So you’ve started your new blog on “Jimothy’s witty little witticisms” or “Mary’s cake bakery” or “Annie’s Arts and Farts”. You’ve crafted the pages, blood sweat and tears to get it up and running. Toiled for hours, days, weeks, over a hot digital camera. Your brain is exhausted from putting all your witty little ditties in print. You’ve been round every shoe shop in a 100 mile radius to get a picture of those killer shoes. And now you have a “blog”, a “website”, an “online shop”, looks fantastic, content is awesome. Hmmm, but I’ve only had 6 pageviews in my stats and that was my mum looking at it. You are not alone, anyone, well I mean everyone that’s ever had a website has been there, had a great idea, wanted to share it, and bam, no one comes to visit. It’s a bit like all those independent shops, cafes, restaurants that have no customers, we’ve all walked or driven past and felt a bit sorry for them really. Only the genuinely cruel hearted would get pleasure out of seeing someone not succeed.
The Bad News
Sorry to break it to you, but the real work has only just started. Promoting your internet “presence” is as much or more work than the actual website itself. If you’re work-shy or lazy, then I reckon, probably stop reading here, being a contender on the internet probably isn’t for you. You need to treat it like a business, and most businesses don’t exist without marketing and promoting themselves. Maybe 20 years ago Google would have been all over you like a rash, but now is now and it’s very competitive, unless you’re Leda Monster Bunny… Simple honest plain truth.
The Good News
Ah, so you’re the one who reads my posts, well lucky you. The good news is that there are a million and one ways to promote your internet presence, will take time and effort, or perhaps time, effort and money, but you can succeed. First step is to bring yourself out of ignorance, which is why you are here reading this. And second step is to start getting the creative muscle flexing for thinking of ideas, promoting yourself will take a lot of ideas. I’m not going to and can’t do it for you, but I can point you in the right direction … see my slogan about “teach a man to fish”
Google I believe has around 80% of the search traffic worldwide going through its computers, so they are important for anybody interested in promoting their website, blog, e-shop etc. Google aren’t primarily a charity they are in business and businesses are set-up to make money, that’s their purpose. Google’s job is to find “content” that suits what you seem to be searching for. As things have become more and more commercial, there is this constant conflict between Google wanting to make money and having to do the job that we visit their search engine for. Amusing for me, a little paradox for them, between doing what it says on the tin vs lining their pockets
Cynic alert:) It’s a harsh reality but Google don’t really give a flying funk about you or your website or your content. What they are concerned with is making money, and keeping their searchers happy. If your content makes them money or keeps their searchers happy then welcome to the club, if not then don’t be offended but they don’t care. Google ARE fickle and arrogant – you can be number one one day and nothing the next, literally. Only way to be sure to be at the top is to dip your hand into your pocket, and your pockets may have to be quite deep.
Anyhow, assuming you are still interested in being on Google’s wonderful index …
Google has three basic types of search results :
1. So called “Organic” results. These are based on what Google find on any particular web page, and ranked based on things like keywords and how many other websites link to that particular web page. I’m coming back to this.
2. AdWords adverts, so-called Pay-Per-Click (PPC). These are the paid listings that one finds at the top and side of Google search results page. Businesses use AdWords to list their wares here, they pay every time someone clicks on their link and they have already set a “bid” in an “auction” that determines how high they rank.
AdWords maybe an applicable promotional strategy for you, but can get expensive fast. Some of the keywords can cost £1, £2, £5 or more per click, and that can get real expensive really quickly. Also Google in my experience are slow to review Adverts and if your website/landing page doesn’t meet their quality standard, you’ll either, not get your adverts shown or your bids will have to be higher. So if you’re wanting to go this route then make sure you read Google’s standards for landing pages for AdWords advert, before investing hours in your AdWords website. Also as your landing page could still get reviewed by a real live human being, you could still end up with a low quality score even if you’ve followed their standards. I might do a post on AdWords later.
