Make it Work
Make it Work
Like the proverbial tree falling in a forest with none to hear, setting up a website can feel similarly isolating. You’ve paid your designers and tweaked that theme but how will you get customers to find the site? Sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo use secret algorithms to return the most relevant results to users. Rather than focusing on tricking the search engines we present some useful best practices for ensuring search relevancy.
Keywords in context
Bots are little programs sent out by search engines to read web pages. Once they read your web pages, they report the content of the site to the search engine. Keywords tell these botswhat’s most important about your site.
Let’s say you’re running a barber shop. Good keywords to use on your site might be “barber,” “haircut” or “salon”. It’s best if keywords don’t appear arbitrarily as a list of terms but integrate into the context of what’s written on the page. “The key issue is finding a balance between a completely optimized website and your message to your audience.” Ryan Adamiak a Google Certified SEM/SEO consultant and teacher said. Focus on quality copy that’s descriptive and natural. As for what keywords to use, check out Google Trends which provides a listing of popular search terms by time and region. For example, compare the amount of searches for “barber”versus “hairstylist.” You’ll want keywords that are more commonly searched.
Links and social media
Bots that index your site will trace links on the pages. Bots like when words used in a link correspond to keywords on the linked page, so, use your keywords in links to your site. Blogging is inherently SEO friendly. Blogs like WordPress and Tumblr have automatic tagging systems that create links out of keywords for you.
But don’t just link to your own content. The more you’re linking to outside content the more your pages will be linked by others. Having incoming links that match your keywords is a good way to build reputation. So if someone writes “my favorite barber” and barber is a link to your page this helps your relevancy.
Don’t over do. The amount of links isn’t as important as the quality of the links. Try linking to people in your field. Adding share buttons with links to Twitter and Facebook encourage this kind of cross-linking and sharing. According to freelance Web Developer Leo Newball, “The impact of social media is beyond having people talk about you, it’s about having the potential of your links shared multiple times throughout the Internet. The more your links are shared, not only are people going to gain more visibility, but so are search engines. A link shared several hundred times on Twitter, by several hundred people, is the equivalent, if not more, of a link being shared on several hundred websites. The difference is, it’s easier to tap into the social media stream.”
Site maps and filenames
“One hidden secret many people don’t discuss, are site maps. From a developer standpoint, they are if not the most important tool for search engines, but a structural standpoint for your website. They allow you to think about your content, and readjust the way your website is structured to best suit website searches,” Newball said.
Staying up to date is important to search relevancy. A bot can tell how up to date your site is with a site map. A site map is a file that lives on your site that tells the search bot how many pages your site has and how often you update them, so the bot knows when to come back and look. There are free WordPress plugins for making site maps and free site map generators.
After you’ve created a site map, be sure to properly name your pages. Pages and posts should be keywords related to the content and be as descriptive as possible. For example, a post on popular haircuts might be named “this-seasons-popular-haircuts.”The more you’re able to help the bot understand what your site is about without looking like spam the better your relevancy. Remaining relevant with clear, targeted keywords, well-named pages, and up-to-date content will help your site in search engine results without any additional costs or headaches.