SEO

SEO Clinic : BigOceans.com – Blogging from the Sea while Sailing Around the World

For this week’s SEO Clinic the Search Engine Journal SEO team chose an independent blogger who has the dream of sailing around the world, from Europe to Australia (by way of the Americas) and blogging about his trip live, via a satellite modem and other mobile blogging tools.

Background & BigOceans

Kind of a Kevin Sites of the seven seas, Nicholas Jaffe is a 26 year old Australian, who is living in Berlin and will be trying to sail home singlehanded aboard a 26ft yacht named Constellation.

Jaffe will be documenting his adventure on his site, BigOceans.com, which currenlty attracts about 1,200 unique visitors per month, predominantly from paid search, StumbleUpon, and sailing oriented web rings and associations. Nick’s expectations are that once he hits sea and begins blogging about his adventures, the blog will attract 20,000 to 30,000 users per month, as the trip will be unique and a first of its kind.

Given the social aspect of this project, Search Engine Journal’s SEO Resident Pimps have accompanied our normal SEO recommendations with a spin towards the social media optimization, social media marketing and press relations route. We believe Nick is partaking on a brave and unique adventure, one that will set standards for social media adventure and social pioneering.

First Impressions : Is This a Blog?

As a professional blogger with 4 years experience under my belt, when I look at a blogging project the first question which comes to mind is “Is this a blog?”

In Nick’s case, BigOceans.com is not a blog. It is a web site that features a blog among many other sections of the site. I see where Nick is coming from here, as his site offers various other sections besides the blog.

However, if Nick is to market his adventure of that of a real time blogger who is documenting his adventures at sea, the site must be built around the blog as its core. I’m very passionate about this and feel that the blog not being part of the homepage is a weakness.

Nick’s homepage offers post archives and the latest post in the “From the Blog” section, but this is not enough. Nick should list his 4 or 5 latest entries on the homepage, with linked Titles to the posts and short excerpts.

Ideally, Nick will also be attracting a lot of comments and questions. Each blog post preview from the homepage should also link to the comments area for each post.

On the blog itself I noticed that comments are not being shown and the user has to click on a link to view the comments. This could pose a dupicate content problem for some search engines, but more importantly, is hiding what may become the meat of your blog; the ongoing back and forth conversation about your trip. Don’t hide you comments.

Additionally, the RSS buttons are hidden. Nick needs to take advantage of his readership and get them subscribing. An RSS subscription button should be featured along with Nick’s welcome message above the blog preview area on the homepage, and additionally along with every blog post – accompanying the content.

These changes will make BigOceans.com more bloggeriffic, in turn, making the site more appealing to bloggers who are reading it, resulting in more incoming links and more traffic.

In terms of taking full advantage of his blogging, Nick is using WordPress to power his blog. There needs to be a Wordress logo somewhere on this blog, and I cannot find one.

Once that is placed, Matt Mullenwag and other WordPress enthusiasts such as Michael Arrington from TechCrunch, Robert Scoble, Darren Rowse of Problogger.net and Pete Cashmore of Mashable. If these bloggers are impressed by the BigOceans.com mission AND site, chances are they will write about it and perform inteviews with Nick on the type of remote blogging technology he is using and whatnot. The end effect will be an influx of links, subscribers, and ongoing traffic.

Nick, take advantage of the blogosphere and your place in it.

SEO Recommendations

Like our last SEO Clinic for TechSmith, this installment also features our Special SEO Gust Star, Bill Slawski of SEO by the SEA. (SEO by the SEA huh? Nice fit for this project.)

Mr. Slawski has put together 6 specific Blog SEO recommendations which will have a positive effect on how search engines rank BigOceans.com:

1. In the titles for blog posts, put the post titles first, and then the name of the blog.

Ideally, your post titles should be good and fairly short descriptions of what the post is about. If that description includes a keyword phrase that people might search for in trying to find a site like yours, that’s even better. It doesn’t hurt to have the post title appear first in your page titles, and a plug-in that can help you do this is:

http://elasticdog.com/2004/09/optimal-title/

2. Meta tag plugin – for unique descriptions.

There are a number of different choices, but this one works effectively and automatically for all pages, and meta descriptions for individual posts can be manually created if wanted.

