|InfoGizmo Promotion and Search Engine Optimization|
The primary goal of "submitting" your web site is to come up as close to the top of any search engine results as possible. In a general sense "search engine optimization" or SEO is web promotion. Focus primarily on Google, which is the largest (60% of all searches) index. Pages well ranked by Google will generally also rank well with Yahoo and Bing.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is technical. This document is targeted towards experienced webmasters. It may be useful for managers who are supervising web promotion. There are many technical terms and concepts here. If you don't understand something, please get your webmaster to explain.
Content, content, content. No amount of SEO will keep a bad web site at the top of search results. You need original, useful, unique content on your site. The better your content, the better your ranking. Focus on creating content before doing SEO. I'm also talking text and plain old images. Flash, movies, and animations index poorly. Text is good.
Content is good and SEO tricks are trouble. Look at it this way: the smartest programmers in the world work at Google. These people know every SEO trick in the book. Google programmers are working very hard to create an accurate index. Build a web site with great, original content, and make that site easy for Google to accurately index. You can't trick Google. Don't even try.
Build a well designed site. Read and understand the Web Style Guide by Lynch and Horton.
1. Create web pages with lots of interesting, useful, human readable text. Photos of your products are good, but add human readable (and machine readable) text where possible. Search engines cannot index images, but they can index
2. Put good navigation on every page. People entering your site from a full text search engine like Google may enter at any page of your site. Do not assume that people will enter your site at the home page.
4. Use the description and keywords meta tags. Include single words and phrases. Where reasonable, include related concepts. Including competitors' trademarks may be unreasonable. As far as I know, none of the search engines do stemming (removing -s, -ed, -er, -ing, etc.) Crawlers don't understand pluralization or gerunds (going versus go). If you have keywords that are commonly used in the plural, use both on your site, and put both in your keywords, titles, links, file names, and domain names. Verbs are not useful keywords. Most people search on nouns, with a few adjectives, adverbs, and verbs thrown in. When writing titles and descriptions, use "keyword rich text". This is text that has more than the normal amount of nouns, and very few adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. Keyword rich text can be a challenge because you want to text to be professional and more or less grammatically correct. Incidentally, when you search using various keywords, you should find that your site ranks higher when you include references to your company name in the search.
5. Make the first sentence of the description 25 words or less. Some search engines use it as the description of your site in their results.
6. Use a page title on every page of your web site. The page title serves many purposes and is very important. Google and some of the other engines give extra relevance to keywords in your title. Put keywords in your title, but do not make the title look stupid. Use different titles in an appropriate way on different page, but always try to put relevant keywords into the title. Keep the home page title to less than 40 characters. The page title is also the label for bookmarks. If the title is long, it will be truncated with an elipsis (...) in the bookmark. That's not good, and a reason to have a shorter title on your most popular page. On your home page encourage visitors to bookmark the page. "Please press control-D now to bookmark my page!" In all the modern browsers, control-D is the shortcut to bookmark a page.
7. Avoid text that humans can't read. Avoid repeating text. Search engine programmers know all these tricks. Do have human readable text with lots of relevant keywords.
8. Get into the Open Directory
Dmoz is a human created directory. Yahoo also has a human moderated directory, but Yahoo has complex inclusions policies.
Directories do not index your site automatically. You must browse their directory to find a category for your site. You are supposd to choose only one category. Your entry in their directory consists of only 3 things: URL, page title, description. Create a title that matches your home page. Include as many keywords in the title as possible without making it look dumb. Use different, and useful keywords in the title and description since both are searched. For example, if you use 'photo' in the title, use 'picture' and 'photographs' in the descriptive sentence. The human editor may not include your site on the first try. There is no feedback, so you won't know why you weren't included. Just try again next week. I usually takes several weeks to get in, so only submit once every 4 weeks or so.
Dmoz is an 'open' product in that is it free and the directory is free to be downloaded. Nearly all the big search engines regularly download Dmoz's data. Therefore, getting into Dmoz may get you into other search engines that normally charge for entries. Google processes the Dmoz data and uses it as the Google directory.
9. Get links from other sites back to your site. This is one purpose of Infogizmo. Ask your customers who have web sites to link to your site. Make it easy by giving them HTML to paste into their web pages. Give them a nice, small graphic of your logo to download along with the link. Include a 24 word descriptive sentence. One of Google's main ranking factors is how many other sites link to your site. If you really need a high placement in Google, and you are in a crowded market, you'll want to create several sites with different URLs and different (albeit complementary) content. Link all the sites together, and make it easy to link back to your main site. Include some extra and useful content at each of those sites.
10. Trade links with your friends and business partners.
12. Keywords that appear in your URL have a high ranking. It may be worthwhile to use useful words as file names of web pages, and perhaps even to get domain names with keywords that are important to you. For example, a web page about carburetors should be called carburetor.html or carburetors.html. The special domain names are a problem because you don't really want customers bookmarking those domain names.
13. Never orphan an old page. Any page you create must always exist. If the page is no longer used, keep the file name and leave the URL unchanged, but update the content with keyword rich text and links to your home page. If a customer finds the page, it should be easy for them to get to your new page(s). The old page was indexed (although it may not have been ranked very high) and other sites may have linked to it.
