I Discuss “The Blogger’s Bulletin’s” SEO with an SEO Consultant

So I am talking with an SEO Consultant.  I ask him how I should organize SEO for a relatively new group blog like The Bloggers Bulletin, which has 40+ different contributors

SEO Consultant: “Well, lets look at the foundation of things.  The POSTS are effectively The Blogger’s Bulletin, right?  If its posts are not optimized for search, then the entire blog is not optimized for search.”

Me: “Yes, but The Blogger’s Bulletin’s Contributors are all business bloggers themselves.  They write their own blogs, and their posts for their own blogs are presumably optimized for search.  What they contribute to The Blogger’s Bulletin probably is as well, right?

SEO Consultant: “Do you know for sure that the personal blogs maintained by your blog’s contributors are in fact optimized for search?  They are all busy people, perhaps they just maintain their own blogs merely as a record of their opinions on business, intended for a limited audience of known readers?

Or perhaps their idea of SEO is a long way from SEO that enables a blog/site to gain real traction in search?  “SEO” is an abbreviation thrown around with abandon these days, after all.

Let me ask you this:  How many of your blog’s contributors are, individually, paying $60 a month for a service like WordTracker.com to optimize their own blogs in search? And, how many who do subscribe to WordTracker are using the service correctly?”

Me: “Well I couldn’t really tell you, but let’s say not too many…

Even if that’s the case, though, what about the “WordTracker SEO Blogger Plugin for Firefox or the “SEO for Firefox” extension?  You know, something that’s offers a more affordable SEO package of services — affordable as in “free.”   Some contributors are probably using those tools, right?”

SEO Consultant: “Even if they are, those free SEO tools only provide a few parts of the SEO equation with regards to a given keyword.   If contributors to The Blogger’s Bulletin are using said tools and thinking their own blogs, and their posts on yours are optimized for search, then their blogs and The Blogger’s Bulletin are likely lost in the search engines unless they have thousands of incoming links.”

Me: “Ok, maybe so.  But how about something else, something that isn’t free like the ScribeSEO.com service.  That works great with WordPress blogs, right?”

SEO Consultant: “ScribeSEO certainly works to some extent with something like a blog, by providing bloggers with information like keyword prominence, frequency, density within a given post, in addition to the annual search volume of the keyword.  But let me ask you this:  Is it missing anything that you need to know if you are ever hoping to rank on the first page of a search for a keyword in question?”

Let me give you a hypothetical keyword suggestion —  Let’s say the keyword you are thinking of is “Twitter Tools” and it has been searched 27,000 times in the past fiscal year.  Scribe SEO tells you that, so does the free “SEO for Firefox” extension, so does Google itself.

Do you think you are going to add that keyword to your post a few times and — boom — your post page at your blog will suddenly receive 27,000 additional views per year?”

Me:  “Well obviously you’d want to use the keyword quite a bit in the post, in the title and so forth — that would probably help you edge the other sites out there competing for top rankings in search for that keyword.”

SEO Consultant: “True, using the keyword a great deal might help.  But what’s the competition out there for “Twitter Tools?”

Looking at WordTracker.com we see that “Twitter Tools”  was searched approximately 27000 times, but shows that 1,760 other sites that are using “twitter tools” in their title tag and are also receiving a link from another site that has “Twitter Tools” in the anchor text of the backlink itself.

The backlink is an indication of another site vouching for the destination site and the information contained therein on “Twitter Tools;” Its one of the main metrics for the search engine ranking of a site.

Does The Blogger’s Bulletin have any of the aforementioned for “Twitter Tools?”  And even if it does and your post has “Twitter Tools” in its title, do you really think that your blog is going to rank on the first page of a Google search vs. 1760 sites doing the same thing?”

Me: “Hmm, let’s see –10 search results a page at Google, 1760 pages with “Twitter tools” used in title and anchor text of backlink, The Blogger’s Bulletin is a “young” site with not a lot of external links as yet and there is nothing else that might help it along in the rankings.  I’d say that our chances of getting a first page result using “Twitter tools” is not likely at this point in time.”