http://www.g-loaded.eu/2006/01/05/add-meta-tags-wordpress-plugin/

3. Use the Permalink Redirect WordPress Plugin

There are two different URLs for every post; with and without a trailing slash, like this:

http://www.bigoceans.com/2007/02/26/presents-captain-cook-and-nice-hats

http://www.bigoceans.com/2007/02/26/presents-captain-cook-and-nice-hats/

Rather than have a search engine try to understand that those are the same page, and try to decide between the two, this plug-in can be used so that only the version with the trailing slash appears:

http://fucoder.com/code/permalink-redirect/

4. Sitemap page – sitemap plugin

It doesn’t hurt to have a sitemap for both your visitors and the search engines. The following plugin works well:

http://www.dagondesign.com/articles/sitemap-generator-plugin-for-wordpress/

5. There’s a great list of many blog directories that you can submit to on Robin Good’s site. It’s worth spending a few moments everyday and submitting to some of them:

RSSTop55 : Best Blog Directory And RSS Submission Sites

6. On the front page of the blog, you only display one post, while listing the titles to the latest posts in the column to the left. An alternative that might draw more readers to look at more pages is to display excerpts of posts instead of the whole posts, and to show a number of the latest posts instead of just one.

Showing excerpts on the front page can be done with the <!–more–> tag, or you can use a plug-in that will do it for you automatically:

http://dev.wp-plugins.org/wiki/PostTeaser

This can show an estimated reading time and a word count for the full post. Those aren’t necessary, and can be removed in the administrative panel console for the plugin. You can also set the teaser to a certain word count that you want it to be as near to as possible.

Using this plugin will also mean that archives pages will show the teaser-lengthed posts instead of the full posts, too.

Jessica Bowman of Business.com and SEMinHouse weighs in with some SEO tips :

Most of the SEO Best Practices still need to be implemented on the site:

  1. Page Titles – Write something that will be enticing in the search results and make it unique for each page. Right now they’re templatized, but they are unique for each page of the site. Also, add your targeted keywords, this is vital for optimization. Next to page copy, the page title is the next most valuable piece of copy on your site.
  2. Meta Description – This is a 250 character (including spaces), keyword rich description of your site. This is often the text that will be displayed in the search results, therefore, like the page title, write something enticing that will make people want to click your link. Best practice says it should be unique for each site, but not having this isn’t detrimental, however, it’s not aiding, either.
  3. Link Text – When linking to pages within your site, be sure to use keywords, this makes the destination page more relevant for the term in the link. Do this within your blog posts, as well as the static site pages.
  4. Links to Your Site – You have a good start on links. Now, try to get links that contain your keywords. In particular, get links from boating sites.
  5. ALT Text – Whenever adding a photo, include ALT text with keywords.
  6. WWW – Your site can be viewed with and without www in the URL. 301 the version without www to the version with www. You can see from this search that Google has a few of your pages indexed without the www. You can also just go into Google sitemaps and set your site to always display with www.
  7. Keyword Selection – Take the time to select the right keywords. From the looks of it, you brainstormed and put down what came to mind. Unfortunately, you’ll never rank for terms like “yacht” and “dreamer” (it’s extremely difficult to rank for one-term phrases). Instead, take the time to select keyword phrases with 2 or 3 terms. Since you’re on a budget, use KeywordDiscovery’s free keyword research tool.
  8. Keyword Rich Copy – Once you pick the best keywords, weave them into the page copy, evenly distributing their repetition throughout the page copy. Use keywords in your blog copy and blog post titles. Remember to use exact repetitions (for example: boat voyage and boat voyages are two different terms when it comes to SEO). In essence, your site doesn’t appear to be about any one subject in the eyes of search engines. You see, search engines can’t just look at your page and figure out what it’s about. Instead, search engines can only read each word on the page to figure out which keywords it should be listed for in the search results, one of the ways it does this is by looking for keywords and phrases that are repeated throughout the copy.

