June 9, 2011

SEO What

It's never too early to start. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. You may see a lot of ads around the internets for SEO companies that will help you game the system. They understand the value of links to and from your content to work your way through Google's algorithm. Once upon a time it was thought of as narcissistic to Google yourself. Now it's a must.

Go do that right now. We'll wait.

If your website or blog did not come up first, you're doing it wrong. Now granted, some of you may have more competition than others. Once upon a time, there was an English rocker of note with my name and I was appearing on page 6. Now I am the entirety of page 1.

Though that's not entirely honest, is it? Google recently changed its algorithm to personalize search results. Googling the exact same term as you will not yield the same top ten results. So I recommend Googling yourself on a friend's computer (or a coworker's who doesn't have an online history talking to you would be best).

Here's what it comes down to, when an agent Googles your name, you want the first option he/she clicks to be you. Your website, your blog, or at least your Twitter account.

But how, Joe? How do we do this? Links, young man/woman. Links will aid you in your effort. The more (valid) locations linking to your website, the more Google's algorithm thinks your important. (Compound this with the frequency in which you are clicked on after a search and up up up you go!) So you know when you're reading a blog and you see a commenter posting his/her website? That's not just to drive content to their site. It's to improve their SEO as well. Live links (not just the text), leading to your site make it important. That's how unethical SEO companies work so quickly. They set up 175 or so false websites and have all of them link back to you, ratcheting you up the list. Google has taken steps to have such results stripped or at least dropped in ranking. They've added a "relevance" variable, which is why attempting this on your own would be a waste.

Participation is the key! And friendship. People who list your website are helping you. When you list their website, you help them. When you participate, you help yourself and if you participate well, you help the community! It's all interconnected, like on Ferngully.

For me personally, one of the biggest challenges to merging my site and my website is that pages that appear in the top ten results are no longer functional. If an agent were to click on "the Inkwell" for example, they would get a page not found and there's unfortunately no way I can fix it. (This also means older sites and interviews I gave when I was wet(ter) behind the ears are starting to show up on the first page. It takes a lot to kill your history on the internet. Always be mindful of echoes from the past.

So go and be popular, boys and girls! I expect you all to start showing up on the first page of Google results by next month. By next year I want yo to be number one! (Unless you are named after someone famous, in which case find a different way to phrase your online presence so that you might be found.)

Still haven't Googled yourself? I'll make it easy for you. Copy and paste this URL http://lmgtfy.com/?q=joseph+l+selby

Replace "joseph+l+selby" with your own name (and use + signs instead of spaces).

5 comments:

  1. I come up number 1 under Blogs, but number 3 on general web searches, all because there was a guy with my name who worked for the white house and published books on birds. I think if I ever become published I'll blow him off the chart!

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  2. I did SEO work for a bit, and con confirm that incoming links are the most important factor in page rank. Of course, there are a lot of other factors (another big one, which Joe hits, is the domain name matching the search term), and you should try to get all of them. One thing some people get wrong is overloading search terms. There is actually a sweet spot, and more or less than that will decrease your rank.

    Also, Joe, you need to setup redirects for those now defunct pages. Otherwise, you'll lose relevance with Google, and people may give up on getting to your page. Check out HTTP 301 permanent redirects.

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  3. It has returned! Thank you, sir! Also, any suggestion on what the "sweet spot" is for search terms?

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  4. Those are really hard to find. The best first step is to find /what/ key terms you want to use. Go spend several hours playing with Google Adwords' keywords tool; you'll start learning all sorts of interesting things. The most important things to pay attention to, though, are what terms get the most hits, and what types of sites are related to those terms. Sometimes, you will find that what you thought was a good term for your site is more often associated with something completely unrelated to your site. So, play around and find a handful of terms that match your site and get a lot of traffic. Remember, you can only truly optimize for one term, and try to hit a few others at the same time on a secondary basis. Throwing 50 keywords into your header will only make sure you don't show up for any of them (the more keywords you include, the less value they all have).

    You might also want to ditch high-volume terms because of competition factors. If there is too much competition, your competitors will be pumping in a lot of money to grab the first 10 or 20 spots, which you just can't match. If you don't show up in the first 20 spots, it's just not worth even trying. (Something like 95% of all clicks go through the first link, and 99.9% go to the first 10.)

    To your original question, once you know what to optimize for, you need to find out how the top-ranking sites for that term are optimizing their sites. The search engine algorithms are black boxes, so the best you can do is extrapolate based on best performers, then slowly experiment with small changes or, even better, increase number of links in. There are multiple tools out there for analyzing sites, but most of them cost money. There might be a few good freeware programs, but I am too long out of the game to really say.

    ReplyDelete
  5. For some reason, Britt's post keeps disappearing. Here is the text. It is informative. You should read it:

    Those are really hard to find. The best first step is to find /what/ key terms you want to use. Go spend several hours playing with Google Adwords' keywords tool; you'll start learning all sorts of interesting things. The most important things to pay attention to, though, are what terms get the most hits, and what types of sites are related to those terms. Sometimes, you will find that what you thought was a good term for your site is more often associated with something completely unrelated to your site. So, play around and find a handful of terms that match your site and get a lot of traffic. Remember, you can only truly optimize for one term, and try to hit a few others at the same time on a secondary basis. Throwing 50 keywords into your header will only make sure you don't show up for any of them (the more keywords you include, the less value they all have).

    You might also want to ditch high-volume terms because of competition factors. If there is too much competition, your competitors will be pumping in a lot of money to grab the first 10 or 20 spots, which you just can't match. If you don't show up in the first 20 spots, it's just not worth even trying. (Something like 95% of all clicks go through the first link, and 99.9% go to the first 10.)

    To your original question, once you know what to optimize for, you need to find out how the top-ranking sites for that term are optimizing their sites. The search engine algorithms are black boxes, so the best you can do is extrapolate based on best performers, then slowly experiment with small changes or, even better, increase number of links in. There are multiple tools out there for analyzing sites, but most of them cost money. There might be a few good freeware programs, but I am too long out of the game to really say.

    ReplyDelete