2011-07-08 01:58:51SEO strategy for SkS


I've been chatting with John about how best to improve the visitor numbers for SkS by creating a SEO campaign (Search Engine Optimisation).

The website is already achieving very high visitor numbers and having looked through the Google analytics it is clear that over the past two years visitor numbers have increased very nicely. This is a credit to John and the team who are assisting with this project. Within the last month there have been 192,000 visitors. Other sites like WUWT and Climate Progress do seem to get more visitors so there is room for improvement.

To get the message out to even more people, and especially those who are maybe unsure about the science of climate change then I believe the site needs to appear in the search results in Google for 'global warming' and 'climate change'. As I write this, Google.co.uk does not rank in the top 100 search results for 'climate change' and has recently moved up to 73 for 'global warming'.

The site currently ranks for thousands of long tail search terms but doesn't receive very much traffic for these two 'key' keywords. According the Google Keyword Tool SkS is potentially missing out on up to 5,000,000 global impressions per month.

John has already made some structural alterations to the site. For example, the home page now has: 'Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation' in bold H1 tags to ensure that Google understands the website is about these terms. Competition will be tough, but John and I feel that it may be worth the effort in trying to promote the site for these terms.

I'm not an SEO expert although I have an understanding of it from marketing my business website. The SkS is generating around 100 links per day (and 190,000 in total) from various other websites which is excellent, but we feel we need to encourage more links from other sites where the link is from the words 'global warming' or 'climate change' to train google in understanding the site has content about these topics.

I realise that much of this links into the general chat about having a plan for SkS discussed in a different thread. John is keen to hear other views on this? Is it important to generate more traffic to the site? And is formulating an SEO strategy a part of this? Do any of the authors have ideas or views on how this could be implemented?



2011-07-08 02:29:25Out of the box, maybe out of my mind:


I'm far from a search expert myself, but it occurs to me that one aspect to consider is the sort of words we use to describe the topics. For example, JC's motto, 'Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation', is very much oriented to a particular view of things. This is fair enough, as this is the way that we see things. But maybe we need to include some wording on each page that would attract, in addition, an audience of a different slant: a kind of bait & switch.

What I'm thinking about: What about borrowing some verbiage from our popular enemies and hiding it in invisible text? So that it will be detected by the search engines, but not be seen by the readers? For example, if we have hidden phrases like "Proof that climate scientists are living high off global-warming research funds!" ? "Photos of Al Gore shooting polar bears!"

Or maybe just invisible repetition of skeptic phrases.

I know I am talking about the "dark arts" of the WWW. And maybe we should stay away from it. Maybe we would get caught up in some new improved version of the Google algorithms. But I think we should at least think about it, and consider the pro's and con's.

Maybe someone who knows something about WWW advertising can advise us.

2011-07-08 03:57:29
Paul D


IT might help if people use the SkS url when making a comment, although it depends on the comment!

Many sites have the option of a web site url, as well as the mandatory online name and email address when making a comment.
The other point is that if the url is put in the comment text, but isn't converted to an html hyperlink it won't be recognised by Google.

An example is Real Climate.

Probably one problem is the domain name. I think it helps if the domain name and text content of a site match, this poses a problem if you are pushing 'Global Warming' but the domain name is 'SkepticalScience'. Not much to do there.

2011-07-08 04:01:35
Paul D


What I'm thinking about: What about borrowing some verbiage from our popular enemies and hiding it in invisible text?

No no no!

That has the opposite impact, it can reduce ratings. Google thought about that years ago.


"The simple and direct answer to the second part of the question is that you should not use hidden text. You may be able to trick the search engines for a brief period of time by hiding keyword stuffed sentences on your page, but you will risk having your site permanently banned from the search engines."

2011-07-08 04:35:25


OK, it doesn't seem to be a good idea.

Now we are clear on that.

2011-07-08 04:43:41
Paul D


This company has quite a good lecture about SEO that they videoed:


He talks about 'Authority links' and the Linkerati.

