Brandi Koskie, the director of publishing at DietsInReview.com is proficient in SEO best practices and the simple and effective tricks of the trade that can help grow traffic and visibility for your blog. She shared that knowledge in the following Fitbloggin 12 session: Drive More Traffic Through SEO
Session begins: I’m Brandi Koskie the director of publishing at DietsInReview.com something I started with a couple of friends from college 6 years ago and many of you have helped it stick around for 6 years and helped it grow to be one of the largest health sites on the web so thank you. We are the largest diet review site on the web. We have a tremendous team of contributors.
DietsInReview.com started 6 years ago with the idea that there really wasn’t any third party unbiased place on the web you could go and learn about all these books and programs and pills and gadgets so we wanted to create that space and we have. As you can imagine the diet industry is a big one to try and break into as far as getting traffic and we rely heavily on SEO tactics and best practices to help us grow the site that we did. We managed to do that surprisingly quickly within our first year. We can be found on page one of Google for a lot of really top terms because we worked really hard at practicing these tips and following the rules.
How many of you know what SEO is or have heard of it? Many hands go up.
For those hands that didn’t go up it stands for Search Engine Optimization it where you tweak and work the back end of your site and work your content so that its optimized so that your content isn’t on page 312. The point is if you are not on page one you probably aren’t going to get any traffic. I kind of struggled for the last few weeks with this presentation because SEO within the last year and a half has really changed. A lot of sites including our own have been tremendously effected because Google constantly tweaks their algorithm. No one really knows what’s in the algorithm but there are some sure things that go into it which are the things we are going to talk about today. Even for sites like us, it’s not as easy anymore. It is something we practice with every piece of content we put out there because it is valuable and worthwhile. It can really affect your traffic, it doesn’t affect your traffic tomorrow or next week or next month. It’s one of those things you need to keep practicing to see benefits.
Brandi shared a few tools she uses:
www.google.com/insights/search/# Brandi uses this page throughout her day it’s basically a keyword finder and it also shows trends.
One of the most important things you want to do in your publishing is make sure you have the right keywords in your page title and your headline and metadata in the back of your post. Make sure you are linking the right words.
How many of you have ever gone to Google and searched “Click This” or “Click Here” or “Check this out” or “when I posted about it here.” No one searches for those but people are searching for “Black Bean Brownie” or “Awesome Zumba Shoes” or “How to ride a cow.” People are searching for very specific things. When you are linking in your post, creating your headlines or crafting your page titles make sure you use the right keywords. Don’t use arbitrary terms no one searches.
Google Insights is a really great tool, it’s free and you can search something like Zumba, filter by United States, the last 12 months. It produces the Top 10 terms related to Zumba (Zumba Fitness, Zumba Reviews, Where to Zumba, How to Zumba, Zumba Shoes, Zumba DVDs…) It will also show 10 Terms that are trending so maybe it’s “Jenifer Aniston Zumba” maybe she was in the news recently about Zumba or maybe it’s “Zumba at Fitbloggin” because suddenly all these people are talking about Zumba at Fitbloggin. The great thing about those is it gives you a chance to get in front of those terms and trends. You can talk about what ever these are, put them in your keywords so that when the searches really do take off in those keywords you are in that group of people that have been talking about them.
www.google.com/trends This page Brandi used to call the most valuable page on the internet and then 2 months ago Google changed it and it’s half great now. It used to be updated by the hour. It’s the Top 20 searches on the internet. This is really great for staying on top of trending topics to push articles out that are happening. Example: Last February the #1 term was “Buffalo Chicken Dip” and you would think that for DietsinReview.com it’s not necessarily a perfect fit but we took that recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip and we reworked it and slashed more than half the calories and we put the article up and that day was one of our highest traffic days ever. It was because Buffalo Chicken Dip was trending and we were able put the post up quickly and we were able to jump on that wave. Now with the changes it shows you what the hottest searches are within the last couple of days. A few days ago “Kate Middleton” was trending so maybe talk about Kate Middleton and Body Image. Find some way to make it applicable to you. Not only is it relevant to your site but you will be able to take advantage of a lot of traffic that is already going on.
