SEO for Dummies like me

Bob Borson —  October 6, 2011 — 15 Comments

S E O – if you have any technical web abilities you already know that SEO stands for Truth, Justice, and Freedom – wait, I’m sorry, that’s the Justice League. SEO actually stands for Search Engine Optimization and if you listen to anyone who’s talking about SEO, you’ll quickly find out that this is THE thing that makes your website work … without it your website is a desert wasteland that even your grandmother can’t find. (That’s a terrible example, you could probably type in the URL and tell your grandmother to hit ‘Enter’ and something would go wrong).

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SEO or SO? Search Engine Optimization for Dummies like me

To save you the trip, here is the first paragraph from Wikipedia on Search Engine Optimization:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher on the page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users

Has your head exploded yet? Sorta..? Stick with me just a little more and everything will be all right.

I should admit that I am not an expert in SEO …some things just seems obvious once you know they exist (isn’t that the secret to just about everything?) and I haven’t ever used an expert on my site. While that might seem obvious to some of you, it’s important to acknowledge. I also haven’t bought any books on SEO, so my process really is similar to man’s first attempt at cooking with fire: “What happens if I do this?” Everything I attempt on this site is a continuation of my original goal of simply trying to learn something new and have some fun along the way. Except for the time the results from “what happens if I do this? resulted in the deletion of half the content on my site. Good thing architects know the value of backing things up and keeping copies.

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The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating

I’ve read some posts that list the keywords that people use to get to that site – normally they focus on the bizarre – like “hillbilly broke chicken” which doesn’t happen to often on my site. Some of the search engine terms (or keywords) yesterday that people entered into Google that led them to my site included: super hero, library book, glass blocks, Gandhi and hippie. I’ve actually written about those things  so it’s not really that surprising.

Top Keywords All-Time for my site:

  1. life of an architect
  2. life as an architect
  3. the life of an architect
  4. lifeofanarchitect
  5. architect blog
  6. bob borson
  7. architect life
  8. lifeofanarchitect.com
  9. architects life
  10. life of an architect blog
  11. construction management fees
  12. lifestyle of an architect
  13. modern fences
  14. residential modern
  15. bob borson homes
  16. volunteer dallas architect

I’d say that considering what my blog is, these are pretty good returns. But how did that happen? The short version is that there are 3 important considerations for you to consider when creating your blog post.

Title

The title of your page – or your post – is really important. I don’t try and be too clever with the titles so I generally name them something that succinctly identifies what the page contains. If it makes sense, I will try and name the post something that I think someone will enter into a search engine – like ‘SEO for Dummies’.

Description

In WordPress, you can enter in a description of what this page is about. Search engines like Google will only look at the first 160 characters of a description so keep it brief and on point. For this post I will enter:

proper search engine optimization techniques that will help people find your site

Keyword

This is the spot where you enter in … that’s right – the keywords. These are the same sort of words someone might type into their search engine when trying to find content – but only use words that are represented in the content or you might get penalized by those search engines. For this post, I think I’ll use these keywords: SEO, optimization, SEO for dummies, website traffic. If I didn’t talk about Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez, I won’t add their names to my keyword entry with the thought that I would get a lot of traffic. The main reason I don’t is that I’m not trying to trick anyone into coming to this site when they are actually searching for information on Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez … those folks don’t want to be on this site.

I keep that information on my other site…


 

  • http://www.ontarioarchitect.ca Steve Cliche

    Hi Bob,
    Really enjoy your blogs. Our firm is in the process of re-branding which includes re-developing our website, redesign of our logo and we have just launched our blog in the last few months, so I am waist deep into the whole SEO process. Luckily for “dummies” like me, our principal decided to go with some outside help to get us through the first year until we are out of the diaper stage.  For me, having someone to “show me the ropes” is really paying off. Now if I only could find the time to post as much as you do! How do you do it?

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Hi Steve,

      The answer to your question is pretty easy. I write for 15 – 30 minutes just about every single day with the occasional 2 hour plunge. At any one moment in time, I have about 10 posts that are at some stage of completion and they just seem to get done where I can send them out with some regularity. Occasionally, something will hit me out of the blue and I will write the entire post in a single siting (which interestingly enough, those tend to be some of my most popular posts).