Usability

  1. Left columns – the copy is all aligned right, which makes it difficult to read.
  2. Two left columns side-by-side gets a little much on pages that have full content in both left columns (particularly in the blog section of the site). Consider moving one to the right side of page.
  3. Your button says “Make a Donation”, I personally make donations to charities and people that are less fortunate, not to someone going on vacation. But, I do sponsor people for walks, runs, swims and even volunteer vacations. Consider changing the button to read “Sponsor the Voyage” or “Sponsor the Trip” to see if it attracts more interest. (Ignore if this is merely Queen’s English vs. American English).
  4. You probably want to donate any proceeds in excess of your trip costs to a charity, who wants to pay for someone else to go on an extended vacation?
  5. Eyes naturally gravitate to hyperlinks. If we look at the far your left column, what stands out is “Contact Me”, “spending a cent” and “make a donation”. Nudge the people in the direction you want them to go by removing the “contact me” link and make the “Advertise on this site” a link.
  6. It’s not the most clear how to help you, it seems a bit spread out, depending on what you actually read. Consider making a definite, “How You Can Help” page and list all the ways to contribute to the cause: Donate, Advertise on this site, the Big Oceans Google search, Firefox plugin and perhaps Donate things and/or time to help you get on your way (it sounds like your boat needs a bit of work), and give advice. This allows someone to feel the excitement of getting involved in some way or another (more on advice later in the review)
  7. When looking at new sites, I don’t read the text. I just bounce around, just as someone to do to see if it’s a site worth exploring. After 10 minutes bouncing through pages and jotting down ideas it still wasn’t clear, have you left yet? I thought you had left until viewing the route map, then I had to read to figure it out. When are you leaving?? How far along are you to meeting your goal? Make it very clear and obvious – perhaps a countdown that’s built into the website template and visible on each page. There are great widgets that you could pull in, it could be down to the minute/second. Also, you have a very cool map, but where are you right this minute? Germany, raising funds? If yes, put that in there.
  8. Rearrange the navigation for usability, and priority. Why are archives second? Based on your priorities, “How You Can Help” should be second, help is what you need most of all.

Gemme van Hasselt, SEJ contributor and author of China Snippets (Gemme noticed that BigOceans.com is blocked in China) puts together a little of what Bill and Jessica were discussing:

Title Tag & Descriptions

Re-arrange Title Tag, Start with the Title of the post (or a modified version using one of the later mentioned plugins) and end with branding tag like Solo Sailing Big Oceans.

There are plugins available that make this process smoother. The SEO Title Plugin is at the moment focused on titles only and with Headspace you can also customize/automate meta descriptions for each post.

Meta descriptions for each post are displayed by search engines (if relevant to the search query) and this way you can try to pre-empt that search engines decide which text snippet is shown in the search results.

Jessica has gone more in depth with all the above.

Technical

Decide which domain you want to use. If you want to use bigcoceans.com, then use a .301 redirect for www.bigoceans.com to end up at bigoceans.com. If you prefer www.bigoceans.com, re-direct the other way around. You’ll avoid that your content is regarded as duplicate.

Website Structure

I’d re-arrange site structure/template in order to have the real content, like posts etc to be first served to the SE before the static parts.

Right now the first content that’s served to the search bots are your sponsors, great for them but it should be your content about sailing solo.

Lay Out

The Lay out is rather confusing to me as well as very crowded. Jessica has made some good points about this.

Additionally I would suggest cutting the header with the nice ship in half, it occupies half of my screen (I work on a laptop)and although I may have more toolbars than the average user I see no real need for such a big header.

Don’t forget to make the header clickable. I naturally click headers to go back to the home page, it’s something I expect Link the header pic or the text “Big Oceans” in it to the home page

I’m personally quite averse to the snap preview, for me it’s not a user friendly item, it’s just annoying and takes extra loading time. It actually stops me from clicking a link as I feel it’s rather intrusive once that pop-up appears.

Like Jessica said, there can be made huge improvements in the way the site communicates with the visitor. It’s really confusing where and what is. As mentioned by J., rearrange the navigation. I read from left to right for example, like most people, so archives is not my first interest nor is it yours as you like to get visitors focused on helping you to achieve your goal.

Blog Comments

Once the traffic starts pouring in, comments will follow. Make it easy for commenters to stay informed about the discussions and offer them the option to subscribe to comments. This plugin can help you here. You can chose in the admin of the plugin to automatically subscribe every commenter.

Feeds

Using the Sig2Feed plugin you can add a custom tag line to each post which is visible to your rss readers. You can use this for giving more exposure to your advertisers, the project or else.