Google Adwords Tool for keywords
https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool Again you can throw a word in here and if you want you can even put your website in and it will pull keywords that are even more relevant to your website. It will pull up a really long list of keywords but with it it will also show you how much those keywords are earning, popularity against other keywords, related deeper terms.
So How Do You Use All this Stuff?
One of the ways you are going to use this data is in the back end of your WordPress. Brandi suggested getting Custom Fields or SEO Plugin. Basically it is a form that has 3 lines in: Page Title, Description, Keywords
This is your metadata that Google uses to add your page to search. This is the information that Google will crawl and look at. It’s not going to look at your blog post first; it’s not going to look at your headline, it’s going to look at this metadata at the back end of your site. You’ve got the body text where you write all your blog post and this just drops in, it’s a cell right underneath that. It’s not hard, it’s not complicated, all of my writers from the interns on up use it.
The first thing you are going to look at is page title. Google looks at that before it looks at your website. If you are not putting anything up there besides my website.com then you are doing yourself a disservice. Not many people are searching DietsinReview people are searching for “Black Bean Brownie” and “Kate Middleton” they are searching these keywords so you have to make sure those types of words are on your page.
Brandi shared a few sites of fellow Fitbloggers who volunteered to have their sites used as an example and be critiqued.
www.alltheweigh.com Page title example: “The Law Suit” which is OK but she’s not going to get as much traffic better would have been, “The Southwest Airlines Too Fat to Fly Lawsuit.” People are searching for that, that’s a page title Google will like. You want it really specific when you can. 70 characters or less. Anything more than 70 breaks off and Google doesn’t see it.
Discussed Google Title and Clickable Title being different but they can sometimes be the same title.
http://mollytics.com shared a series page title she does on her site called Mix Tape Monday. Page title example: MixTape Monday September 7, 2012. Her readers know exactly what this is but if she’s trying to get more readers to check out her music round-up she’s got to do a little bit more. I would start with a page title: Videos because on her post she has an Abbott Brothers video and a Florence and the Machine video. People love videos, millions are searching videos. So the page title I would suggest is Videos for Abbott Brothers and Florence and the Machine that’s what is most interesting to Google. I would remove the date in the Headline it’s already on the side. It’s not that interesting. What is interesting to Google is: Mix Tape Monday: Abbott Brothers and Florence and the Machine. That’s what’s interesting, that’s what people are going to want to click, that’s what’s going to rank and drive traffic.
With SEO you are either writing for a really big audience and trying to get traffic or you are writing for your Mom and Grandma. Your Mom and your Grandma like your kitschy headlines but it’s not going to get you a lot of traffic.
Audience question: Should you go back and change titles? Answer: Absolutely. You should go back and change titles. This year DietsinReview went back and manually changed thousands of titles that were all over 70 characters long and were hurting us. Anytime you update your page it tells Google you have new content. If you haven’t changed your home page in three years Google probably hasn’t crawled your homepage. Content needs to be updated. SEO is like a spider. It’s really hungry and it wants food. You can put food out for the spider. It’s going to come over crawl and eat.
We did an article about the FDA finally approving the weight loss drug Lorcaserin. We had been following the news for a few years so when the news broke that day of its approval we went back and updated the old articles before we did the new piece. These articles have already been online for a while. We started each one with Update 9/22/12: and a quick paragraph about what the update is: Lorcaserin got approved by the FDA. It refreshes it and that information already ranks. If people are searching for it they will find our Lorcaserin page. So once we do all the updates we do the brand new post.
So that’s Page Titles and Headlines. Play with your headlines put the most interesting stuff at the very front. Play with it, rearrange the words, front load the important and most interesting information.
Name your photos. People don’t search for IMG_5962 People search for hummus, people search for chickpeas, but people don’t search for IMG_5962 We get so much traffic from Google Images and you can too. It doesn’t take any more time or effort. It doesn’t have to get too deep “Hummus.” “Homemade Hummus” just name it. You want to add an alt tag too.
You are going to name your photo; You are going to upload that to WordPress; You are going to publish your blog post; You are going to immediately go back grab that url and place that on the image, then add the title tag.
