In the past few years that I have spent blogging and chasing search engine traffic I have come to realize that it’s very hard to put your finger on traffic prediction and keyword targeting. Over the years I have managed to rank #1 for keywords I thought would have killed my server, and then get bombed traffic from page 2 keyword results that I would have never of guessed in a million years had traffic.
There’s an array of different applications and programs that help you fish for the right keywords to target. But all in all these programs –the ones that work– more less act as a guide. Nothing is certain, and results are never guaranteed. I think partly why some people are not successful with these programs is that they depend on the application to tell them what to do.
See this video for a visual example:
The better approach to take is to “question everything.” If a keyword ranking tool suggests that the keyword phrase “concrete rebar suppliers” is a hot keyword to chase, you should immediately question why? Why does the program indicate that this keyword phrase has traffic? Why should I invest my time, money, and effort into targeting this keyword phrase? What elements make this keyword phrase a potential candidate for a successful keyword targeting campaign? In other words, you should take it upon yourself to study and research this phrase and come to your own conclusion on what to expect prior to moving forward.
The other aspect that I have learned is that people search for practical things. It seems like many Internet marketers assume that these keywords are too competitive. Or, they don’t even consider them because they are too obvious. In other words, the idea of targeting a keyword phrase such as “Cinnamon Toast Crunch” doesn’t come across the minds of many people. It didn’t come across my mind either until software showed me that I was landing quite a few impressions for that exact keyword phrase.
So basically what I am trying to communicate to you is that it is great to use software to help you find keywords. But software will never replace the human mind. And software is always based on rules. Our brain is capable of thinking outside of rules and making the choice to either bend or break them. Our minds are also capable of questioning and solving mysteries. Such as why are people searching Google for Cinnamon Toast Crunch? What are they really looking for? Perhaps that’s a bleed off for Cinnamon Toast Crunch ingredients, Cinnamon Toast Crunch nutritional information, does Cinnamon Toast Crunch have wheat, Cinnamon Toast Crunch recipe, or what I think… Cinnamon Toast Crunch coupons!
The long story short: Keywords are everywhere and they come packed with potential traffic. Spend some time thinking about things that you have personally searched for yourself. Ask yourself if you think other people have searched for the same thing? Were you happy with the results? If not, then could you make a better web page? If so, then most likely you will achieve superior ranking for that term.
The last set of “If and Then’s” and “How Much and How Can’s” for people like myself include: If I build a webpage that targets this particular keyword phrase and assuming I achieve superior ranking which delivers traffic, then will this be profitable for me? How can I earn money from the traffic? Can I use Google AdSense? If so, then how much can I expect to receive per click? Are their affiliate programs that I can join? If so, then how much do they pay? What is the average conversion rate? Does the product really work? How does Google feel about this product? So again, software can only go so far. Ultimately, it’s up to you to use common sense with targeting keywords and –for people such as myself– choosing the right ones that will likely yield a profit.
A lot of the mystery about SEO can be solved simply by getting the information straight from the horse’s mouth. Yes, that’s right! One of the best SEO resources comes direct from Google. Specifically Matt Cutts. For a few years he has been uploading very helpful videos on the GoogleWebmasterHelp channel on YouTube. There are over 300 in fact. If you haven’t subscribed to the channel, I recommend doing so. It’s personally one of my favorite resources and something I place the a lot value in.
The channel has a variety of different videos, but the ones that I like the most are the QNA videos done by Matt Cutts. In these videos Matt answers questions that people have sent in. Matt has an excellent way of explaining things. He often breaks things down in ways that everyone can understand. You can quickly tell that it’s important to him that his message is understood well. The videos are recorded in a very relaxed and casual setting which really allow you to concentrate and absorb the information being shared. Here are a few examples.