Content

“The hardest part of blogging is actually blogging”

If you want to start attracting readers and make them enthusiastic for your goal and entice them to help you, they need an incentive.

As a blogger you have to try captivate your audience and make them want to return to read more. As it is, there is not much to read and even less to come back for. (I’m a bit harsh on purpose as I like you to succeed and now is the time for that, even though I know your busy as it is:)

Increase your frequency of writing. Set yourself the goal of writing at least twice a week and broaden your scope to write more about sailing/related to sailing. Why not go into the history of solo sailing, are there important dates in solo sailing that are worth talking about, who’s solo sailing at the moment, what are the records etc. There must be a lot to write about and it should be more exciting than posts starting “No updates, lots of work and little money! Wonderful!”

You want to use the blog as a vehicle for your trip so before you start getting you have to start giving.

Content 2

I like the prep-list but it’s just a start. The prep list can be used as a means to attract sponsors for specific items on your shopping list. Name the price of these items and let people make specific donations. I have no clue what a “Polish prop” is and you’re the one that can tell me what it is and why you need it. Even more, you can make for each item you’ll need a dedicated page with a picture of the item, e.g. the “Polish prop”, the cost, an explanation what it is and the people that have contributed to buying it.

Leveraging Social Media

The fact that BigOceans.com is a blog automatically means that it will do well in terms of social media marketing. For blog optimization we have already covered the in’s and out’s of attracting new subscribers via RSS and submitting to blog search engines and directories. I would also suggest that Nick contacts Technorati and tries to get a featured placement for his blog and its mission.

I would also suggest contacting other bloggers who blog about sailing and boating. Get their feedback on your trip and if they happen to be based near one of your resting points, plan a meetup with them (by land or by sea), by doing so you can learn a bit about the local waters in the region and wind trends, make friends, get some free drinks or dinners, and photograph the areas you visit from the eyes of two sailors, not just one. Be sure when you upload your photos to Flickr or wherever to link back to BigOceans.com.

Once the voyage begins, I see no reason why BigOceans.com should not make it to the Digg homepage, especially if Nick prepares a blog post about the tools he is using to blog from sea. Adding a del.icio.us this button will help, as this story is sure to hit the heart of the tech crowds out there and Del.icio.us Popular will drive some awesome traffic and links as well.

One social media outlet which should not be overlooked is MySpace (or other social networks for that fact). Nick should take the time to set up a MySpace profile about himself and his mission, then make friends with every single MySpace user who has sailing, boating or yaughting as their profile interests. Nick could then use MySpace as a communications tool to send out bulletins to all of his new friends for each blog post he makes, or even comment on their profiles (via a bot or some other form of automated tool). There are over 600,000 profiles on MySpace which include the word ‘sailing’ in their interests, About Me, or profile text.

Rhea Drysdale of Venus.com also lends some excellent social media markeitng and PR tips:

Press:

1.Add a press section to the site with the information packet Ahmed mentioned, your sponsors, photographs of different resolutions, contact info, etc. Make it simple and to the point, written for the reporter not a spectator.

2.If you start to garner press, put together an “As Seen In/On” section that offers magazine, newspaper, TV or web-based reviews. For SEO purposes make sure each new media source links to a separate page with a brief description of the company that published the story, date/time, and then the story itself. If it’s a video or podcast include a summary of what’s in the video/audio file in case someone can’t open it, plus that’s more content on the page.

3.If you have the opportunity create your own press release and post to PRWeb. They have some terrific and fairly inexpensive packages that allow you to add links, attach files and logos. This could be huge if you hit the right markets at the right time and day.

Social Networks:

1.I know it’s high maintenance, but try to befriend everyone you know and every organization that’s remotely related to the subject on MySpace, Flickr, StumbleUpon, MyBlogLog, YouTube, Yahoo, Netscape, Google Groups, MeetUp.com (terrific rankings here by the way), etc. I’m sure there are plenty of boating or travel niche sites out there as well. You already mentioned many of your top referrers come from a boaters circle. As a start also look at Oceana, Greenpeace, Surfrider, Sierra Club, WWF, etc. Their members are well-connected and they’d be thrilled to befriend you. Start soliciting!

2.I loved Loren’s comments about speaking with other boaters. The most powerful resource you have is your contacts, so take every possible opportunity to network. You’re already on Stumble Upon and Flickr, also check out My Yahoo Travel – http://travel.yahoo.com/trip. You can log pictures, blogs and reviews of your trip as you go and others can review and comment.

