I present you the previously alluded to mystery project. This has been a long time in the making, a month to precise. It’s probably not as exciting as some were hoping it would be but it should at least prove enlightening.
This article is for bloggers. If you aren’t a blogger then feel free to skip this one. If you are interested in learning about search engine optimization and how effective it really is then continue.
Let me preface this by saying I’m by no means an expert on search engine optimization. I did take the time to learn a fair bit so I could put it to use and see the results. I’m also not going to teach you exactly what you should be doing, that would be very long and is not my forte, but I will help steer you in the right direction. This is more of a proof of value type of article.
I set myself the task of finally doing search engine optimization (SEO), on my blog and to do it well. I run an install of WordPress as my blog platform and one of the many beauties of WordPress is the thousands and thousands of plugins you can find. I had always run a plugin for my blog to handle the search engine optimization automatically and it did the job. It was doing the job, technically speaking, but it wasn’t actually optimizing my site for me. The only way to truly optimize your site for search engines is to actually put some effort into it. You can’t rely on something to automatically do it for you, at least if you want to actually see some true results.
I found a great plugin called WordPress SEO by Yoast. This plugin, like the one I was using prior, has some automated settings. Having some elements automated isn’t a bad thing, however you do want to work at the articles themselves, and this is where WordPress SEO by Yoast shines. Suffice to say there’s a lot of considerations to be made when it comes to search engine optimization for articles. This plugin does not do them for you, again you really have to work here to get results, but what it does do is offer suggestions and inform you. It will guide you and teach you to write more optimized articles.
WordPress has always been my platform of choice so for those of you on other platforms I can’t offer any suggestions for plugins. I’m willing to bet, however, that SEO plugins exist for various other platforms. Maybe your platform has built-in SEO functionality already. If you find you can’t do any search engine optimization through your platform then I’d strongly suggest you find another one, if you care about it that is.
I spent over a week going through every article on my blog, over two years worth of articles, and with the aid of this plugin I optimized them all. Since these articles were already written there was only so much I could do in some cases. The articles that were going up after I got the plugin though were given the full treatment.
After all the work I put in I was not disappointed. I was seeing older articles getting views that probably haven’t since they went up. I quickly saw that search engines were one of, often the, largest referer to my blog. The views on the blog for days where there wasn’t a new article were up. Normally on a day where there isn’t a new article I’d see the blog get around 30% of the traffic it does on a day with a new article. After all the SEO work that was up to around 50% of the traffic initially and now, a month later, it’s around 60%. These are guesstimates but should be relatively accurate.
The average growth of the blog in 2011 was 4% a month. Which, honestly, isn’t terrible but it’s not amazing either. Steadily the blog gains readers and I can’t complain. This past month, April, the blog’s readership increased by 22% from the prior month. That’s a huge leap! It was subsequently the biggest month this blog has had since launching.
The biggest thing with all of this is that these increases are just in one month. The real results, which I’ll share later if people are actually interested, will be where everything falls at the end of the year so I can compare 2012 to 2011 in full. It won’t be a full year of having had a fully search engine optimized blog but it will be a solid eight months of it which will still have a huge positive impact.
The point of this wasn’t to blow my own horn, it was to show you the value in taking the time and working at your blog, in this case search engine optimization. I took the time to do it because I really enjoy blogging and I want to get the most out of this blog and that means getting more people here. It’s like anything in life, the more you put into it the more you get out of it.