Basic Search Engine Optimization and your Gardening Blog

Do you know what search engine optimization (SEO) is? Do you know that it has an effect on how much traffic and readers your garden blog gets? Do you know what you should pay attention to in order to take advantage of SEO?

I do search engine optimization as part of my job (among many other aspects of internet marketing). And in full disclosure, this blog is not fully optimized, mainly because it is my hobby and I don’t really want to be doing my job while I am doing my hobby. Then it would be work and I work enough as it is. So, using this blog is not always a best practices example.

First, let me explain what SEO is. Search engines have this damn long mathematical equation (called an algorithm) to figure out which pages should come up for any given search done by a person.

How long is this algorithm? Most search engine optimization specialists agree that it contains over 200 elements. That is really, really long. Think about it, every time someone types a search into Google or Yahoo, the search engines look at 200+ things to figure out the best pages to display for the search. That is almost like magic.

What are the 200+ elements? Much like the KFC recipe, the search engines algorithms are a super secret sauce that we mere mortals are not completely privy to. SEO is paying attention to as many of those elements as you can figure out so that your site will come up more in the search engines (and you will then get more visitors and readers). We know a few things that every website owner should pay attention to.

Let’s take a look at those things:

Title Tag – Look up at the blue bar across the top of your IE browser. There are some words there and this is the title tag. With all blogging software, the title tag is pre-programmed, but not always in the best way. Visit your blog and pick a random post and look at the blue bar. Does your site name appear first, rather than your post name? If this is the case, you should change it so that the post name is first in the title tag. It is not hard to do and a quick search will provide detailed instructions on how to do it for your blogging software.

Why should you care about the title tag? Because it is the single most important element in SEO. This is the element, more than any other you can control, the search engines look at to figure out what your page is about. If you can’t do anything else that is in this post, optimize this one thing.

Links – There are two types of links, external links and internal links.

External links are links from other sites to yours. You can think of external links as votes. The more external links (or votes) you have, the more the search engines think that your site is important and popular and they will bring your pages up more often in the results. Trade links with other bloggers, register your site with blog directories and take advantage of linking opportunities as they come up. The caveat on this is that the links must come from quality, related sites and pages. A link from Bob’s House of Pig Pornography will not help your site (unless you have a site about pig porn. And if you do, more power to you. I am ever amazed at the variety of porn on the web. Not that I look, but as a side effect of my job, I run into it more than I like).

Internal links are links inside your site. When you link from one page to another in your site, you are telling a search engine that you feel that page is important. Since all of your pages are important, link to other posts as much as possible. But do it responsibly. There is such thing as overkill. Before you hit that submit button, look at your post and see if you see any words that relate to things you talked about before. Link those words back to the previous posts.

Keywords – This can be the fun part of SEO and frankly the one I am most lax on with this site. Be conscious of the words you are adding to your posts. Your post will only come up for a search if the post contains the words a person is searching for. Double check your post before you publish€¦ did you use the main words about the post in the post? If you are writing about roses, did you use the word ‘roses’ or did you use the word ‘flower’?

These are just the very basics of SEO. There is much, much more to it than this (and I can’t tell you all of them as then there would be no need for my job). But for the average garden blog owner, doing these few things will help make a huge difference in your traffic and readership.

13 thoughts on “Basic Search Engine Optimization and your Gardening Blog
  1. Hanna, that was really interesting. I knew about links and keywords, but had never heard about the title thing. Thanks for the tip!


  2. Hanna on

    Meg – Glad to be helpful!

    Tina – Ugg! I would say that is a mistake. It is actually in the search engine’s best interest for you to have the title first as then searchers can more quickly identify what a page in the search results are about. I hope they fix it soon.

    Valerie – I don’t make alot of money from AdSense but some. Enough to cover my monthly hosting with some left over. I make more money on other kinds of advertising on this site.


  3. Hanna- I would love a tutorial on getting extra income with the advertising if you ever need something to write about.


  4. Hanna on

    Are you using the old or the new blogger/blogspot? They are done differently is why I ask.


  5. Hanna, great post. I think that’s an awesome gift for your readers- a little free professional advice.


  6. Very interesting and important post with information I had no clue about until I read it. Thanks for sharing this on your excellent blog which is always informative and fun to visit. Best regards, Jon on 3-8-08 at http://mississippigarden.


  7. so I tried for an hour today with all sorts of code I found to change the order of the title tag on my blog. Do you know why blogger would care which way the title is posted – if they are so keen on preventing us from doing that?


  8. Teresa on

    I love you blogg, lots of good info worth knowing about!


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