3.Additionally, utilize Yahoo Answers. Don’t spam the forums, but if there are questions that apply to boating, travel, etc. make comments and provide a link to your site (when applicable). This site gets terrific rankings and on Yahoo has a section of the SERP page dedicated entirely to it.

4.On every network be sure to include the same message, personal info and photo to build a recognizable brand. If the networks allow it, plug links to different pages of the site whenever possible. Flickr optimization has become a hot ticket area of late, you can add a description and links to every picture (with some basic HTML), take advantage of that.

Contact:

1.As the site is down, I don’t know if you already do this, but consider putting on the contact page a link to your profile on all social networks.

2.Also include social network widgets/badges like MyBlogLog, flickr viewer or My Yahoo Trip. The point is, again – people don’t read. If they see a visual representation of something they can relate to or connect with they will click on it.

Video

Film an introductory video of yourself talking about the journey, include some video of the boat, maps, gadgets and gizmos. Talk shop for the boaters, talk big picture for the dreamers. Post it on YouTube, StumbleUpon, MySpace, Google, Live and every other possible site. Those are the biggest in the USA, but there might be others abroad. Again, add your personal info, links back to your site, etc. Also add the video to your own site.

Content

1.Think like a journalist since that’s your primary target audience at the moment. You need to build a buzz and the best way to do that is with catchy content that gets to the point within the first sentence. Give them all of the details and meat without poetic garnish.

2.For the bloggers – be humorous and provide bulleted points or numbered lists. There’s some backlash against link bait, but if it’s good quality content the concise dialogue is appreciated.

Jessica Bowman adds:

Get a Following

1. Find a way short and sweet way to explain it all: “Youth, inexperience, the wide ocean and a fixer-upper boat.” It took a while to figure out, but that’s, in essence, the story. It sounds like you have something that could get catchy with some induced humor and reader interaction. At the very least it sounds like it could be entertaining (and you have to be entertaining to get people to take an interest). Be sure to include the trials and tribulations, and ask for advice from readers.
2. Allow people to post recommendations and their opinions on routes and must see attractions. Ask questions and get them to respond. A good example of this is Jim Boykin’s blog, he typically ends each blog with a question to his readers. You could Plot your journey, and let people tell you about the best hole-in-the-wall pub or their favorite cafe. When you visit these recommended venues, drop an email and a post mentioning their name – people love to be mentioned.
3. Get your readers involved in the preparations by recommending things you need to take, perhaps preface it with it’s my first voyage, let me know if I’ve forgotten anything.
4. It looks like your web hosting provider offers many tools…. Consider using them: Forum, Calendar, Web Poll, etc. The Web Poll can be on any subject, product A vs. B, route X vs Y.

Get Links:

1. Post on blogs… that is, post good comments on blogs, and a link to your site. When reading comments, if it catches my attention I’ll wonder who wrote it check out their site. Use humor here, sometimes you can reference your linkbait, which will peek interest and entice a click.
2. Participate in boating forums, and if you have a lengthy piece of feedback, blog about it first and then post a reference to it. It will drive traffic and potential followers.
3. What you want to do is get discussions amongst the readers, so that they’ll want to come back again and again. Since you’re a sailing newbie, get your readers debating over what’s in your best interest – their passions will be ignited, and they’ll keep coming back to put in their two cents – you just may learn a few things in the process. You could let your audience help choose your equipment, “I’m struggling with product A or product B, product A is more expensive and product B is bigger – what do you think?” Post these things regularly, and when you get in front of passionate boaters you’ll soon have a following. Continue with this type of interaction throughout the journey. Post things like “I’ve heard there’s a big storm coming through XYZ and I’m debating to go north through ABC which can be windy with large waves, but it let’s me stop at Port Z, which I hear is amazing. What do you think?” You have little experience sailing, and people love to give their opinions – give them the avenue to pass on their wisdom.
4. Boaters enjoy hanging out with other boaters… when you get a following and understand where they’re at, suggest a meet-up when you’re near them.
5. Find bloggers that write about boating, let them know what you’re doing and ask for them to help your cause with a write-up.
6. See if there are boating blogs looking for a guest author, this will give you visibility to another blog’s audience. The key here is to find a blog that has strong readership and will let you post a link back to your site with each post (much like we do with Search Engine Journal).