3. Adsense adverts. These are the paid listings we find on other websites that are not Google’s. The advertisers on the AdWords program, have the option of appearing in the Adsense ads. The same principles apply for bidding for clicks as the AdWords program.
Adsense can be a way for making money from your website or blog. Accounts on Adsense are hard to get these days. Google want high quality website, with constant traffic, that’s been around a while, to approve an account. You’re welcome to try your newly setup website with no traffic, and I’d like to be wrong, but I think you’ll most likely get turned down. I might do a post on Adsense later.
Organic Search Results
Mainly I’m writing this about the Organic search results. So, from scratch, what do we need to know and do to get listed and how to promote your site on Google ?
First let me clear up a few things …
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is making your web pages so that they rank as high as possible for what you’d expect people to be searching for to find your webpage. Key words are important because it’s the words that Google will process in order to put a searcher onto your webpage.
What’s Black Hat and White Hat SEO?
White Hat is the type of SEO that Google and most other people deem ethical, ie not cheating. This article will cover White Hat SEO topics.
Black Hat is the type of SEO that Google and most other people deem unethical, ie cheating. This article won’t cover Black Hat SEO topics.
What is Meta, Meta-tags etc ?
I really have never been fond of the word “meta”. I’ve been aware of its existence since my University days, for whatever reason didn’t like it then, don’t particularly like it now. However it’s widely and commonly used, so understanding what it means, helps to get on.
Meta means simply information about something.
If we take an “Orange”, it’s meta information could be, “Orange in colour”, “Leathery skin”, “Sweet Tasting”, “Citrus Fruit”, they are all information about an Orange.
A tag is simply what’s used in the code (HTML) that’s underlying any webpage. Tags tell the Browser, Chrome, Firefox etc what to do with the with Text, Links, Pictures and meta information. For instance <H1>THIS IS A MAIN HEADING</H1>, tells the browser that the text “THIS IS A MAIN HEADING”, is a main heading and the browser will make big and bold.
I know some/many of you aren’t coders so I’ve made this as simple as I can. If we go back to our “Orange”, say we have a webpage called Orange.html, it might look something like this :
<html> <head> <meta name="Keywords" content="Orange in colour, leathery skin, sweet tasting, citrus fruit" /> <meta name="Description" content="all about Oranges" /> </head> <body> <H1>This is my page about Oranges.</H1> Oranges are orange in colour, have a leathery skin, are sweet tasting and a citrus fruit. They grow best in warmer climates. They contain a lot of Vitamin C, which is vital to human immune system and without it humans can develop a disease called scurvy. Similar to the Orange is the Lime fruit. British sailors discovered that by eating Limes they could prevent themselves from getting scurvy. This is why in some parts of the world the British are called "Limeys". </body> </html>
So imagine the scenario, YOU DO NOT KNOW what an Orange is, you know it’s orange in colour, tastes citrusy like a lemon and that it’s a fruit. So you might go to Google.com and put “orange coloured citrus fruit”, and then bang up comes our webpage Orange.html in Google’s search results. That’s about the size of it, well, simplified anyway.
More on tags
One important thing here is the line:
<meta name="Keywords" content="Orange in colour, ... etc
For WordPress blog we have “Tags” which is an equivalent thing. The keywords placed here are important to Google, I understand that the first 65 characters are especially important. These keywords are the keywords that you’d expect your potential readers to searching on Google for. So keywords on a webpage and tags on a blog are IMPORTANT, and you should think carefully what you put there. Think about what people might be searching for, what are the KEYwords that they might use.
Also highlighted words in your
<H1>, <H2>, <H3> tags (in WordPress Heading 1,2 and 3 in formatting) will make those words have more importance when Google scans your page. So choose your headings carefully.
