You asked, and I will do my best to answer. Welcome to a delayed version of Man Day: “Ask a Tech” Edition:
Leilani from Just a Touch of Crazy asked about SEO: “Have you done a post about how to write your content for good SEO? You should, if you haven’t. Because I try reading other posts and article about that and I can’t really follow what they’re saying. So you should write one that is very direct, with words I will understand. :)”
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
This is kind of a sore spot because after our recent transfer to WordPress I am currently going back and optimizing ALL of the previous posts for the site. It’s the technical equivalent of plucking one’s eyebrows (or so I am told.) My mission was to find the easiest, fastest, most efficient way to do this. After trying out a number of options, I went with Yoast WordPress SEO. Let me show you why:
Once you finish a post, the space down below will look like this:
Snippit Preview- Rundown of the text contained in your post
Focus Keyword- Choose one or two words, preferably words that turn all of the conditions below green
SEO Title- Will Use the post title by default. Can be edited to be something different.
Meta Description– Short description of the post rife with the keywords you want to use.
And that is pretty much it. Easy-Peasy. Except for the judgement phase. Did I mentioned you would be judged?
If you are found wanting you will get a “bad” rating. Bad means bad bad, not awesome bad, or bad to the bone, or even Michael Jackson Bad. It means you have work to do. Fortunately, you can click that “check” button right next to the red light and you will get a detailed description of the good and bad points of your offering. Like this:
It’s pretty detailed and will guide you directly to what you need to do to make your post acceptable. You don’t need everything green to qualify, just a weighted majority. If you don’t turn the red light green, you can work on these individual bullet points until it happens. After a while you will learn to write your post with these guidelines in mind which I suspect is the point of the whole exercise.
Now this is pretty simple and there are better and more in-depth options available, but I wouldn’t recommend them. In the end SEO Optimization will only help you around the edges. I researched the Alexa stats for the bigger sites that Jennifer follows and checked the percentage of visits to the site generated from search engines and the highest I could find was 4%. Most were 2% or under. If they are like Jennifer’s site, the majority of the terms searched will be your site’s name (we track this). Only a few times will people stumble over a term contained in your keywords (Jennifer got “Bad Mommy Photos” once, I don’t remember using THOSE keywords, heh!)
The majority of your traffic will come from networking and social media. So if the choice comes between pouring an hour into SEO or sharing content effectively on Twitter, you are far better of spending your time tweeting.
Camille, from Colorado Springs Tours and Reviews asks “Is there a stats provider you like better than Google Analytics?”
Just about every other option to be honest. It is my experience that Google Analytics undercounts your visits by quite a bit. The crosstab information you get, however, is pretty good and you can track trends, which is important. I certainly would look at the numbers, but I wouldn’t take them as gospel. Currently we use statpress, which the several dozen message boards that I have seen place it somewhere in between dramatically understating or criminally overstating your traffic, so this porridge is just right! The reporting we are getting seems to track well with what is being reported with Alexa, so it looks to be accurate to a degree.
My only real complaint with statpress is, although it does report spider traffic separately, it does seem to let some spiders through and reports the hits as normal traffic every once in a while. I suspect that this was by design by the people employing the spider rather than an oversight by statpress. It would be nice if sometime after the 100th hit for the day from the same IP address it would stop counting that IP. We had a couple of days last month with 20,000 views in one day. That isn’t real and we have to throw those days out as outliers when calculating our average daily traffic. That also reminds me. Make sure that your site is secure!