Once Your Set Sail :

1. Get humorous, good humor gets attraction – top 10 lists and funny jokes and stories will get blogging boaters to write about you. Face it, you’re new at this, funny things are going to happen, write about it.
2. “X things you should never forget to pack for a voyage.” The gotchas you’d never think. Encourage readers post what they’ll never forget again (and why).
3. Photo collections – you’re traveling around the globe. Snap pics of something unusual from around the globe, I personally collect photos of unusual loos around the world (don’t ask!).
4. You’ll have to act as MacGyver more than once on your voyage. Write up a series of “how to fix anything when on the water.” Write enough of it, write it well and you can turn it into a book when you’re back. (You could even offer an ebook on the subject to anyone that blogs about your cause and offers a link). Take the book even further and donate all proceeds to a boat-related charity and you’re more likely to get it placed on boat shops and more publicity.

Google Maps Mashup

Ahmed Bilal suggests the use of an ‘Interactive Visual Resource’ for the trip. Nick is currently using a Google Maps mashup to track his voyage :

SMS messages are sent to an email box with my long/lat coordinates, along with location descriptions in order to generate these staggered tracking overlays. Messages will be sent via satellite phone, and updated every few days with my current position.

Since Nick is going to be blogging from the sea, I would suggest that he include Geo coordinates in his blog posts, then create a Google Maps Mashup which associates each blog post with its location. Not only would Nick’s fans be able to track his course, but also what happens along the way in each area. I think by doing so, BigOceans.com would attract more links, regular followers, and more news around the blogosphere and in terms of a nice Google Maps Mashup example which perhaps Google could feature!

Making Money from the Blog

Sure the blog will bring in revenue from the current AdSense, Text Link Ads and other ‘on blog’ monetization tools currently in use, but the real goal here is building revenue for the trip via sponsorships, offline and on.

Gemme feels that Nick’s BigOceans.com project could take some ideas from the Million Dollar Homepage, and apply them to Nick’s custom sail:

I understand that Eboy will be custom designing the sail. What will they do exactly and how much customization is possible.

The million dollar pixel page came to mind when I was thinking of your sails and what to do with them.

But before even considering have a digitized version of your sails (I imagine there is more than one sail) where sponsors can buy square centimeters, which then later will be printed on the real sails, I like to know if this is something Eboy can do/wants to do.

Carsten Cumbrowski adds that affiliate programs may work well on the blog, and the companies behind them may want to contribute to being a voyage sponsor :

I recommend to find sponsors for equipment and rations. He would then mention that he is using his xyz gadget to do whatever and how the food is etc.

Alternatively (in case no sponsor can be found) could he leverage Affiliate Programs.

Check which merchant carries stuff he uses and has an Affiliate Program and then do the same thing as for the sponsored stuff, but link to the merchants with affiliate links and make money that way.

Ritz Interactive comes to mind. Most of their sites have an affiliate program. The following Brands belong to Ritz Interactive.
ritzbrands SEO Clinic : BigOceans.com   Blogging from the Sea while Sailing Around the World

All their affiliate programs are managed via the Commission Junction affiliate network at http://www.cj.com

To create account in a few other networks and check out merchant offers would not hurt either.
Here is a list of networks. http://www.cumbrowski.com/CarstenC/affiliatemarketing_AffiliateNetworks.asp
I suggest to check out Linkshare, Performics, ShareASale, ShareResults, Avantlink, Zanox and Kolimbo in addition to CJ.

Ahmed Bilal adds, don’t forget Web 2.0 partners :

The whole ‘blogging from the sea’ theme will interest people like WordPress, b5media, Technorati, BoingBoing, CafePress, mediatemple (they could sponsor your hosting!), YouTube, MetaCafe, MySpace, etc. – in short, plenty of web 2.0 outfits who wouldn’t mind being associated with the whole blogging from the sea thing.

Managing the Mission

Ahmed Bilal adds that such a large trip will lead to escalated management, inside and outside of the blogging and sponsorship world. Ahmed lends these thoughts:

Your project has a wonderful viral appeal and there are so many ideas that we can suggest – to me it seems like it will take several days of brainstorming before we have all the ideas written down.