      I’ll also tell you something that you probably already assume – the more you do it, the easier it becomes. When I first started, a single post would take between 3 and 5 hours each. Now, most come together in less than an hour.

      Cheers and thanks for taking time to leave a comment.

  • http://www.english.architecture-engineering.ro/ Octavian Ungureanu

    If you want to target an audience that is concerned about a subject, you might consider some SEO work. If you are pleased that your posts are read accidentally by people who try to document some papers about Gandhi, but you are selling cars, you might not be so pleased.
    Bob, you describe yourself as an architect specialized in modern design. I bet that more visitors searching “modern design”, “modern design houses” will be more like a proper audience for you. So maybe some SEO to stress more your modern design abilities might bring you an audience more interested in this subject, right?
    I understand that your blog might be a page where you just write whatever you think it is important and not selling your design expertise. But in this case, maybe the blog should be named “whateverbobwritesabout.com”.

  • http://www.brancodezinco.com.br Fabian Rodrigues

    I’ve been reading about SEO these days because I’m preparing a Blog, and thought the following: Although it’s a good tool for helping other people to find you it is guiding most writing on the web to look the same: Same kind of titles, same kind of links, same numer of words in the posts and so on. Let’s not take SEO too seriously, otherwise creativity will stay in an minor position. Please forgive my grammar mistakes.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Fabian,

      for me, and I would recommend this to anyone, entering in the most basic level of SEO doesn’t factor into the creativity of the post – and if everyone else is entering in this level of SEO, that’s all the more reason why someone should pay some attention to their SEO.

      But that’s just my opinion -

      • http://www.brancodezinco.com.br Fabian Rodrigues

        Dear Bob,

        I do agree that SEO is something to think about. But reading a lot of blogs about blogging it seems that the main concern is to write in a way that Google will be pleased. It may not be the case over there, but here in Brazil that’s what I see. This “googlelization” is dangerous.

  • http://www.kitchens.com Kim

    A few other tips: The actual words on your page (and which words are bolded or in headlines) have a big impact. So does naming your image files using key words and adding alt text to your photos.

  • http://twitter.com/ExtremelyAvg Brian D. Meeks

    I like your methods.  So simple.  I need to wade through my Google Analytics and do some SEO stuff.  Of course, I also need to do lots of editing, write more on Henry Wood, work on the Biography of Iowa’s all time scoring leader in basketball, and eat some bacon.  Ugh.  I think I’ll do the bacon thing first, it is such a good primer for the rest of the day.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      The one thing that I didn’t mention is that I don’t do anything with this information… :/

      Bacon sounds like a strong move this morning – best of luck

  • http://twitter.com/cupboards Nick @ Cupboards

    I needed this today, Bob- sometimes I get off track with the things I need to be thinking about and SEO at least has to be tucked somewhere in my mind. Thanks for explaining SEO so anyone can understand!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Nick,

      I have to be honest, I fully expect from some SEO super genius to post a comment here slicing and dicing this with beautifully efficient keystrokes … and I sort of hope they do. While I don’t think I’ve made any major mistakes, pretty sure this represents the first 3% of what SEO is all about. (but this is what I have made time for)

      • http://twitter.com/cupboards Nick @ Cupboards

        Where is the line where SEO matters? I suppose if it was going to be a full-time job and blogging was the only means of income then it’s worth really looking it to. I think the best SEO for a blogger is good content… Kind of one of those,  “if you build it, they will come” deals. 

        Who knows, maybe I’m wrong… or just lazy.

        • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

          I don’t think you’re lazy but there are so many good blogs and posts out there that nobody can find. While I might do the beginners level of SEO, what little I do along with the the consistency with which I do it does seem to make a difference

  • @Tile_Trends

    For a quicky post ( as I left your house at 10:30- thanks for dinner btw) it is probably going to be one of your most-read articles thanks to your title, description and already obscene amount of readers. It would be funny to see a follow-up post reviewing the metrics 6 months from now… A double McCallan’s 18 says it’s in the top 3!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Ryan,

      That’s pretty much a win-win bet for me so I accept! Thanks for hanging out yesterday and sharing time with me and Cultural Prodigy Kate. She woke up this morning about 50% closer to that cold she was starting last night…