Let's talk for a few minutes about SEO and why it's important for you. Which it is.
Why are you arguing with me? Stop it. You need SEO like Humpty Dumpty needs some glue. Like Gilligan needs a good boat. Like I need some polish on this old crown.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In regular person speak, it's how well Google, Yahoo!, Alta Vista - whatever your favorite search engine - is able to "see" your blog. Since little tiny people don't actually live inside your computer (no matter what my older boys try to tell the Princess), search engines depend on keywords to determine what a site is about. The better the keywords are - or specifically, the more accurate they are to the content of your site - the more likely a search engine is to find your site when someone types in one of the keywords you've used. A quick example:
Your key words are: crafts, polymer clay, sewing, tutorials, giveaways, contests.
When someone types one of those 6 words into Google (for example), your site will be included in the results.
The trick to choosing good keywords is to use words general enough to catch the general traffic, but specific enough to allow people to know exactly what your site is about.
ART = good general keyword - but term encompasses a wide range
PAINTING = another good keyword - but when used on its own, are you talking about fine art painting - or house painting?
Using ART, PAINTING would be a better combination - if your site includes information about those subjects. It is extremely important to note that "keyword stuffing" is highly frowned upon. When you do that you are using popular keywords to attract a larger audience - but they aren't included in the scope of your site. Driving a large amount of traffic to your site is good - but only if you aren't tricking people in order to get them there. You can think of keyword stuffing like bait-and-switch. And search engines dislike this sort of behavior or manipulation so much, they can and will penalize you for it. So just don't do it.
So how do you know which keywords are both popular and pertain to your site? Because let's face it - unless you are writing for a very specific niche (like people interested in safely splitting atoms with the new, improved Atomahacker 5000 while cross-dressing in their backyard during a full moon) - you want to choose the most popular keywords possible. You may be writing great things about transfer techniques - but if your keywords are: copy, paper copies, ink copies - and everyone else calls it "transfer techniques", your site isn't going show up. Catching on?
There are several sites that exist to help you figure out what search terms are popular. (Did you know, for example, that the most recent update by Google - as of this writing - lists "syphilis" as a more popular search than "passover"??)
Here are a few great sites to learn more about SEO - and to help you discover which terms are most popular. (This information is invaluable.)
- Google AdWords: Keyword Tool Great place to start
- Wordtracker Free keyword suggestion tool
- Google SEO Specifics relating to Google
- Daily Blog Tips The link is to the post "Top 25 SEO Blogs" - but this is a great site for all sorts of info
- Search Engine Watch This link will take you to the "What People Search for - The Most Popular Terms" portion of Search Engine Watch - but while you're there, be sure to take a look at the topics in the left side bar, under Search Marketing Topics - especially here and here. You'll learn a lot.
- Google Zeitgeist An interesting compilation of resources
- SEO Chat Has a tool to show you the most common typos for different keywords
As if this isn't enough for regular people to comprehend, there is also SEM, Search Engine Marketing. I didn't go into that here because even though it goes hand-in-hand with SEO, it is outside the scope of this basic article. If you want to learn more - or have a special interest in marketing, search Google for SEM. You'll find more than you ever wanted to know...and definitely more than I can understand at this point!
If you have any questions, please either leave a comment or email me directly.
And a last point I wanted to make...I never, ever pay for any of this stuff. Almost anything can be found for free on the Internet, if searched for long enough. Granted, I give up some of the perks that come with paid accounts - but that isn't information I'm interested in right now. (I don't even know what most of it does!) Please don't plunk down money for website related info - except for someone to design your site, unless you're well versed in CSS or HTML, and know all the important tricks. (Good site design is worth its weight it gold!) There are lots of companies who promise to help you with SEO - for a fee. I'm not real sure what all these companies do for their fees - but for the regular website or blog, free is all you need. Look at it this way...if you only drove 2 miles to the store, twice a week - and never drove anywhere else - would you buy a Buick or a Ferrari?
Well, I'd want the Ferrari. But then, I'm the Queen. xx