In Which An Image Tag Boo Boo Drives More Traffic

Heeeey! Boo Boo Bear! What's in that pick-i-nick basket? Aw, Yogi, it's a conflict with a WordPress plugin causing my xml sitemap to be missing in action.
No, not that kind of boo-boo.

Image Tags and Title Tags, Even for Unrelated Terms, Help People Find Your Pick-i-nic Basket

In this previous post I talked more about search engine optimization (SEO), image tags, title tags, and how they can drive a lot of traffic that one might not expect and otherwise wouldn’t get. As a dear, departed TV pitchman used to say: “But wait! There’s more!” Even this website, JeffChappell.com, is not immune to this accidental image tag-driven traffic phenomena.

Now bear in mind, this site exists as a repository for my journalism clips. Essentially I wanted one place where I could preserve the highlights of my journalism career, one that spans both print and online mediums, as opposed to a list of links that frequently changed or broke as publications changed owners, web servers and content management systems. I wanted to be able to point other people to this place when necessary, along with my resume and whatnot. I also wanted to have it as an example of my web skills.

As such, unlike my personal blog, which follows my whims all over the place, this site is tailored and optimized for specific terms, namely Jeff Chappell. Type in “Jeff Chappell” into Google and many pages here are among the first links that appear. Type in “Jeff Chappell” and “writer” or “journalist” and virtually all of the first several pages of results are links to this site.

And yes, I can see from Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools that when people search for these terms, they find me, or rather this site. Just the other day someone from my hometown was searching for “jeff chappell writer,” and it lead them here – I assume this must be one of my erstwhile Facebook friends.

And recently someone from Russia was searching for “jeff chappell agilent.” Why someone from Russia is searching for articles I wrote years ago about a U.S. semiconductor test company that no longer exists, at least not under that name, I can’t imagine – but then that’s why I created this site.

While I do update this blog from time to time, I don’t do it frequently, and even less so since I began teaching ESL again. As such, this site doesn’t generate nearly as much traffic as The Gecko’s Bark and Barking Book Reviews.

Furthermore, one would think that what traffic it does generate would be from searches on topics that I wrote frequently about in the past, along with the odd search here and there for my name. And one would would be wrong.

 SEO Image Tag Boo Boo: You’re Doing It Right

Google Webmaster Tools reveals that a Boo Boo image tag can be a good thing, in terms of driving impressions. No, the number one traffic driver to JeffChappell.com these days is “boo boo” and derivations of that term, including “boo boo bear.” What’s more, this involves a single post from more than a year ago.

How is this? Once again, it’s the image tags.

Not long after I first started using what is still the best SEO plugin for WordPress that I’ve found – and I’ve tried others before and since – I had a problem with an update of the WordPress SEO plugin by Joost de Valk. I used that experience to write a post about software upgrades, and how one should be careful, and not just always upgrade for the sake of upgrading.

As you can see, it wasn’t so much a problem with the plugin upgrade as the way I had it configured; in prior versions the configuration was fine but with that particular upgrade the configuration caused a … wait for it … a boo boo.

To find some art to break up an otherwise big wall of text, I chose Boo Boo Bear, of Yogi Bear cartoon fame, which you can see at the top of this post. In fact the title of said post, as you can see, included the words Boo Boo, as in a problem or error.

At the time I did this, I thought I was just being cute and amusing myself. But, as it turns out, there are a lot of people searching for boo boo, not to mention Boo Boo. Who knew?

Not I. Apparently a lot of these searchers – I’m guessing – are related to one Boo Boo Stewart; search Google Images for “boo boo” and lots of pictures of this young actor pop up. Seems he was in one or more of the Twilight pablum movies. Or perhaps they are searching for Boo Boo TV. I don’t know. The only other Boo Boo I knew of before this, other than the eponymous bear, was blues musician Boo Boo Davis.

But I digress. As you can see from the screen cap of Google Webmaster Tools above, these terms result in more page impressions in Google than anything else on this site. It doesn’t generate oodles of traffic, but then this isn’t a high traffic site, nor does it need to be.

But once again it shows the importance of image and title tags and SEO. If you have a site that’s monetized through advertisement as opposed to selling memberships or actual products, then you want as much traffic as you can get; the more impressions you get the better, obviously.

And yet, you still see so many sites that fit this description that don’t have image tags, or are poorly optimized in terms of titles, subtitles and links. And the thing is, it’s such a simple thing; it only takes a moment. If you are using WordPress, I’ll plug the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin; it really does simplify SEO to a large degree. In fact it’s pretty amazing for a free plugin.

Yogi Bear and Boo Boo discuss the merits of proper SEO over a lunch pic-i-nic basket.To then as you can see to a certain extent it’s luck, of course; I had no idea that by using an image of Boo Boo Bear with proper image tags that I’d drive this extra traffic here.

But that’s my point: you just never know who is going to be searching for what.

Ain’t, that right Boo Boo?

Of course it is Yogi.

Update: Now this is amusing; I thought something like this might happen, but I didn’t really expect this big of a jump. In just the few days since this post was put up, this site’s impressions for the term “boo boo” have jumped from 8,000, with 16 clicks, to 12,000 impressions and 60 clicks as of April 9th.

I’ve also jumped up a notch in average position in search results from 11 to 10, which probably accounts for the jump in impressions in just few days’ time. I feel kind of bad, as this page is probably not the boo boo they’re looking for; although I’m sure a majority of that is coming through image search, in which case I do provide some Boo Boo.

On the other hand: lulz!

