Do you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of your favorite blogs? What makes a blog tick? What would you find if you opened that door to the proverbial “backroom”? (not that Sup! knows anything about “backrooms”).
Maybe it’s not quite as exciting as getting into the Dodgers locker room, or sitting in on Steven Spielberg’s development meetings. But certainly it must have crossed your mind.
For one thing, why is it that some blogs get so much traffic and other (really great) blogs sit around unread and unloved?
Well, the answer is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It’s a complex world. But if you are going to play this blog game it’s something with which you need to become at least somewhat acquainted.
In my world, I say… if in doubt talk to an expert. Be it broken water mains, crashed hard drives, or pastry cream. There are some things Sup! is just not qualified to handle. In all things SEO my expert is Ishmael Sanchez. He is the tech-dude extrodinaire at SippitySup and he is here today to talk SEO 101. Drum Roll Please…
Search Engine Optimization from Wikipedia
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results as opposed to search engine marketing (SEM) which deals with paid inclusion.
Drupal is the content management system (CMS) that drives the sippitysup.com website. I have to admit I am a Drupal enthusiast and I believe that Drupal is the most search engine friendly CMS solution in existence today. When I came aboard the SippitySup team Greg wanted to increase our visibility on search engines.
Greg and I brainstormed and came up with a plan to increase traffic. The tips listed below are steps we took at SippitySup and aren’t necessarily Drupal specific, but more of best practices for increasing traffic.
Having interesting, creative or useful content is the most important technique for increasing traffic to your website. It is many times more effective than other optimization or site modification technique listed here. People know good content and will likely want to direct others towards it. Besides having quality content, you must be committed to posting regularlyâ€“ otherwise you will lose readership.
Analytics and referred traffic
Monitoring traffic is important so that you are aware of where traffic is coming from and what content is popular. Install some analytic software and review the results and help it guide content creation and link building efforts. I pushed Greg towards several including Google Analytics, as well as Site Meter and Clicky.
A common method used by search engines to determine the importance of your pages is the number of other sites that link to them (Often referred to as inbound links). Link building takes time, but is well worth the effort. Constantly promoting your site will improve your search rankings. Collaborating with other bloggers or sites and “trading links” is a great way to increase your inbound links.
Keep it clean
Enabling clean URLs on your server verses using query string parameters (things like ?page=10) in the URL is extremely important. Parameters listed in the URL make it more difficult for search engines to index your site. Don’t do anything to make indexing the site more difficult for search engines. Drupal uses a query parameter by default, but we have enabled clean and customizable URLs on SippitySup. For example the URL for this page is an easily indexed https://www.sippitysup.com/seo.
Standardize your URL
Redirect to a common URL to resolve canonicalization issues. Canonicalization is the process of picking the best URL when there are several options. For example
Although the URLs appear different, content served up from the different links is the same. The problem is that you are splitting your backlinks between different URL “versions” which can reduce your inbound links. Also, you could get a duplicate content penalty for having the same content at different URLs. Having a standard URL tends to mitigate these two issues. Try going to https://sippitysup.com and notice what happens in your web address bar after the site loads.
Easy to Read URLs
Use keyword rich URLs (sometimes called search-engine-friendly URLs). Keyword rich URLs are URLs with relevant words related to your content. These URLs are critical to a page’s search ranking. Also, these URLs are easier to remember in case someone wants to link to your site and they generally improve your site navigation. Look the URL of this page, https://www.sippitysup.com/seo, Greg can cutomize the URL of any page.
Use a Sitemap
Sitemaps “tell” search engines about the pages on a site that are available for indexing. A Sitemap lists URLs and meta data about each URL (last updated, how often it changes, priority level when related to other URLs) so that search engines can effectively index the site. In my experience using a sitemap will increase the likelihood of your pages being included in search results.
You can see our sitemap, which gets submitted to all the major search engines at https://www.sippitysup.com/sitemap.xml
Add meta descriptions and keywords. Meta descriptions appear on the search engine result pages and give a brief overview of the page content. Keywords are possible words that someone may type into search queries in hopes of finding content. Although the importance of keyword is often debated it is good practice to include them. If you view the code of our web pages (view source) you will see our meta descriptions and keywords. Greg has the ability to customize both on a page by page basis or set global ones.
Make changes to the robots.txt to reduce indexing of certain content and to avoid the duplicate content penalty.