This is part of a series of posts on improving the search engine optimization and traffic counts of individual blogs.
Most bloggers are not SEO experts like Andy Beard, and they go about their happy blogging lives wondering why traffic is so hard to generate, and why Google assigns them a low PageRank. Now, I am far from Andy's league in my knowledge of SEO, but this site bounces back and forth between a PR of 5 and 6, so I am doing at least a few things right.
At any rate, here are a few specific tips I have learned that have improved my site's performance (my apologies to those for whom this is old news):
1. Tell the search engines you exist. You can sit around and wait for Google, Yahoo!, and MSN to find you, or you can go deep into the servers of these search engines and shout about your site. Spend a few minutes at places like Google Webmaster, Yahoo! Search, MSN Live Search, and DMOZ. You will see improvements in your traffic within days of submitting your site, and if you produce quality material, eventually this will translate into inbound links from other bloggers who recognize your unique genius.
2. Tell Google that your site has images. You need to register with Google and list your sites, which you can do under Webmaster Tools. There is also a "Enhanced Image Search" function that is critical: be sure to check the box marked "I would like to enable enhanced image search on my site and am authorized to opt into this advanced service." Immediately after doing this I saw a jump of about 100 visitors a day.
3. Do not be afraid to use the "No Follow" tag on outbound links. You get penalized by Google every time you have an outbound link. That being said, linking to high-ranking sites is much, much, less of a penalty than linking to sites witha PR of 0 or 1. I took a considerable PageRank hit on this site when I launched my photography blog because I provided quite a few links early on to build traffic and rank. This site went from 6 to 5 in PageRank, but my photography blog jumped from 0 to 4 in three months. Anyways, the "No Follow" tag tells Google (and any other search engines that recognize it) that this link should be ignored. Here is a quick example:
There are, of course, certain limits you want to place upon REL=NO FOLLOW usage. After all, the Internet is built upon the concept of interlinked websites, and theoretically no one would have any PageRank if every hyperlink carried this tag. Thus, don't be a mercenary, sticking REL=NO FOLLOW on every link, but don't be a fool, either, and allow your site to bleed PageRank just because you are unaware of the penalties associated with wanton outbound links.
Besides, every once in a while you'll want to make a nickel and promote quality products like discount furniture, making sure that website gets the full link value, right?