Back in September I went to Blogworld & New Media Expo 2008 in Las Vegas.

The number one best thing about going to the conference was the connections I made there; I even got to rub shoulders with few blogging/social media/internet rockstars including Chris Brogan, Jason Falls, Darren Rowse, David Alston, Dave Taylor, Steve Hall, Lee Odden, Rohit Bhargava, Gary Vaynerchuk and local superstars Rebecca Bollwitt and Linda Bustos.

The next best thing was some of the useful tips I learned from one of the sessions: Dave Taylor’s “Ten Things You Need to Know About Search Engines & Findability”.

For those unfamiliar with social media and blogging, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In fact, blogging is often considered a great way to market your company website if, in fact, you have a passion and a plan for doing so.

Key takeaways from Dave Taylor’s blogging SEO session:

While Dave’s session focused on 10 things about SEO, the following 6 points stood out to me and are very simple to implement no matter what blog platform you use.

1. Write as often as you can
This tip didn’t come entirely from Dave Taylor’s session; it was addressed by Richard Jalichandra’s Keynote on Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere. The most popular blogs are written to 10 times a day or more. While you don’t need to write multiple times a day for your blog to be effective, you do need to write regularly to keep the search engines pinging your site. The more often Google pings you, the higher up you’re going in the search results for keywords contained within your writing. People will disagree on how often you need to write to produce results; I would suggest a bare minimum is 2-3 times a week if you’re going to bother blogging at all.

2. Write your keywords in to your content
It’s a good idea to be aware of the key words and phrases you want your site to rank for. Make sure you use those words and phrases whenever it is appropriate in your writing. It’s a balancing act between having your blogging sound natural and having it sound like it was written strictly for keyword density, but use your judgement. The more your keywords are located in your writing, the higher you will rank for those words. This is especially important if your goal is to draw traffic and customers to your primary business.

3. Link your keywords rather than meaningless words
This is probably one of the most important things I’ve learned: Link relevant keywords. Search engines read code. They see what has a link and look at the content of that link more closely than the other text within your site. So rather than say, “I found this great article on SEO for blogs on this website,” you should write “I found this great article on SEO for blogs I want to share with you.” In the first example, you will rank for the word “website”; in the second example, you will rank for “great article on SEO for blogs”, which is a way more useful phrase, and one that is much more likely to be searched. No one needs to rank higher for “click here” or “more”. No one.

4. Use header tags to emphasize sub-headings
I didn’t know this one at all. When you use header tags like <h1> and <h2> to highlight important sub titles within your posts, the search engines will also see that text as more important again, in the same way it sees links as important. See above where I titled this list “Key takeaways from Dave Taylor’s blogging SEO session”? That’s an <h2>tag and it sends a signal to the search engine’s little electronic brain centre says “oh this is a heading; this page must be about this topic.” Just simply bolding your headings won’t have the same effect.

5. Optimized photos
Photo file names and titles are also used by search engines. So rather than leaving your file names as whatever they were when they came off your digital camera… “IMG_2008-01-07_001.jpg” for instance, rename it. Name it with relevant keywords that people may search for. Be honest about it. What is the photo displaying? If you’re writing a blog entry on your trip to Disneyland and you take a picture of Mickey Mouse in front of the Disneyland castle, call your photo “mickey-mouse-disneyland-castle.jpg”. If you’re writing a blog entry on a restaurant you visited and you’re including a photo, name the photo “restaurant-name-city-styleoffood-dining.jpg”. Then, your images have their very own chance of getting ranked by Google.

6. Tag your posts
Tag your posts. All blogging software allows you to add relevant tags to your posts. If you’re writing about how to bake an angel food cake, you might tag it with the following keywords: baking, bake a cake, angel-food cake, cake, angel food, baking instructions, cake instructions. Think for a few minutes about what words someone might plug into a search engine if they were looking for exactly what you’re writing about. If you were looking for your post, what would you search for?