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Entries in seo (4)

Tuesday
Mar012011

SEO For Artists - Part 4: Authority

Photo by GenevieveThis is the final post in the SEO for Artists series and we’re going to end on authority. Fitting, right?

A website’s authority comes from traffic, time and inbound links. The longer your site is live and has people visiting it the more authority you gain. Additionally if other websites and blogs link to your site you also gain authority, especially if those websites are highly ranked.

There’s not much you can do about the time part of the equation other than get your website published. However you do have some control over traffic and inbound links so I’ll share a few strategies you can use to help the process along.

This isn’t an overnight process so you need to be patient with the results. Think of building your website’s authority the same way you think about building your business. A little at a time, slow and steady.

Traffic

Traffic is the number of unique visitors you get to your website over a given period of time. The best way to generate traffic is by sharing your website link whenever appropriate. Put it in the signature of your email, make sure it’s on your business cards, add a link to all your social media profiles, and share it with any online groups you’re apart of. You also get traffic by ranking well in organic searches. That’s where all the keyword information from the last few weeks comes in.

Think of traffic to your website like traffic to a retail store. Anything you can do to get people in the door to look around is good. Mostly that means letting people know where you are, which means your web address.

Inbound Links

Traffic also comes from other websites linking to you, inbound links. While you will get a few inbound links naturally over time if you provide good content, you can also strategize to build the right kinds faster. This means creating relationships. Think of inbound links as references or referrals. Most people don’t refer businesses or people they don’t know. You need to be known by the right people.

The relevancy of the link also matters for authority. The idea is to get highly respected websites with a similar target market to link to you. This generally happens if you’ve provided information that’s useful to their audience, you’ve said something favorable about them or their product, or they have some sort of relationship with you and want to help promote you.

Building Relationships

Building relationships online is really no different from building them in real life. It takes mutual interest and a shared experience.

The best way to go about this is to first identify a list of bloggers and businesses you want to build a relationship with. They should be experts in your field, share a similar target market, or have a complimentary business. Find out where you can interact with them, Facebook, Twitter, their blog, or some online forum.

Once you have this list, begin to get to know them if you don’t already. Follow them on Twitter, “like” them on Facebook, and subscribe to their blog. Pay attention to the type of information they share, what they talk about, and try to discern how you might be able to help.

Then follow some or all of these steps to build the foundation for a relationship:

  • Retweet their posts on Twitter
  • Share their Facebook posts
  • Make insightful comments on their blog
  • Link to an article of theirs that you particularly like
  • Join online communities that they’re a part of
  • Go to conventions where you might meet them or similar people
  • Email them with a question, praise or piece of useful information

Once you have a solid foundation, if link sharing hasn’t already happened, then you can propose collaborating on a series of articles or project, swapping links, or even just in kind mentions of a post or product. If you’ve done your build up well they will graciously accept.



Tuesday
Feb222011

SEO For Artists - Part 3: Using Keywords

We’re on to part 3 in the SEO for Artists series. Now that you’ve found your targeted keywords I’m going to tell what to do with them.

First, let’s take a look at the list you developed. How many keywords did you come up with? It’s honestly only reasonable to be able to optimize for 5-10 words or phrases. But don’t worry if you came up with a list of 50 or more, your work wasn’t in vain. If the words and phrases on your list are related you can pull from them now and again to keep things fresh. You may also decide to optimize specific pages for different words.

You may be wondering what I mean by optimize. Simply put to optimize your website or blog for a word or phrase means to use it in key places that allow search engines to find that word on your site. You probably have a friend who uses the same expression over and over again like “that’s so cool,” or “totally man.” You can also probably hear the exact way they say it and if you were to do an impression of them it’s the phrase you would use. Optimizing has a similar effect. You will strategically use words and phrases repeatedly in your text and titles. The more you do this the more search engines will associate your website with those words.

The key is knowing where the search engines are looking for these words. There are five main areas to focus on, titles, descriptions, main copy, links, and urls.

Titles and Descriptions

Use the keywords you want to optimize for in the title of your page, the title of your articles and even in subheads if it seems natural. Search engines place higher importance on words that are formatted as headings and titles.  A main reason you would want to use preformatted heading styles instead of just using a bigger font or bolding a word.

I’m going to make the assumption that if you’re reading this because you’re hoping to learn something, you use something like Wordpress, Typepad or Squarespace to create your website. That means meta tags are created behind the scenes for you. When you use your website editor to create a new post or page and you fill out a field for title, meta title tags are automatically created for you. So you’re golden, just make sure you’re using the right words.

