I’ve wanted to write a blog post about SEO for a while now. SEO can be a bit of a dark art and in reality can you really expect SEO to work if you think about the numbers? As of December 2009 there were 234 million websites, no doubt as we approach the end of 2010 there are millions more. I think given these numbers it is a fair bet that for any given subject there are likely to be many websites, and here is the issue, if every one of these sites applies SEO principles then getting above another site in page rankings is a tall order. Bearing this in mind I have always been a little sceptical whether doing SEO for a site such as mine is even worth it? My audience is small, sure I’d like to increase my reach otherwise why write a blog, but is SEO really going to help?
As a long time developer I’ve picked up more than the basics for SEO in terms of adding good meta data to your site. I was going to write a post about me doing this for the site, but there’s probably a thousand other sites out there who have written about this so what new material could I write? Alongside this I am like most good programmers lazy by nature, in writing about the techniques used to SEO up this site I’d probably have to do more development, not something a lazy guy wants to do. WordPress runs this site, and despite me not being a great lover of plug-ins (I have some good reasons for this, another post perhaps), I decided in this instance it was probably worth using a plug-in. And of course with wordpress there is really only one worthy option, Michael Tobert’s All in One SEO Pack.
This is a work out of the box plug-in, just install it and you’re done. Of course you can do more than simply install it, the plug-in comes with a multitude of options, which work at both a global level and can be overridden on a post by post basis. I have chosen to tag all of my posts and use these tags as my meta keywords. The meta title is generated from the post title and meta description is also auto generated. This does mean I have to think a little bit more about my posts, make sure the tags are relevant and that the title is related to the subject matter at hand. All small points and really are things every post should have anyway.
So what about the results? Well since installing the plug-in a couple of months ago the traffic to my site from search engines now accounts for about a third of the traffic. OK these are still modest numbers but they are absolutely an improvement. What’s more for some tags I have some excellent ranking, one particular post about <canvas> ranks on the first page of Google for the term beginPath(). This is exactly why I wrote the article to give a practical example for people wanting to get to grips with canvas, helping people find it is excellent.
Is there more I could do, absolutely. As yet I haven’t generated a Google Sitemap for my webmaster tools. And I could definitely start getting links back to my blog from other sources which should help my SEO ranking. I’m in no hurry to do this but going forward hopefully my audience will grow. I’m still sceptical about targeted SEO but for my blog this use case is perfect.