Archive for January 21st, 2010|Daily archive page

Plan Your Internet Success – Part 9 – Optimize your Web Site


9. Optimize your Web site

A statement that I once read somewhere applies nicely here… “Congratulations on your brand new Web site. Nice design, great content, nice links… Great! Now What?

The only thing I would change in this statement is “So What” or “So What – Who Cares?”

The reality is that having a great Web site on the Internet does not in itself achieve anything. It’s like opening a great looking store in the desert. No matter how great it looks, no one is likely to come.  And if you are not convinced, consider these stats:

  • Number of Web sites worldwide: 190 million
  • Number of Web site created every year: 25 million

Those are staggering numbers and even if a tiny percentage is competing for the same space as you are, your competition is tremendous.

However, if done right, this is also the “fun” part of working on the Internet and promoting your own property. In my opinion, there is nothing more exhilarating than promoting your own Web site (especially if you put it in the middle of the desert) and take it to a point when you can look back and say “I did this.”

Tip: This is also an area of the business where gurus will charge you a fortune for telling you what is readily available for free on the Net. It is also where people who are not ready, but are impatient take the SEM (Search Engine Marketing – pay per click route to get customers). I can only tell you that those folks at Google AdWords are waiting for you with a big smile (and I mean a “really big smile”).

Before you do anything and spend your money unnecessarily, there are a few things that you should do on your own to make sure that your Web site is optimized and that it will be “seen” and indexed as it should be by spiders and search engines.

I’d like to make a very short pause here to explain what I mean by “seen.”  In case you do not know this, search engines index Web sites by sending a spider or crawler that “reads” the code on your index page and other Web pages that are linked to it. This information is collected and used along with other criteria to index your site in a category and rank it based on the keywords, links, content, etc. Each search engine and directory has an algorithm that enables this process to be automated and put your Web site in a location within the hundreds of thousands of Web sites indexed. Some of the algorithms are very simple, while others are quite complex and change from time to time.

Assuming now that you found keywords that best represent your business and came up with your one paragraph pitch, as discussed in Part 2, the idea in optimizing your Web site is to use these elements and some basic code that is inserted in pages of your site. This will ensure that a crawler can categorize your business as it should be and that you’ll be indexed accordingly.

A number of things are important for a crawler to properly “read” your pages, but two are absolutely critical in my view and they include the meta tags and the HTML validation.

Meta Tags

These are a set of information about your Web site that is created to give crawlers information about your site, including title, description, keywords as well as language, etc.

A great deal of information goes into the meta tags to tell crawlers on what your Web site is about, and below is what you will typically see for meta tags (note that the “meta name” may already be inserted at the very top of your Web page). In red, you will find instruction as far as the information that you will need to add.

(complete meta tags are on the next page)

<meta content=”HTML Tidy for Linux (vers 6 November 2007), see http://www.w3.org”&gt;
<title>REPLACE WITH YOUR TITLE HERE INCLUDING ONE OR TWO OF YOUR TOP KEYWORDS </title>
<meta content=”DESCRIBE WHAT YOUR WEB SITE DOES AND USE 3 OR 4  OF YOUR TOP KEYWORDS INCLUDING THE ONE IN THE TITLE. KEEP IT SHORT“>
<meta content=”14-15 KEYWORDS AND KEY TERMS MAX, SEPARATED BY COMAS“>
<meta content=”document”>
<meta content=”Meta Tag Maker”>
<meta http-equiv=”pragma” content=”no-cache”>
<meta content=”20 days”>
<meta content=”ALL”>
<meta content=”Global”>
<meta content=”General”>
<meta content=”INSERT YOUR WEB SITE NAME HERE“>
<meta content=”INSERT YOUR WEB SITE NAME HERE “>
<meta http-equiv=”reply-to” content=”CREATE AND USE A YAHOO OR GMAIL EMAIL ADDRESS AND INSERT HERE“>
<meta content=”English”>
<meta content=”Web Page”>
<meta content=”Living Document”>
<meta content=”Public”>
<meta content=”Internet Services”>
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″>

These Meta Tags are typically placed right after the start of the header <head> but before the end of the header </head>

These can be created in notepad, and then transferred on your Web page as a block and the procedure should be very easy to handle for anyone, especially if you are using software like Dreamweaver.

I invite you to use the meta tags sample and replace the information in red with your own.

HTML Validation

Once this is done, then you must run the HTML validation to ensure that your Web site satisfies W3C specification for your type of Web site. Ideally you want to get a perfect score but it is sometimes hard to do and the idea is to eliminate the most obvious errors. The validation tool allows you to get a corrected version of the code and if you do I suggest that you first test it by saving it as index1.html or .php or whatever.

Other Important Optimization Considerations

Other optimization steps that you will need to do include:

Alternate name for images on every page of your Web site.

If you pay close attention to the code for all images on your Web site, you will see that there is something that reads as follows “alt=”” .”  This option is given to each image in case the image does not display. It is meant as an alternate to the image (hence “alt”) and is what you would see should an image is missing. For SEO purposes, this offers a great opportunity to insert keywords in the alternate name.  My rule is to be as true as possible to the purpose of this image. To illustrate this, the “alt text” for an image of a button that leads to a specific product page would be alt=”product_name button” for example.  As you can see, I have inserted what may be a great keyword into the alternate text.

