When I began writing blog posts in May of 2015, I wasn’t planning on showing them to anyone. These were originally hosted on a WordPress site, but have since moved to this website. I didn’t tell my family about the blog I was writing for the first couple of months. Within a fortnight of my father finding out about my old WordPress blog, the entire extended family had seen it in one form or another. It was kept within the family, save for a friend of my grandfather’s who left the following delightful comment on one of my articles.

Your thoughtful wide-ranging dissertations bring to mind a troubling thought arising from two books The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams, and The Measure of Man by Joseph Wood Krutch. Both authors observed that man’s natural curiosity and ingenuity have led to technological achievements which threaten his existence unless he gets them under control. There’s an interesting possibility for a doctoral dissertation for a 20-year-old U of T student to consider.

He’s a quite verbose senior citizen.

When you’re not looking for people to see your website, SEO is the last thing on your mind. Recently however, I made the decision that I wanted people to be able to find my website. Since working at StockRender I’ve realized my own potential. This prompted me to cement my online presence. I want for people to be able to search ‘robertson mcclure’ and have my website appear first, followed by all my social media accounts. That is the dream.

Segues are hard.

Robertson is an uncommon first name, I’ve never met anyone who shares it with me. The only Robertson who I know about was Robertson Davies who died in December 1995 as I was born in January 1996. To my current knowledge, I am the only person on Facebook who has Robertson as a first name. Since Robertson is still a common last name, I decided that my official online handle would be ‘robertsonmcclure’. It may be long but I like it. I then attempted to make all my online profiles agree with each other.

Github, LinkedIn, Facebook and StackOverflow where easy enough to standardize. I found an issue when I attempted to make a Twitter account with the username ‘robertsonmcclure’. Twitter not only enforces a 140 character tweet limit, but also a 15 character username limit. Unfortunately, ('robertsonmcclure'.length > 15) so I was unable to continue my streak. I settled to use ‘robertsonmcclur’ for Twitter which is close enough that most shouldn’t notice the difference, unless they read this post.

After talking to the COO of StockRender, who has much more experience as a front end dev than I do, I realized that this personal website of mine had little to no SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is all about how highly search engines, like Google, rank your page in comparison to certain search terms. After doing a little research on SEO, I began my journey to reach the first page of google results for my name.

First thought on my mind was that since I used Jekyll to create this static, blog-aware website, there must be something available through Jekyll to increase one’s SEO. I found jekyll-seo-tag, a fantastic plugin for Jekyll that automatically generates metadata tags for each page in your Jekyll website. After configuring that, and continuing to tinker for a few days, I decided to see how my website was actually stacking up against Google Search Results.

The website I found to be most helpful was SEO Site Checkup, which gave me a free evaluation of my website based on a variety of factors. It was through this tool that I learned about favicons, the importance of h1 and h2 tags, well written meta descriptions, robots.txt file, the sitemap and many more things that I’ve been attempting to adjust for the better. Currently SEO Site Checkup gives my website a score of 87/100, a score which pleases me much more than the original 42/100 did.

As of right now, if I search ‘robertson mcclure’ in Google in an Incognito Tab in Chrome, the link to Home - Robertson McClure appears as the last link on the first page. For someone who has basically zero experience with front end development, this was a massive achievement. The only thing I can do is to continue to read articles and blog posts about increasing SEO and attempting to implement what I’ve learned. At the end of the day that’s all you can really do as a software developer. Just read, understand and implement. The hardest part is understanding. Reading is easy, and implementation when you understand a concept is straight forward. Understanding new concepts and principles is the hardest part. For some subjects, it’s super well documented and there are a plethora of tutorials available that walk you through a basic set up. Unfortunately there are many technologies out there that the documentation is sparse, or even worse, written for a developer that already understands the software.

As I attempt to write documentation for the code that I’ve written for StockRender, I understand how difficult it is. It’s a real skill to be able to put yourself in the frame of mind of a beginner who’s never seen or heard of the ideas used in your program. Some people are very good at this, some people are not.

At the end of the day, I’m happy with the moderate progress I’ve made with making my website more accessible for those who are searching for me on Google. I don’t really expect anyone to actually search my name, but hey! you never know. As I try to increase the traffic to this website, of course I will be putting more effort into writing content that would be useful to those reading, and not just my internal musings on certain topics. I will attempt to write a more ‘professional’ blog, whatever that means. Don’t get me wrong, my personal musings will never stop, and I will never stop writing about them, but it will be more balanced with tutorials and articles regarding my experience with certain technologies that might prove useful for someone who’s interested in duplicating what I’ve done in a certain field.