Sunday, May 3, 2015

SEO: Search Engine Optimization (aka Something Else to figure Out) -- Part I

So in prepping for an upcoming Writer's Group, I realized that here's a topic I know next to nothing about: Search Engine Optimization! And since I know nothing about it, I thought: what the hey, let's make a blog post about  it, shall we?

So we shall!

And with that GREAT intro, please, keep reading to see what I have to say about SEO. It's going to be AWESOME. :o)

                        *Googles Madly*

Okay. So what is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, the more "optimized" your website/blog is, the higher up your site will appear in search engine rankings. Meaning, it's easier for new people to find your blog.

More on this here:  || SEO for Idiots || Google's SEO Starter Guide || Top 10 SEO Trends for 2015 ||

How to Boost Your Search Engine Optimization 

After scouring dozens of articles on the topic, I've realized that how to maximize SEO really boils down to this:


Provide useful content.

Okay, well, that's it for this week, thanks for reading!


... just kidding :)

But not really. Honestly, the best way -- the only real way people are going to find your blog/website is if you are posting things and creating content that is useful or interesting to other people ... it needs to be so compelling, in fact, that other people are sharing it on social media, that other people are talking about you / your brand / your work on other platforms.

Other people, like not just 'my mom,' 'my lit-hero alter-ego's twitter,' and 'my cat's instagram feed'
                       ... though that could be a good start.

Everything I've been reading about SEO for 2015 is that old ways of thinking about SEO are not what you want to focus on.  It's Content Marketing. So there's another search term we get to look up!

    { or just check out how Creative Penn explains Content Marketing for Writers here,
       or dive into Quick Sprout's Advanced Content Marketing Guide }

Basically? It means you'll need to dedicate a fair amount of time to generating quality content. Which means you'll have to want to generate it. Really WANT it. This applies to everything you write. Not only your blog. If I could give only one tip to a new writer it would be:

                     Write What You Love.

                     (because this business takes a lot of time and energy and
                      if you don't love doing it, one day, you're going to quit.)

In terms of my writing, this has meant I write YA and MG fiction, mostly sci-fi-ey and fantastical. Wheee!!! The same "Write What You Love" mantra also applies to blogging - with a small twist:

                    Blog What You Love [to Read on the Web.]

When you get on the web, what do you do? What do you read/watch? What don't you?

Do you love to geek out over fan-fic, flash fiction, or weekly serials? Then write those.
Do you pour over how-to articles? Compile your own lists of tips and tricks.
Do you lose yourself in podcasts or vlogs? Make your own!
Do you like giggling over animated gifs and cat pictures while reading a High Fantasy novel inspired recipe? Guess what? You're probably not the only one!

My point is, the interwebs are their own crazy thing. There's so much out there. Don't force yourself to write certain things just because you think it's what you're supposed to do. Don't slap together 15 posts a month on topics you don't really care about, just for the sake of generating content. Find the intersection between your goals as a writer/reader and what you love to read about on the web. And write THAT. You'll be so much happier, and it will show!

Me personally? I'm not a big web surfer. When I get on the web, it's largely task-driven, not entertainment-driven. I don't write short fiction. I don't spend tons of time on YouTube or sites that that are about sharing funny pictures. So it wouldn't make sense for me to have a blog with daily flash-fic and eye-catchy animated gifs. It's not "me" and I don't know anything about that audience. I also don't have a lot of free time, which leads me to another point:

                    Blog When Inspired

You may have noticed: I don't bother writing multiple blog posts a week anymore. I used to, and I think it's a good practice for a certain period of time, and for certain people it could be a lifelong thing. But for me, there came a point  when *cough* kids *cough* it started to feel like this horrible chore that was taking away from my creative writing. So I stopped. Just stopped. Now I only blog when I feel pulled to. When I feel especially compelled, I pour a lot of energy into a particular post. And guess what? Those are the posts that get traffic and keep getting traffic.

An Inside Look at this Blog, such as it is:

Right now, I get about 100-200 page views a day (that's not a ton, but given that I only blog about once a month, I'm super satisfied with that), and 75% of those hits are to these five pages:

Literary Agents that Rep YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy || Pitch Contest Calendar || Sept 2014 #PitMad Successful Pitches  || Pitch Factory Logline Generator || Does Your Paranormal Romance Have Enough Cliches? 

Two of those pages (the Calendar and the Lit Agent List) I update fairly regularly. The other ones I spent a lot (and by that I mean a lot-a lot) of time on up front, because I wanted to provide something extra useful for people! In terms of page visits, it definitely shows.

Plus? It gives me *warm fuzzies* knowing that you guys out there like ... Read my stuff ... and come back to those key pages ... and that those pages might help you out from time to time.  :)

And now, I'd love to hear from you ...

What about you? What do you see as the focus and heart of your blog? What do you do to to keep yourself interested in blogging? What is your niche audience? How have you grown your following? 

What are best-practices and worst-mistakes you've seen people making when it comes to SEO and Content Marketing? How have you used content to drive your SEO? 

[SEO image credit Paloma Gomez]

1 comment:

  1. Great post and very informative, thank you. :-)
    I don't worry about SEO for my blog as that's really just for fun. For my on-line business though, it is important. If your audience hangs out on social media a lot, then it helps to interact with them there, and if they link to your site from Facebook or Twitter, then that helps SEO too. But really, the best advice is what you started with - don't force it, do what you love and create useful content that YOU like and the rest will follow. :-)



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