So far in A One Year Experiment in Blogging, I shared the lessons I learned about content and presentation. Today, it’s time to talk about SEO. In my first few years of blogging, I monitored my traffic — as one should — and determined that most of my visitors come from search engines. I never really seriously considered optimizing my content for search engines until last year when I started to write keyword-optimized articles for a client. KA-CHING.
What is this SEO you speak of?
Whenever friends and relatives ask me what I’m doing in my home based job, I simply tell them I do SEO. And then they give me a blank WTF look. There are possibly hundreds of blogs and websites out there that can explain the concept better so I’ll just tell you in simple terms what it’s about: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is the process of making your blog’s content more visible via search engines. Making your blog rank high on Google, Bing and other search engines guarantees more traffic. Bringing in readers from search engines does not always translate to a large and loyal reader base, though. Your content is in charge of that part.
Keywords Keywords Keywords
While SEO is about using the right set of words to improve your blog’s visibility, good SEO does this while clearly communicating your content to your non-search engine human readers. And maybe mutant-human hybrid time travelling blog enthusiasts from the 32nd century. Depending on your blog’s topic or theme, you need a set of keywords to attract the right kind of audience.
I used to base my SEO efforts on the keywords that are already leading readers to my blog. Because I was lazy. Now I’m using tools for keyword research, giving myself better insight into which keywords to use. I make sure that my keywords fit perfectly with my content as opposed to fashioning my content after keywords. Big difference if you care about keeping your readers and not just bringing in new ones.
I’m still not at the point where I’m paying for my SEO tools. If you have the dough to invest in paid SEO software or services, then that’s awesome. But as a beginner, you will find that it’s more efficient to start with highly capable FREE SEO tools. Some of the tools I’m using include Google Analytics (for monitoring the keywords that are bringing in traffic), Google AdWords (for researching keywords to use) and Traffic Travis (for a deeper SEO management experience).
Reading SEO blogs can get very tiring as I found out in the last couple of months when I really cranked up my SEO efforts. This is because different people have different strategies in SEO. On-page and off-page strategies can be implemented in so many ways and not all of them can be effective for you. By experimenting with different strategies, I have concluded that each blog needs its own strategy depending on the target audience, the niche, the type of content and the goal of the blogger.
Trying different SEO strategies while continuously studying different SEO concepts is a great way of establishing your own way of doing things. It will take a while before you see the results of your optimization efforts and it may not even be positive results, but you will learn and eventually become better at it. By employing keyword analysis, on-page optimization and off-page shenanigans, I managed to improve my blog content’s visibility. This is the scientific part of blogging so it requires time, effort, patience, a lot of cursing and some good old-fashioned brain work.
I hope to see you again tomorrow for the fourth and last part of A One Year Experiment in Blogging. We’ll talk about the lessons I learned about social media. And possibly my simmering hatred for Google+’s popularity.