This is the kick off  to our annual January Blog Challenge: 31 Days To Clean Up Your Blog. What better time than January to sit down and review your blog? Over the 31 days we'll be sharing 31 tips, ideas, and strategies for you to deal with all those pesky maintenance tasks, take steps to grow in the new year and make blogging easier. This is Day 28.

31 Day Blog Challenge Day 28: SEO

We've given you lots of tips along the course of our 31 Day Blog Challenge to help with SEO.  Things like cleaning up broken links, making your photos SEO friendly, using internal links in your sidebar, using nofollow links for sponsored posts and more.

So what else can you do to improve your SEO?

Google's SEO Starter Guide

First and foremost, if SEO is important to you then you need to check out Google's SEO Starter Guide.  It contains all the SEO basics you need to know straight from the biggest search engine on the internet.  We're pretty sure everyone will find one little nugget of new information in its pages.

The best way to give yourself a solid foundation in SEO is to follow good web design practices.  Ok, we know you're not all web designers but, if you follow a lot of the tips we've given you in past articles as well as those in the SEO starter guide, you're well on your way to doing the key things right that google consistently looks for.

SEO Friendly Themes

Not all blog templates and themes are created equal, unfortunately.  Things like load time and structure can count for a lot in SEO.  Check out reputable theme developers like StudioPress (Genesis) or Elegant Themes for WordPress.  Be careful buying from large marketplaces like Theme Forest where you don't know the developer. Steer clear of free themes.

If you hire a developer to create a new site for you from scratch, do your research - find out if they use a solid theme framework like Genesis to build upon. Make sure they understand basic SEO principals - especially as they relate to food blogging - before you proceed.

Using An SEO Plugin

This applies to self-hosted WordPress users.  The gold star SEO plugin is Yoast's WordPress SEO plug-in.  There are free and paid versions. The free version is more than enough to get most bloggers going.

SEO plug-ins allow you to add key words to specific posts, create an SEO friendly post descriptions,  and create SEO friendly post titles. They can even scan your post to ensure it's readable and contains enough uses and variations of your key words.  They can allow you to no-index pages that you don't want google to crawl

RELATED:  The 31 Day Blog Challenge Day 16: Find 5 New Sources of Inspiration

Use a Recipe Plugin

Google expects recipes to be marked up in a specific way and if you're not doing this, it can cost you a lot of search traffic. If you're on WordPress, the solution is to use a reliable recipe plugin that does all of the markup for you.

If you're a Squarespace user this is one area where you are at a disadvantage. There is no simple way to optimize your recipes in Squarespace. It can be done but it will take a lot more work. We found this resource to help you.

Writing for SEO

Writing for SEO is tough and an art in its own right.

One of the keys to being a successful blogger is to find and write with your own unique voice.  Trying to remember to use key words, internal links, headings and the like can stifle your natural narrative but they are necessary and practice will make it easier.

Write for your audience first - they're your core readers.  Keep keywords, phrases and internal links in mind as you plan out your content (The FBC Food Blog Planner can help with this) and it will help you with your writing process.

When it's a struggle, just remember, consistent, interesting, quality content will always serve you well. Ask yourself: does it inform? Does it educate? Does it entertain? It should do at least one of those things and do it well.

As always, we love your feedback.  Do you have any SEO suggestions for your fellow FBC members?

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Britt @ My Daily Randomness

These are some great tips! I’ve used both Yoast SEO and All IN One SEO, and prefer Yoast as it’s a bit more in depth. One tip I have (and FBC has featured this in a previous post) is don’t forget about search engine optimizing your images by using descriptive words when naming your image files, example:

IMG_0125.jpg = bad
Easy-Truffle-Mushroom-Pizza.jpg = good

Filling out the ALT and Title tag is also important for getting found in a google search! With the web becoming more visual (Pinterest movement) optimizing your image files as much as possible will help you get found!

And lastly don’t forget about using formating to call attention to important words and sections of your post. Use headings, bold, and italics throughout your post – but use them wisely!

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