Inadvertent SEO Traffic: Good Practice Drives Extra Impressions

F**k no! This is not the meme you're looking for. Use Keywords in Your Title Tags, and Don’t Forget Your Image Tags. You Never Know Who Might Be Searching, Or for What

I’m beginning to think that search engine optimization (SEO) is a matter of luck, to a certain degree, in addition to being conscientious in tailoring a page or blog post for SEO. It’s always the things I least expect that seem to bring in the most traffic.

Once again, it is the image tags that bring in unexpected traffic from search engines. I’ve remarked on the importance of image tags – and luck – before, on more than one occasion. Indeed, if you read up on the advice of SEO gurus, image tags are one of the things they harp on, and with good reason.

Let’s look once again at my personal blog, The Gecko’s Bark. Now you may be thinking, “this is just an excuse for backlinks.” And while it is an opportunity to do just that, just bear with me. Lately I’ve been blogging a lot about my torn quadriceps tendon and the recovery process. I’ve been diligent with those posts in terms of SEO. Aside from the obvious reasons, I know from having researched it myself, a quadriceps tendon tear is pretty rare, and there’s not a lot of information out there; perhaps I can help some other poor wretch in the future who suffers the same injury and takes to the Vast Series of Tubes for relevant data.

Of course, given the rarity I wasn’t expecting those posts to generate a ton of traffic. On the other hand, it’s that much easier to get pages ranked high on search engines when you optimize for terms that aren’t looked for as often as others. And over the course of the past month or so, I’ve seen those posts on my blog start to generate traffic off of related keyword searches.

But what’s generated the most traffic, lately, aside from searches for construction gifs, which still drives more traffic to GeckosBark.com than anything else, is a gif I chose pretty much at random for one of my latest posts about my recovery. I unwittingly chose an image that is part of a popular and current Internet meme – really, I had no idea; I’m not nearly that hip.

A month or so I began to be able to walk without the aid of crutches, for the first time since Christmas. Needless to say, I was pretty happy about this. After composing a post about it, I wanted an image of something other than my leg. On a whim I typed in “f**k yeah” into Google image search. No, I’m not going to spell it out, nor am I going to post the image — although you can see a cleverly altered one above — but I think you can figure it out, yes? If not, just check out the “Ha ha! Screw You Universe, I Can Walk.”

I should warn you, while JeffChappell.com is family friendly and pretty much G-rated; I give myself free reign on The Gecko’s Bark; sometimes I swear when I think the topic or related feelings warrant it. Sometimes it’s not even safe for work (NSFW), as in the case of the f**k yeah image. I didn’t know it, but apparently it’s a “thing” – a full-fledged Internet meme  – and I inadvertently tapped into that.

I just chose it because it more than adequately summed up how I felt at that time; being able to walk is a glorious thing when you haven’t been able to do it for two months without the aid of crutches and braces. Frankly, it makes you feel like shouting F**K YEAH!

Of course, being the good little webmaster and SEO maven, I filled in those image tags, which included the aforementioned four-letter word. Even the image was named “f**k yeah.”

SEO Happens

Google Webtool screen grab showing how well The Gecko's Bark ranks for f**k yeah.Guess what happened next?

Yeah, that post has become the second most visited page at The Gecko’s Bark, driven by people searching for things related to this meme. This is even though the words “f**k yeah” don’t appear in the text of that post, only in the image tags and file name.

In fact, according to Google Webmaster tools, out of 200,000 impressions for The Gecko’s Bark, in the month of March – the post in question is dated Feb. 29th – searches for “f**k yeah” generated 5,500 search impressions on Google and 500 clicks.  Webmaster Tools says the site even ranks an average of 15 – on the second page of results – for that search term (although when I just searched for it, I didn’t see my site anywhere in the first 100 results). According to Google Analytics, it is the second most popular landing page on my site this past month; the post with the under construction gif is still the busiest.

Now, having noted this, in a follow post about my quadriceps tendon rupture, dated March 27, one of the things I talked about was this unexpected traffic to the site. This time, I liberally sprinkled the paragraph with those terms – because I know the SEO drill.

As you can see from the Webmaster Tools screen capture, The Gecko’s Bark also gets a lot of traffic from yet another colorful search term. I’m going to go ahead and go out on a red limb and use this term without any ***: it’s dumbass. Sorry If I’ve just offended your sensitivities.

The post in which I use that term is all about a considerable misadventue on the eve of the Tet holiday in Ho Chi Minh City last year. You can follow that link if you want to find out about how I deal with getting my wallet and phone pickpocketed just before the entire country of Viet Nam closes for a week. I’ll warn you: there is more colorful R-rated language in that post, to be sure.

Once again, that page wasn’t tailored for that keyword, at least not intentionally. But it shows up in several title and image tags, as well as in the body of the post, and thus Google apparently offers that Gecko’s Bark page often when people are searching for the term “dumbass.” Why that many people would be searching for that term, I don’t know. The only time I’ve ever searched for it was looking for images to use in that post; perhaps that is what they are up to.

In fact, I don’t really think much about The Gecko’s Bark in terms of SEO, beyond the basics – site meta tags and the like, and the individual things for each post, like image tags. Unlike this site, or Barking Book Reviews, there is no overall SEO focus; I don’t worry about which keywords Gecko’s Bark ranks for, or things like that. It’s there to amuse myself, and that’s pretty much it.

But as such it’s a pretty good indicator of what good SEO practices can achieve in terms of site traffic. Just using good keywords in title tags, filling out image tags, and including outbound links when it’s useful to the reader – very basic stuff.