Friday, March 30, 2007

RnR: Attracting Readers

. Sean J. Vaughan headshot by Sean J. Vaughan

This article describes how readers can find and be guided to Reason and Rhyme articles. Our main traffic source is Google and so our first job is to ensure Google finds and ranks our articles as highly as possible.

Google PageRank

Google PageRank is how google assigns "importance" to web pages. Most of our web pages are either unranked or have a low PageRank. A very small percentage (<5%) of our pages have a medium PageRank. A page's PageRank increases by having other pages link to it and the increase is larger when the linking site has a larger PageRank.

Still, when you search for "Reason and Rhyme" you will should find our links on the first results page. Many of our articles will show up towards the beginning of the search results when you search for "epic poetry", "statistics of stereotyping", "the sonnet", or other queries related to our articles. Certainly most of our authors show up near the beginning of the search results when searched for.

For more information about google pagerank, read google's description. And, you can read a gajillion blog articles about it. Seriously, at least a gajillion.

Writing Articles for Traffic

Writing articles for traffic (aka Search Engine Optimized or SEO) isn't our primary motivition for writing. In fact, SEO approaches may hurt the quality of articles (e.g. poems). In general, though, the SEO approaches tend to make an article better; they are very similar to what I learned in journalism class.

Here are a few important things you can do to make your article Search Engine Optimized:

  • Include keywords and key phrases in your article. A good strategy is to imagine what readers would search for if they wanted to find your article. If it's appropriate for the style of your article, make sure those keywords or key phrases are in your article. Maria's Epic Poetry article is very complete and so naturually contains many of the keywords and key phrases that are searched for including important epic poetry writer names, examples, themes and elements.
  • Even better, include keywords and key phrases in your article title. This draws even more readers if they see what they were searching for in the title of the page returned.
  • Make the title simple and catchy or provocative. This is where it's fun to pretend to be the classic newspaper editor. I imagine the excellently played newspaper editor in the spiderman movies. In any case, the title is what the search link will be in search results and is the first thing that can grab the reader's attention. Do your article justice with the best title. For example, I worked with my Dad on the title for his "Statistics of Stereotyping" article and it paid off in increased search results. We found something that was simple, had a bit of alliteration, fits the article well, and is thus searched for commonly and found.
  • Put the meat of your article at the beginning. Most people browsing the Internet are not prepared to read a long article. If you put the main points of the article or what the article will be covering in the beginning then the reader knows what they are getting in to and may stay to read the rest, bookmark it for later, or buy a book.

For more SEO tips, check out my SEO bookmarks or check out all of the popular SEO bookmarks on

Blog Carnivals

The single most important thing we've done to increase our google pagerank and traffic is to submit articles to related Blog Carnivals. From wikipedia:

A Blog Carnival is a type of blog event. It is similar to a magazine, in that it is dedicated to a particular topic, and is published on a regular schedule, often weekly or monthly. Each edition of a blog carnival is in the form of a blog article that contains permalinks links to other blog articles on the particular topic.

Having articles in blog carnivals provides 2 main benefits. First, blog carnival readers are directed to the articles and, second, the articles get linked to which increases the Pagerank for those articles.

Here is a list of blog carnivals we commonly submit articles to and the number of readers that tend to get referred to any single article:

  • The Storyblogging carnival: ~15 readers
  • Carnival of the Godless: ~100 readers
  • Ringing of the Bards (poetry): ~10 readers
Note that these numbers vary to some extent based upon which blog hosts any particular carnival.

1 comment:

eve said...

great article, it is posted at the carnival here-

thanks for submitting!