SEO (Search Engine Optimization) For Your New Blog or Website

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
Cover book
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.

On RSS Feeds and Email Hackers

One of the things I wanted to discover about the blogging process was: How to set up an RSS feed from my blog to my website. The blog has a link to the website, but I also wanted to have my blog headlines available on the website, in the event a reader happened to that location first.

An RSS feed will make whatever is available on my blog site also available on my website, immediately, as soon as I post something. It’s another way of making it easy for readers. If someone is at all interested in your content, it should be a rewarding experience, easy to go from one place to another. I don’t know about you, but whenever someone is trying to interest me, and I find the site confusing, or unfriendly, it’s a deal-breaker.

I didn’t know much about RSS, and was prepared for a struggle. Sometimes the things you think will be difficult, aren’t. That’s always refreshing. I started with the software I use to build my website. It is hosted by Yahoo and I used their Yahoo Sitebuilder. Sure enough, there was a how-to about it.

RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication, (no, really, it does) distributes your blog headlines and as much content as you want, and presents it in a list. A reader interested in that content can then click the link and go directly to the blog post.

The first step is to identify the feed source. I use WordPress to host my blog, so I then went to WordPress.com to find out about that and it’s the URL of the blog with “/feed/” appended to it. http://www.nameofyourblog.com/feed/.

The second step is to convert the feed. This means finding a site that will create a snippet of JavaScript that you can insert directly into your website HTML. This might sound high tech, but it isn’t really. There were three options: Feedroll, RSS to JavaScript and RSS-Info.com. I chose the second, because I am familiar with JavaScript. It asked for my feed source file name from above, and then I could configure my feed however I wanted. How many items in the list, how many characters of text in each item, things like that. I took the defaults except I chose to display only ten items, and only the first 300 characters of each item. I inserted the name of my feed file and clicked the Generate JavaScript button, which is at the bottom of this screen (not shown).

It created the following JavaScript:

This looks like gobbledygook if you aren’t familiar with HTML but all it did was insert the name of my file, and the options I chose along with the defaults already there, into tags which the browser understands.

It worked the first time. Here is my new page:


That’s the good news about my week.

The bad news is, I had one of my email accounts hacked.

Sometimes, I do things that aren’t smart and I don’t know why I continue to do things that aren’t smart. I allowed my account to be hacked, because I had an email from a person I trusted, but the email wasn’t really from that person. So now people on my contact list are receiving emails that look like they came from me, but didn’t.

When I realized I had been compromised, I quick changed my password. But it is possible that the Bad Ass Spammers (BAS) already had my contact list and had stored those addresses. I don’t know for sure, and it seems as if that was the case because at least two emails went out after I had changed my password.

I have googled this problem until my eyes hurt, but have not really found a solution.

This is an embarrassing thing to have happen to me, because I am in a line of work where I am supposed to know about this stuff, enough at least that I don’t fall prey to BAS.

I ran a full virus scan. I doubt that will do anything, because the emails were sent at a time when my laptop was not turned on. But just in case, what can it hurt? And besides I learned some other good stuff when I did that. Like how to turn off startup programs so the machine boots up faster. That was a nice extra benefit.

I changed my password again. I had previously changed it to one I had used before, so just in case, I changed it to one I had never used. This, too, might not do anything, but can’t hurt.

Third, I deleted everyone in my contact list, except for myself, at another email address, and one from a friend of mine who I knew was no longer using that address and from whom I would get a Mail Delivery error. Then I will know if they are accessing my contact list real time, or using a stored one. This won’t work if they have already stored the addresses, and in fact, if I were a BAS, I guess that’s what I’d do.

Fourth, if none of this works, I am going to call Yahoo, since that’s where the email account is and see if there is anything they can tell me.

I may end up deactivating these accounts, and that may not even work.

The people who do this are ruthless, and cruel, and – what’s the point? We all know what kinds of people they are, they can make more money by being dishonest than they can by any legitimate means. The Bernie Madoffs of the computer industry.

I don’t excuse myself for being sucked in. I just wish it wasn’t necessary to be quite so vigilant.

First Entry – January 9, 2011

First Entry! I’m glad to be here…

I’m new to the blogging world. It’s a little harder than I first thought it would be. I decided to start out simple, maybe progress from there, so it might look different week to week. I hope so, at this point I’m not too sure about anything. Hopefully, it will become easier with time and I’ll figure out how to get neat things on the sidebars. For now, it’s pretty basic, I’m afraid.

A few years back, I decided I’d like to write a book, which is not an uncommon goal. Many people want to and some actually do it. There are more books being written today than at any other time.  I’d thought about it for years, what it would be about, what the characters might be like, where the plot would take the reader. It was to be a story about a group of women, friends who had graduated from high school together, and still live in the same town, and get together once a month at each other’s homes and play a mindless game, of maybe, Bunko. The purpose of the gatherings is not to play Bunko of course, but to gossip and compare notes and outdo each other with fancy margarita recipes.

I didn’t end up writing it, but maybe I will someday. I still like the concept, that the women continue to get together month after month, year after year, because it’s become a habit. Their lives have gone in very different directions and today, many of them would very likely not be friends at all. Some are nicer than others.

I ended up writing a book about a friendship among men instead and the relationships with the women in their lives. Second Stories, which will be available very soon. Before that, I wrote one about a romance that didn’t end properly, Whatever Happened to Lily?, a love affair which left many unanswered questions, and the two people in it hadn’t properly closed the chapter on that time in their lives.

When the books are written, and available on Amazon.com, what comes next? The author must market them, whether s/he publishes in the old traditional way, or in the new traditional way, i.e. self-publishes. The author has exhausted his/her circle of family and friends, so how to break out of that sphere and go, dare I say, viral?

I took an online course called Social Networking for Authors (Beth Barany, it’s well worth it) who shares her tips and tricks. Pick your poison, she says, decide what works for you and concentrate on that. We can’t do everything, after all. I decided to put up a Facebook fan page for my books, and began to tweet some and thought about blogging. I knew if I decided to blog, I had to decide how often I would post, and commit to it. Nothing will discourage readers more than their visiting your blog only to discover it hasn’t been touched in three weeks, after you’d advertised that it would be updated weekly. If it were me, I’d probably take that off my Favorites right then and there.

How many blogs are out there? Millions! Millions of blogs, the number goes up every minute. Who wants to read another one? I’m not sure, I only know what will happen if I don’t try, and that’s… nothing. So I’m committing. It will be a weekly blog, and will be updated at the end of each week. And if there’s an emergency, if I’m in the hospital, or if I have such a case of writer’s block that I’m paralyzed by it, there will at least be an entry to explain it, and beg for forgiveness and to be allowed to remain on your Favorites list a while longer.

The subject matter will, naturally, center on writing, but also on things one degree removed from that, or two, or three. And maybe I’ll write next Christmas when my annual trip to Toys R Us is over, when I haven’t done a good enough job ordering online, and have to actually, venture into that evil, fluorescent den of Chinese-made, overpriced, marketing miracles they call toys these days. Just an example.

Subjects like, listening to music while you write, writing in your head when you can’t be at the computer, things I’ve learned along the way. Maybe I can even help some people. I’d like that. And subjects that interest my target audience, men and women who grew up in the sixties and seventies.

Please comment and come back next week!