Once your blog or website is established, how do you generate traffic to it?
Here’s what I’ve learned so far, and more will come, as I get better at SEO. I thought I’d publish this in a learn-as-I-go mode, so anyone who is just starting out can take advantage of what I’ve learned. I’m a beginner too, and I’ve been interested in this topic – Search Engines and how they work – and have done some research. If you need further information, there are hundreds of blogs and articles about it, but I found very few that weren’t over my head.
The first thing I discovered is, you can’t rush it. Search Engines take their own sweet time getting to know you, that is, your site or blog. They will not be forced or manipulated into recognizing you before they are good and ready. But once they’ve crawled around a few times and see your site, they’ll start to recognize you and examine your content.
Make your titles, descriptions and keywords relevant to your content. Keywords aren’t as important as they used to be, but they’re still helpful. Your pages should have titles which match what people are searching for. Put the most important words first. I chose “SEO (Search Engine Optimization) For Your New Blog or Website” for the title of this post, because “SEO” is what most people will probably search for, and if not, they’ll spell it out – “Search Engine Optimization”. I might have liked to call it “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about SEO” but that puts the important part too far back in the title. Get it out there. One, two. SEO and Search Engine Optimization. That’s what this is about. But the whole title will be displayed, so I hope people who are beginners, like me, will see the “For Your New Blog or Website” part, and think “that’s for me” and click on it.
You can’t fool Mr. Search Engine. Years ago, you could, by establishing hundreds of keywords, and they didn’t even have to have anything to do with your content. That’s why back then sometimes you’d search for the most innocent of topics and porn sites would appear. That didn’t last too long, and once you’ve been banned by Mr. Search Engine, you’re pretty much finished with that site. There’s no way to redeem yourself. You’re banned, banished, and you have to start over.
I have no idea how they do this, but the web crawlers examine your pages, and what is on those pages, and they will know if you’re trying to pull a fast one. So don’t do it. But if it crawls over your site and decide it likes what it sees, it will store information about your site that will be used when users search for topics that it thinks are related.
So your content is ready, and you have a good title and an accurate description and a few keywords, and you’ve waited the allotted amount of time. You can now start searching to see how your site fares. Of course, it’s a chicken-and-egg thing because the more people who visit your site, the better your statistics will be, and the more Mr. Search Engine will love your stuff. So it’s a slow process, and patience is absolutely required here. There is absolutely nothing you can do to speed it up, or guarantee first page prominence. It’s out of your hands.
I, personally, am not burning up the airwaves with the number of hits I’ve had on either my website or my blog. Depending upon a number of other things (i.e. the weather, my mood, whether it is a full moon or not), I alternately stomp around and slam doors and say to myself, Screw This. Other days, I shrug and think, oh well, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. Everyone says it won’t be overnight. I have never been a particularly patient person, so this second alternative is sometimes a challenge, but I’ve become a bit better at the patience thing, at least as far as blogging is concerned.
One interesting thing I’ve noted is the blog post I did called “Design Your Own Book Cover”, has been my top read post. I can see statistics at WordPress.com, which is where my blog is hosted. I can’t see who is clicking, but I know for any given day, what blog posts were read, and how the posts themselves were reached. And one really helpful thing is that if my blog was reached because it was searched for and clicked on via a search engine, they tell me what search criteria was entered.
So it’s interesting but I see some very strange search criteria used. Here are the top search criteria used which directed people to the Design Your Own Book Cover post:
Black book covers with flowers
Black background designs for photo-editing
Design your own book cover
Sun shining clouds
Black design page background book spine
Special background roses
I used both Google and Yahoo search engines, and searched for all these terms. I went through 10 pages of results for each. I don’t know about you, but I rarely navigate off the first page when I search for something. I figure if it isn’t on the first page, it can’t be anything I’m looking for. So after going through all of these search terms, only one – “design your own book cover” – actually showed up for me. It showed up on page 1 (Yay !!!) on Yahoo and page 6 on Google.
How did these people ever get to my site based on these other search criteria? I confess, I can’t answer it. I’m still researching. But what it did show me, was that “Design Your Own Book Cover” worked.
I think probably people don’t care what my views are on euphemisms, and clichés, and corporate buzzwords. What they are looking for is something that will help them, or answer some questions. So I should probably stick to that.
Picking the right titles and keywords: I have always titled my genre “Baby Boomer Fiction”. I figured that was a good, meaningful description, so I used that as my title, and as keywords. I googled “Baby Boomer Fiction” and, whoa, I’m on Page 1 for both Google and Yahoo. That’s got to be good!
Not so fast. I then heard about a cool tool called Google Ad Keywords. You enter keywords to see how many searches there actually were for those keywords. Look at this!
Gah! No one has searched for baby boomer fiction. Not one search. No wonder my blog and website come up on the first page, there is no competition, because no one else is using these keywords. And the reason no one is using them is because no one is searching for them!
So I checked results for different, closely related keywords.
These are the results:
It appears “books about baby boomers” is being searched for a decent number of times and when I see the list of topics that is returned, I think it is appropriate for my books. I have updated my blog and website titles and keywords accordingly. We’ll see. I’ll have to wait until the engines crawl again, and get my updates, to determine if it made any difference.
I’ll be monitoring these changes closely. And I’ll be sure to let you know!
I’d like to hear from you.