Get ready for Blogger SEO Updates

Now Blogger has become more Search engine optimization (SEO) friendly with its new and updated features. You are ready to enable the SEO settings for your blogs and remove all hacks and customizations that you have done to your Blogger templates so far. But do you really know which or what should be used and when?

Unlike the three letters, SEO, which creates the acronym, it is a vast term and there are so many guidelines you have to follow to increase your traffic from ‘natural’ search results. Simply speaking, following the guidelines, SEO can be done in two ways, off-site and on-site.

Off-site means preparing yourselves thinking “what if there were no search engines then how people would have reached my site?”. There are many ways, like, getting social and create Google+ Page and Facebook Page.

On-site means make your site search engine friendly by writing useful and original contents and by providing Meta tags, heading tags and some other useful tags and codes. Blogger has all these but you have to use it properly. Let us discuss those.

You will find the Blogger SEO settings under your blog’s dashboard > Settings tab > “Search preferences”.

Blogger SEO settings

Blogger also has described all about those in their help articles which you should read carefully. Here we will discuss the most important ones.

Search Description

Description Meta tag is used to describe the content of the Web page. Though nowadays search engines generates the snippets of their own, still it’s recommended to add description Meta tags to all your pages.

Google description snippet

Custom Page Not Found

It can happen that a reader can land on such a page that don’t exist on your blog. Technically is called a 404 or Not Found page. But instead of showing a blank or unrelated or unfriendly page why not use such a page where you can show the reader some information so that he stays on your blog instead of clicking the back arrow button of the browser. Blogger has now made it possible.

Blogger 404

Here you can write something and can also use HTML codes. Blogger Plugins also wrote a tutorial to make a useful custom 404 page. I’ll write about it later.

Custom Redirects

Custom Redirects are very useful to tackle 404 pages. Suppose you have written a post whose URL is http://example.com/2012/12/some-example.html[1] and got some good backlinks to it. Later you decided to republish the same post on January 2013 as an update and delete the old one. The URL of the new post will obviously change to http://example.com/2013/01/some-example.html[2]. Now people who will reach your blog from the previous link[1] will get a 404 error but you don’t want to loose the backlinks and want the users to get redirected to the new link[2], this is when the custom redirect comes handy.

So here, that is under Settings > Search preferences > Custom redirects > “New redirect”, within the “From” input box write the old URL pathname, i.e., /2012/12/some-example.html[1] and within the “To” input box write the new pathname, i.e. /2013/01/some-example.html[2]. Check the Permanent box if you want the redirect to be permanent with 301 response status and save it.

Blogger custom redirect

Everyone reaching the old link[1] will now get redirected to the new link[2] automatically.

Image properties

It can be found on Blogger Post Editor > Compose view, while adding a image. The title tag is not so important but the alt tag is as it provides an alternative text to users who cannot see your image and also provide search engines the information about the image, e.g. to Google’s image search. So always try to add “alt” attribute to images.

add alt
Image alt text

Introduction to rel="nofollow"

This tag is very important and useful and you all should know about it. nofollow attribute tells the search engine to not to follow the link and give any authority.

When to use it?
It should to used to any outgoing links (links that are not of your blogs) which you don’t trust, dynamically generated, paid or simply, you don’t want to pass PageRank to. While writing a post in Compose view, if you want to create a link, a popup box will appear where you can add this attribute.

rel=nofollow

If you want to add it manually then add rel="nofollow" to link attributes. Here’s an example:

<a href="http://example.com/" rel="nofollow">example</a>

It is not limited within the post editor only and can also be added to any outgoing links that are added on your sidebar gadgets or within your templates and it’s recommended and good practice to do so.

Again an example, click “Edit HTML” button to edit your template from Template tab. Now press CTRL+F keys (on your keyboard) to open the browser's search bar and find for <a to find all the link attributes. If you see any outgoing links within your template then add nofollow tag as shown above.

When not to use it?
Don’t use it when you want to add a link that you trust and think that it will be valuable to your users, but, while writing your posts only. Within this post I have used many reference links which are going out from my blog but I’ve used almost no nofollow tags as I trust them.

Heading tags

If you want to use a heading for a certain paragraph within your posts then stop using B and I, instead practice using the heading tags. It can be found under Compose view within post editor.

rel=nofollow

In HTML view, use these tags as shown below:

<h2>Heading 2</h2>
<h3>Heading 3</h3>
<h4>Heading 4</h4>

Crawlers and indexing

If you don’t know about robots.txt and HTTP header status codes then don’t change anything here or you may end up having no visitors to your blog from search engines. Blogger generates a default robots.txt file for all blogs. All you need is to submit the sitemap to Google Webmasters.

rel=nofollow
Other useful SEO articles

P.S. This post has been updated on 2013-2-28.

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