Making Your Site Search Engine Friendly - Spiderability
One of the keys to obtaining top rankings, or ANY rankings for that matter is making sure that the search engines can properly spider and index your site. This means doing whatever you can to make sure the search engines are able to reach each page of your site as easily as possible.
When I talk to my clients about spiderability, I'm generally referring to two things...
1) Are all the links in the site true hyperlinks that can be picked up properly by the search engines.
2) Are all the pages within the site reachable within 2-3 clicks from the homepage.
So let's go over the above two areas of concern.
1) Hyperlinks. This may seem almost silly, but you would be amazëd at the number of sites I run into when doing consultations and website analyses that have non-standard hyperlinks. By "non-standard", I'm referring to javascrípt generated hyperlinks or hyperlinks embedded within flash files.
There is nothing inherently wrong with javascrípt or flash when used properly, but the simple fact is that javascrípt and flash are NOT search engine friendly. Google is pretty much the only engine that is able to pick up links within javascrípt or flash code. At this time, I have seen no evidence that either Yahoo or MSN have this ability.
While Google may be able to pick up links, it is unclear as to whether or not Google places any VALUE on the links it finds in this manner. Remember, much of a page's ranking in Google is determined by links, so you want to be absolutely sure that each and every link is valued.
So, be absolutely sure that your links are true hyperlinks (by "true" hyperlinks, I'm talking about hyperlinks coded with the normal href tags) if you want to make sure they are found, followed, and counted by all the engines.
2) Distance from Homepage. Ideally, you want your visitors and the search engines to be able to reach any page within your site within a maximum of three (3) clicks and preferably two clicks. The more clicks it takes to reach a page, the less chance there is that the search engines will index that page.
It is for this reason, that site maps have become so popular. By utilizing a sitemap, you are able to link from your homepage to a page that lists all or most of the links to the various pages of your site. The search engines (and visitors) are then able to get to virtually any page of your site within just a couple of clicks.
You'll notice I've mentioned not only the search engines but the visitors as well in the above paragraphs. By reducing the number of clicks it takes to get from your homepage to any page on your site, you will find that you also íncrease the overall usability of your site.
While site maps can definitely help to íncrease the spiderability of a site, it is important to remember that they are not a total fix for bad navigational structure within a site. As mentioned, all of the search engines utilize page link popularity in one way or another in their algorithms.
In general, the homepage of a site will have the highest link popularity of any page within the site. This is because most inbound links to a site are pointing to the homepage. It's from the homepage that all the internal pages derive their link popularity from a sort of "trickle down" affect.
A site map will only derive a certain amount of link popularity that it can pass on to the pages it links to. To understand this best, think of the homepage as a large river with each link on the homepage a smaller river branching off from the main river. Each river will be fed a similar amount of water by the main river. Alone one branch of the river will nevër be able to deliver as much water to the various areas as all the branches of the river can combined.
The site map is one branch of your sites link popularity river and it has value, but it will nevër have the same impact as a well thought out and implemented links structure that makes use of all the rivers of link popularity within your site.
To make the most use of the link popularity of your site, you should try and setup your sites navigational structure so that even without a site map, the search engines and visitors are STILL able to reach any page on your site within 2-3 clicks.
So...to make a long story short...Always be sure to utilize true, standard hyperlinks throughout your site and be sure that your sites navigational structure allows any page of your site to be reached within no more than 3 clicks. See you at the top!
26 June 2007
John Buchanan is a veteran search engine optimization specialist with over 9 years experience. For more information, visit his site at SESecrets.com or his newest site SEOVideoanalysis.com where he will provide you with a professional SEO Video Website Analysis of your site.
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Knowing Your Visitors Through Website Traffic Analysis
Analyzing your web traffíc statistics can be an invaluable tool for a number of different reasons. But before you can make full use of this tool, you need to understand how to interpret the data.
Most web hostíng companies will provide you with basic web traffíc information that you then have to interpret and make pertinent use of. However, the data you receive from your host company can be overwhelming if you don't understand how to apply it to your particular business and website. Let's start by examining the most basic data - the average visitors to your site on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
These figures are the most accurate measure of your website's activity. It would appear on the surface that the more traffíc you see recorded, the better you can assume your website is doing, but this is an inaccurate perception. You must also look at the behavior of your visitors once they come to your website to accurately gauge the effectiveness of your site.
There is often a great misconception about what is commonly known as "hits" and what is really effective, quality traffíc to your site. Hits simply means the number of information requests received by the server. If you think about the fact that a hit can simply equate to the number of graphics per page, you will get an idea of how overblown the concept of hits can be. For example, if your homepage has 15 graphics on it, the server records this as 15 hits, when in reality we are talking about a single visitor checking out a single page on your site. As you can see, hits are not useful in analyzing your website traffíc.
The more visitors that come to your website, the more accurate your interpretation will become. The greater the traffíc is to your website, the more precise your analysis will be of overall trends in visitor behavior. The smaller the number of visitors, the more a few anomalous visitors can distort the analysis.
The aim is to use the web traffíc statistics to figure out how well or how poorly your site is working for your visitors. One way to determine this is to find out how long on average your visitors spend on your site. If the time spent is relatively brief, it usually indicates an underlying problem. Then the challenge is to figure out what that problem is.
