Lessons Learned from Blogging

By Jeff Campbell, VP Product Development & Innovation

I learn by doing, simple as that. About a month ago, I was inspired to jump on the blog bandwagon and am surprised how well what I’ve learned translates into Search Engine Marketing:

1. Picking/finding an interesting niche topic (interesting for you and readers/searchers). With Technorati’s latest State of the Blogosphere Report showing there is a new blog created every 1.4 seconds (and over 70 million blogs already out there), the more specific the target, the better if you are to gain readership and search engine rankings. I wanted to keep track of wines I’ve enjoyed over the years and avoid repeating the non-enjoyable ones. There are an endless amount of wine reviews sites out there, but few focusing on ‘cheap’ wine (<$15) and few using humor in the reviews. I used tools like Keyword Discovery to find words like “cheap” and “inexpensive” + wine = ranking opportunity. 2. Publicize it at every opportunity. Grass-roots marketing at its finest. The catch 22 of search engines rankings is they consider your current traffic a factor determining your SERP rankings; to increase your chances of top rankings to gain new traffic, it helps to already have a baseline of active visitors. Involve your friends for guest postings. Heck, use your work blog to promote your personal blog. http://awineaweek.com/ – check it out. I also made myself findable by creating RSS feeds and submitting them to the major readers and track the adoption. I’ve created/updated profiles in the major social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Digg, MyBlogLog, Technorati, Del.icio.us, etc.) to include a link to my blog. After giving a few thumbs-up/favorites/reviews out to others, the reciprocity has been overwhelming.

3. Basic web development and HTML. I was astonished how easy it was to select a basic template on Blogger.com and create my blog. Leaving the WYSIWYG template and making HTML edits was a bit scarier. Thanks to trial and error, I can now read, write, and edit basic HTML. Outside of HTML, I conquered many other web development tasks such as buying a domain name, setting a 301 redirect, and masking my free .blogspot.com domain.

4. Applying SEO best practices works indeed. Using keyword-rich URLs and post titles, manually adding alt tags to my images, and editing meta data are minor tasks that the common blogger is not doing and should help with search engine rankings. I’m still struggling with adding a site map and playing nice with the W3C validator, but there are endless resources out there that tell me how to do this. 72% of my March traffic is from new visitors, 56% coming from search engines. I installed tags for Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo! Site Explorer to help me see what the search engines see (and got indexed quickly!).

5. Using web analytics. I know where my traffic is coming from and why it came from there. I know that a review about 1 Chianti brought double the traffic of 10 Pinot Noirs combined. I know the right mix of small vineyards to popular ones, or California wines to French wines. I know what works because I use web analytics. I installed Google Analytics in 6 minutes, without knowing a lick of HTML. I’ve set up multiple behavior profiles and have my traffic segmented four ways to Sunday.

6. Seeing results. I’ve lived through the pain of DMOZ submission. I’ve seen how much and how quickly StumbleUpon can generate traffic. I have seen the power of Google Webmaster Tools firsthand. I know what trips Yahoo!’s trigger for rankings. I am in a better position to add value to clients because of my blog experiences.

Learn by doing…and enjoy a good cheap wine in the process!

Posted by: Jeff Campbell, VP Product Development & Innovation


Bryson said...

Great post! Learning by doing has worked for me and a lot of other SEOs that I know. I've been through the Advanced SEO course offered by SEMPO, and while it's helpful, there are some things that can be better explained if experienced. I'd encourage everyone trying to learn the trade to supplement their education by putting their knowledge in to practice, just as you did.

I've been enjoying the blog, so I'll give you some more SEO advice to practice: Buy wineaweek.com, winoweek.com, awineaweak.com and awinoweek.com and permanently redirect them to the main domain for reputation management and direct navigation purposes. And submit your URL to GoodURLBadURL.com for another link. Otherwise, nice work! Keep it up.

Aaron Goldman said...

Thanks for the tee-up Bryson! Here's the Good URL Bad URL advice... if you don't want to be a Bad URL, make sure to use AWineAWeek.com whenever you promote your site. Drop the http -- we all know how to use the address bar. And Leading Caps Will Help Each World Stand Out At A Glance.

CJeffCampbell said...

Bryson, those 4 domains would cost me like $40. My AdSense has only made $1.86 so far :(

Bryson said...

JC, in that case buy WineAWeek.com for direct navigation and save the other three for when you're making more on AdSense. Although I might have to buy WinoWeek.com just for fun.

BTW, you just made a few more cents on AdSense. Remaining domains, here you come.

Aaron Goldman said...

Do I smell a little click fraud going on here?!

JC, congrats you're officially a Bad URL.

And Bryson, posted your good spot of a Bad URL too.

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