Wednesday, February 8, 2012

With a Little Help From My Friends

By Anne Hiemstra, SAQA Michigan co-representative

Next time you type words into Google and click on "Search", give a thought to the Google spider crawling through a gazillion webpages to satisfy your request. "Spider" is a nickname for Google's famous algorithm; did you ever wonder what makes its little "1"s and "0"s click, clatter, and line up to give you the kind of answers you were looking for?

First and foremost, it wants to find web pages that contain the search terms you requested. If you typed "art quilt group Michigan", then that is what it wants to find. But Google wants more than just a match from a web page - it also wants that page to be fresh, up-to-date, and useful. So what's important? What moves a web page to the head of the line (the coveted “first page of Google”) where you will actually see it?

Content is certainly very important: frequent, recent, relevant postings, especially in a blog, are infinitely preferable to "static" web pages - the ones that read exactly the same as they did in 1998. But Google also looks for indications that other people have visited the site and have found it useful:

- the number of hits to the page;

- the length of time a viewer stayed on the page (did they read it or just ‘surf’ through?);

- the number of comments on a page;

- the number of subscribers/followers on a page;

- the number of links from other pages to this page.

Now, I don't know exactly how Google (or Yahoo or any other search engine) does this, but I do know that this general understanding can be used to promote a website - or, in our case, the SAQA-MI blog. And here's where we can use a little help from our friends, that is to say, YOU.

The co-reps - Laurie and I - are mainly responsible for the content of this blog, but you can help by sending information (content) to be posted here - exhibits where you've been accepted; shows you are participating in; awards you have received; classes you are teaching. And send pictures. Since people love pictures, they spend more time on web pages with pictures, and share more links to pages with pictures. Which means that Google loves pictures, too, when it comes to ranking our site.

Google also loves activity on a page, so you can help SAQA-MI by leaving a comment, by subscribing to the blog, and by linking to it from your own blog, website, Facebook page, etc.

Why should we care to promote this blog? As SAQA members, we have some other ways of contacting each other - there is a [relatively inactive] SAQA-Michigan group on Yahoo; and the Michigan co- reps can send blanket emails to everyone in the region quite easily; and there's a FaceBook page under discussion. But not every member belongs to the Yahoo group or to FaceBook, and there's no opportunity for discussion or feedback with the emails. The blog, however, provides that opportunity - a place to share information, generate publicity, facilitate networking, and support each other as fiber artists.

PLUS the blog is available to non-members -- we can anticipate fiber artists/art quilters (and, hopefully, new members) who come looking for information and contacts, but who knows who else might be interested in us? Collectors? Groups looking for instructors? Gallery owners? If we can keep this blog rising to the top of the search results, more people searching for related terms will see it - and our members' names and our members' work - and it seems to me that this can only be to the benefit of all of us.

So get started! Leave a comment! If you go to the "give-away" post from January and leave a comment there, you will even be entered in that drawing. Or you could leave a comment below. Need an idea? Tell us what you think about a FaceBook page for SAQA-MI.

PS You may have noticed I didn't say much here about the actual "search terms" themselves: what words and phrases we should be using in our content to get more attention for our group and our work. More on that next time!

PSS The "binary" image above is a copyright free image from


  1. I would love to see the blog become more active. I signed up for Facebook based on Alyson Stanfield's marketing advice but didn't find anything of value on Facebook. I don't look at it very often, not even once a month. I will send you some news of shows I am currently in.

  2. What a great post!! The possibilites are endless on the Internet and our SAQA Michigan Blog deserves to be 'seen' as well! Thanks for your work on promoting SAQA and SAQA Michigan