SEO and other deeply confusing stuff
One of the most common questions asked by everyone who has a website is, “How can I get the most possible people to visit my site?” There are three answers to this question. The first answer is easy. Keep it interesting to people whom you expect to visit the site. Put on interesting articles and photos. Change the contents so that people have a reason to return.
Then set up a newsletter, start mailing it out with permission of course. And tell people to go and look at the site and register for the newsletter.
The second answer is also fairly easy. Go to www.dmoz.com and submit your site with the relevant title and keywords.
Only choose one category, or the editors of DMOZ will send you a nasty message telling you not to submit again. When you have satisfied their requirements most of the larger search engines, including all-important Google, will begin listing you.
Once you have done that you can begin with SEO, SES and other deeply confusing stuff. For the laymen, that is ‘search engine optimisation’ and ‘search engine strategy’.
Typically, once the first and second steps are completed, you will begin to receive traffic in fairly respectable numbers. But at this point, you will have a desire to see your visitor numbers grow.
This is where it gets tricky. The first and golden rule is ignore the ‘hits’. Use of the word ‘hit’ immediately indicates an amateur.
The two most important measures are unique visitors and the number of pages they visit.
The amount of time they spend on the site is useful but can be misleading if your visitors are getting up to make coffee or chatting on Skype as they browse.
The second rule is, watch your metadata. Metadata is data about the site, not data on the site.
Your site will be visited by ‘robots’, little programmes, sent out by search engines’ that traverse the web in search of information about sites. Your metadata should tell them what the pages are called and what is on the pages.
This is what is known as ‘titles’ and ‘keywords’. Consider this. When you use a search engine, it spits up a piece of text from the page. In order to find that bit of data, Google does not search every page when you perform the search. Instead it looks at the list that the robots have returned, identifies the most relevant, and then goes to each of those pages.
It searches the title and the data contained on the page.
Here is the most important rule of all. The less relevant your page to the terms of the search, the lower the ranking in the search results. If you want to come up high in search results, make sure your page is relevant.
The next rule, call it the ‘quite important rule’, is that the more pages that link to your page, the greater the relevance of the page.
This is the fundamental proposition of Google, and the core of the mystically powerful ‘Google algorithm’.
In the past this led to ‘link farming’, pages and pages of mutual links. Google cottoned onto this practice and promptly stopped taking into account pages containing link farms. Notice how the ‘Useful links’ links have begun to disappear.
Your link has to actually make sense on another page. It can’t just be put there to push the rank of your page. So encourage meaningful or well-meant links, but don’t accept presence on link farms as these will probably be penalised.
The key to all of this is to understand what your potential visitors are looking for. If you understand this, you can do some ‘link-baiting’, writing or wording in specific ways that lead searchers to your page.
A trip to Google and a search for ‘google webmaster tools’ will lead you to several online tools that can explain how people search for information contained in your site, as well as give you the means to improve your search relevancy and ranking.
However, you will need to register for a Google account, and verify that you are the owner of the website with a file upload.