Friday, June 07, 2013

Time for a refresher discussion of SEO (search engine optimization)

How important is SEO, search-engine optimization? 
I get a lot of emails offering SEO for a number of my blogs, and I generally ignore them.
This started to be a big topic in early 1998, as Google’s search engine in the Web 1.0 world grew rapidly.  At the time, there were a number of competing search engines (Lycos, Altavista) that were perceived as potentially as important.  Most “how-to” books then (including the “Dummies” guides) encouraged the use of meta-tags to name specific preferred search engine terms.  One of my favorite specific terms in those days was “Bill of Rights 2”. 
By midsummer 1998, it was clear that my sites were getting indexed according to content-specific search terms regardless of the user of metatags, and there seemed to be no reason to pay anyone for “optimization”.  Sounds like playing bad sport, doesn’t it!
Nerd Wallet does have a page about SEO that I’ll pass along, here. "MOZ" has a beginner's guide to SEWO here. Wordpress says it has some SEO plug-ins as explained here
One interesting suggestion is to enable Google+ on your Google account.  I find that my YouTiube videos (which are short) automatically get posted there.  Here the suggestions do discuss “guest authorship” which I discussed Tuesday.
There is a tool to check for broken links – and I must admit that I have so much it would be impossible to keep up with it.  One problem is YouTube embeds that stop working, sometimes because the user has been removed for multiple copyright complaints.  It’s a good idea to be picky about what you embed – to prefer items with many views that appear to be from legitimate content owners.
One important suggestion is to use content labels to aggregate items with some common similarity.  Blogging publishing packages use SQL (like MySQL) to aggregate postings by label and display them to the user on one page.  For example., on my Movie Reviews blog you can find all the reviews from a particular company (like Strand Releasing or Breaking Glass Pictures), or all the films that deal with “DADT” (the former “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for gays in the military).  This can be very useful, and make a reviews blog more useful to some visitors than, say, imdb or Wikipedia.
Traffic is slower these days than it was a few years ago (my own traffic hit its peak during the Financial Crisis of 2008 and the Obama presidential election). The main reason for this is probably competition from social media, which is now much more aggressive in presenting “personalized” news than it was even in 2008.  It also varies considerably from one day to the next, up and down.  Often the early part of the week (Sunday night through Tuesday) is the best.  One way to improve traffic is to consider the topics presented.  An item is likely to draw more traffic over time if it (1) isn’t widely covered on the Web by other sources, especially by the biggest corporate media sites, and (2) you can add your own unique perspective to the issue, perhaps based on personal experiences. 

In my case, the DADT issue is seen as somewhat settled, and “gay marriage” has entered the mainstream of everyday news coverage.  But “filial responsibility laws”, which few people know about haven’t  (although CNN gave the topic some buzz in late May of 2012).  I cover that on my “Bill Retires “ log and wrote a Wikipedia article on the topic in March 2013.  An important national security topic that doesn’t get covered nearly enough is power grid robustness  -- especially the ability of the power grid to withstand strong solar storms and even a possible electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack by terrorists.  That topic generates traffic, and it’s scary that the danger is so little known in the mainstream.  It’s not a right-wing fantasy; it’s real.  In the free speech area, an important area seems to be likely challenges to the immunity from downstream liability that Section 230 provides – all of which makes this blog possible.  Still another topic is how the web would work in an environment of strict “do not track”.  

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