You may also be given an optional field for description, both for pages and posts. I recommend filling this in too. However this should read like normal text not just a list of words. This text also won’t help your page rank any higher, but if you have a compelling, to-the-point description it will be seen on the search page below the link and will help entice people to choose your link over others.

Main Copy

The main text of you website is also ranked, but not as high as titles. First and foremost use natural language, you want people to be engaged with your text so they read it all, come back for more and even share it. But do keep that list of keywords in mind and pepper the words your focusing on throughout the text.

This may mean that your website in general is optimized for one phrase while specific articles are optimized for different, but related phrases. Going back to our original knitting example, maybe the website overall is optimized through titles and the about page for “knitting tips”, but the blog has individual articles optimized for “seed stitch”, “commuting”, etc.  So if someone searches for “knitting tips commuting” this website pops right to the top, but you didn’t have to force the word “commuting” throughout the whole website.

Links

Links are important for many reasons, but in this context if you link specific words in your main text to a related article this is a good thing. So from this point on no more “click here”, instead use keywords to describe what you’re linking to.  For instance in the first paragraph I used “targeted keywords” as the link to last week’s article because it’s descriptive of the content.

URL

You should have control over the urls for your pages and individual posts. Make use of keywords here too. Don’t ever settle for the default random number that’s generated with some blogging platforms. If your platform generates a url from your title that’s great because you’re already using keywords, however you might want to tweak it to either make it shorter or really focus on the right words.

All of this really boils down to having few words or phrases that are descriptive of what your website is about and using them in a natural organic way in titles and text of your site. However this is only the beginning of SEO, next week we’ll talk about authority.

To help you with this week’s tips here’s an illustrated cheat sheet for using keywords in SEO.

Tuesday
Feb152011

SEO For Artists - Part 2: Google Adwords

For part 2 in the SEO For Artists series I’ll dive into Google Adwords to show how it can help you choose the best keywords to optimize for. In case you missed it, last week I wrote about defining your target market and the importance of keywords.

Keyword Tools

There is no tried and true method to finding the perfect keywords to optimize your website for, but there are a handful of tools that can make the discovery process easier. In this series I’m going to stick with easy and free tools, no need to make things more complicated when you’re just starting out.

Last week I asked you to begin brainstorming a short list of keywords to get yourself started on this process. What word would you use to search for your site? Would your target market use the same words? What words are your competition using?

Now that you have a beginning list we’re going to turn to Google Adwords to help us narrow the list down and also to make sure you’re using the best words you can.

Google Adwords

Google Adwords is a pretty powerful tool that will give you a lot of useful information. You need to pick a word or phrase to start with, but this will most likely lead you down a path, so give yourself time to explore, be open to words and phrases you hadn’t thought of and take notes.

Let’s go back to the example I used last week of the business selling knitting patterns designed to be easy while looking intricate, remember that this business has a blog that shares tips on knitting while commuting and fitting in short bursts of productivity throughout the day. So given that, I’m going to start by searching for statistics on simple knitting patterns.

Ranking Words and Phrases

I’m just going to use the anonymous version of Adwords, you can set up an account if you like, it’s free, but it’s not necessary. So for my first search on simple knitting patterns I get a list of related search terms with numbers listed for “Global Monthly Searches” and “Local Monthly Searches” as well as a bar graph that indicates competition. The monthly search numbers tell me how many times someone used that phrase over the last month both globally and locally (which is only as specific as United States). You’ll see numbers in the hundreds and in the hundred’s of thousands. Obviously the higher the number the more people are looking for that “thing” in particular. However the highest isn’t always the best. This is where the competition comes in.

Competition is a little tricky though because what it actually refers to is the number of businesses buying that phrase for their adwords campaign. However, it’s also a good indication of websites that have been optimized for that word or phrase. What you’re looking for is a combination of low to medium competition and medium to high search numbers.

As I look over the list I’m seeing all sort of phrases like free knitting patterns, easy knitting patterns, and beginner knitting patterns. These are phrases that Google thinks are relavant to the words I put in. Look at the numbers and write down some that seem to have the right combination of competition and search volume. Then start digging. Try adding in other words or switching the phrases around, maybe you try modern knitting patterns or quick knitting patterns. Make note of more that stand out.

Look To Your Competition

Now we’re going to look at competitive websites. Google Adwords also allows you to search a competitor’s website to see what words they’re optimized for. This will not only spark a new direction in thinking, but can help you distinguish yourself.

