Content is King
You might have selected keywords that are relevant to your organization’s products and/or services to be used on your web site and your webmaster has submitted your site to the search engines but your web site traffic isn’t increasing!? Unless you know how to create web pages that target keywords and phrases, you may be in for a long wait. Search engines contain listings of numerous sites that have submitted their web site domain name, so it is most likely that you will be placed in the middle of a very large search list for just about any keyword or phrase used in a search. This creates a serious situation for a business that has just invested money in a new web site or a re-design and is still not visible within the search engines.
How do you build web pages that are?
a) Informative to your visitors
b) Presents your keywords to search engines in such a way that your site will achieve high search engine rankings?
First, we have to consider how search engines go about determining the relevancy of a web page. Second, we have to research search engine optimization techniques for web sites that utilize advanced design techniques. Third, we need to have knowledge of HTML. Finally, we need to understand how to develop clear and concise web copy that describes your organization, products and services so that you achieve top rankings for your selected keywords phrases.
Differences in Major Search Engines
You will notice that executing the same search on different search engines will yield different results (For example Google vs. Yahoo vs. MSN). This is because different search engines add small variations to the location/frequency method. Search engines also vary in the number of web pages they have indexed, therefore different search engines don’t always have the same collection of web pages to sort through.
Factors in Search Engine Placement
Search engines use complex and proprietary algorithms to rank web pages based on a variety of rules. The main rules involve the location and frequency of keywords on a web page. This is loosely termed the location/frequency method and is described in the following paragraphs.
Location of a keyword is probably the most important factor in search engine placement. Search engines consider keywords that appear in the title to be the most relevant for that specific web page. The search engines assume that words relevant to the topic of that page will be in the page title, headings and first few sentences of the first paragraph of text on a web page, therefore that is where you should place them.
Frequency is the other major factor in how search engines determine relevancy. A search engine will analyze how often keywords appear in relation to other words in a web page. Those web sites with a higher keyword frequency are often deemed more relevant than others.
The “Link Popularity ” factor is described as the number of referral links to your web site that a search engine has in its index. If other sites are linking to your web site the search engine will regard your site as more relevant as compared to those that are not referenced by other web sites. Some search engine directories employ editors to review your site and rate its relevancy to certain keyword criteria. In addition, there are a number of hybrid search engines that have associated directories that give a higher ranking-placement for sites that they have reviewed.
In general, when choosing your keywords and web site descriptions, the more specific you can be – the better. However, you do not want to use keywords that are too unique because no one will ever find you. Think out of the box and place your customers’ cap on your head. Ask yourself, “What words would my clients use to describe my business?”
Your keywords are very important to your ranking/placement within search engines so it is best to brainstorm and come up with a large list that describes your business. Once you have that list you can then narrow it down and prioritize your choices so they are specific to your organization but contain words that your potential clients and customers would use to search for your products or services.
Advanced Web Design Techniques
One key thing to remember is that search engines do not like Flash web sites or images. You can still use flash in the select location on various web pages within your web site, however, it is not a good idea to have an entire Flash home page, for example. Also, remember that search engines cannot see images. The only thing on an image that a search engine can see is it’s Alt Tag or a description in text that is placed below the image. Be sure to include a keyword within the Alt Tag or description for that specific image to combat this.
Search engine spiders have a hard time navigating through Web sites that use frames unless the site designers have been careful to include the proper tags and site navigation tools. It is not recommended to you use frames.
Proper Web Design Mark-Up Structure
It is time to “look under the hood” of your web site and get your hands dirty. Some WYSIWUG (What you see is what you get) HTML editing programs can produce nice web sites, but with raw code that search engines can’t read very well. Search engines can get confused (just like some web browsers) when tags are not properly closed or are not utilizing proper Web standards. There are many web sites on the Internet that can analyze your HTML code and will tell you where your mistakes can be found. This is a good first step in reviewing your Web site HTML.
After reading many articles written by search engine experts, speaking at search engine conferences and attending search industry tradeshows throughout North America, there is one point that all search engine experts agree on, and that is “Content is King”.
Now that you have an understanding of how search engines operate, it is time to get your web site optimized before you submit your site to a search engine. Most importantly, concentrate on building great content with “calls to action” and keywords in all the right spots.
The bottom line is that search engines are designed to capture content-rich information pages, so give it to them, and watch your site move up the in rankings.