Added: actually it's a really useful video.

2011-07-08 04:54:02
Paul D


The video mentions this site:


2011-07-08 06:07:56There are just two things to think about with search engine optimisation
John Cook

Before we get too complicated in our thinking, while the google algorithm is an impenetrable mystery that uses 100s of factors, my understanding is the bulk of it comes down to two things: the words people use when they link to you and e words you use in tour title (both the headline at the top of the page and the blue bar at the top of the browser). So rather than over thinking, any search engine optimization (SEO) I do always focuses on this.

Having done SEO before setting up SkS, I created the site with one goal in mind - that people would link to my rebuttals in climate discussions. I thought of it as a form of grassroots SEO (usually I would have to do the legwork creating links to my sites but in this case others would do it for me). And that seems to have worked - I've been tracking a few sites inbound links for a few months - SkS inbound links is increasing at over 100 new links every day, much greater than any of the other websites (including WUWT and Real Climate).

So with SkS, If we want to rank higher for "global warming" and "climate change", I think it probably just comes down to two things:

1. How can we get other websites linking to SkS using those words?

2. Are there pages on SkS where we can get our keywords into the titles?

2011-07-08 17:59:27
Paul D


Mayb everyone here needs to think about their contacts and see if there are any web sites that haven't got links that could add them in the context of global warming and climate change.

2011-07-08 19:54:31



You make some excellent points, and thanks for the nudge on the Fresh Egg video.

It's all about getting links from authority sites (blogs, forums, journalist blogs) with the link directing people to SkS using the terms 'global warming' or 'climate change'.

I'm not saying my blog is an authority site by any stretch, but I've just gone back and put a link to SkS as follows:


Instead of linking to SKS using the term 'Skeptical Science' I've adjusted to creating the link using 'global warming':

There’s some excellent information about the role of volcanoes on the Skeptical Science website which debunks many of the skeptic arguments about global warming.

If all the authors thought creatively how to do this when posting comments on other blogs forums. Even if we mix it up a bit using terms like climate change website

If any of the authors have their own blogs they could adjust some past posts they've made.


2011-07-08 23:47:39
Paul D


Actually when I put 'Climate Change' into Google.co.uk i get some good sites:

In order:

1. Wikipedia (maybe not so good)
2. BBC
3. Guardian
4. Climate Change EU Commission site
5. Direct Gov UK
6. Met Office
7. Royal Society
8. Defra
9. Oxfam
10. Decc

Not a single skeptic site on the first page.

Put in 'Global Warming' and most of the sites that come up are American, but not any Skeptic sites. Mainly American government sites, such as NASA, NOAA etc.

2011-07-09 00:09:37


Don't take too seriously the order in which things appear on your Google search:

It has been publicly discussed for the last month or so that different users see different results for a Google search, because the algorithm takes into account your search & browsing history.

The fact that Paul doesn't get any skeptic sites on his search may just mean that he doesn't respond very strongly to skeptic sites - as determined by the Google algorithm.

2011-07-09 01:22:11
Paul D


I don't actually visit skeptic sites much.

But then surely that will be true of the majority, so they would see the same as me???

2011-07-09 01:25:49


One article among many that showed up in my Google: http://www.ghacks.net/2009/09/02/why-google-search-results-can-be-different/

2011-07-09 17:56:10
Paul D


I assume the ghacks article refers to people logged into Google.

Actually I notice that my local results do not produce SkS if I search for 'skeptic'.
It does appear with the use of 'skeptical'.

2011-07-09 18:03:52
Paul D


I notice the home page title is now "Global Warming and Climate Change skepticism examined".

I wonder if something like 'Skeptical Science - global warming and climate change skepticism examined' would be better?

If I search for a major site, say the Guardian or Ford cars, the home page includes the title of the organisation and this is used by Google as the link to the site. Removing the organisation title from the page title, reduces the clarity and probably has an impact on the number of visits.