SEO and so what?

In my work as a technical editor working on marketing campaigns for new inventions, SEO is considered an important part of the job. I’m beginning to see how important it is to blogging, too.

I admit it: Before I worked in marketing, I had no idea what SEO was or why it was so significant. Search Engine Optimization — the buzz word and goal in my business. To the victor — the one who rises to the top of the search engine results — go the spoils.

SEO_image_2
Food for thought: Adding a caption to the images you use in your blog posts increases SEO.

But it goes against my grain. Sort of. I mean, I want people to find my blog and, more important to me, find something worth finding. Search engines “crawl” all over websites and glean information — words, titles, images, links, words used in links, and so much more — and rank web pages using complicated algorithms that are constantly changing. As this short video on SEO indicates, search engines are like the librarians of the world wide web, “reading” through all the content in every “book” and knowing how that book relates to topics and other books so they can recommend specific “books” to those searching. It’s complicated stuff. Search Engine Land offers a variety of SEO tips for beginners, starting with the super basics and advancing to an entire “Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors.” Heady information, although I must say I prefer their SEO version to the periodic table of elements I had to use in chemistry classes.

You can read all about SEO 101 on More Visibility’s site. Your writing doesn’t just have to be good, it has to be relevant. If no one is searching for the type of content you are providing, then it really won’t matter if you have titles that relate your exact content or if you have a zillion uses of specific keywords. In addition, your website needs to be optimized for mobile views, called “responsive design.” WordPress discusses that in this post about mobile-optimized websites.

At work, I am trying to market technologies that vary from gene therapy to phone apps. (That web page on our site, by the way, still lacks mobile optimization; we are working on it!) Companies interested in specific keywords can easily locate our descriptions because we write our headlines and content hyper aware of SEO. We use keywords in the headlines and throughout the body, even if it seems repetitive. We use keywords rather than acronyms or synonyms, even when those keywords are a bit cumbersome.  Sometimes the writing might seem a bit dull or technical. That might be because I am a technical editor working marketing campaigns for inventions that are complicated and technical and require the ability to translate science speak into business speak, not poetry or clever creativity.

So I save my artistry for my personal blog.

But that means I want to use creative titles that are catchy and only hint at post content instead of using the keywords that an information-seeking person might use in a web search. It also means I write what I am mulling in my brain, not finding ideas that are trending and writing about them. And since I write about life — more specifically, the life experiences I encounter — I am not locked into one subject area, making it difficult to be a subject-matter expert or an attraction for one specific audience, both a bit important for SEO.

I’ve discovered a free online tool that will analyze my site’s SEO. This SEO Analyzer not only gives me a score but indicates strengths and weaknesses, presumably so I can make changes. Today my score is a whopping 66 out of 100. Not acceptable.

However, I am reminded nearly every day that I can adjust little things to better optimize my site. All I have to do is look at my stats page for my blog. Years ago, I wrote a post as a parting farewell to a colleague. I titled it “Saying goodbye to a colleague…” and then added a heading in the body of my post that said “but not to a friend.” The month I wrote it, the post got 60 views. That was toward the end of May 2013. Nearly every day someone accesses that post, and that post has been viewed nearly 1,500 times.  Twice just yesterday. Why? Search terms. “Farewell speech colleague teacher.” “A beautiful parting words for colleague at graduation.” “Farewell speech including teachers and frends.” (Those are some of the search terms used this past week, misspellings and all.)

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Stats for “Saying Goodbye to a Colleague,” evidence that titles matter.

Unfortunately, I don’t write titles laced with keywords often enough. I prefer clever. However, if you checked out the link to the WordPress article mobile optimization, you might have noticed that the title of the post “Creating a Mobile-Optimized Website with WordPress” is quite different from what is indicated in the link: https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/mobile-optimized-website/. By default, the part of the link text I made red is the actual title of your post — for me, the creative, not usually SEO-friendly title. But you can create a “slug” instead, depending on the platform you use, that does include keywords. (Check out how I am handling this very post you are reading. Title: SEO and so what? — because it is so darn catchy; Slug: blog-search-engine-optimization.)

slug_vs._title_
I can have my cake and eat it too… or have my creative post title and use a slug for SEO.

This month, I’ve been participating in NaBloPoMo, which means I’ve been awakening early to write, using my lunch breaks at work to write, and otherwise making post-writing rather than SEO a priority. I’m thinking next month I might focus on SEO a bit — while still trying to generate a goal number of posts per week. (I haven’t decided what that goal number will be yet, and I have two more days to think this through.)

Last week, I was editing what in work jargon we call a “technical opportunity sheet” (a marketing sheet that talks about both the invention and the inventors). I noticed that the lead inventor had a terrible photograph and a scant bio. Typically, we try to run a 90-word bio with a nice profile picture of each inventor. My immediate impression was that this inventor was downplaying himself in lieu of honoring his co-inventors. While that was a nice gesture, as a marketer, I was frustrated, realizing that an inventor’s accomplishments highlight his or her expertise and a good quality photo only helps the appearance of the campaign. (Both are an opportunity to optimize a campaign for search engines.)

As a blogger, I realize I have been acting like this inventor — by not making the most of my blog. I can make simple changes to garner more attention each time a new post is added. I can also make some simple changes to the blog site itself to make it more search engine friendly. Writing masterpieces (or my version of a masterpiece) isn’t enough.

SEO. It’s worth the effort because it multiplies the potential impact of each post.

(Now you can view my titles from each day in November, below, and see how much SEO work I need to do!)

NaBloPoMo_1115_465x287_THEME

Posts for NaBloPoMo 2015:

  1. Why I love my hairstylist…
  2. To NaBloPoMo or not to NaBloPoMo? That is the question…
  3. No AC November…
  4. That dubious gift of an hour…
  5. I can’t wait to be discovered…
  6. Once an English teacher, always an English teacher…
  7. Of mice and men (or when you give a mouse a cookie)…
  8. When you replace people with possessions…
  9. Do what you know is right…
  10. When your eyes are bigger than your weekend…
  11. Attempting “The Glad Game”…
  12. When the Christian life is a bit too much like a political debate…
  13. Vertigo: When the world around you begins to spin…
  14. How our Mitsubishi van became blue…
  15. If she only knew…
  16. When everything feels like straw…
  17. Construction criticism (or where have all the detours gone?)…
  18. Don’t skimp on the showers…
  19. My surprise “happily ever after” …
  20. In fact, we are not entitled…
  21. The end of the twin era…
  22. More time is not always the answer…
  23. When furniture shows your age…
  24. If a gift falls in the forest…
  25. Turkey trauma: Me, myself, and my memories…
  26. Thoughts upon awakening Thanksgiving morn…
  27. Black Friday matters…
  28. SEO and so what?

 

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