Friday, October 19, 2007

I Rank, Therefore I Am

I've become obsessed with Google Analytics. Ever since I figured out that if you want the program to work you actually have to install the script on your site (yeah, I know; I'm hopeless), I check it at least once a day to see where my traffic's coming from. I do this for both my blog and my business site. When I first started tracking, my traffic was coming in through various links I'd gathered and some others who generously decided to link to my site on their own.

Then I started to notice traffic from Search coming in at my business site. The search terms didn't look like phrases used by potential buyers (which is my ideal scenario); they were things like "how to open a locked safe" and "distinctive clothes of the 80's." My writing samples, which are all over the map subject-wise, were picking up search traffic. Not terrible--hey, one of those searchers might be looking for someone to write something on those topics--but not likely to be buyers.

Then I started noticing a small trickle from a search term I've actually been targeting. I think I did a little dance in my office. I did a search for that exact term, and saw that I was on page four of the Google SERP's. Okay, so that's hardly gold star rankings. But it's better than not at all, which is what I had been ranking before. Yep, it's possible for your site not to show up in any search engine, anywhere, at all. My first website had no online game.

My boyfriend, who is a brilliant person but not a pro designer, set that first website up. My goal was to simply have something to show clients looking for samples. It was very basic; there were maybe three samples on it, all from my first forays into freelancing, mostly in .pdf format. This summer I decided to see if I was capable of more. Here's what I've done so far to get myself ranked on Page Four of an actual real-live targeted search term.

Redo my website. I taught myself very basic Dreamweaver skills and designed my new website myself. Is it perfect? No. I probably have a long way to go. Is it better than my old site? Absolutely. It's got a lot of content in terms of samples, it's more focused toward web writing (which I've come to concentrate on), and it's a bit snazzier than before. It's also got some basic SEO principles on there: I incorporated bread crumb navigation and I wrote a separate title tag for each page. Look out, Aaron Wall.

Submit to website directories. Directories don't give you traffic, but they can give you PageRank. Some of these directories, like DMOZ, carry a lot of authority on the net. If they link to you using one of your chosen keywords, search engines are more likely to serve you up when someone types in those phrases--or so I understand. I found a list of website directories and submitted my website to all the free ones. I used targeted keywords as anchor text (the words you actually use as a link), and looked for deep as well as home page links whenever I could. To the uninitiated: a "deep" link is a link to a page within a deeper level of your website--my article on the benefits of an autoresponder series, which is a few clicks in, would be an example of a page on a deeper level. A home page link just links to your index page.

Start a blog. Originally I was planning to put this blog on Wordpress and upload it to my own site. But I was all teched out by the time I got to that point. I just wanted to get started writing without facing another steep learning curve, and figuring out how to install Wordpress myself was just too much for me to handle at the time. The website talks about how easy it is to install. They're liars.

Anyway, this blog has brought quite a bit of traffic to my website. It links to it, obviously--but it brings in search traffic, too. I read a cautionary article once that blogs on Blogger addresses aren't indexed by Google because of that "" address, but mine comes up in search results.

Write articles for other blogs. I've written some free articles for blogs I like, including few links using targeted keywords. I try to include two or three links: one to the home page of my site, one to a deeper page like my services or samples page, and one to my blog. I'm careful about the words I choose as anchor text.

Write articles for directories. I've been moving forward slowly on my article marketing campaign. I've submitted ten articles to Ezine Articles, each with a resource box with links back to my site. Most of these articles have gotten syndicated. I've submitted an article to IdeaMarketers, too. So far it only has six views and one syndication--but it's only been a week.

That about wraps it up for the effort I've put in to get ranked for this keyword. To be honest, I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it this soon--I've only been working on this since August. I know, there are probably plenty of folks out there who are top ranked all over the place in the first three months of their SEO campaign. My thought on that is they may be using some dark-side SEO tactics, because organic search is supposed to take a while. If not, more power to 'em. Organic SEO is a long process, and I've got to fit this in around client work and other commitments. But hey--it does work!

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