The first iteration of my blog was called The Calvin Show and, to my surprise, it got a decent amount of traffic almost from the very beginning. I’ll always be thankful to Calvin Klein for most of those visitors because my blog began showing up in search engine results when people would search for the brand’s fashion shows. After five or six years, a name change and a switch from Blogger to WordPress, I officially rebranded my blog as Thursday’s Journal. Unfortunately, I have seen less organic traffic to my site even though the content, in my humble, unbiased opinion, is at a premium level.
LA big part of my struggle has been trying to get a handle on search engine optimization (SEO). What is SEO? In a nutshell, it’s a marketing discipline that aims to help grow a website’s visibility in organic search engine results. There are so many components of executing a successful SEO plan and, to be honest, it can be incredibly overwhelming at times. I’ve got no one to blame but myself for my SEO game being subpar and that has been a bitter pill to swallow. So, what am I going to do about it?
So, what am I going to do about it? Consistently testing things out. The first thing, though, is figuring out how to test things. If you’re looking for an article that will solve all of your SEO problems, I feel bad for you. You just won’t find it. However, in addition to three of my thoughts, I’ve also listed out additional resources below that might help you on your journey of becoming one of the most visible links in major search engine. Let’s get started, shall we?
Here’s the deal: making sure your website or blog loads quickly is paramount. Think about it: how likely are you to stay on a website if the landing page or subsequent pages seem to take an eternity to load? For me, any site that takes more than 5 seconds to load is not worth my time. 5 seconds! It might sound extreme but that is the reality of today’s web browser.
What can slow your website down? Large images and I am a victim of this! Save images with the dimensions of what you’re site can handle. If the recommended full-width image dimensions are 1080 pixels wide, don’t go any larger than that. Use JPGs instead of PNGs because the former can be compressed into a lower file size. For 2017, I have tasked myself with going through my blog to better optimize the images I use.
Another thing to tackle? Leveraging browser caching. Say what? When you go to a website, it has to load a bunch of things, right? The logo, any images, the CSS you’ve added, etc. Make things easier by having your web page files stored in the browser cache. Why? It’ll allow your website to load much faster for returning visitors.
2. RISE UP AGAINST THE BIG GUYS!
Here’s the deal…again: if you’re just starting a blog, the unfortunate reality is that you are not going to be able to easily outrank your competitors on search engines. Right away. Don’t be defeated because of this! You can still rise up to let bigger websites and blogs know you mean business.
Know the value of the keywords you use on your site and in its content. This is very important in the SEO game. Popular keywords have a ton of competition around them so it can be difficult to have them work for you. Figure out your niche and lean into those keywords. For instance, if you blog about street style, do some keyword research around this topic. Find keywords that strike the balance of being popular without being too competitive.
3. LINKS MATTER!
Here’s the deal…for the third and final time in this article: backlinks influence your ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs). Backlinks, which are links pointing to your site from other websites and social media platforms, help determine whether or not your website is legit and authoritative. When a strong website with relevant content to your own links to you, Google and other search engines smile in your favor. This helps boost your ranking. When a bunch of crap, spam-filled sites with irrelevant content to your own links to you, search engines purse their lips like Miranda Priestly did at the James Holt preview. This is not good for your site. Bad, bad, bad.
Example time! Pitchfork has published a handful of articles about a singer/songwriter that I interviewed on my site and somewhere in each of these Pitchfork’s articles, they hyperlink to my interview. A backlink from a site like Pitchfork tells Google that my site has authoritative content (duh) which is a win for me.
The frustrating part of backlinks? They are essentially out of your control. Unless you have a great relationship with someone at a popular website who can do you a solid or are executing a digital partnership, getting decent backlinks can be difficult. This is where networking, collaborating and effectively pitching yourself as a contributor comes into play.
Side note: you should also list your website in official directories like those on LinkedIn and, of course, in every profile description on social media. It sounds simple enough but you’d be surprised at how even some established companies, let alone bloggers, do this.
Addressing and strengthening all components of SEO are important but I believe the three listed items are essential. After years of working in digital media, I believe in paid support but…organic traffic ain’t dead just yet.
Other SEO resources to check out:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google PageSpeed Tools
- Google Trends (this is also a great tool if you’re site creates of-the-moment content)
- SEO: The Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization
- Varvy’s Leverage Browser Caching