What the genealogy and family history blogger needs to know about SEO via BloggingGenealogy.com
SEO: What does the family history researcher need to know?
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization {SEO} is an internet marketing strategy where a site author or blog author understands how a search engine lists websites {including blogs} in their search engine results page {also known as SERP} so they can increase traffic to their site or blog or both.

For example, a website {or blog} who wants to rank higher in the search engine, researches what criteria a search engine {like Google} uses to rank websites on a search results page. Many times, these criteria can include the following:



  • Keywords in blog posts titles, URL addresses, and in blog post and website page content;
  • Content-Keyword Density;
  • Meta tags;
  • Quality inbound links;
  • Cross-linking {or inter-linking} within the same website or blog
  • Quality blog/website content;
  • Heading Tags;
  • Site Maps;
  • Alt-Text for images;
  • Language declaration;
  • Webpage/Blog Title and description;

And there's, like, a gazillion other things to take into consideration when talking about optimizing your site for search engine result pages. For instance, Google keeps tweaking their algorithm so that it's better at anticipating what its users are looking for, and it's based on a lot of things. {Hence, that scary word, algorithm.} And? I've written about their changes and what that means to researchers searching online on my blog 4YourFamilyStory.com: Will a Duck Cook Google's Goose? and Google Isn't Your Only Search Option.

{And? My linking to my other website with some relevant articles is an example of giving my other site, 4YourFamilyStory.com, 2 quality inbound links. Relevancy to their reader = quality.}

Historically, before Google tweaked its algorithms for search results {Panda & Penguin updates} to achieve its goals, many marketers gamed the system in order to increase traffic to their site. Most of the time, these sites had horrible content with tons of ads. The more traffic {using SEO tactics}, meant a certain percentage of those site visitors would click on ad links. Thus, making money for the site. {And this is a simplistic example. There's a little more to it.} 

So, why did Google make the changes? Oh, I dunno. When you are Googling and you click on a link from the Google Search Results Page and you end up on one of these tacky sites, what do you do?

That's right. You leave as quickly as you can. {I know I do. That's for sure.} It's important to Google's business plan to give their users relevant search results and it noticed folks ~ like you and me ~ didn't prefer these sites, so? They fixed that. {And are continuing to fix that & tweak other things for their business plan with every update.}

Now, Google's changes to its search algorithms means folks who were gaming the system and not producing good content that people want to read were angry because their business {and I use that term loosely} had been based on the old Google algorithms and now they aren't making any money. Because Google's search algorithms are concentrating on relevant and good content, these guys are outta luck with their non-helpful blog posts littered with many tacky ads.

SEO, as I defined above, is a tool for those who are marketing something on the internet. And this is why knowing all the ins and outs of SEO {and all its changes} is important for genealogy-related businesses and organizations. {And I'm pretty familiar with this as I've researched, implemented, and constantly monitor this blog and 4YourFamilyStory.com from an SEO point-of-view.}

But what about SEO for the genealogy and family history researcher who is blogging about their family stories and research? You are in luck. Your goal for your blog is to share stories and research and hopefully attract some cousins or researchers of the same family lines in order to collaborate with them.

And the good news is that you have always been producing quality content full of keywords. 

These lovely keywords? Ancestor names, dates, locations, other family members related to your ancestors, friends & neighbors of your ancestors, and those all-important family stories. And this is even more important if you have an ancestor with a common name like John Smith. Using the info that you know on your blog like John Smith born 28 Oct 1854 in Indiana who married Jane Davis and Jane Davis' sister was America Davis can be very helpful because a potential cousin Googling about this family might be a descendant of America Davis and they'll probably be searching from that point of view. 

You need to think about how you or others might search for information about your ancestors. You have to think about all the search angles when blogging about your ancestors.

And it would be good to link to other related blog posts to the one you're currently writing. Using the example above of John Smith {And ohmigosh with researching that name, eh?}, if you've blogged about him before, then link to those blog posts from within your current blog posts ~ even if its more about his wife, sister-in-law, neighbor, etc. That would definitely be relevant to a potential cousin researcher of John Smith. 

Additionally, I've blogged previously about increasing your genealogy and family history blog traffic here on BloggingGenealogy.com. Those tips will still help you with traffic using SEO tactics. I just didn't tag it SEO because you are not a business or organization trying to make money or gain members. And I also have blogged about using the Alt-Text attribute for images {what I like to call 'Cousin Awesome Sauce'}, which can increase traffic to your family history blog as well. 

Remember: You are a genealogy and family history researcher blogging about your research.

{And those 3 last links? Examples of inter-linking, or cross-linking, to other blog posts on this blog that are relevant to what we're talking about. I do this all the time on my personal family history blog, Family Stories.}

But? Even if you never did anything with SEO, you'd be fine. Just blogging about your ancestors ~ at least the ones with non-common names ~ and getting that information 'out there' is all you need for good content for search engines and their result pages. You don't need to worry about gaming the system. You don't need to know anything about SEO. You are not a business or an organization. {Which is really good because there are quite a few intricacies to business/organization blogging and SEO.}

You just need to blog about your ancestors ~ your research and/or family stories.

~Caroline

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