the most popular? I hope not, because that means you’re having trouble matching your blog’s content to your goals (expect a couple of surprises in there, though). For example, my analytics told me that one of the most popular pages on my blog is the post How to Add a Blog to a Website.

Because of this post, that exact phrase and its derivatives are common searches that land people on that exact page. This was deliberate: it’s what search engine optimization (SEO) is for and why you should learn about it. Without the content there, no searches about this topic would ever reach me.

That sounds obvious, but I’m constantly surprised by bloggers who say their blog is about a topic … but then the topic’s keywords aren’t in the posts they write! If the words aren’t in the content, then that’s not what your blog is about as far as Google is concerned, and your ideal visitors will fail to show up at your doorstep via search. T

So find-tune your blog so that you have popular pages you can take advantage of. That’s next.

How to make popular pages work harder for you

If your blog has a conversion goal, you want to create blog content in support of that goal. Most blogs at least have the conversion goal of growing subscribers. If your blog is the marketing for a business or a nonprofit, you need more. You should have an email list that goes beyond the blog. You may also have products or services to sell, which means you want to direct people to those pages.

Knowing that, you try the following ideas to make your popular blog pages work harder for you:

  • Keep updating and adding to popular posts to increase its value as the situation and times change. Every time you do this, send an email out to your list to let them know you’ve just updated and that you’d love their comments on it. (I learned this from Michel Fortin.) This will increase long-term traffic and backlinks to the page, which will, in turn, strengthen its authority in search.
  • Create a “best of” or “popular” links list on your home page. These always drive traffic. When a page is popular, we want to figure out ways to make it even more popular, because popularity leads to greater popularity. The long-term benefits of this are the same as the previous point on updating.
  • Write new posts that build on an older popular post. Not only should you link to the old post from the new one, you should also go edit the old one to include a link to the new one. Make sure you use the same keywords in for each in your post titles and in the anchor text you use to link them (anchor text is the words of the hyperlink). Why? So that you end up with a double indented listing in Google. And of course, this event warrants an email to your list (these tactics overlap).
  • Create a product around the topic of a popular post. This is what I did with my post about adding a blog to a website. I figured if people were searching on that keyword and reaching me, it would be a good idea to provide visitors an opportunity to get in-depth information for a minimal investment. The strategy has been a great success. I created an inexpensive ebook about the topic and updated the post with information about it and a buy button. I get sales every week.
  • Rewrite the headline and slug of a popular post. This one is a little risky, but can help you take a performing post and get it to perform even stronger for you. If a post is snagging searches for a keyword, you can often boost it by taking the important keyword and move it to an earlier word position in the headline. You can strengthen a keyword by making it plural or singular, whichever has more searches (this is where keyword research comes in). If you’re using the Headway theme or an SEO plugin, you can easily separate post headlines from the slug, which is like the file name of the post. In order to do this without breaking any existing backlinks to the post, you’ll need a redirect plugin for WordPress (a quick search will reveal several). If you’re not using self-hosted WordPress, or you don’t have a redirect plugin, don’t try this.

Give it a go

Homework: Go check out your blog’s most popular posts (after tweeting about this one, of course). Then try one or more of the methods above to make it work even harder for you.

Michael Martine is the author of WordPress SEO Secrets and offers blog consulting at Remarkablogger to help you boost your bottom line with a blog. Thanks for guest-posting, Michael!

If you don’t want to miss out on the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media, please sign up here.

Cross-posted from JohnHaydon.com.

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