Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Monday Musing: Blogging For Fun and Profit Part 5 – Winning the Search Engine Optimization Popularity Contest

Written By: Tracy - May• 23•11

After you’ve conquered the mountain of social media, there are still plenty of ways to promote your blog on the internet. After all, there are one or two people who live at the bottom of a well in Siberia that haven’t yet joined Facebook. Today’s article will discuss  ways to reach your readers through search engines.

Search Engine Optimization (or SEO for short) is an obsession with commercial bloggers and websites primarily because they want to snag the top spot on an internet search for their article. SEO leverages key words to do this.

Maybe because SEO is such a commercial topic, some bloggers are disdainful toward it. But think of things this way: What if every time someone googled the words “Vampire Fiction” your books came up? Do you think you would sell a lot of books that way? SEO is how big companies like Amazon get onto the first page in Google.

Here is how SEO works: There are certain blog posts that will catch a reader’s attention just because that reader is looking for the information that it provides. Blog posts like this are like picking low hanging fruit in that they require very little work to yield a really big harvest. Google uses key words in a post in order to pull up posts that might interest anyone who is typing in a search string. By consistently using the right words, or “Key Words” in your post, you will get Google or other search engines to put your post near the top of search string results and reach your audience.

In a very real sense, SEO optimization is a popularity contest. One that makes the battle for prom queen look tame by comparison. But if you are interested in winning this popularity contest, you need a goal.

Start with a pen and paper once again and brainstorm potential topics for your blog (You may have already done this when you were devleoping your blog concept. Now is the time to revisit that list).

Then go to Google’s keyword tool (You may have to sign up for Google Adwords in order to access this tool. I’m really not sure). Type in the topics that you want to blog about. The adword tool will show you which search strings that most people are typing in on this subject.

Choose the words that naturally will fit in your article. The last thing that you want is for your blog post to look like some kind of search string version of Tourette’s syndrome. Put them in your headline at least once and work them into your article at least three times. Then use these keywords as tags for your post.

If you need a good example of this, type in the words “Steampunk and Gardening.” Somewhere on the first page, you will find a link to an article that I wrote on how the popularity of growing potted plants developed during Victorian times, and the socioeconomic factors of the Industrial Revolution contributed to it. SEO keywording is how Google knows to rank that article.

Whenever someone uses a search string with these words, your post will pop up on a Google search. The ranking us usually based on several factors including how many other people link to the post, etc. This is a great way to snag a casual reader who might not know you or your books.

A tip on using key words: Don’t choose words with hundreds of thousands of hits a month. These words probably already have lots of content dedicated to them due to their popularity and your post will get lost in the shuffle.  Words with a moderate amount of hits will draw more notice. In this case it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than medium-sized fish in the ocean. (More on how to get your blog higher on the page in a future article)

If you aren’t interested in search engine optimization, you shouldn’t sweat it. Chances are you will still reach the top on certain Google topics just due to the fact that you are the only one writing anything about certain subjects. If I enter the search string Tracy S. Morris or any of my book titles, I can be assured that something I put out onto the internet will pop up. Mostly just because I’m the only one creating content on this particular search string. But now that you know about SEO, I’ll bet that you will be able to spot examples of it in other blogs and internet marketing.

Obligatory mention of my work: If you find these posts helpful and feel like showering me with money, just purchase one of my books. They are available in print form from Yard Dog Press, or in eBook from Baen Books

My other articles on blogging mechanics:

Part 1: Make a Plan

Part 2: To Self-Host or Not to Self-Host

Part 3: A Look At Blogging Platforms

Part 4: The Do’s And Dont’s of Social Media

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4 Comments

  1. I keep getting hits on the excerpt I’d posted on my website from an unpublished SciFi novel with the title, “Eloise and Avalon”. It’s a play on “Heloise and Abelard,” which were a famous scandalous couple in the history of philosophy and the church (one in the same at one time). For some odd reason, perhaps because people mishear and misremember things, and “Avalon” comes more easily to mind than “Abelard”, searches were being done on “who were eloise and avalon.” And guess what? Mine was the top entry, numero uno, in the Google search. Heck, it’s pure serendipity, but whose going to argue with traffic?

    Sometimes you just luck out. Doesn’t hurt to tweak the odds a bit, though.

    • Tracy says:

      Exactly! I once interviewed a writer who shared the name of a person on a reality tv show. I made sure to put his name in the title so that I might inadvertently pick up traffic that way.

  2. Gayle G. says:

    I found this blog via Broad Universe. Thanks for this post. I really had no idea how SEO works, so it was nice to have someone break it down. I also appreciate all the other posts on blogging too-it helps it to seem less intimidating.

    • Tracy says:

      Blogging is like the old adage about eating an elephant. You just do it one bite at a time. I’m sure there are plenty of other posts out there that can explain SEO better than I can. But a lot of them are trying to sell SEO software.