All things are one. ~ Paulo Coelho The Alchemist.

~ || तद्यथा ॐ गते गते परगते परसंगते बोधि स्वाहा || ~ Adventure It is.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Keeping up with Blogging and SEO : A Tutorial & Few Lessons Learnt

This is exactly like how I broke and then fixed my macbook's ear the other day. well. metaphorically.

Only yesterday as I was strolling on the web, I finally ended up creating an account of Google Analytics - which by the way I had been postponing for past 8 months, since I added a new photo-gallery on smugmug and I had to submit a UID there ( Optional ) The Analytics page eventually took me to Google Webmaster and what I saw there, gave me a 400W shock.

None of my website / blog pages were indexed.

For starter I hadn't logged in to webmaster in past 2 or 3 years. Ironic,Yes.
Last I remember - I were seriously writing - was in 2010 end. And around that time, I could see my articles appearing in google search as usual. The Alexa was also below 100K somewhere. After 2 years of almost ignoring this space, I came back for good Last year, and wrote a lot, But forgot to do any checks on structure / or if the data was at all visible.

Part of the problem lies in my attitude - I am very driven when I have to create something but I am not really bothered in the post-process i.e. marketing, inviting people to see, socializing etc. Having the patience of the level of a saint, i.e. ( Never in hurry to get recognition) for one thing, and then not having the need of turning the website in to a medium to earn my lively-hood, can be blamed for that I think. Mostly I am like - if Someone really wants to read, they will. Force-Request-Plead-Announce Algorithm is not really my methodology.

But the latter doesn't give me reason enough to ignore the statistics. Specially Since I am an engineer by profession and I know the important of all this -

Its like cooking an exotic meal and leaving it in a corner of the fridge to rot.

Now this does prove me wrong on the moral grounds. I am a lazy and an ignorant mother of this baby here - and you don't wanna be one like me.

Here are few things you can do - not all at once - but step by step, to get your seo in line. all these are technical edits / additions that fits most of the websites, blogs specially since these get updated quite frequently. I have itemized them as I am doing it for this / my website.

1 - Get a Google Webmaster account. Add your site url there.

For starter, all you have to do is to add sitemap, you can find it under crawl menu on the tool page.
- a simple method is to use below line in the add url ( copy the link if its' giving you an error )
**/atom.xml?redirect=false&start-index=1&max-results=500**
This will create a sitemap for first 500 pages, once the url is added you can submit it to index.
That pretty much will do the job for you while you wait for your pages to get indexed by google, you can

2- sign up for google analytics - free account
It will give you a UID, for a site like smugmug you just need to add teh UID there, but for blogs such as blogger platform,  you can add a chunk of code in a HTML widget in the template itself. That way the script will be executed for every pageview.

3- One more thing I figured last night was blocked URLs and robots.txt
After much reading I figured, its a better idea to have this file present, with access options as per your choice - rather than not having it, as suggested most of the times. reason, thats the first file a search engine crawler look for.

But yes be careful about what you add in there, before hand, because it doesn't look like google refreshes it so quickly or much often for that matter. because I tried changing it multiple times last night, but it always loaded the original on the tool page test box.

User-agent:*
Disallow:

this above was the simplest text i figured that would allow all search engines and all access. there are methods of blocking but thats not really what we are focusing on here right. and if you don't have one, the easiest way to add it in blogger is by going to blogger home >> settings >> search preferences >> Custom robots.txt ?

This will generate the file.

4 - Next What I did was to add the url in Bing. Actually here this one is a tedious process indeed >> adding the blog url to blog directories I mean. so do it when you have time,  I am skipping it for now, Should I find a good window later sometime, I'll do this.

By the way, pick up the list of the directories based on your content and not generic ones. that would just be time consuming and wont really benefit the site in any sense. You can easily find the lists on google.

5- The other thing that I did couple of days back was getting the navigation track right. In my previous template, I had a good  header navigation menu, I wrote the code manually for, but then due to several errors when I redesigned the template, I had to get rid of it. and this time around I was looking for a simple navigation until i create the map based menu ( I talked about it in one of the december post )

There are plenty of css menu generator available online for free ( google - css menu generator ) My first impression >> Easy

But I was facing problem with template again, some alignment issue and I thought I'd go with page based listing only, because its easy for me to read/add/delete links that way. and so I did. I created multiple blogger pages, i.e. ..../p/about.html and added the relevant links.

6 - Here is a good checklist to keep working on while you are at it. a few of them i might try as well in coming months. though I don't think I might expedite the process, being typical me, and rather wait for indexing to work again fine. I do see some blocked URL due to my robots.txt

( Point 7 added on Feb 9th, 2014 )
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7 - One more thing that I did and I forgot to mention earlier, was deleting the extra subdomains that I created and wasn't using. a few of them were redirecting to a few blogs those were dormant for a while. Since I wasn't adding anything useful on my technical blog, (they were basically my notes, the paras that were generic enough to share ) so I deleted that and few others. At this moment this site has only 3 subdomains - blog, hindi and photos.poonamparihar.com

Let me explain the reason here, and why people generally suggest you use a domain name instead of a subdomain for website like these. SEO generally has nothing sort of hatred for subdomains. I mean, take up any big site, they all got to have subdomains and they do, and structuring a domain that way instead of in directories is much convenient IMHO. but no subdomains have rankings.

So letsee if you' want to check the ranking of this blog, what your instead getting is the ranking of poonamparihar.com - overall. this is exactly why, if you're writing on blogabc.nytimes.com you're always going to have a top ranking, no matter if you write or you don't. because that might have 100s of subdomain and 100s of people contributing everyday.  but if you're , say writing on a domain with 2-3 subdomains pointing to blogs, if you don't write on one, the other will be impacted by the laziness of this one.

Alexa is also not all correct either. Part of the reasons, I don't like these top blog listings, specially when they mention they picked the blog because it had good alexa ratings,  None of these people go in to details of whats happening with overall site, and what really is a good content.
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So for the past 3 years, including last one year of active writing, I think I am only seeing the traffic thats' coming from social media - twitter/googleplus/facebook and the original subscribers that I had. clearly a huge percent of traffic was hit. Sadly But thats okay. Hopefully the blog would be back on track soon. Meanwhile I'll update this article with anything else I would do for example, one of the things would be using the search description in editor itself. I'll add it once I find a good shortcut to do so for each posts. I have more than 100 and its a huge process adding the details in individual posts.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment and I'll try to answer if i know.

Also related to writing and how often one should posts and what all, I will cover it in another post, as that would be more opinionated article. 

6 comments:

said...

Useful information. I just added my site to google analytics, webmaster and bing after reading this post.

said...

@amit - Glad it helped.

said...

Useful information. I just added my site to google analytic

said...

This is something I have done right from the beginning... although my lack of frequency in travel and publishing is preventing it from getting desired results... But it does show results once you get the basics right... 60% of my traffic comes from google searches and they mostly the come to 3/4 articles which appear pretty high on SERPs..

said...

@Sankalp - Glad it helped.

said...

@Jitaditya - Thats true. I can not enough enforce the importance of these things.. even while one's doing blogging for no business. but putting stuff publicly its our responsibility that it reaches out to the readers.. more the better.

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