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QuiltCon 2015, Tech Talks

{Tech Talk} Increasing Site Traffic: Search Engine Optimization

It is possible to organically increase the traffic to your website by taking the time to consider how to apply some fundamental search engine optimization tips. This tech talk tutorial is going to focus on how to apply some of these techniques to craft blogs. My top 5 recommendations are below, and if technical background is boring, you can then jump down to the tips and discussion that expand on each of these top 5 recommendations.

Top 5 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips

  1. Content is king
  2. Links are queen
  3. Fresh content can help improve your rankings
  4. Make sure your site is easy to use
  5. Use social media and add social sharing buttons

Quilting Jetgirl’s Background in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

My first job out of college was not in the aerospace industry; I worked in the tech industry for a mid-sized company and I got to learn the joys of customer service until I was lucky enough to move on to be part of a small search engine marketing team. I learned a lot of major life lessons at this company. First and foremost I learned that if you ever really need help, the only way to ensure good help is to be as polite and kind as possible. For a year and a half, I spent 5-6 hours a day on the telephone with customers, and then I would spend my remaining 2-4 hours at work trying to find solutions for the people I could not immediately help over the phone. I would go the extra mile to help someone who was kind and polite with me on the phone, even if their problem was much harder to understand and solve. I really and truly try to keep that in mind any time I need to request help, and I just want to send another shout out to the MQG QuiltCon 2015 event and registration staff who I know have been having a stressful week.

After 18 months, I moved out of the customer service side of the company and into marketing where I spent a little over 6 months working in search engine marketing before accepting a job back in the aerospace industry. Today’s tutorial is just a brief touch on topics related to good website development tips that will help increase your site traffic by thinking about search engine optimization. The goal of search engine marketing and search engine optimization is geared around work to drive traffic and page views to a website. The search engine marketing side tends to deal more with statistics and paid traffic generators (advertising), while search engine optimization is, to quote from Wikipedia’s page on Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.

There are a lot of easy to apply guiding principals of SEO that we as craft bloggers can apply to our websites that will help increase traffic to our website, and increase traffic within our industry.

Search Engine Optimization Tips and Discussion

1. Content is king

It probably seems obvious to craft bloggers, but the most important rule about content is that it should be unique. Search engines can tell when the same text is copied over and over again from website to website, so if you are referring to text from another website, please make sure it is clear that you are quoting from another source.

Another content tip is to focus on the introduction of your post or the first paragraph. This is not necessarily a big factor in search engine ranking, but have you noticed that most search engines show the first snippet of text to help a user decide if they want to click on the link? The text is the first text on the page. It is also very common for blog formats to take the beginning text and use it on the blog home page to help catch a reader’s eye, so it might really pay for the first paragraph and text on an important post to be well crafted and thought through.

Content length is also a tricky topic. Because our content is mostly served up in blog form, shorter posts are typically better (300-500 words). However, if you are writing a tutorial, do not limit yourself to a short post. Occasionally having longer posts shows search engines and your readers that you have authority and depth in the field.

2. Links are queen

When you link back to an old post on your own blog or to another website, be sure to use keyword rich links. For instance, when linking to Quilting Jetgirl, hyperlink text that says Quilting Jetgirl instead of asking your readers to check out all the awesome content here. That tip is also beneficial for your readers, who should know better what to expect based on keyword rich link names.

3. Fresh content can help improve your rankings

If you only post once a month, you might want to consider trying to increase to once a week. Posting every day of the week won’t necessarily do much for you, but there is a large difference between posting once a month and posting once a week. Food for thought.

4. Make sure your website is easy to use

Not only should your website navigation be clear and easy to use, but consider how your site / blog looks on mobile devices. If you are interested, I have a tutorial about Website Design for Mobile Devices. Participating in blog hops, like the New Quilt Bloggers Hop sponsored by plum and june is a great way to meet others and get advice and feedback about your website.

5. Use social media and add social sharing buttons

When I was getting paid to work in search engine marketing, website traffic was driven mostly by search engine rankings and search engine results. Internet traffic is in the middle of a huge shift right now, and I know that most blog traffic is generated by social media and not search engine rankings. However, the same principals that were developed for search engine optimization will hold true for social media traffic.

6. Give link love

This helps out the whole community. Where did you find that tutorial? What awesome quilting book are you reading? What blog really inspired your new project – we want to know and go get inspired, too! One of the side benefits of good linking within the craft industry is more traffic and viewers for everyone.

7. Use keyword rich captions and titles with your images

Don’t forget the importance of image searches! If you have followed any of my recent posts, you might know that my husband has synesthesia (I just finished a quilt to help me understand what he “sees'”when he thinks of the alphabet – Synesthetic Alphabet). My husband pretty much only uses Google image search to find what he is looking for because it works the best for him. When I need quilt inspiration, I go to Pinterest or I use a Google image search. We, as a crafting community, are very visual in nature, and associating the keywords and text that are important with an image will help users understand the image in context with your writing, and over the long haul, it will help increase traffic to your site.

8. Text around your links should related to the link keyword

Search engines get smarter programming every day (almost), and they can really tell the difference in “spammy” websites, so make sure you are using your links as part of the natural flow and discussion in your blog.

Additional Resource(s)

In closing, I want to note that this topic is a process and will not gain you internet fame overnight. However, over time with careful thought and application of some simple tips, I believe that both the crafting community and your website will benefit.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to search engine optimization, and hopefully these tips are easy to implement into your blog and writing style. If you are still interested and looking for more depth into this topic, I recommend starting with Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide (link and image below loads a PDF).

0 thoughts on “{Tech Talk} Increasing Site Traffic: Search Engine Optimization

  1. Renee says:

    These are great tips! I’m glad you gave short examples, because my brain seriously zones out when I’m reading about internet mumbojumbo. I am so bad about putting my links in the word HERE, so I’ll work on that one. And the first paragraph is usually not the best introduction to the blog post for me. Things I hadn’t thought about much, so thanks!

  2. annieb71 says:

    This is a really fabulous article. I truly appreciate the information you provided here. It is great for those of us who went through college before computers were the norm, or for those of us that need technology explained to us in layman terms. Thank you!

  3. Definitely not your grandmother’s blogpost! ha! I appreciate that you would take the time to give us this education!

  4. shauna says:

    awesome tips, thanks so much for taking the time to write this for us!!!

  5. Kelsey says:

    How can you put title and better tags onto individual photos? Is that an HTML thing?

    1. It is an HTML thing, but depending on how you are publishing your blog, you might have options for doing this when you upload your photo. But if you are writing HTML, you can ready about the alt tag from Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Alternative_text_for_images

  6. PT in SC says:

    I am thinking about starting a blog and this has been most helpful. Thank you for the information!

  7. bkringel says:

    Great post Yvonne. It is easily understood and so helpful. Off to click thru on the Google link for a bit more info. Thanks so much.

  8. Thanks Yvonne! This is exactly some of the things I was looking for. And there are a couple of those tips that I am quilty of, so will definitely think through how I write things in the future. The 2015 New Quilt Bloggers has been a wealth of information!

  9. Very helpful. I am a new blogger and your tips are appreciated.

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)