Author’s Note: This is Part II of this particular post. For How to Write Posts People Will Read (Part I) click here.
The Evolution of Search Engine Optimization
Alright, so you’ve written a great post, the most interesting article that anyone will ever read. You’ve taken the time to lay it out just so, picked your fonts carefully, adjusted your line height and margins perfectly. Now how the hell do you get people to get to your site? Let me tell you, it’s tough.
The days of trying to scam google and other search engines are over.
A little history first… In the old days of SEO people would load their site with random keywords that they wanted to rank high on. They would cram them every place imaginable. If you’ve ever seen a “tag cloud” or a “geo block” you know what I’m talking about. Others would create entire fake blogs filled with keyword-laced pseudo-english posts. Then of course they would tack a link to the site they were actually trying to get traffic on. I’m sad to say people are still doing this. But…
The great news is this, the days of trying to scam google and other search engines (Yes, other search engines exist. I know this may come as a shock to you.) are over. Google is onto your little games. You know what Google really wants? Content. Relevant Content. If you want to rank highly for 17th century paintings then write about 17th century paintings. A lot. It’s a novel idea, I know. But here’s the thing Google’s real end game is to provide the consumer with the content that is most relevant to what they were looking for. It’s looking for good, quality articles. Gone are the days of keyword spamming; In fact, that can actually hurt you now.
A Basic Lesson in SEO
I’ve been doing this web design thing for a while now; most of my adult life actually. It’s gotten to the point where I can no longer not build a site that is SEO optimized. First of all, why would I want to? Second, it’s really not that hard. Seriously. If you know some basic html it’s even easier. And if you know how to build a website from scratch it is unforgivable to not build it correctly. So, here are some quick tips to get you started:
- Page Position Matters: This one is pretty simple, the higher on the page an element is, the higher it’s importance to search engines. Things that should be at the top of your page: Your name/Company Name, Navigation/Menu, and that’s it. Maybe a phone number or address if you are trying to get conversions (phone calls and/or in-person visits). (side note: I realize it looks like I’m breaking my own rule with this site, but in my code everything in the sidebar over there is actually at the top. Nifty trick eh?)
- Links Are Important: Anything on your page that links anywhere is important in the eyes of a Search Engine. This means any external links to other websites as well as internal links that stay on your site. Ever wonder why there aren’t many news articles that link to other blogs? It’s because they don’t want to give that other blog a boost in SEO.
- Backlinks Are Even More Important: Backlinks are links to your website from another website. When a Search Engine see these links it thinks, “Gee this site thinks Jeff-Putnam.com is a good authority on this subject, I should rank that site higher.” So get your link out there. A good way to do that? Write good posts that other people will link to.
- Get Your Headers Sorted Out: In web design/development there is a built-in headline hierarchy. There are html tags for Headline 1 – Headline 6. Headline 1 or <h1> should always be your post title. Headline 2 or <h2> can be used as a section title. Headline 3, <h3> a sub-section title…. and so on and so forth. I rarely go lower than headline 3. Content in headlines is going to be more important that content in your paragraphs.
Get Out There and Promote!
The final nugget of knowledge I’ll leave you with is this: If you want people to read your blog they need to be aware that it exists! As such, you need to become a social media mogul. You know those annoying people in your Facebook feed that post inane things constantly? You need to become that person. Hopefully your blog isn’t inane though.
Limiting your reach to just Facebook isn’t enough though. Post your blog on Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit… Hell, take a picture of it and post it on Instagram! More people seeing your social media sharing equals more possible visitors.
Another avenue to take is to let other blogs know that your blog exists. If they’re willing to mention you then you can get a quick boost in visitors, especially if it is a well-known blog. In a similar vein, try posting on forums. Yes, they still exist. I was amazed to find out as well.
That’s All Folks!
By no means is this the be-all and end-all post in relation to driving traffic to your blog, but it’s a good overview. It’s a jumping-off point. I’ll probably write even more on this topic in the future. Maybe do an entire article on each of the sub-sections I laid out here. Basically, what I’m saying is, I’m tired of writing… So until next time!