My month-long experiment at optimizing this site has come to a close. Of course, my SEO efforts haven’t ended, but my obsessive attention to my rankings will definitely stop. The result of my work:
In sum, my work has improved my rankings fairly dramatically on all engines except Google. This seems largely due to the fact that Google hasn’t crawled this site in nearly a month, which means most of the changes I’ve implemented are still invisible to the Big Kahuna. I’ll have to check back in a few weeks to see if there are any changes. In the meantime, here are my Top 5 Tips for Personal Site SEO, based on my experiences over the past month:
1. Update constantly.
This should be obvious, but if you’re running a personal site, it might be hard to do so. Nevertheless, it makes a huge difference, and really is a key factor in all of my improved rankings.
2. Work hard at link-building, but do it honestly.
The easiest way to build links for a personal blog is to participate in online community. Leave comments in other blogs, join forums, and link back to yourself. (Just be aware that some sites use nofollow fairly aggressively, so YMMV.) But be sure to do it in a way that makes sense. Spamming blogs will get you banned, and it’s no fun. Ultimately, you should be participating in community because you want to, not just because you want to get links.
3. Clean up your site.
Get ride of those broken links, set up appropriate internal links, and make sure your URL structure is search friendly. In short, optimize the heck out of your site, and then let it work for you.
4. Use the tools provided by the engines.
Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer are great tools. With YSE, for example, I was able to discover that one reason the village had so much credibility was because it had dozens of incoming links—most of which were from my sidebar. I quickly remedied that.
5. Take it easy.
It’s just your personal site, remember? Just publish great content and don’t sweat over SEO every day. Ranking on the first page when your competition is a a town of 12,000 people, a popular ex-legislator and a bunch of Wikipedia pages ain’t too shabby, and I’m happy to be in such company, even if I’m not in the first position. Yet.