You need to keep a handle on this, otherwise it will become unmanageable very quickly. The worst thing that could happen is that you’d have to ignore a great idea just because you had so many other ideas come to you before it.

With that in mind, and also considering that this is an 8-month trip with plenty of stopovers, I’m making some suggestions. I hope that they’ll benefit you, and if you need to discuss anything further you know how to get in touch.

1) Get someone to help you

You already have plenty of support – hosting, design, sponsors, etc, but there is so much to do and so much to manage (especially during the time that you’ll be at sea) that I would strongly urge you to partner up with someone who can take care of things online, especially when you’re at sea.

This doesn’t mean that you need an offshore development team or a company, but you do need one person to help you manage things.

2) Do you have an idea bank?

How are you storing these ideas? I would suggest keeping a file (word, text, html, your pick) that you stick (copy / paste) all your ideas and all our suggestions in.

I’d also suggest that you categorise them – sponsors, site changes, blogging tips, trip info (pre and post launch), etc.

3) Prioritise

The next step after storing ideas is to start picking those that are most important and to focus on them. For example, providing trip info in detail is perhaps the most important thing you can do in terms of promotion – however its difficult and time-consuming so you might be tempted to focus on the simpler tasks.

Similarly, you don’t want to get distracted from getting your boat ready and spend your time marketing the trip.

Thank you to all ofthe Search Engine Journal members who contributed to this installment of SEO Clinic. Please feel free to add and address SEO and social media suggestions and ideas for BigOceans.com in the comments below.

Screen Shot 2014 04 15 at 7.21.12 AM SEO Clinic : BigOceans.com   Blogging from the Sea while Sailing Around the World
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Screen Shot 2014 04 15 at 7.21.12 AM SEO Clinic : BigOceans.com   Blogging from the Sea while Sailing Around the World

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14 thoughts on “SEO Clinic : BigOceans.com – Blogging from the Sea while Sailing Around the World

  1. Wow… quite an extensive list of tips and best practices. I saw a lot of ideas in there that I can use for my site and blogs. Thanks for the transparency!

    Get to work Nicholas! :) Look forward to seeing you on the front page of digg…

  2. Nice comprehensive review guys. I agree viral traffic is key.

    I’ll hazard to nitpick:

    – “buy links” link makes me edgy.
    – links to sponsors are off-topic.
    – I’d personally nofollow links to places like amazon and flickr.
    – robots.txt should be installed. You can disallow directories like /feed/, /trackback/, etc.
    – /robots txt returns a status 200, but displays a page that says “Error – Page Lost At Sea”
    – “Super dream to reality cash transporter button” is blind. I’d just replace it with a “Donate” text, so people know what they’re clicking.
    – I’d META noindex photo pages for now, until the site gets a few more IBLs.
    – tag pages, like bigoceans.com/photos/?tags=costs could also be noindexed.

    I see the site going supplemental around 100 pages into site: search. A page that’s linked from every page (e.g.bigoceans.com/about/) is supplemental. Main problem is IBL isn’t too strong and you got a few too many noisy internal links IMO (like links to tag and photo pages, as well as outlinks to amazon, bravernet).

    The site has at least one page that’s crashing:

    http://www.bigoceans.com/wp-settings.php

    Returns: “Failed opening required ‘ABSPATH”

  3. Hello Loren, you have a small error in the post…

    and blogging abot his trip live, via a satellite modem and other mobile blogging tools.

  4. Thanks to everybody at SEJ for the incredibly comprehensive writeup – Well beyond what I was expecting. So many non-SEO related ideas have cropped up it boggles the mind, so I have my work cut out over the coming months!

    Thanks Halfdeck for the additional thoughts –

    Best, Nick

  5. I need to read this post about ten more times and take notes about how I might apply certain ideas to my own blogs, especially the two newest. It was very instructive to see the principles that I’ve read about in general applied to a single concrete example. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more clinic posts.

  6. Nick, I love sailing and i love SEO. I’d be happy to help you with some of the implementation to get you more exposure.

    If you’re interested let me know.

  7. I admire your spirit in sailing and your bravery in travelling in the deep oceans. I may be able to guide you through the optimization of the site for free as an admiration of the spirit and bravery. Let me know by an email

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