Since starting in earnest in February, my blog's readership has grown from practically zero to nearly 4,000 pageviews a month and climbing.
Not only that, Blogger's stats say I'm getting traffic from all over the world, including the Philippines, Germany, France and Canada. In many ways, this is mind-boggling. Here I am, just little old me with a few hours and a laptop and my words are transcending national boundaries.
But in other ways, it's not enough. Not nearly enough. The top blogs have thousands of people reading them each week. I want that.
So to inch myself a little closer, I'm working with the wonderful folks over at C*Squared Associates to try to supercharge my blog — that is, to make it more search-engine friendly and bring in more traffic.
C*Squared's Managing Director Cherie Prochaska and I met through our local twins group, Full House Moms and Dads (FHM), and she offered me a number of amazing tips for optimizing my site for search engines.
I'll get to those in a minute, but I want to first describe my current state of affairs. So far, the vast majority of my traffic has been from my Facebook friends (and their Facebook friends), though I've also been joining blogging networking sites — thus all the badges down there in the right-hand column.
The biggest boost I've seen so far that wasn't Facebook or FHM was from participating in Circle of Moms' contest for the Top 25 Most Inspiring Families. I'm also getting a fair amount of traffic from Love That Max after asking the author to add me to her blogroll.
Overall, I think my blog traffic so far is proving the old maxim: "It's not what you know, it's who you know."
Enter Internet marketing tips. Cherie gave me many — including keyword research — that I haven't yet been able to really dig into, but I'll start with a quick summary of things I've been able to do so far in limited time.
1. Google Analytics
I've become a wholly owned subsidiary of Google now, but that's only because they have such cool stuff. Google Analytics is a free service that gives you mountains of data on your traffic, such as where you guys come from, how long you stay and how many pages you look at (don't worry, you're still anonymous).
I prefer the layout of Blogger's Stats, but I've heard they are much less accurate. Remember how I said people are reading me in the Philippines? I'm sure some are, but more likely the "542" pageviews Blogger says I've gotten are from robots, not actual people. (If you are reading me in the Philippines, throw me a comment!)
2. Keyword research
Keyword research is a big, big project that I haven't had time to really get into right now. But I need to make time, because it is essential for making SEO (search engine optimization) work. The basic premise is this: people enter phrases into search engines to answer a question or find specific information. If you can use the terms searchers use but not many websites use, then you will rank high in their search results. For example, lots of sites (701,000) use the term "cerebral palsy" so I'm probably not going to be able to compete there. However, I know from using Google's Keyword Tool, lots of people (1,300) search for "baby with cerebral palsy," but Google only shows 686 sites that use that in their title tag. Which brings me to...
3. Title tag
Look up at the very top of this window in your browser. See where it says "A stay-at-home mom blogs about her identical twin baby with cerebral palsy"? That's a title tag. Title tags are one of the top things search engines look at to match searches, so it's best to put a keyword-rich description up there. Even though I dislike describing myself as a mom blogger, I have to be realistic and know that if someone is searching for a blog like mine, they'll probably use the term "mom blog." Likewise, in my very cursory keyword research, it looks like lots of people search for "stay-at-home mom blogs," so I'll add that to my description. (This approach would also have me use "childrens with cerebral palsy," since that's a top search term, but I don't think I'll ever bring myself to do that.)
Well, there's a brief primer on the search engine tweaks I've been able to do so far. I have a long, long way to go though, and I'll keep you updated on the process. More SEO tips to come!