The Magic* of SEO

This post was originally written by Mia Iverson.

The other day it was quitting time at work and a couple of us gathered around a computer monitor, talking about the new fall television shows, and wanting to check out one of J.J. Abrams’ newest creations: Alcatraz. Unsatisfied with my coworker’s search terms in Google to bring about the proper sneak peek video I had already seen, I took over his computer and typed in a few keywords that I knew would get me the results I wanted. I was right, but was surprised by the fact that my own blog showed up fourth in organic results. That’s right, somehow I nabbed the No. 4 spot right behind Hollywood ReporterTV Line and Fox…in that order.

Working at a web-marketing think-tank brings its advantages. While I’m not directly working on development and SEO tactics for our clients’ websites and platforms, I do pick up things here and there. Apparently, my subconscious blogging mind harbored SEO strategy that manifested itself within my blog.

use SEO "magic" to improve PageRank

Few things of note: I started my personal blog before I joined RNL, and perhaps the early posts didn’t reflect the best SEO skills, but ranking on Google was never an objective and still isn’t. I started my blog as part of a New Year’s Resolution in the early months of 2010. A year and five months later, the content and theme of the site hasn’t changed much, but how I tell the story with each post has.

First and foremost, I title my blog posts with the most short and concise titles as possible. I like to think that my stint in a journalism school helped me develop this skill. Secondly, if I’m alluding to something that I believe requires more in-depth discovery by the reader, I link it. Better yet, I embed the link within anchor text. After all, it’s aesthetically displeasing to drop in an ugly link and position it between parentheses.

Yes:  Check out J.J. Abrams’ new show Alcatraz premiering spring 2012 on Fox.

No:  Check out J.J. Abrams’ new show Alcatraz (www.fox.com/alcatraz) premiering spring 2012 on Fox.

And that’s it. That’s really all I do.

But Mia, it takes time to develop good SEO skills, show up in organic Google results, etc. Why yes it does, but another thing Google looks at when determining page rank is fresh, relevant content. Just as you pick the freshest fruit from the grocery store, Google too looks in favor of websites who constantly have fresh and relevant content. I normally update my blog anywhere from two to four times a week depending on my latest “finds” on the interwebs. Furthermore, Google crawls websites. The deeper embedded a particular page is on your site, the “harder”, for lack of a better term, it will be for Google to find it. That being said, as I keep posting to my blog, my post on Alcatraz will become buried within the second and third pages of my blog and in return drop within Google’s ranks. But for now, it’s all fresh, shiny and new and displaying on the front page of my blog.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, is the subject of keywords and search terms. Going off the grocery store metaphor, more times than not you have a grocery list prepared when hitting up your local market. Not to say that some like to walk down every aisle, but for metaphor’s sake, you have a grocery list. Likewise, when you search in Google, it looks at your search term (the grocery list) and pulls items accordingly, populating the search results page (groceries).

Now, some search terms are more competitive than others. If were to type in “Alcatraz trailer,” I have no doubt that my blog post wouldn’t have showed up in first page results, let alone second or third page. But because I typed in, “Fox fall preview Alcatraz,” my blog did show up. Why? Because the title of my post, “Fox Fall Preview :: Alcatraz,” reflected the key terms searched. Furthermore, no one just searches one key term; they search a string of key terms. Just like when you go to the grocery store, you don’t look for cookie dough or apples, you usually have a particular brand in mind like Nestle chocolate chip cookie dough or gala apples…yum. It depends on the search terms, the key words embedded within your content, and what Google believes matches the search terms.

In short, my blog is a hobby and I never aimed to show up in Google’s organic search results, let alone in the top five. I got lucky. But it wasn’t all by chance either. I took to mind, albeit subconsciously when I was writing away from the office, good blogging techniques, and applied them to my blog.

Let me stress that there isn’t some magic formula, but if you are patient and write good, anchor texting, keyword relevant, original content on a fairly consistent basis, I wouldn’t be surprised to find you also popping up in my next Google search.

*In order to not mislead the reader, I in fact did not attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry ;D

Sara Heins, StorageAhead Writer

Sara is a St. Louis native and recent graduate of the Mizzou journalism school who alternates her spare time activities between exercising and Netflix binges. She is a former content writer at StorageAhead.

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