Here is another example: <img src=”images/sample.gif” alt=”sample image” class=”right” /> where “sample image” should be replaced by something that describe your image and hopefully contains a keyword.

Replacing or adding a description that includes a keyword to the “alt=” text for images is critical from an optimization point of view, since crawlers read this information and take it into consideration. However, you must be aware that exaggerating keywords in “alt=” text could work to your detriment and you should be careful not to repeat the same two or three keywords in all the Alt text.

However, the number of keywords and their repetition is something that you will be able to measure with tools that assess your keyword density and correct if need be (more on that later in this manuscript).

In case you are not familiar with code (and I strongly suggest that you do familiarize yourself), tools such as Dreamweaver will allow you to select an image (any image on your site) and see its values at the bottom of the screen. One of the values that you will see is the alternate name (alt=).

However, assuming your content is relevant and focused on the quality of the writing, and contains your top keywords and key terms there are still many other important factors that will play a role in your indexing.

And just to give you an idea of the places where keywords and what I call “content tags” can play a role, I copied a relevant part of a list from a tool that analyzes keyword density below.

  1. Keyword use in document title
  2. Keyword use in body text
  3. Keyword use in H1 headline texts
  4. Keyword use in domain name
  5. Keyword use in page URL
  6. Keyword use in H2-H6 headline texts
  7. Keyword use in IMG ALT attributes
  8. Keyword use in bold body text
  9. Keyword use in same domain link texts
  10. Keyword use in outbound link texts
  11. Keyword use in same domain link URLs
  12. Keyword use in outbound link URLs
  13. Keyword use in meta description
  14. Keyword use in meta keywords
  15. Keyword use in the first sentence of the body text
  16. Keyword use in HTML comments

As you can see, there are many places where keywords can play a critical role.  However, while it is important to be aware of this it does not make sense to spend a huge amount of time or money worrying about this issue at this juncture (unless your Web site has been “live” for quite some time).

Finally, one other task that I highly recommend you do is to create a site map that will list all the pages on your site. This site map should be contained on a simple page directly linked to your home page. Depending on the complexity of your site, you may want to simply create one yourself or use site map tools.

Resources: Meta Tags Generators and Web Page Analyzer

http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/

http://www.searchengineforums.com/

Resources: HTML Validation (W3C Validation)

http://validator.w3.org/

There are other things that you could do, such as checking the keyword density or simulating a crawler from Google or one from Yahoo!, etc. and optimize for best results, but I would suggest that you optimize for Google to begin with. You will always have the opportunity to tweak later on.

Here are some resources if you want to check it out:

http://www.seobench.com/keyword-density-analyzer/ This is a keyword density analyzer that will check your keyword count. (Make sure that your keywords appear on top of the list. It does not have to be perfect.)

http://www.dead-links.com/ This is a link crawler and link checker that will list all your pages and let you know if you have broken links.
http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/site-link-analyzer/ Same as dead-links.com, but check out the other tools that they have. You may find something that may be good for you.

http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ This will help you create a site map and even allow you to download an almost ready-to-go HTML page.

And here are more resources for information on various aspects of optimization for your Web site and SEO in general:

http://www.blackhatworld.com/blackhat-seo/

http://www.seochat.com/

http://www.searchengineforums.com/

http://www.bluehatseo.com/

http://www.webmasterworld.com/

http://searchenginewatch.com/

http://www.seroundtable.com/

http://www.seochat.com/

http://seoblackhat.com/

http://www.seo-scoop.com/

http://www.cre8asiteforums.com/

http://www.highrankings.com/forum/

http://www.jimworld.com/

http://www.jimworld.com/apps/wp.forums/action::thread/thread::50/forum::marketing-101/

http://www.searchengine-news.com/

http://www.searchenginewatch.com/

http://www.wowdirectory.com/resources.php

http://www.seochat.com/

http://dmoz.org/erz/index.html

As you will see, if you explore some of the links that I’ve listed, there are a number of options available and action that can be taken to improve positioning and SEO in general.  For example, creating a “robot text,” assigning a Google validation number, etc. But you can drive yourself mad trying to do it all,  so I suggest you wait and focus on the most important tasks first and then go back and fine tune.  In other words, if you have your meta tags in place and have a good keyword density between code and content, you are almost there. You may not be on page one or even 50 of Google, but if you’ve been categorized properly, you’re well on your way to gravitate toward page one.

Once you have gotten the basics down, it is time to submit to the main search engines, including Google, Yahoo!, MSN, as well as many others (here is a link to a list – http://www.execfocus.net/enhance_submission_list.htm).  Note that some software can help you do this quite easily, particularly when using a program such as IBP (link below).

Be very careful to do all of this correctly or have the right people do it for you. Do not be tempted by the cheap guarantees out there that promise optimization and submission to thousands of search engines. Not only is it a waste of time in most instances, it may be harmful to your campaign and overall success. And once the damage is done, it takes months to correct.

For the “do-it-yourself” crowd, I suggest the IBP software that does all of the above and more. Check it out at http://www.ibusinesspromoter.com/!

“Plan Your Internet Success is also available on my web site at jtouboul.com

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