An audience member added that not only may it help with ranking but for the blind readers it can tell them the image’s text description if you add an alt tag, two or three keywords that tells Google what that link is.
Brandi shared another Fitblogger’s site as an example and a question was asked about potential better Page Titles. Original title: I sold my grocery store soul for $1. Brandi suggested adding the words Couponing, Couponing and Healthy Food, Couponing Tips. Those are some really great keywords so I would make sure that those are up there.
Another thing about keywords. Don’t put 65 keywords. Less is more. 5-10 keywords that really identify what your post is. Also use a few common misspelled keywords in the back of your metadata: Weight Watchers versus Wieght Watchers. Jillian Michaels, Julian Michaels, Micheals. Consider the popular misspellings don’t get ridiculous like a Kindergartner wrote it but use those basic misspellings to your advantage. Keywords separated by commas. Once again use Google Trends to see what is the most popular. Example: Workout Shoes, Fitness Shoes, Exercise Shoes. If Fitness Shoes is the most popular you want that in your title and the others in your keywords.
SEO is all about organic traffic. It’s not traffic from your Mom who has your site bookmarked and visits every day. Organic traffic are people sent from search engines, sent from Facebook.
Off-site ways to increase your SEO: Guest blogging is really great way to boost your SEO because Google wants to know that you are an authority. Guest blogging enhances your authority. Brandi shared the example of the relationship HelloGiggles.com and DietsinReview.com have. DietsinReview publishes a post once a month on HelloGiggles and Hello Giggles gives DietsinReview an article once a month. No one is getting paid.
It’s original. It always has to be original because we have the problem of people stealing our content. Google will then see two versions on the same exact page and Google doesn’t know who owns it so maybe the other page who stole the content will out rank us on our own content. It happens to everyone. Don’t give away your content. If you have already written a post “10 ways to save money on school lunches” and you want to do a swapping content deal but don’t have time to do new content, tweak it a little bit make it “5 ways to save money on school lunches.” We only accept original content and we only share original content.
Example of a Hello Giggles guest post article http://hellogiggles.com/sparkling-berrier-perrier-slushes where DietsinReview shared a recipe: Picnic-Perfect Red and Sweet Potato Salad recipe. The link goes back to us and lots of people search for it. We are not only getting the traffic from people that click on it but it’s also going to give it more weight on our site. When people search for it Google will think we are an authority on it. Guest relationships help your SEO because it shows Google other people like you and think your work is important enough to link to.
Again only do unique content. Don’t republish old content that will hurt you in SEO. We were having a talk yesterday about taking vacation from your blog and taking old content back out and republishing on your main page. Don’t ever do that.
www.copyscape.com (site not completely free but cheap) scans the Internet to see whether there is a match on the internet and what percentage it matches 100%, 80%. If you have never worked with someone as a guest blogger scan their stuff through copyscape and if it’s a copy write back and say “Hey I used copyscape and it says this is a dead on match for something you published already for someone else” and give them an opportunity to fix it or a thanks for your time it’s not going to work out.
That’s the first thing I tell my guest bloggers it must be original content, not published before and you can’t turn around months from now and publish it somewhere else. We get people that want to give it to us but still want to use it on their own blog and you can use a snippet: Hey I guest blogged on DietsInReview.com with a little snippet. Take the first paragraph and then say something like see the rest of it over at DietsInReview.com
Question from the audience re: guest blogging requests and whether to reply to random requests. Brandi shared you might want to reply to them, depending on their site it might work out, another one of DietsInReview.com requirements for guest blogging is to link back to the DietsInReview.com site and you gain reciprocal links.
Question from the audience re: follow/no follow links. Most links are just open follow links Google can see this goes back to DietsInReview.com. If it were a no follow link (like Yahoo Shine) Google wouldn’t know that this text is a link, it’s just text to Google. There’s nothing bad about it it’s just a way some sites set their settings.
Final thought: SEO is just something you need to practice and keep trying out.
Before we ended Brandi shared that DietsinReview’s Facebook page is nearing 10,000 fans and there will be a giveaway of a year of Wholly Guacamole. https://www.facebook.com/dietsinreview