Finding a Voice: New Tool Aims to Help Bloggers Improve SEO
With blogging still on the rise and even providing a comfortable living for some, a new tool has been made available to help bloggers to draft more search engine-friendly copy. NMK spoke to the people behind it.
Blogging is fast becoming big business. According to Hitwise that in the three years up to 2008 UK traffic to blogs and personal websites increased by 208 per cent, compared to 70 per cent for news and media. US estimates reckon one per cent of bloggers earn more than $200,000 a year.
To gain traction, blogs - like any websites - need to be optimised to increase their visibility and authority in search engines according to keyword specialists Wordtracker. The company has just made its SEO Blogger tool available, a free Firefox plug-in which the company says helps bloggers grow their audience by easily producing search engine-friendly posts.
NMK caught up with Wordtracker’s chief marketing officer Ken McGaffin (pictured) to learn more.
Tell us a bit about SEO Blogger and how it works?
It's a very simple tool that allows bloggers to optimise as they write. Just download it on your Firefox Browser and you'll be able to open a keyword research window whenever you're writing a blog post.
The big advantage is that you don't have to do keyword research as a separate chore - you have it right there as you're writing.
So, say you were writing about the organic movement, you'd see that 'organic gardening' was more popular than 'organic farming', or if you're writing about 'hybrid cars' that people are interested in 'how hybrid cars work' or the 'advantages of a hybrid car' or 'the history of hybrid cars'. This can give you ideas for complete articles or allow you to pepper your article with popular related keywords.
The end result is that you will broaden your audience and get more readers.
It’s a free tool, so how are you making money here?
It's a fundamental principle we have at Wordtracker - giving good things for free builds a relationship with potential customers and many of them will move on to become paying customers. But that's not all; (i) giving away a free tool brings us a lot of coverage, and a lot of valuable one-way links, those links bring us traffic and increase our search engine traffic from the niche that we're targeting - in this case, blogging; (ii) we tested out some new marketing techniques on Twitter and the response was fantastic. We've learned a lot from that and we'll be able to put that experience to good use.
It’s a plug-in for Firefox at the moment. When’s the Internet Explorer (IE) version coming out and what about other browsers?
We chose Firefox because it's got a big community of add-ons and because it's pretty good for SEO. It's also free and easy to use. We don't have any current plans for IE or other browsers - I don't really think it would be a problem for any serious blogger to download Firefox just to write their posts with SEO Blogger. However, that's something we'll monitor and if there is demand, then we'll do our best to fill it.
How pivotal is SEO to blogging? What about the influence of ‘aggregators’, such as Feedburner? Do they help?
Every blogger wants to maximise their audience and one of the ways of doing that is SEO. Use good keywords in your blogs posts and your traffic will rise. But of course, that's not everything. Guy Kawasaki for instance doesn't understand keyword research very well, but he does know how to bring attention to his blogs, books and websites. Guy of course, is a special case, a name whose reputation brings him a lot of attention. He's a one-off, the rest of us have to do the hard work, and keyword research is a part of that work that will bring a lot of reward.
Assuming the theme and writing is up to scratch, what are the key facets in creating a successful, wide-reaching blog?
The biggest thing for me in engagement. Understanding what people are looking for but also looking at what other prominent bloggers in your field are doing - reading them, commenting on them, engaging in debate and building relationships. You can't create a successful blog in isolation, you must engage and keep up to date.