So with our example PatternCentral.com kept coming up in the searches. When I look at how this website is optimized I get more or less what you’d expect, free knitting patterns and knitting for beginners. What I realize I’m not seeing is anything related to knitting tips. There’s that aha! moment, something that makes you stand out. Now I go back and search for volume and competition on knitting tips and I see another trend in the relevant searches, specific stitches. Maybe there’s a stitch that these patterns use specifically to make them more unique. I think we’re on to something.

At the end of all this back and forth and chasing around you should have developed a list of 50 to 100 words and phrases that fit your business. They should either fit the low to medium competition and medium to high search numbers formula or have such ridiculously high search volume that competition doesn’t really matter.

Organic Search

Now there’s one final step, checking your organic search competition. Organic results are the websites, not the ads, that come up when you do a basic Google search. All we’re going to do now is get an idea of how many other websites are using the terms on your list.

For our example I’m going to type “allintitle: knitting tips” into a basic Google search. What comes up is the websites that use this term in titles  both of the entire site and of individual posts. I come up with 79,000 results. That number can be found directly under the area you type your search term in. This number is pretty high, but not horrible. I also thought seed stitch might be worth a try, this time I get 180 results. There is a very good chance of getting ranked well for the phrase seed stitch. Now go through your own list and note the number of results, this will help you narrow it down to the good candidates.

Next week: How to use keywords.

Did you come up with any surprising combinations that you can optimize your site for?

Tuesday
Feb082011

SEO For Artists - Part 1

Photo by GenevieveThis is the start of a little series I’m going to call SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for Artists. I’m going to break it down into the simplest pieces I can, only tell you the information you need to know to get started, and use examples to make it all more tangible.

This series is for those of you who have only just heard of the term SEO, either here or in passing conversation, but really have no idea what I’m talking about or why you should care.

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding SEO. That mystery comes from three places, Google won’t tell us how the algorithm they use works exactly, SEO works over time there are no immediate results, and the people who are good at it have a unique set of skills that allows them to charge 1,000s of dollars a month.

What I intend to do is give you a few simple steps that can help you give your website or blog a big boost in being found by the right people, which in turn means more traffic. You will need to be patient because it won’t happen overnight, but if you’re able to keep in mind a few simple things, you will see results.

Today's lesson - target market and keywords, the building blocks of SEO. First let me take a step back and explain search engine optimization. More or less exactly what it sounds like, SEO is optimizing your blog or website so that search engines will find you easily when a search is performed. The better your site is optimized the higher up or closer to number 1 in the search you appear and the more likely someone will be to click the link to your page.

Target Market

Here comes that target market thing again. For you to optimize your blog or website you need to define who you want to reach and what they’re searching for. The more you can narrow the focus of your blog and who will be interested the better your chances of rising to the top.

For example you might be a knitter and have built a business selling your designs. That’s lovely, but there’s a lot of knit designers out there making amazing stuff. You howeve, being a savvy entreprenuer, have a niche. Besides selling the final knitted product you also sell patterns and your patterns create a finished product that looks very intricate, but is extremely easy. On your blog you not only talk about your designs, you offer tips on knitting while commuting or ways to squeeze in bursts of productivity throughout your day. You have a highly focused target market.

Start Thinking About Keywords

Keywords are the specific words that someone would use in a search if they were looking for the information on your website. In the example above the obvious keywords would be knitting and patterns. But as you well know, you put those two words into Google and you’ll get pages upon pages of results. The chances of you standing out are slim. But... you have a more defined target market so you can stand out if you use the right words.

Here’s a quick aside to give you a little insight into how people search. This is a generalization, but it will help you think through the process a little better. When someone performs a search it’s because they have an interest. They tend to type in 2-3 words that first come to mind to describe their interest. They find a few interesting links that either a) give them a new phrase to search for or b) make them add on words to refine their search. When they start their search they get a lot of information they don’t want, but by following a few links they eventually find the wording that will lead them to the link they want.

What might those words be? This is the trick to keywords. You add quick, simple, or easy to the search above but you still come up with a lot of competitors. So think about your target market, what words would they use? Maybe they would add modern to simple knitting patterns. You’re getting closer, but still the competition is tough, what now?

Next week I’m going to talk about a few tools to help you narrow down the keywords you want to optimize for, but you have to have a starting point to begin that research. So try to think like your target market, what words would they use to search for you or your competitors? Make a list of single words and phrases to use in your research next week.

We often describe our businesses differently than others, what words do you commonly use in talking about your business? Do those match up with what others say?