I spent several hours yesterday and today reading up on search engine optimization, SEO, not because it was my next step in building my website, but because I was sidetracked by this blog. Checking the activity stats on my admin dashboard has become a mild obsession, and trust me, the stats are not a pretty sight. So, vanity took over and I started scouring the web for information on how to increase site traffic. The results of my search for SEO information led me to a couple of items; an SEO article from 2007 on Search Engine Land and an SEO article from Problogger.net from 2005 (ancient history in web years). Despite the old age of these two pieces, they provided a quick intro to some basic concepts on what the search engines look for and how to build traffic through links within the site and to/from other sites. A friend suggested looking at the SEO section on Lynda.com (which isn't free, but I have a monthly subscription), and I watched several of their helpful tutorials. And I found this really great free beginner’s guide to SEO updated in June, 2010. This guide is so chock full of information it’s organized into chapters, which would be intimidating except the information is so darn readable: Now that I’m a few hours into my SEO research, I’ve learned a thing or two. The first is that I’ve failed one of the most important steps of effective SEO; putting a strong keyword into the site URL. While I may find Wendysiegelman.com strong and interesting, it’s probably not going to come up in too many search results. The next thing I’ve learned is that some aspects of SEO for this blog are already built into the blog functionality (e.g. various headers and tags), while the basic template has some drawbacks (I can’t access or edit the site’s html). However, on my website-in-progress, my options will be unlimited, so I need to come up the learning curve quickly. The final thing I learned about SEO in the last two days is how to measure traffic with Google’s page rank checker. Although this blog is new and I haven’t done any SEO work or marketing yet, I discovered that on a scale of 0-10, wendysiegelman.com has a rank of 0. I’m a bit of a high achiever in life, so a zero ranking is not very encouraging. However, I quickly learned that there’s something even worse than a zero when I entered this blog’s url into the Alexa traffic rating search box and discovered they have no data at all on this site. So humbling! So, my search engine education has begun. While I'm building the site and filling it with interesting content, I've also got to start clearing some trees to pave an SEO road that will encourage a smooth flow of traffic.If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If I blog on this site and no one reads it, am I really a blogger? If I build a website, and no one views it, will I end up living in a tree in the forest?