In the world of SEO, often you hear about link building. It’s an important aspect of SEO. It’s so important that there are a slew of products, services, and tactics that claim to help people with building backlinks. Some of these products may work, but it’s a safe guess that many do not. Most of the services are very expensive, and I suspect that most fail to deliver what is expected. Lastly, it seems that there are only a few tactics that are truly effective. That said, have you ever considered learning more about different ways to build links yourself? Matt Cutts has recorded an 8 minute video that talks about just that. Here is the video below:
What about keyword spam? Specifically using multiple versions of the same phrase and rewording it multiple times in your content? (i.e. SEO Hosting, Hosting SEO, Search Engine Optimized Hosting, Optimized Hosting For Search Engines, etc.) In other words, does Google consider it keyword spam when you target multiple variants of the same keyword phrase? The reason why people do this is because in most cases each variant can return different results in the SERPs. Let’s see what Matt has to say about that:
A couple of years ago there was a lot of interest with converting a standard WordPress blog into a DoFollow blog. Meaning, the nofollow tag is either manually removed from the code or a plugin is used to achieve the same result. The purpose is to reward people by passing PageRank in exchange for leaving a comment on your blog post. This is still done today. But what does Matt Cutts have to say about this? Let’s find out. Pay attention to the point made at 2:00 minutes into the video:
Have you ever wondered why it takes a long time for Googlebot to come back to your site to reindex it? I have personally played around with this a few years ago and jokingly have called this Training the Googlebot. In other words, after Googlebot crawls your site, a short period later it will return to check for new content or changes in existing content. Over time, if new content isn’t available, or if the existing content hasn’t changed, Googlebot will stop visiting as often as it did before.
Knowing this, I “trained Googlebot” to visit many of my sites quickly by controlling the flow of new content being published. Meaning, if I wanted Googlebot to index new content FAST, I would train it to believe that my site was busy simply by published new content very often. The result ended with new content getting indexed within minutes of being published. A great example of a site that has a fast recrawl rate is Digg.com. New content on Digg will get indexed almost instantly. A great of a site that doesn’t get recrawled very often would be an old GeoCites webpage –if they still existed of course. Here’s what Matt Cutt has to say about Googlebot recrawl rates:
These are just a few of 300+ videos that can help you with solving the mystery with SEO. Many of these videos have less than 10k views. I really find that strange because the information is extremely valuable. The great news about the low view counts is that you will be learning from a resource that many other people don’t know about. This gives you an advantage over your competition. As mentioned in the beginning of this post, I strongly recommend subscribing to the channel. It’s a very valuable resource to have if you’re interested in learning more about SEO.
Out of the box WordPress is very search engine friendly. However, there are a few adjustments that can make WordPress a search engine magnet. Over the next few weeks I am going to be publishing a series of posts that will teach you how to optimize your WordPress blog for search engines. No advanced skills are needed to make these adjustments. This first post covers permalink structures and the All in One SEO plugin. If you have any questions, or need assistance, you’re invited to share them in the comment section below.
Step One: Permalink Structures
WordPress default permalink structure creates URLs that look like this:
By default WordPress uses web URLs which have question marks and lots of numbers in them, however WordPress offers you the ability to create a custom URL structure for your permalinks and archives. This can improve the aesthetics, usability, and forward-compatibility of your links. But the real bonus is SEO.
Google and other search engines look for keywords in web page URLs. It’s not known exactly how much the keywords in the URL influence ranking, but in my experience it appears to hold a lot of weight.
Here is a video of Matt Cutts talking about keywords in URLs.
Adding keywords into WordPress URLs is a quick and easy SEO enhancement. In your WordPress Dashboard scroll down to the bottom of the page and look in the left column for the Settings section. From there you will see the Permalinks section.
Here’s a screen shot:
You can adjust your permalinks to display the day and name, month and name, numeric, or custom structure. Using the day and name setting adds the full year, month, day, and post title into the post URL. Using the month and name setting adds the full year, month, and post title into the post URL. The numeric option doesn’t add the post title into the post URL.
Custom structure is the option I choose. The reason I choose the custom option is because I don’t like to display the year, month, or date in the URL. I only want the keywords. In the past I have used this code:
Lately, I have started using this code:
You can learn more about using WordPress Permalinks here.
Here are some additional references that may help you:
Michael Torbert’s All in One SEO Plugin has really stood the test of time. I have personally used this WordPress plugin for many years. The plugin gives you the ability to customize the structure of your article titles, optimize the titles of your category, tag, search, and archive section, and auto generate meta descriptions and keywords. There are many additional features that you should learn about as well. I recommend paying a visit to Michael Torbert’s home page and learning more about the All in One SEO Plugin. Michael also has a PRO version which might be worth checking out. Personally, I have never used it.
Here is a helpful video tutorial I found on YouTube that will teach you more about the All in One SEO plugin and how to configure it:
By the way, the All in One SEO plugin is one of my personal favorites. Stay tuned for the next post that will offer you more information on optimizing your WordPress blog for search engines. All of your comments, questions, and even suggestions are welcome. You’re invited to share your feedback using the comment form below.
