The Magic of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Blogs are very popular nowadays. Since its inception at the mainstream, it has been quite a hit among internet users, since it allowed many of us, novice and pro users alike to have an easy avenue of reaching a mass audience. There are probably thousands of blogs, or millions in the web today, each trying to establish a distinct niche or perhaps trying to attract users into reading its content.

Simply put, 'who wants to have a blog which nobody reads?'. Well there may be a few who creates blogs for personal consumption, but commonly people write blogs to get read, whether they churn out political, showbiz, techie or even highly personal content. Aside from popularity, having a high traffic blog/ site can generate you a modest income. And this is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in.

Well I don't consider myself a pro blogger yet. Heck, my page still ranks low on Google web tools. But so far, I have noticed a stark difference in my web stats since I employed SEO practices. SEO is a set of methods to increase traffic in a web site/blog through placing higher in search engine results. If your site is popular and well optimized for search engines like Google, Yahoo, or MSN, it will likely come up in the first 20, or perhaps ten results, if a user searches something that is related to your content.

SEO, is an industry of its own. However, ordinary internet users (myself included) could also benefit from larger traffic volume (the plain thought of some person reading your blog is already glorious).

The graph above is a weekly summary of my web hits (page loads, unique visits, and returning visits). It isn't much compared to other web sites, but the difference that SEO makes is quite noticeable.

So here a few things I learned from other sites which helped me get the ball rolling: (SEO tactics and others)

1. Redesign/Reorganize your blog. I think it is important to have a blog that is easy on the eyes and leaves a lasting impression on its visitors. I downloaded a customized layout and tweaked it here and there so that it does not appear as a typical run off the mill web log. There are many sites out there which offer free customized layouts. Colors are also quite important. As an internet surfer, nothing makes me want to click that close button than a page running orange text in a hot pink background.

And go easy on the glittery, moving graphics. It's annoying.

2. Focus on a common theme. I am no celebrity, with that in mind, not a lot of people would be interested in my menial and mundane activities. Unless you are writing a blog for your friends to read, it would be a good idea to have a singular theme (which is not all about your life) to tie up all your posts and entries. I have chosen to write about my journey towards becoming a doctor. And believe me it works. About half of all my web hits come from people who searched for keywords such as 'NMAT', 'FEU medicine' and other med school names. Also it would make your site a go to blog for your specific theme.

Most importantly, write quality posts. People visit a site/blog for content, not for keywords.

3. SEO SEO SEO. Well SEO tactics are quite a lot. So I would focus on the ones I have utilized thus far. You can search for tutorials on the internet to learn how to do the following.

a. Have Google/Yahoo and others index your page. (Meaning let search engines find your blog)

* Title your blog entries to reflect on its topic; so that when a user searches for something, your site pops up. Don't use 'mysterious' entry titles, unless you want your entry to be put in oblivion.

Also, try to keep the text title of your blog. While it may be tempting to totally replace it with graphics, search engines cannot detect text within images, so it would be more of a disadvantage if you choose to remove your text title altogether.

* Go easy on the tags. Google crawlers are programmed not to follow your tags, so no matter how accurately you label you posts, it would do nothing to help your blog. I think it would be better to use your tags as categories to organize your entries in a way that a visitor can navigate your site easily.

b. Put meta descriptors in your blog (Describe to search engines what your blog is all about)

c. Use a hit counting app so that you can monitor how much progress you've made. I use Statcounter, and it has worked well for me. It lets you see what keywords brought your visitors to your site, recent page load activity and recent visitor activity, among others.

d. Have other blogs link to yours. Or you can also link your blog from your social network profiles.

e. There are still other SEO practices which I have not used, so read about them.

Lastly, be patient. As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day. So after you're done with all the SEO and blog improvement stuff possible, focus on building your content. I think my blog is quite far from ranking 'medium' on Google, but I think reaching that 500 hundred thousandth hit is not an impossibility in the near future.