The wonderful Tess Kahn (check out her blog How the Cookie Crumbles) suggested I share more about Search Engine Optimization or SEO as the cool internet cats call it. I’m a total greenhand at this so I’m learning as I go in my WordPress class. From my personal experience I know the best way to master something is to have to teach it. Thus her idea is an excellent one.
You know when you want to find something on the web you go to a search engine to look for it? Most of the world turns to Google but other power players are Yahoo, Bing, Ask, etc. When searching you enter key words about the thing you want to read about. Say you were wanting to know how to groom your pet rock – you might try “groom pet rock” or maybe “pet rock grooming” instead of asking a full question as if you are on Jeopardy. Those are the key words of the search.
Now let’s imagine you are keeping a blog on the adoption, training, and care of pet rocks. You’d want to be there on the top of the first page of that search wouldn’t you? I mean here’s a fellow pet rock lover that wants to groom their rock appropriately! Being aware that one important set of key words for your blog is pet rock – you’d want to be sure to use those words in your tag line, text of some posts, titles, permalinks, image descriptions, image alternate text, tags and categories. Not that you need to make sure every one of those has it every single time but use it naturally. Maybe when your are tempted to say domesticated stones you might consider using the term pet rocks instead.
So now we sit here with our Pet Rock blog how do the search engines find us so that person looking for grooming tips knows about. This is where very powerful programs with lots of magic (okay it’s not magic it’s code) goes out and looks for sites that use that word, have links to that word, use that word on the backside of stuff (areas programs see but not people so much), that is linked to from other sites previously marked as good pet rock sites. That’s where this link comes in to play. That’s the one my professor shared with us as a good tool to see our website as search engines see it.
Search engines don’t go out and index just when queried. Instead they are constantly spidering out over websites and indexing them. That way when someone asks about pet rock grooming it goes to the index and pulls up what it has found as well as running quick queries out to previously good sources and their links.
Let’s think about that for the Pet Rock Blogging Bloke – he’d want pet rock there in his top five results. That would mean whenever anyone searched for something with the phrase pet rock his site would quickly appear in the search. Now what else he’d want there might be pet rock adoption, pet rock care, Blogging Bloke, and maybe his Pet Rock Shop’s name. So if anyone searched on any combo of those words he’d be at the top of the indexed results.
Blogging Bloke doesn’t want to hammer his visitors over the head with repeated use of the same phrases. That gets annoying and honestly the search engine spiders are programmed to discount over use of a term in certain areas. So you can’t just make a post of repeating your 5 keywords over and over to pump up your indexing on those issues. However using them well in the back areas can do that for you.
Remember I did a post explaining what title, alternate text, caption, and description do in the uploaded image menu? Well here’s another use for Description and Alt Text – putting in your key words. Search Engine spiders read these fields but most readers don’t see/hear them. Do keep in mind the Alternate Text is used by screen reading programs used by the visually impaired. You can use your phrases here that apply to the image and it’s an extra boost to your indexing.
Okay if you are WordPress user you recognize this as the dashboard side of WordPress.com. Here we are in the update post screen. Look at the yellow there below the title, that’s the permalink. (you can click on the image to enlarge if you are like me with reading small print). That is what shows up in the address bar of a browser. By default WordPress sets this to reflect what you name your post. You can change this to better reflect keywords of the post. There just past the yellow is the edit button click on it and delete the title from open text box. Then you want to put in keywords that you think would be used to search for a post like this. Here in this case I put the museum’s name and location. Remember urls can’t have spaces put an underscore (_) where you’d normally put a space. Then save the change you made and there it’s got the keywords and now your title catches readers while your url or Permalink catches search engines.
This is getting long so in another post sometime in the next week we’ll talk about how to determine what keywords are best for you. That’s really what I’ve been puzzling over for myself. I’ll use me as a guinea pig for that post as I work through just how I want to better define my blog and website.