Awhile back, I wrote about what it takes to start your own blog. Unless your blog is only meant for your private circle of readers, in most cases, you’ll want people to read what you have penned down, and even make some money from it.
The most effective way to do that is to get it listed in Search Engines.
It’s safe to say that Google today IS the dominant search engine, with Yahoo and Microsoft a distant 2nd and 3rd place. Sites both large and small I’ve worked with all point to Google bringing in 60-70% of all search engine traffic. Even this humble blog that I maintain gets about 64% of traffic straight from Search Engines (for the month of Nov 08). Of that, 97% was straight Google organic search referrals.
So, it would be safe to say, if you want your blog to be noticed and read by the general public, aim to get it listed in Google!
If you’re clueless about SEO and how to go about getting your site/blog listed? Well, thankfully, Google released a Google SEO starter guide recently. Go grab yourself a copy of the 22-pager PDF and start reading.
But before you dig deep into the guide, there are a few things you should keep in mind…
1. Google ranks individual web pages, not the site. No longer do people arrive on your homepage and click from there. So it’s not enough just to push your homepage out and call it a day. You need to pay attention to every page. Just treat every page as a potential “landing page” that users will arrive on.
2. Google internally will work out whether your site is “trustworthy”, and this is done by looking at (but limited to) 2 main factors – the age of your domain, which shows how stable your site is; and links from other sites, which are essentially votes of confidence.
3. For new or small sites, the “on-page SEO”, which are the optimizations you as a webmaster can perform on your site only accounts for 20% of the ranking equation. This means that 80% of the ranking power comes from “off-page SEO”, ie stuff you have limited or no control over such as who links to you.
If you haven’t done SEO on your site or you’re about to start your new blog and you want to build it with SEO in mind. Here are some “must-haves” you should focus your attention on:
1. Pay attention to your Title Tags and Meta Data. This is probably the most important aspect of on-page SEO you can do, because your page title and the meta description you put in are what gets displayed on the Google search results page. The keywords you use in your Title Tag are indicators to Google about what your content on that page is all about. Read “Create unique, accurate page titles” (page 2) and “Make use of the “description” meta tag” (page 4) of the guide.
2. Write quality and unique content. Today, this aspect is ever more important than it used to be, with the arrival of personalized search and SearchWiki. Good original content will be what brings users back to your blog again and again. Read “Offer quality content and services” (Page 11).
3. Tell people about your new content. There are many ways you can promote your site to the masses – some methods require using money (like taking out an advertisement), while others require little or no money at all. The method that has worked well for me for this site, is submissions to social bookmarking sites, and tutorial listing sites. The key is in understanding what kind of niche you are writing for, and target bookmarking sites which focus at that niche. Read “Promote your website in the right ways” (Page 20)
4. Lastly, make use of available tools. The two most important tool I use are Google Webmasters Tools, and Google Analytics. Tools have you to understand the “health” of your site. They are my best indicators of whether things are going ok or heading towards a disaster. Read “Make use of free webmaster tools” (Page 21).