The Subject of Blog Post aka Headline
For bloggers, the Subject of your blog article which will end up with a <H1></H1> tag around it, so it is important. Not just for Google, but to attract a potential reader’s attention enough for them to read your post. You might get a few reads with “Oranges”, but you might get a lot more reads with “Orange sex scandal” or “Oranges found on the moon”, be creative but obviously make the subject relevant to what you’re writing or you’ll just end up annoying people.
I’d suggest, putting a preliminary Subject up when you start writing your blog post, keep coming back to it as the blog post emerges on your screen, by the time you’ve finished your post, so should your Subject be finished also. Don’t forget to change the “Permalink” in the editor to be the same as the subject, this will help with your SEO.
Publishing “unique content” is the stock advice. That is articles and pages that aren’t found elsewhere on the internet, not in those exact words anway. Unique content doesn’t have to be well structured or even readable by humans, you could use an article spinner. However Google do record statistics on how long people spend on webpages and whether they continue to explore your site or whether they just bounce back out again. So a bunch of gibberish trawled and then spammed with a thesaurus, could help you get found, but in the long term may not help you that much.
I’ve started to diverge into Black Hat SEO, so I’ll diverge back again into White Hat.
Content does get distributed these days, reblogged, rewrites are common, so I’d personally take the “unique” content with a pinch of salt. Doesn’t hurt to reblog some articles now and again, especially if they are very relevant to what your site is about. Reblogging can help promote someone else’s blog and creates links, potentially reciprocal, which is covered later.
A couple of options for actually writing your own content :
1. Write your content with your keywords already in mind and just weave them in as you write.
2. Write your content and let the keywords emerge. Once you’ve finished your content, re-read and edit including more occurrences of keywords and/or the keywords closer together.
Obviously you can go overboard with stuffing a page full of keywords, this might help temporarily in getting found, but the rub is that Google will see searchers bouncing off your page and your 15 minutes of fame will be over !
Personally content farms just annoy me as they waste my time. I remember a site called informer. Google for reasons best known to themselves had them listed on 100s or 1000s of 1st pages on Google. The site was entirely created from words trawled and spun from elsewhere. Obviously if I’m looking for an app to download, I reach the informer site, and there is gibberish posted everywhere, a bunch of adverts and no download link, it’s annoying. When I search again for a different app and find the same crappy website on page 1, with the same deal, I just start to ignore it and hope that Google will eventually remove it. It’s still around and I think they may have cleaned up their act. But guess what, I will never ever visit their site.
Images for SEO
I’d read this advice many times in different articles, different sources, not really paid attention to it much apart from spamming my keywords into the “alternative text” field for images. That is until I started getting traffic from one of my images on my blog.
I did a short post – Why is it Called an iPod ? and included in that post is an image, it’s filename something like “evolution of the iPod”. I wasn’t expecting this to be of any significance until I started getting highly ranked in Google for the query “Evolution of the iPod”, and the IMAGE labelling is the connection.
So please do name your files meaningfully. I know it’s boring but you need to fill in your Title, Description, Alternate text, it matters. Also please feel free to put your keywords into the alternate text, along with your brand name if you’re trying to promote a brand, along with your image’s title.
Links tell Google that other people think your webpage is worth visiting, it’s a kind of “social proof” for websites. Ah so abc.com and xyz.com and bla.com all reckon doncharisma is worth a visit, hmm must be a cool site. Reciprocal linking is a good idea since it says that you are considering each other equals as opposed to admirer and admired.
WordPress happily takes care of linking to followers and the followed with widgets so good idea to add these to your blog. Personally I like having my own links to followers, so have created a link category “links” and added my followers here. This gets hard to manage after the first few hundred, so I’m working on automating this, and hope to post about this later.
For the links you place in your articles, you can use a keyword for the text of the link, which will help you in your SEO.
In order to get other people to link to you, a good place to start is the free directories that are online. It took me ages to find this, but here’s the “TOP 100 FREE DIRECTORY LIST” …… ENJOY !
Adding your website to directories is time consuming and boring let’s face it. But it will help your rankings on Google. Be prepared to put your website into a Category, which varies from directory to directory and also a short, a medium and a long versions of a description, including your keywords.