When you’re first getting started with building a blog or website there are many challenges that you will need to overcome in order to find success. In most cases learning new skills are required in order to overcome these challenges. As with most things, it takes time to master new talents. But extra time is something that many people don’t have. I’m sure that you’re not excluded from this. So what can you do to overcome these challenges when you don’t have extra time to learn new skills?
One answer that comes to mind is hiring someone to help you. That’s an obvious solution. But if you’re like many of the people who share your interests with blogging or website development, then investing money into your project isn’t an option. Many people turn to the Internet for alternative solutions towards generating income. In most cases there simply isn’t a budget for hired help.
So what can you do when you don’t have extra time to learn new skills or extra money to hire help? An idea that you might find helpful would be to exchange services with other people. This is something that I do frequently. First, you must identify the skills that you have and then identify the things that you need help with. Often I ask people to help me with writing. In exchange for someone’s writing services I usually offer to help with programming, graphic design or web building. You might wonder why I would ask for help with writing since I am capable of doing that myself. I’m an author here on this blog, so why would I need help with writing?
In my case the reason is because of time. It takes me a long time to formulate my thoughts into words. In fact, it takes much longer than it would compared to creating a graphic or website template. The people I help don’t know how to create graphics or website templates. They are, however, excellent writers. And fast ones too! So the exchange works perfectly. I help them by doing something I am really good at and they help me doing something they are really good at. The result ends successfully for both myself and the person I am helping.
After reading this, think about some things that you can do to help others. The things that you’re good at doing, other people might not know how to do. The things that they are good at, you might not know how to do. Start things off by sending an email to your friends and let them know about a few things you need help with. Mention that you want to coordinate with them and help them in exchange for helping you. Tell them about the skills you have, and ask them to list out a few things that they would like your help with in return. You will be amazed with the responses and with how much you can get done when you involve other people in your project. The great part about this is while you’re working to achieve success, you’re also helping your friends do the same.
If you’re like me, then you probably have a lot of trouble reading blog articles, eBooks, and online written tutorials. The reason for me is I have adult ADHD. It truly makes things real difficult for me. A great example is a project I have been doing lately. For many years I have been fascinated with web servers. In part of wanting to learn more about web servers, I have setup a few personal web servers in my home. I have one web server running CentOS, and two running Ubuntu Server. Progress with this project didn’t come until recently, despite wanting to do this for years!
The reason for slow progress is due my lack of ability to read, follow, and comprehend documentation and instructions. I simply can’t do it. Often I find myself reading the same sentence over repeatedly due to some kind of distraction. The things that distract me, typically don’t distract other people. The constant hum of a ceiling fan, people walking down the hall, the ticking of a clock, or water dripping from a faucet are all examples of things that cause terrible distractions. I have to completely isolate myself in order to learn something new. And this doesn’t happen to often because I live in house with kids.
I’m affected by the same problems with it comes to continually learning about SEO. I enjoy learning about search engine optimization just about as much as I enjoy learning about web servers. Ironically, the two some what go hand in hand. If you tend to have trouble like me, you may find yourself dependent on alternative means for learning and comprehending things. One of the best tools I use for learning things is watching videos. The invention of YouTube has given hope towards my continuing education. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But, it’s true.
I depend on visual aids. Video tutorials, screencasting, and articles rich in screenshots and pictures is what I need in order to learn. If alternatives to written content aren’t available, I even PRINT pages out. Holding a piece of paper in my hands makes a world of difference. A great example is when I recently printed the 740 page Apache HTTP Server Documentation manual. I didn’t exactly save any trees doing this, but in my opinion, this wasn’t wasteful because it helped me accomplish a goal. Junk mail, on the other hard, is an example of paper waste. And to help me conserve paper, I print on both sides. Doing that also keeps me from having to purchase wider binders.
The long story short is this. The Internet is an amazing place to gain knowledge. In the beginning, it started with sharing written data and written content. For those who can’t seem to focus, there are now many alternatives to written documentation. Instead of continuing to struggle doing something that obviously isn’t working, make a change. That’s the only way to push forward. One of the most memorable things my father told me when I was little was that you can’t continue to do the same thing over and expect to get different results. You have change something in order to change results.