Thursday, June 17, 2010

Shooting for the stars: Day Twenty-two - not exactly a giant leap for Mankind...But definitely some not so small steps for us.

It's difficult to apply the classic marketing rules of engagement to our own situation. We're publishing a not-for-profit, experimental blog; we're not selling anything to anyone. We're curious about Social Media and want to share our experience with others who are interested in taking small steps in the same direction. But what if we were earnestly promoting our blog..? What should we be doing to increase visibility?

The Universe of Metatags, Key Phrases and Search 'Bots'
We gamely interrogated another friend (seduced to offer information in exchange for Keri's coconut brownies). This chocolate lover was -- in a previous incarnation -- also a web designer who learned about Internet marketing by promoting his own bricks and mortar business. We asked him to explain the mysteries of Google rankings. (We're still puzzled about why certain older days of our blogs continue to rank higher than more recent postings -- when everyone tells us that the search 'bots' like fresh content best.)

According to our source, metatags (i.e. the information that attracts the attention of search engines) comprise three levels of information:

  1. Title of your blog/site
  2. Keywords
  3. Description

The title of your blog is the most important source of information for the search engines. It needs to be relevant and reflect the content of your blog. Keywords have become incredibly sophisticated, and to get this right requires an ongoing military campaign. Our expert suggests that keywords are insufficient these days. Instead, he favors key phrases; a minimum of 2-3 words in a single phrase.

The (Internet) Space Race

To identify useful phrases for your own blog/website, he recommends typing the key phrase you are thinking of using into Google and then look at, say, the top 10 pages of results to understand the sites associated with this phrase. Then look at the source code for several of the top ranking sites and work out which key search terms they are using. (Sounds like industrial espionage this, but apparently, it's fair play as people jostle for pre-eminence in Google's rankings!) Google analytics is another useful source for identifying trends, however, as our insider confirms, yet again, this is an inexact science, a case of ongoing trial and error: "If anyone could really tell how Google ranks sites, what algorithms its search engines use, they could make millions." Another word of advice, make sure that you repeat your keywords and phrases in the body content of your blog. Apparently one of the things that the search engine looks for is relative relationships, that is, whether the key phrases you have flagged is supported by the actual content of your site.

A short digression while we revisit the issue of the naming of our blog... "It's one of the silliest names I've ever come across," confirms our source. "When you pick a name, keep two rules in mind; can you say it over the radio without having to spell it out? Is it three syllables or less?"

With only six more posts to write, we'd like to end on a cultural note and cite words of encouragement from a Victorian poem Andrea del Sarto by Robert Browning.

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a Heaven for?"


If we hadn't come up with a silly name and started writing this silly blog we'd never have found out about any of this silly stuff.

Posted by Claire

1 comment:

Valerie wilcox said...

Amazing how much info you can gather by plying people with wine and chocolate! Great stuff. Only six more posts to go!! Wah! how blog time flies...hope you leave it up for a while I'd be curious if you continue to get visitors.