SEO Consultant: “Right. I mean you can use it and 5 years down the road when you’ll probably have a great many more posts, and more incoming links associated with your blog, you may rank substantially higher in search vs. the 1760 pages out there now. But even then, I’ll be very surprised if you show on the first page of a search on “Twitter tools.”

Me: “Yeah Good point.”

SEO Consultant: Maybe you need a refresher concerning Search Engine Use Statistics and why page-ranking is important.   Lets look back a few years to some study info that is freely available; this is from a  Forrester Research Report in 2006:

  • “93% of Internet traffic is generated by search engines
  • 99% of Internet searchers do not view beyond the top 30 results (first 3 pages in a search results)
  • 78% more traffic is received by sites in the first 10 positions (the first page of search results) than those received on the 11th through 30th positions (the 2nd and third pages of search results). “

Obviously the first page of search results for a keyword is where you need to be.  And the second and third pages are better than nothing. Anything else is effectively “Lost in Space.”

If SEO is important to your near term readership results — not best-case 5-10 years down the road — then DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME solely using keywords that have a ton of  competitive sites also using them. You’ll put in a ton of hours trying to include them in your own site, but then likely find your site’s readership levels have not, and may never improve through their use.  Anybody who only does that is a…well the word begins with “S” and rhymes with “Tucker.”

Me: “Great, so what is The Blogger’s Bulletin supposed to do?”

SEO Consultant: “Well, go ahead and use a few “Twitter Tools” type keywords in your posts — ie., keywords that are highly searched but also very competitively used.  5 years down the road, these might be worth something for your blog if it grows.

But for the near term, use your WordTracker account to find related-keywords that are searched regularly in a fiscal year, BUT THAT ARE NOT COMPETITIVELY USED  — as in that have data suggesting only 5, 10, 20, 50 other instances in which the keyword is in both a post title and within the anchor text of incoming link.  With those keywords, you have a fighting chance of ranking on the first, 2nd or third page of search results on that keyword.”

Me: “Ok, makes sense.  But most of the The Blogger’s Bulletin’s Contributors probably don’t have a WordTracker account on an individual basis.

What do I do? Use my own Word Tracker account, then make a list of related keywords that are not often competitively used by other websites and then pass that list along to my blog’s Contributors and explain where, why, and how they’ll want to integrate them in future, if not past posts?”

SEO Consultant: “Exactly.”

Me: “Ok, makes sense….  You still want that $2000 consultation-fee in cash, right?

SEO Consultant:  “Yes”

  7 comments for “I Discuss “The Blogger’s Bulletin’s” SEO with an SEO Consultant

  1. March 2, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Hi Chris,
    Wow! Excellent post with some very valuable information. Just when we thought we had SEO figured out, it appears that many of us may not. I’d love to learn more and see that keyword list when you get finished. Thanks for all your help!

    Deb :)
    Freelance Writer

  2. March 2, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Chris — what s/he is suggesting is known in the “trade” as long tail words. Those words that get less traffic and are more specific. For example, one of the newest buzz words is “employee engagement,” which I just checked and had 174,000 searches in Wordtracker SEO Blogger. On the other hand, “the business case for employee engagement” had only 6,000 searches. I think the key is to be sure the long tail words are going to bring you the traffic you want. It may not matter that your Google Analytics stats are going down if your visitors are potential customers for your business. I do want to make the point that many bloggers use their sites as their portfolios when marketing to prospects. So content is still king, in my view. SEO is critical but how many of us are actually ever going to reach page one in Google, no matter what words we use?

  3. March 3, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    I hear what you’re saying, Jeannette. But the thing is whether it’s a keyword with 174k searches or a longer variation with 6k searches, neither search figure tells us how other sites are using those keywords, short or long.

    We decide to use the longer 6k version thinking its relatively uncontested territory on Google, and we could end up finding out that there are already 3000 other sites with title tags and incoming links using that keyword’s text. Such competition would effectively squash the SEO potential of that keyword for us in the near term, and likely the long term as well

    Now, of course, the good news is that, yes, it seems quite reasonable to assume that longer versions of keywords will tend to be contested less in search than their shorter, root versions. So, if you use longer, “long-tail” versions of keywords, you are probably going to tend to see more near-term traffic overall than from using short-tail keywords.