14. Do not use frames. Search engines cannot link to interior parts of your site if you use frames. Even if the search engine indexes an interior page, if the interior page was linked to, it would not have the frame set. Therefore search engines will not link to those interior pages. Your customers can't bookmark their favorite page of your site, and so your site just ends up irritating the customers. Frames are probably slower to load, and are actually harder to maintain. If you have a lot of repititive content, use the templating and library features of your web editor. Your home page is not the only landing page of your site. The goal of SEO is to make every page of your web site a landing page.
15. Use a web editor, or even better host your site with Google Sites. Macromedia Dreamweaver or Microsoft Frontpage (or an equivalent product) give you many advantages. You'll create web pages in half the time with the web editor. Nearly every human edited page I've ever seen had HTML errors. For some reason people fail to run HTML verifiers. HTML coding errors will interfere with search engine indexing of your site. Web editor created pages are more likely to render correctly in all browsers. If your customers can't view your pages correctly, they'll go to another site. Dreamweaver creates standard code. Frontpage has a setting to create browser-friendly code (disable Microsoft specific features). Do not create a site that is 'best viewed with' a certain browser. Restricting your site to one browser automatically excludes some percentage of your customers, and may make it impossible to index your site.
16. Minimize your use of graphics (images) as links. Google seems to rank link text higher than normal text. (Link text is the human readable portion of the "a" tag.) Images don't have much in the way of text to index. Use ALT text with your images, especially images that are buttons or links. This gives the search engines more text to index, and if there is a problem, your customers will see the ALT text instead of your images. Make the ALT text human readable, and more or less gramatically sensible.
17. Do not use smart quotes. These are basically special characters that have little or no meaning except when displayed with specific character encodings. Copying and pasting such text often creates problems. Use the normal " (double quote) and ' (single quote). Special characters like smart quotes often are visually different in Internet Explorer and Firefox.
18. Do not use HTML created by Microsoft Word. This HTML is loaded with Microsoft specific tags. At least 40% of your customers are using Firefox or another non-Microsoft web browser. MS Word HTML probably does not index well; the pages are larger than necessary (by as much as 50%) so they load slower; they won't display the same in all browsers. Oddly, I've seen cases where web pages created in MS Word display correctly in Firefox, and are illegible in Internet Explorer (go figure). Dreamweaver has a "clean MS Word HTML" feature. It isn't perfect, but it does a pretty good job.
19. Avoid images of text. These can't be enlarged by the customer (for easier reading), and they won't be indexed properly by Google.
20. PDF files are indexed (at least by Google; I don't know about the other full text search engines), however, they are quite difficult to view. People universally dislike having to view a PDF and would prefer a plain old HTML page. Always create an HTML and a PDF version if you need the PDF. The PDF is really only for printing. Look at it this way: if PDF is so darned wonderful, why does Google have a link "view as HTML" for all PDF pages? The answer is that PDF is a frustrating to view. Don't torture your customers; create HTML pages. It is also likely that hyperlinks inside PDF pages are not followed, and not specially indexed.
21. Simple HTML is good. Web crawlers more easily and accurately index simple HTML. Use CSS to handle the appearance. This is a good design principle because your pages are very likely to be viewed on a wide variety of devices from desktops, laptop, to tiny screens like the smart phones and netbooks. Well designed CSS allows the layout to work on small screens.
22. Put your contact information on every page. You need a contact link on every page. Full contact info should include phone, email, city, state, maybe region, and the name of your business. If a page is highly ranked for some keyword, and the customer also entered any of the above information, you want the ranking to go higher for geographical references. Many companies fail to do this, and as a result, pages created by their distributors or business partners are often ranked higher! Use geographical keywords in your keywords and description meta tags.
23. If you do a newsletter, put it online as a blog. Keep all the old newletters in some archive area of the web site. A larger site (with more text) will index better than a smaller one. Every additional page you create is an other chance that you'll get a hit from the search engine. If pages are too close (or identical) Google will exclude them from results listings. Remember that if you put prices into blogs entries or newsletters, people will ask you to honor those old prices.
24. After building a web site focused on your core mission, add more content. Anything of interest to your customers, or topics which related to your core business should go into web pages. A good ranking with Google depends on large amounts of text (as well as many other factors). With contact info and good navigation on every page, if a Google search lands a customer on a sub-page, that customer will find the main part of your site.
25. Submit new pages to Google (and the other major full text engines.) Google will crawl your entire site, but historically a full crawl only happened a few times per year. The old thinking was to submit individual pages to Google when those pages change, but I've had good luck submitting the main URL anytime I make a change. Individual pages that you send to the addurl page at Google may be indexed within a few days. Do not submit your entire site one page at a time. Many search engines limit the number of page submitted per week. Numbers vary, but it seems to be about 5 pages per day.
26. Resubmit your home page. You should do this every time you make a change and at least twice per year if you haven't made changes. If you update content, or freshen up a page, re-submit it.
27. Use Google Webmaster Tools
Google really are the good guys. What is good for Google is good for business owners and webmasters.
28. Allow time. I've heard a rumor that Google doesn't like new sites. Spammers create sites all the time. However, an older site that has been updated frequently is probably a legitimate business. In any case, it can take a while to build traffic.