Friday, December 14, 2007

How Brittany Spears and the Dallas Cowboys Can Help Your Website

Wait. Brittany Spears can help my website? We’re talking about the same Brittany Spears that went crazy and shaved her head, right? The Brittany Spears that has been going through all the legal troubles and custody battles for her kids? The Brittany Spears that bombed so bad at the MTV video awards? I don’t care who Brittany Spears is dating. I don’t even like to listen to Brittany Spears. How can she help my website? You mean the same Brittany Spears whose name has been used no less than eight times so far in this article?

OK, that’s a rather extreme example, and actually very poorly used, but you probably already see where I’m going with this. I call it “Search Baiting”. Other people might call it “selling out”, but as a strategy for search engine optimization, it works. Let me give you a much better example.

The other day, I was talking to one of my students in our regular weekly sessions. She had just set up her first blog on her site, and had made her first blog entry. Her site was selling all kinds of sports paraphernalia; things like: pro team jerseys, stadium chairs and blankets, and also basketballs, baseballs, footballs, and other sports equipment. In her first blog entry she exercised her right as a fan with an opinion to take the owner of one of her favorite football teams, the Dallas Cowboys, to task. She was upset about one of the players in the news, and how the team owner wasn’t doing enough to discipline that player.

As I read over her blog entry, I found her thoughts to be well articulated and well founded. But the posting lacked something: Hot keywords.

She had only used the name of the team once, the name of the player twice, and the name of the owner once. What an opportunity missed! This would be a great chance for good search engine optimization! I pointed out to her that the article could be rewritten in such a way that it had at least 3-4 mentions of the player’s name, and the team name as well. Since there was a certain amount of controversy surrounding the event, that would generate some searches.

Another example: The movie “The Golden Compass” for a while was creating quite a stir in religious circles because the author of the original book has claimed to be an atheist. The bloggosphere was abuzz with commentary and speculation about the movie. At first I rolled my eyes at it, until I saw it as an opportunity. I thought, “Wait a minute… I have an opinion about this movie, too, and my blog is all about my opinions. Why don’t I blog about it, and include the keyword a few times in my blog?” So, I did. And I got a sudden and marked spike in my traffic, which corresponded to a spike in my Google Adsense money, as well.

Hey, I can sell out, too, ya know!

Here’s the trick: It really has to fit. It’s not just about search engine optimization. It’s also about readers.

My example of Brittany Spears (hey, there’s another instance) really was a bad one. First of all, I wouldn’t pack so many repetitions of a word (or phrase) into one paragraph. It reads badly, and will turn people off, even if it does include lots of keywords.

Also, Brittany Spears really doesn’t have anything to do with my article or my audience in this blog, and I didn’t really make any effort to make her relevant. There are ways to tie a topic in to be appropriate for a given blog or a given audience, however, and with a little creativity, you can still pull it off. For example, in a blog about good parenting, you could write about how “airhead superstars” or “delinquent football players” are making it hard for your children to find really good role models, and you could pack that with keywords that will draw in people interested in those names.

So, to do it right, find a topic to write about. Something you feel is important to you. Think of a way to tie that to a common name or keyword, and write your article or blog posting.

Also, even if you can’t tie it into one of the hottest searches of the day, or the latest news or pop culture phenomenon, when you’re done making any posting, go back through your article and think, “What would someone search for if they were going to find this article?” And then review and rewrite the article to contain more of those keywords. Use the words to your search engine advantage.

One last example: Go to Mark’s Black Pot and see how many times you see the words, “Dutch Oven”…

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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