Running an online arts resource and skills exchange, even a small one like mutantspace.com, means very little art and lots of computer obsessive nerd stuff such as coding html and php, seo, analytics, link exchanging, posting and social networking. All of this requires an inordinate amount of time hunched over a computer, googling for information, watching dull videos by other obsessives, cutting and pasting code into textpads and hoping that you’re on the right track. It truly is one of those occupations that suck you in and melt your brain.
When I started out with mutantspace.com in 2008 I knew nothing. Nothing at all. Up until 2003 I had never even used a computer and it wasn’t until 2007 that I used anything more complicated than an Xcel document. Now it’s different. Has to be, because now I run a skills bank and blog and need people to know about it, come to it, have a look around, hopefully join up, see what members are writing about in our blog and so on. All of this means that I have to be ranking highly for certain keywords, search queries, etc. If not I’ll never be found and there’s only one way I can ever do that and that’s by becoming a SEO geek.
So what I thought I’d do today is give you a little bit of advice based on my own limited experience – It might help you along, might help your blog or site rank better, whatever – maybe you’re just interested or have more to add. If you do please comment below.
So here we go. The very basics – I’ll probably write more on this in the future.
Think of your website or blog as a small cornershop on the outskirts of a metropolis that has billions of people living in it. For people to come to your shop you need to:
1. You need to have something worthwhile for them to come to and see
2. You need visibility, you need to be found easily
In other words you need to have a regular stream of high quality content and be well optimized.
Well content speaks for itself. Content is king as they say and will always be the deciding factor on whether people are interested in what you have to say, show, play and will make all the difference when building a loyal fanbase.
So first thing I’d say is post articles on a regular basis (2 – 3 times a week at least) or if you have a website install a blog into it and do as above. I promise you it’s worth the hassle and the expense. Blogs drive traffic. Traffic is what you want. That’s what I did with mutantspace.com and traffic went up by 500%+ in a matter of weeks.
For lots of tips on starting out check out this guy he’s a pro
Okay the geeky bit. I’ve been doing this for nearly 3 years now and I’m still at the beginning – I’ve been learning from both my mistakes and diligence. When doing geeky stuff you really have to stick at it.
Firstly be sure you have google analytics installed into your blog or website. It’s free to use, easy to install – it’s just a bit of code – and if you can’t install it yourself then get a web savvy friend to do it. By the way you can also install it onto your facebook pages so you can have all the statistics you need to make informed decisions on tweaking your site to make it more relevant and search friendly. Analytics will tell you, amongst other things:
Number of visitors
Number of unique users
Time they spend on your site
What their favourite pages and posts are
What town/city/country they come from
What pages they look at
What Keywords and search queries they used to find you
What sites referred you
How many new users compared to regular users you have
And it goes on and on and is extremely useful information to have. Just set up a gmail account and analyse away
The next thing to do is set up webmasters tools account with google. Again it’s free and you just need a gmail account.
The webmasters tool analyses your site for:
It basically analyses your site and its performance and gives you tips on how to improve your sites functionality
Next job is to upload a sitemap and robots.txt into the backend of your website/blog directory as they both help with page rank and performance.
Let me explain;
Google, Bing and other search engines send out spider bots to crawl every page on the internet. These bots send the information back to HQ and based on a series of algorithms they rank your pages accordingly. So your job is to make sure that these bots come as often as possible to your site and crawl for information – the more they do the better off you are. To do that you need to make it really easy for them to find all the information you want them to find.
Think of it like this:
Search engines don’t see your website/blog as one entity they see it as a series of pages linked together by code. There are 1,000s of pages on any given site, many of which you can’t see and have no relevance to someone coming to your site – they only want information. Most your pages deal with the internal plumbing and electrics of your site and bots don’t particularly want to spend time crawling them so why bother having them on show? You’re much better off hiding all your functionality and concentrating on content. That’s what the sitemap and robots.txt are for.
A sitemap is simply a list of pages in a website that are accessible to bots or users. It lists the pages on your site in a hierarchical fashion helping visitors and bots find your pages easily.
A robots.txt is a list telling the bot what pages on your website should and should not be crawled and consequently indexed. You don’t want all your pages indexed as much of them are just dealing with your internal plumbing and electrics and hence you’re better off excluding them and making sure the bots concentrate on pages that have good content and relevant information. Bots like that. Saves time
Note: If you are on wordpress you can get a plugin for both these and it’ll all be done for you.
If you’re not you can get a free sitemap generator online to do it for you
There are many different robots.txt files and many views on what the best robots.txt is but what you need to do is figure out what’s best for you. Just google about it and you’ll get tonnes of information and in webmaster tools they have a facility for you to create one and download it to put into your site.
You can see mine at mutantspace.com/robots.txt
The other important thing about optimizing your site is to prevent what’s called duplicate content. Search engines don’t like it and it can prevent you from ranking higher for certain search queries. For example if you write a blog post reviewing a gig you’ll probably put it into a category (or multiple categories), tag it and archive it. That means the bot sees it three times under a different URL address. That’s duplicate content. This is where the robots.txt comes in handy. You can simply tell the bots which address you want them to take the post from by telling them to ignore the others.
So I’m going to stop there. I’ve bored myself already. That’s just the very basics. The absolute start. There are still meta titles, meta descriptions, meta tags, internal linking, backlinks, social media and more to talk about. Perhaps another day if you’re interested.
As I said for the outset the most important thing is content but if you’re serious about people finding what you’ve read then you need to build a proper foundation for it and setting up an analytics and webmaster tools account and getting a sitemap and robots.txt sorted is the first step.
Hope you find this a little useful. If you have any advice for me please let me know as I’m only learning. If you want a bit of advice I might be able to help.
338 total views, 1 today