It could be that your keywords are directing the wrong type of visitors to your website, or that your graphics are confusing or intimidating, causing the visitor to exit rapidly. Use the knowledge of how much time visitors are spending on your site to pinpoint specific problems, and after you fix those problems, continue to use time spent as a gauge of how effective your fix has been.
Additionally, web traffíc stats can help you determine effective and ineffective areas of your website. If you have a page that you believe is important, but visitors are exiting it rapidly, that page needs attention. You could, for example, consider improving the link to this page by making the link more noticeable and enticing, or you could improve the look of the page or the ease that your visitors can access the necessary information on that page.
If, on the other hand, you notice that visitors are spending a lot of time on pages that you think are less important, you might consider moving some of your salës copy and marketing focus to that particular page.
As you can see, these statistics will reveal vital information about the effectiveness of individual pages, and visitor habits and motivation. This is essential information to any successful Internet marketing campaign.
Your website undoubtedly has exit pages, such as a final order or contact förm. This is a page you can expect your visitor to exit rapidly. However, not every visitor to your site is going to find exactly what he or she is looking for, so statistics may show you a number of different exit pages. This is normal unless you notice an exit trend on a particular page that is not intended as an exit page. In the case that a significant percentage of visitors are exiting your website on a page not designed for that purpose, you must closely examine that particular page to discern what the problem is. Once you pinpoint potential weaknesses on that page, minor modifications in content or graphics may have a significant impact on the keeping visitors moving through your site instead of exiting at the wrong page.
After you have analyzed your visitor statistics, it's time to turn to your keywords and phrases. Notice if particular keywords are directing a specific type of visitor to your site. The more targeted the visitor - meaning that they find what they are looking for on your site, and even better, fill out your contact förm or make a purchase - the more valuable that keyword is.
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However, if you find a large number of visitors are being directed - or should I say misdirected - to your site by a particular keyword or phrase, that keyword demands adjustment. Keywords are vital to bringing quality visitors to your site who are ready to do business with you. Close analysis of the keywords your visitors are using to find your site will give you a vital understanding of your visitor's needs and motivations.
Finally, if you notice that users are finding your website by typing in your company name, break open the champagne! It means you have achieved a significant level of brand recognition, and this is a sure sign of burgeoning success.
11 June 2007
Don Resh is CEO of WebForce Inc. .
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8 Tips To Create A Landing Page
You need copy for your landing page but you're not sure where to start. First let's clarify what we mean by a landing page. A landing page can be a page that visitors come to after clicking on a promotional banner or link. Ultimately, the landing page must convince the visitor that they should stay on your site. You may also have a goal that you want accomplished, such as:
Signing up for a newsletter or filling out a förm
Buying a product
Reading informational pieces
What's going to keep them there? The structure, the language, and the visual appeal all play a part of it. Chëck out these tips to create a great landing page, or reinvent the one you already have.
People arrive at your site looking for answers. They scan to see if they're in the right place and assess whether it's going to be a quick and easy visit or a long grinding one. Your landing page is the welcome wagon inviting them in and feeding them the information they need. The structure of the page will either pull them in and encourage them to fulfill your goal, or distract and cause them to cut out of there before getting the whole picture.
The structure of the landing page in general should be matching that of the banner, äd or link they clicked on to get them there. So for example, if your PPC Ad is targeting SEO articles, your landing page should discuss exactly that. If a Victoria Secret's äd for lingerie shows up and you clíck on it, you will be transferred to a landing page with the exact image and structure of the äd.
Copy placement – Strategic use of copy and graphics will catch the visitor's attention. Don't muck up the page with large, distracting graphics. Use plenty of whitespace and place your message in the central portion of the page rather than placing information down the sides, where the focus can be lost quickly. Keep the copy short. The visitor expects a precise message, so don't choke it up with tons of mindless prose.
Beauty is in the eye – Use a consistent color palette. If you have advertising or banners that link visitors to your website, make sure the concept and color scheme match across the board. It's also a great visual indicator for the visitor because they can easily identify that they're still in the right place.
Simplify – Remove any distracting elements like advertising banners, links, or additional blocks of information from the page and get down to the specific message.
Before you design the landing page, decide what the goal of the page will be. If you're looking for newsletter subscribers, the goal will be to have the visitor enter their information and become a member of your mailing líst.
Be a Sleuth
Do your research. Keep your visitors in mind when building your landing page and tailor it to suit their needs. By narrowing your options and focusing on your visitor, you'll stay on target.
Keep Your Focus
Keep the focus on you. You've dangled a large poster board over their head and pulled them in. Now that you've got them, don't give your visitors a reason to wander.
Use a Call to Action
A call to action, such as 'subscribe now' or 'get this offër' reminds the visitor why they are on your website. Place them toward the top of your page. For users that want to clíck, it allows them to find it easily. For those who are still deciding, it's a great reminder.
Many sites place the consultation or contact förm directly on the landing page, which may not be such a bad idea. Again, you need glaring calls to action. Don't add several useless links on the page that will take the visitor back to your main site; rather include the links that will get them to actually purchase your product/service.
Write Like a Pro
No, you don't have to hire one to look like one. What's the best way to come off like a professional? Create landing pages with no grammatical or spelling errors. I recently hit a website offering 'discount holideys.' As I clicked out of there, I pictured the four-star flea-bag motel by the swampland I might have booked if I stayed.
13 June 2007
Ayat is the Director of the writing department at INVESP. She manages a team of writers that provide business writing services such as Grant writing, webcopy writing and optimized SEO article writing.