By Guest Blogger, Donna DeClemente, Donna's Promo Talk
Driving Traffic through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was one of the break-out sessions I attended at BlogPaws West in Denver. It was so good I chose it not once, but twice. It was a highly interactive session that included audience participation, so after experiencing the first session on Friday I just had to come back the next day for more.
Mary Archer of Strategic Rankings started off both sessions with her quick SEO Myths Debunked presentation that she has shared with us on her blog. Many of us guessed that most of these statements were indeed true. Download the presentation and you'll see what Mary's dogs, Sadie Lu and Sally Mae, taught us!
Next the real fun began with Stephan Spencer, co-author of The Art of SEO, along with his daughter Chloe Spencer, the Lip-sticking blog's newest guest blogger, took the controls and asked for a volunteer to review their website. They pulled up the pet-care related site from our first victim and started to tell us what could be done to improve it's search rankings. Here are some of my key learning's from the sessions:
Most of the examples of sites from those in the audience showed that they are just using the name of their blog, company or organization. For the majority of sites, unless you have a very popular brand name, this is not the most effective title since people are not searching for your brand. In the case of Lip-Sticking they may be searching for "Marketing to Women Online". So a suggestion would be to change the title tag to include "Lip-Sticking: Marketing to Women Online". I have to speak to Yvonne about this recommendation.
I went to my blog, Donna's Promo Talk, and did just that. I added my tag line to the name of the blog so now instead of it just the name of my blog appearing it reads "Donna's Promo Talk - Promotional Marketing that Creates Excitement and Gets Results". I hopefully will now start to see more traffic from people searching for "Promotional Marketing".
Both the Lip-sticking Blog and Donna's Promo Talk are built on the Typepad platform which doesn't give you the option to change your title tag. It just defaults to the name of your blog, which is why I added words to the name of my blog. WordPress however has a plug-in that can do this that Stephan actually created called SEO Title Tag. This allows you not only to change the title tag of the site, but also any individual pages and every post.
Typepad gives you the option for posts to have the name of your blog before or after the title of the post. I just changed my to have the blog name after the post title. Again, as Stephan had pointed out, more people will be searching for content from keywords in your post then from the name of your blog.
This brings up a great tip we all learned regarding content which is that you should be using relevant keywords in all your blog post titles. They recommended a few keyword research tools that you can use. The one I use that is free is Google Adwords Keyword Tool. One thing that Stephan pointed out about this tool that I haven't been doing is after you type in your keywords and hit search, scroll down and change the default from "broad match" to "exact match". Since the tool is primarily for pay-per-click (PPC) ads, not SEO, broad match doesn't give you accurate traffic volume results. For example, many more searches will include the word "shoes" but a much smaller amount will include the keyword "horse shoes".
Links to your site is another pillar of SEO that was discussed. The more links you have from quality, relevant sites, the higher Google will rank you. To see who is linking to your site you can use Yahoo's Site Explorer. In order to use this free tool you must be logged-in to your Yahoo account. You can change the results to not include links from your own domain so it will give you a more accurate number of in-bound links. My results included many links from Lip-sticking to my blog of course, but I did find many other blogs and sites that are linking to me that I wasn't aware of. You can export this list to an Excel document as well.
Both Stephan and Chloe (who BTW is still a teenager) did a great job presenting at these sessions. Take a quick read over at Chloe's last post, Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling at 16 Years-Old on Lip-sticking to learn more about her. I met Stephan at BlogPaws in Columbus back in April when he presented there as well as several years ago when he came to Rochester to speak at a luncheon sponsored by our local AMA. So it was wonderful to finally meeting Chloe.
These were some of the basics that were covered at BlogPaws and I'm now planning to read more of Stephan's book so I can become somewhat of a SEO expert. Everyone walked away from these two sessions with a few things that they can easily do to help increase their site's search rankings. I hope you also received a few new tips from reading this post. Please feel free to add more!