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Thread: Making Your Website Work

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Making Your Website Work

    Introduction

    The holy grail of webmasters is to get their site onto the first page of any google search dealing with their particular sector; achieving these dizzy heights is achieved by Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO. A couple of years ago, clients would ask me to 'stuff' their sites with keywords - see more of this in a minute. I refused; I thought then and I still do that keywords should not be so overdone as to make the writing seem false and tacky. The search engines, Google especially, now agree with me and if you artificially stuff your site with keywords you will be penalised. In some cases, stuffed sites have been barred from Google.

    Web Spiders/Crawlers

    The search engines, eg Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista, are permanently scouring the web for content to create indexes, which are a collection of page copies. That is how your search engine works so quickly - it isn't searching the web, it is searching its index.

    It makes sense, then, that you have to let the web spiders know you exist so they can include you in their index. After all, there are so many billions of pages out there that, if you don't flag your existence, you may never be found. Something that not everybody understands is that each page of your site is copied and indexed separately. This means that you should use keywords relevant to the page and not just to the site. For instance, on a jewellery site you might be selling silver bracelets alongside gold necklaces - your best way to get the pages picked up is to use different pages for different products. So, silver bracelets would be on a page that talked about bracelets and silver, whilst the gold necklace page would talk about gold and necklaces. It sounds obvious but many people will just mention everything on the one page, therefore minimising their chances of getting picked up.

    Submitting Your Site to the Search Engines

    You can buy software that supposedly submits your site to every search engine known to man - and some that aren't. I wouldn't bother with this unless you are flush with cash. However, there are some free submission tools, just one of which is Submit Express UK where you will also find other useful tools for optimising your site.

    You can, of course, just manually submit your site to the major engines.

    Google

    The most important site to achieve listing is, of course, Google. To submit your site click here

    . Yahoo

    Submit to Yahoo here

    Maximising Your Listing Opportunities

    So, you've submitted your site and you sit back and wait for it to appear on the first few Google pages. You'll have a long wait. Okay, the spider now knows you exist but it also knows that millions of other sites exist too. Its a bit of a lottery. This is where SEO plays its part - you have to ensure that the words on the individual pages of your site are the words that Joe Public will put into the search engine when looking for a product such as yours. Now, there's a bit of a science to this but I'll give you the basics here:

    If possible your domain name should contain keywords, although this is not majorly important because its your headings and texts that the spider will pick up - every little helps, however. My domain name (which is not yet up because I'm still optimising) is www.mooncottagejewellery.co.uk - the jewellery in the name will help a little bit in searches.

    The next, and most important step, is to figure out phrases that the public will use to search for your stuff. These are your keywords. Jewellery is, of course, a must but think outside the box - what would, say, your mother put into the search engine if she wanted to buy you some jewellery. She knows you love silver, she knows you have a fondness for semi-precious stones, so she is likely to put in something like 'semi-precious gemstone jewellery or 'silver and semiprecious stones'.' Make a short list of 1 or 2 key word phrases for each page of the site you want to optimize. Previously, it used to be single words that the engines liked, nowadays they actually look for phrases. This makes it much easier to write.

    So, for each page you should wind up with a list of no more than two key word phrases, each less than three or four words long. Longer phrases are less effective. Single words are often useless nowadays.

    There are a number of tools to help you in your search for keywords, the most well known of which is Yahoo's Overture, but that has had a lot of outages recently. What these tools do is give you alternatives to the keyword you put into its search engine together with the volume of searches on each word, so you can see the most popular search terms.

    You could try Wordtracker or Trellian but, to be honest, whenever I've used this type of tool the words its thrown up have been pretty obvious.

    This Keyword Research Guide from Wordtracker is a brilliant resource to read more about keywords.

    Suggestions for where to put your keywords - this is a good, no-nonsense guide about where your keywords should appear on your page.

    Metatags

    Metatags are nifty little pieces of text that are invisible to visitors to your website. Most 'off-the-peg' website builders should enable you to insert metatags.

    These tags should be present on every page of the website. The most important tags are:

    * The <title> tag
    * and the "description" <meta> tag.

    We used to spend hours writing word lists for each page for the spiders to pick up but nowadays this is a wasted exercise because the spiders are mostly interested in the text visible to vistors to your page.

    For your title tag, just enter the keyword phrases that you came up with in the earlier exercise. This is the tag that describes the whole website.

    Your description tag is individualised for each page - so this is where you would put your, for instance, 22 ct one of a kind gold necklaces, it is the little bit of text you see below a site's title when you do a google search.

    Don't Spam/Spamdex/Stuff

    It will get your site VERY poor listings in the search engines, or kicked out altogether.

    The rules of thumb are:

    Don't repeat any key word more than twice in the key word or description meta tags.

    Don't put the same word next to itself, even if its in different text - for instance: Gold, gold, GOLD.

    Avoid tiny text or invisible text - that is too small to see, white on white, black on black. It will get you flung out. Its an old trick that the search engines are wise too. A few years ago, writing, say gold, across your pages in invisible text, could get you high rankings. Not any more.

    Don't put competitors' names in your metatags. It seems like a good idea - getting folk to your site who have put in your competitors' names but, once again, the spiders are wily and know about this practice.


    I think, for the time being, that should be about it but if you have any questions I'm happy to answer. If I don't know the answer, I know a fair few folk who do
    Di x

  2. #2
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    You are a gem!! I don't understand half of it but I will wade through it in the next few days...I've even let my lunch get cold reading it!! (...WOW it MUST be good!!) You're going to get a lot of Brownie Points for this one...Thank you!!

  3. #3
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    Excellent Advice & very useful too!
    Nic x
    Monthly FREE entry giveaways on Blogs!
    Shop Blog: http://muranosilver.blogspot.com/
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  4. #4
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    Di, Should I get all my tags and keywords in place before I start to submit my site, or do they pick things up in subsequent searches so to speak? Obviously I need to get a bit of rewording done on my website to include all these little 'essentials'...but that will take a bit of time! Got my 3 year old grandson here all day...not very conducive to intense concentration!!....one step nearer the edge though!!
    I'll keep popping back to read your post though (you wonderful woman you!!) and try to understand it!! Be prepared for more stoopid questions during the day....hmmmmmm..just had a thought ....pehaps I could get Dylan onto it for me...He's a budding computer whizz!! I'd laugh harder if it wasn't SO tragic!!
    http://solunarsilverstudio.wordpress.../mind-the-gap/

  5. #5
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    No, Barbara, the first thing you should do is submit your site then you can work on your keywords and stuff. Its also a good idea in the first year to submit your site regularly every couple of months or so - this is what the paid site submission agencies do.

    Now I have to go and look for my paintbrushes - I have at least 50 of the buggers that I've stored away neatly somewhere. Problem is - where? I have been growing an oak tree from an acorn; its four years old now and I thought I'd take one of the tiny leaves and try doing a pmc slip leaf.
    Di x

  6. #6
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    Does the frequency of updating your website matter much? If it does, how often would you say I should be updating?
    Thanks :-)
    Visit my craft blog HERE!
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  7. #7
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    Getting youself onto numerous forums (free-ads, guilds, web listings, etc) with links through to your site will also boost your rankings considerably. Doing this allows the "spiders" to get to your site from several different directions.

  8. #8
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    It is difficult to be prescriptive about exactly how often you should update your website but it is true that the spiders will like you better if the site has regular updates.
    Di x

  9. #9
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    Thanks for this really useful information Di. I'm thinking of tweaking my pages and there are definitely a few pointers I can take from your posting that will help things along!

    Fi
    Fi Wilson
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