I have achieved my goal of getting to page 2 of Google for the term “travel blog”. Here is how I did it:
- First, I read up on search engine optimization. I had no clue what Google looked for and so this was really a necessary step. Your rank depends on two things: the content of your site and incoming links.
- I got a Pro account on SEOmoz.org and used their tools to analyze my site. I was able to run reports for which sites are ranked highest, where I rank, how the content of my page performs, etc. This was invaluable.
- I made subtle changes to the page. You might have noticed that I changed the title of the site from “Everything Everywhere” to “Everything Everywhere Travel Blog”. Not only is a bit more descriptive for people to stumble the site, but it also helps having the keyword you want in the title. Moreover, most of the people who linked to me will link the term “Everything Everywhere Travel Blog” which helps dramatically in determine where you show up. A very small change, but important.
- If you look at the site, you will notice a few other small changes. Under the RSS button, I changed “Subscribe to my RSS feed” to “Subscribe to my Travel Blog’s RSS feed”. Under the Bloggers Choice Award button I changed “vote for me” to “Click to vote for Best Travel Blog”. I put that in strong tags. I added a copyright notice at the bottom and used the H3 tag. Google looks to see how the term is used. By liberally putting the term on the page in different tags (headers, bold, links), it will add to the score of the page.
- I moved my blogroll to a separate page. This did several things. 1) I can liberally add many sites if I want to do link exchanges without bogging down every other page. 2) By limiting outbound links on every page, I can better preserve my page rank. 3) If I get page rank nuked for having lots of links, I am isolating it to a single page, not the rest of my site. 4) I am creating a page with the term “Travel Blog” in the URL.
- I did a search on SEOmoz on the top 200 sites ranked under “Travel Blog”. Many of them were directories. I submitted my blog to those directories and put the tiny button at the bottom of my site. That gives me links incoming. I also added rel=”nofollow” to all the outgoing directory links so I don’t get hurt on Page Rank. They still get links and the image, but it doesn’t hurt Page Rank. I also get a small trickle of traffic from the directories. Only put nofollow on the directory links and will link liberally when needed in normal posts.
- If you scroll down, you’ll see I had a day where I posted like 400 links to websites. I did it on this site, even though the link I added was for my other site. That has probably given me over 400 inbound links, all with the term “Travel Blog”. My Technorati rank went from 70,000 to almost 20,000. I totally stumbled into that link list, but it worked and I didn’t have to worry about the Page Rank backlash by putting it on my main site.
- Most of this was one time work. It shouldn’t require a ton of attention now that it is up and running. To rank higher I need quality links, not quantity. That will come from content, not gimmicks. I will probably never rank #1 because there are sites which have “TraveBlog” in the domain name. Most of the first page are either sites that host travel blogs, or the blogs from the travel editors of big newspapers. Also, the age of a site is a factor, and my site isn’t that old.
- I may do something similar for when I launch the podcast. Getting on page one for “travel podcast” should be much easier. Only 4 of the items on the front page are actual podcasts. I will have to make sure and label it the “Everything Everywhere Travel Podcast”.
The whole SEO process was very educational. I am confident I could do this for other sites now. There are some subtle things I have yet to learn, but overall, it isn’t rocket science.