So you’ve built your website, but now you want to know how to get people there. You’ve got a great CMS (WordPress, in my case) and you’ve heard something about the black sorcery that is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but you aren’t really sure what to do.
No worries, because I’ve got two very easy steps for you. That is to say, they’re easy to wrap your mind around, and a LOT less ambiguous than what you’ll find on other sites. When I first started researching SEO, it seemed like no one quite wanted to get to the heart of the matter, which was a step-by-step account of what you should actually do to ensure that search engines index your site correctly.
First step: Follow this guide on Yoast’s website. You don’t have to do everything on it, but certainly give everything due consideration. For instance, I don’t use Headspace, but I absolutely use Robots Meta and Redirection. If you walk through that guide, taking his suggestions seriously and implementing most/all of them, you’ll see your traffic from searches increase.
Second step: Find topics about which no one has written… and write about them.
At face value, this seems a lot harder than it is, but you’d be amazed at how much has not been done on the Internet. I’m not going to give you a list of topics (because I’ve got big plans to start this second step myself next year), but look around for stuff that hasn’t been covered and cover it. This is what journalists do when they try to be the first to break a story. For bloggers, you don’t even need to break it open, you just have to do it right.
If you’ve ever gone looking for help online with a technical problem, be it with Windows, Adobe Photoshop, Linux, whatever, you’ve probably ended up browsing for minutes, hours, or days through myriad forums, wikis, and guides. You finally find the answers you need and figure out the problem, but now you have two options. You can move on to the next hurdle you have to jump, or you can document it.
If you are looking for help with a specific process/problem, chances are other people are too. So put together a very detailed, specific step-by-step blog post on how to do the specific thing you are trying to do, and be sure to use a boring but precisely accurate title (Using the blend tool in Adobe Photoshop to combine two landscapes, or something like that). In a lot of these cases, you’re not even doing much original writing, you’re just copying from forums/wikis/etc. (always providing citation to the original sources) and bringing everything together into one easy to find, read, and use page.
A good example of this is my post about How to Install Wrath of the Lich King on Linux. It’s not a particularly hard process, but a friend of mine was having a lot of difficulty with it. I got it installed, emailed him how to make it work, then thought I’d go ahead and throw those same instructions on my blog. To someone who has used Linux and Cedega for a while, it was relatively easy, but if this is your first go-around, it’s impossible. By providing the instructions in a simple, easy to read/use page, my traffic has increased significantly and I’ve now got a page that’s the first search result on Google for a topic.
You can do this too, just follow the two simple instructions above. 1) Optimize your WordPress setup to improve SEO, and 2) Write about stuff other people haven’t (admittedly, it helps if you’er also writing stuff that other people want to read!). Do that, and you can’t lose.