|Hubby's ancestor Benjamin McClure was a 19th-century civic leader in Wabash, Indiana|
And lucky for me, Elizabeth O'Neal's Genealogy Blog Party this month is all about tuning up our blogs. She has links to lots of ways to test blogs, analyze search rankings, and improve the look and content of our blogs.
Here's what I did to I tune up my blog as cousin bait.
Search Like a Cousin
What, exactly, will attract a cousin? One 2d cousin found my blog because I had written about a synagogue where our ancestors were married. When she did an online search to learn more about that synagogue, my blog post ranked high in the results. She clicked to read more...and, happily for me and my family, she contacted me! One of my friends occasionally receives inquiries from people who find her blog because she posted about an orphanage where her ancestors were placed.
To search like a cousin, think like a cousin. Try searches using key words that might attract our cousins, including surnames and related key words. So far, I have been pleased with the results rankings.
Blogger already allows me to assign "labels" (key words) for each blog entry (such as a surname or a topic). I also list key words in my blog's description, and have changed these over time. Since I can't always predict what a cousin will look for, I go beyond surnames to include religious institutions, places, and so forth.
Surnames and Easy Contact
You can see the main surnames I'm researching along the right side of my blog. Plus along the top of my blog, I have a series of "landing pages" for main surnames and the stories of those ancestors or families. I want these to be visible and I want cousins to know I welcome contact, as Tammy suggested.
In the past couple of years, I added a contact gadget just above the surname listing. Currently, I receive 1-2 inquiries every month. Not everyone who uses the contact gadget turns out to be a cousin, but I still appreciate that they make the effort to get in touch.
Blog Tune Up: Subheads and Captions
Yet another place to insert key words, Tammy noted, is in subheads of blog posts. Who knew? So now I'm tuning up my blog to add subheads, an easy tweak that might boost a post's rankings in search results when cousins go looking for their FAN club. Also, I'm going back to writing captions that include surnames and other key words, such as shown at top.
Finally, blog content must look good on mobile devices, an important criterion used by search engines. Mine looks fine on a small screen, according to the preview in my Blogger dashboard.
If you're reading this on your phone or pad, doesn't Benjamin McClure (1812-1896) look like a determined pioneer farmer and respectable civic leader?!