Optimize Your Blog for SEO

Yeah yeah, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and I already said “Optimize” in the title. . .you got me. But read on and you’ll understand why I chose such a seemingly poor title.

Just to start out: this blog does not really kick ass. I started this blog on February 8th of 2011 as an experiment and to share where I hadn’t found the right information online. I’ve used some out of the box thinking on blog traction, and I’ve seen enough sample results to help you with some strategies and tactics on getting content that sticks better.

Early on in the blog, I used a bit of social media to drive traffic to the blog, but since have relied mostly on using topics and content that appeals to people out there searching on Google and the like. Part of my very loose MO on this site is to save people time with content that doesn’t exist elsewhere on the web, and spamming my social media groups to read it didn’t seem to make much sense to me. It may make more sense for you depending on your goals. That all said, one of the cool things with building good content that people need and can find via search engines is that you get a cumulative effect on your work. Content that is interesting in a year will still get traffic and you don’t need a constant churn of wicked blog posts to keep traffic up. So long as you don’t write on topics that become outdated a week after you post them, you can build up some serious traffic to your site and keep lumping more and more traffic on top. If you keep a good amount of content coming out, you’ll see that growth in traffic even if you have absolutely no consistent readers or return visitors. That’s not to say that you don’t need them, but a constant churn of new people seeing your site will help in adding to a good community anyways.

 

The Spring and Summer were a bit flat, and that’s mostly due to a lack of writing on my part and writing the wrong things. Opinion pieces and topics that were too bleeding edge for general consumption just aren’t good topics to write on. I also expect this post to get almost no traffic, because it’s not solving any pain out there for anyone. There’s a double edged sword there: my blog now almost exclusively does single-serving problems, and as such, relies almost entirely on Google for traffic. No one comes back, because I answered their question or gave them enough info about a topic to get them going. Because of the experimental nature of this blog, and the fact that I’m way too lazy to build a community, I’m ok with that.

What Kicked Ass?

  • Writing stuff that people want and actively look for.
  • Doing a bit of keyword research on Google’s Keyword tool before writing a post to see if it was even something that had any demand. (and what kind of things people were interested in with regards to that topic)
  • Use those keywords on your post.
  • Using Microformats in posts. See that huge kick mid-way through December? That’s due to Microformats ninjitsu. Schema.org has a bajillion different microformats.
  • As much as it makes me want to barf: “Community engagement”. You want links to your site? Engage with the communities that care. Some people have had success with Twitter, others with Facebook, others (like myself) directly engaging with other bloggers via commenting. I haven’t done too much of this.
  • Adding alt text to images. Although I get more traffic from regular Google, I get a ton of impressions and a decent amount of visits from Google Images because I properly tag most images. Easy to do with WordPress or any other decent CMS.
  • Adding a YouTube Video. I didn’t do a proper before and after, but my AVX740 review that includes a very short YouTube video gets much more traffic than any other post I’ve done.

What didn’t kick ass?

  • Linking from a Youtube video back to my site. 1,027 Youtube views and only 11 came back to my site? That sucks. If you just want to push a brand, those impressions are still great.
  • Writing position or opinion pieces. With no community, no one gives a shit.

Monetization

I feel like most bloggers aren’t experimenting enough in monetizing their blogs. If you get a decent amount of traffic, there’s nothing wrong with getting a bit of coin back for your hard work. I experimented with several platforms on this site to see which had the most promise, although you should expect that your best method of monetization may differ from mine.

  • Google Adsense. Seems like blog welfare: just enough to get you by, not enough to make it really worthwhile. Unless you write for weird keywords that run in the $10+ category or get bajillions of visitors each month, it’ll be hard to turn a living with these.
  • Amazon Affiliate: This seemed to have the best promise for reviews type websites because you get a cut of any sales you drive for Amazon. I made a token amount of money from Amazon.
  • YouTube Partners: was not accepted 😦
  • Direct relationships with manufacturers and other end users: still the best match of relevancy and value, but don’t sell your sweat and labor for pennies on the dollar. Set up a minimum spend and stick to it. I wouldn’t accept a banner ad for anything less than $1000, because it’s just too big of a pain in the butt to do for anything less. You should have a minimum too. Track clicks out to these guys with Google Analytics Events (using Google Analyticator on WordPress) so you know whether you’re really bringing value for your advertisers. If you are, charge them appropriately.

There you have it. Now SEO your blogs and make some money!

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