Get Google Webmaster Tools Done as EARLY as possible
In order to “be on” Google, you need to submit your site for Google to take their sweet time indexing it and including it. This takes time, exactly how much depends on Google, but it’s like days or weeks, not seconds and minutes. So DO THIS FIRST, as soon as you’ve got your blog or domain name and basic one page website.
You will need a sitemap.xml. This file tells Google’s bot that visits your website a bit about your site, which pages to index and not. WordPress does this automatically for you, it’s blogname.wordpress.com/sitemap.xml and blogname.wordpress.com/news-sitemap.xml. You will probably need to tell Google where the sitemap file is in Webmaster Tools.
Once you’ve signed up for Google Webmaster Tools, you’ll need to verify your site. There are a number of different ways to do this, with WordPress it’s in your Dashboard->Tools->Available Tools. You’ll need to copy and paste the code that google gives you :
<meta name='google-site-verification' content='dBw5CvburAxi537Rp9qi5uG2174Vb6JwHwIRwPSLIK8'>
Be patient as it doesn’t seem that WordPress or Google update immediately, may take some seconds or a few minutes before it will verify.
Once your site is verified, go straight to “Crawl->Fetch as Google” in your Webmaster tools. and you will need to do a “URL and linked pages”. Only please do this once, as you have a limited number of these you can do. If you’re in no hurry to get included in Google, omit this step and save save your Fetches as Google for later.
Side note: Bing also have a Webmaster Tools, you can also sign up with them to get included in Bing and Yahoo.
The basics covered, now some more advanced stuff
These I’ve included as nice to have for later, probably not required straight away. Thing is to try and take up as much space on Google listing as possible. Please bear in mind that Google will only give you some of this stuff if you actually have content on your site(s) and you are getting traffic. So how can we do this ?
A Google+ page can be linked to your blog or website, so that you get this kind of entry on Google. Dan Lepard (BBC Food), now has 5 lines on a Google result instead of usual 4, plus a picture. This will be massive in terms of getting more clicks.
Google Webmaster tools – Data Highlighter
Another way to gain space on Google results is to use the Data Highlighter in Google Webmaster Tools. Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel has 7 lines on Google:
Reason I mention this is that Data Highlighter has a tool for Articles, maybe use this with WordPress blog posts ?
I wanted to write an article as a bit of revision for myself and as a not exhaustive basic guide on getting started promoting yourself on Google. I haven’t covered every single aspect, I’d expect you to do this yourself anyway, but should have enough here to get started, and some new ideas on which to build.
Side Note: Sex Sells – If all else fails stick some pictures of Leda Monster Bunny on your site. I don’t know much about her, but I do know that she has 100000’s of hits on YouTube, for not much more than being “pretty”. For those of us that have to work hard at promoting ourselves, it’s challenging not to feel just a little envious of someone who has not much more talent than dying her hair, lucky in the gene pool and an extensive collection of cosmetics. Whoops, sorry, I let the cynic out again !
Google like websites that get traffic. If they list you and you get real traffic then you will stay higher up their listings. You are also more likely to be eligible for the Google+ and the Data Highlighter enhancements, and others like it. Really you have to just keep at it as all of this takes effort and time, but will pay off eventually.
Getting listed and a decent rank on Google can help your site get visited, which is what you wanted when you set up the site. It’s important to be aware of what Google is looking for so that they can include you in their results. If anything is most important it is getting your Webmaster tools set up as early as possible.
Writing good quality content, headlining your subjects well, working effectively with your keywords, linking and being pedantic about labelling your images should all help you in your quest for Google fame-dom.
There are many many ways that you can promote your site on Google, be creative and find out what they are. Try them, some will work and some may not, this is how marketers and promoters become successful, by just thinking of new ideas and keeping on trying.
Thanks for being erm, erm, hmm, pretty, Leda Monster Bunny, love you !