    But as to whether the long-tail versions are necessarily uncontested, or contested to within a low enough range for SEO-use by a new site? That’s a different story.

    We could use 100, site-related, long-tail keywords, decide to use them because they are obviously searched less than their root versions, think our SEO is solid, and proceed unaware that 75 of those long-tail keywords are used by every dog and his person out there (or at least by enough of them to be a problem for us) — this fact effectively rendering those 75 long-tail keywords of little SEO value to us near-term, and likely the long-term as well.

    However, I am right there with you on the traffic-you-want angle. Long tail or short, I think all are smart to use keywords that only relate to the content of their blogs/sites. Presumably the people using said keywords, regardless of where they are in the world, will see your site listed, click and say: “this page is related to the keyword I searched on.” If yours is an information site, their clicks will presumably be traffic that you’ll want.

    I certainly also agree that how business blogs are effectively used depends on the goals of the business person in question.

  4. March 4, 2010 at 6:23 am

    Chris – I applaud your valiant effort to make this blog ranked better on the search engines. In my opinion, we research keyword rich phrases business bloggers are searching for. Then we write about those topics. The issue is less of a “let’s optimize our articles,” than an issue of “are we writing about what matters most to people?” That’s my opinion.

    We also should look at our categories. Do the blog categories match what people are searching for? If they match, then more contributors will write articles that match what people are searching for.

  5. March 4, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Thanks Doug. That’s a good point, and I think you are right: we’ll end up naturally writing future posts based on keywords business bloggers are searching for.

    In the last few days, while spending late hours running keywords, the following occurred to me: if a keyword phrase involves a business blogging/social media topic that I can write on, and the phrase is associated with a reasonable number of searches in the last year, then why roll the dice in hopes that I’ll get some traffic for a business blogging post I came up with off the top of my head? Why not just write in response to a keyword and potentially help insure some degree of search exposure for the post?

    I am sure this is something that has dawned on hundreds of thousands of other bloggers over the last decade as they’ve considered their blogs’ SEO and future posts while pouring over keyword results. And certainly seo blogs and dozens of books on blogging/social media have, over the same time period, probably recommended the aforementioned approach for bloggers.

    However, vs. keywords I’ve researched in the past for other blogs, many of the Keywords related to TBB actually seem like the basis for good posts. Looking deeper for longer versions — long-tail derivatives of the root keyword — seemed to help in this regard.

    Certainly the categories are another area to make work optimally for business bloggers reading.

    Where I’m coming from with “let’s optimize our articles” is that we have, so far, going on 7 months worth of material — 228 posts published at present — that are not assets for us in search. Those 228 posts don’t effectively exist for search users.

    “Let’s optimize our articles” is something I was really, especially thinking about for posts we’ve already written.

    We could forget about the past 228 posts and just focus on using keywords to align future posts with the (presumptive) search habits of business bloggers. But, I’d personally love to see all those already-published 228 posts also working on our behalf in search.

    However, if we can’t optimize the old posts seemlessly, then its not the end of the world; we can just leave them as is, go forward and make sure that at least the new posts are in accords with business bloggers’ search habits.

  6. March 6, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Great post and I’m embarrassed to admit that the Web SEO consultant described me exactly. I know my shortfalls and not putting keywords in my posts is one of them. It’s the hold out part of me that is more attached to good writing than writing for Search. But, I stand corrected and the minute I get a minute I promise to pay more attention….

  7. March 14, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    “SEO is critical but how many of us are actually ever going to reach page one in Google, no matter what words we use?”

    Hi Jeannette, I don’t mean to poke fun, but we are currently ranking page 1, #1 for the keyword phrase “Copyright Information For Authors” as of 1pm March 14th.”

    We’re page 1, #2 for “Web Seo Consultant

    Yes, both keyword phrases are not the most popular keyword phrases going. Nevertheless — and as you can see — good search rankings are achievable by us.

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