Are You Search Engine Spider Friendly?

» Just What Do Spiders Look for?

SEO: search engine optimized (or optimization depending on its use in a sentence). Simply put. SEO is building your site, adapting your site, reworking your site after beta testing and, ultimately maintaining your site to ensure the best PR (PageRank) you site can achieve within its ‘keyword competitors’ — other sites using the same or similar keywords you use. Simple concept — get the most traffic by having the highest ranking on Google’s SERPs — search engine results pages. Isn’t SEO FUN?

So what are the elements that you (or your site design firm) should play close attention to when putting together your dream site. Bring this list with you when talking to your designer so you can have confidence the designer’s aware that you’re aware.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, here’s what you and/or your designer should be concerned with to make sure your site is friendly to spiders when they start checking out RubberChickensЯ

Research Your Keywords
Keywords are words you provide the SE to give the SE an idea of what your site is like and, in this case, little things mean a lot. We did a recent test search on the key words ‘create paper airplanes’ and ‘build paper airplanes’ on Google and Yahoo! and the results were staggering. ‘Create’ generated over a hundred pages of SERPs while ‘Build’ delivered fewer than 40…and it’s a whole lot easier to increase Page Rank when you don’t have as many competitors. The difference between the key words ‘build’ and ‘create’ could actually make or break a site, so when it comes to keywords, little things do mean a lot, so do the research and make danged sure you designer does, too.

Getting Noticed
Your new site will, most likely, be noticed by an SE when you submit all pertinent information about each site. Part of that information includes the two- or three-line blurb describing your site (The best source for hand-carved gnomes anywhere west of Los Angeles, blah, blah). Another key bit of information is key words — the 8 — 10 words and phrases that best describe your site. So, for your gnome site, your research might show the following as a good starting point: hand-carved gnomes, gnomes, novelty gifts, unusual gifts, garden gnomes — you get the idea. Again, do your research when it comes to keyword selection and SE submission.

Getting Linked Up
More and more of the big SEs are developing more and more sophisticated means of determining a site’s rank. Yes, SEO, keyword rich text still counts, but not as much as it did in 1993 when the first SE hit the cyber scene (thanks, Yahoo!). Today, SEs look at things like the quality of inbound links. Let’s say you’re selling prescription glasses over the I-Net — an optician site. To really make friends with SE spiders, you need quality in-bound links from sites related to your site. An in-bound link from a building supply company isn’t going to help because it doesn’t help the user! However, links from a sunglasses specialty site, an on-line contact lens retailer and Visine are going to send you to the top of the heap in no time.

Remember: Garbage links unrelated to your site — bad. Quality in-bound links good. Very, very good.

Freshen Up Your Site
SEs love sites that offer regular, up-dated information of benefit to visitors. The new content doesn’t have to be SEO text (aka garbage) but it does have to be on a topic of interest to a visitor to your site. To get noticed, be sure to work key words into the title of the piece, sub-heads and other pointers used by the reader to identify useful information.

HTML is the coding language used between your site and an SE. Part of the programming includes the insertion of title tags and Meta tags. SEs gobble of HTML tags like M&Ms. Make sure you (or your developer who should already know this but may not) take full advantage of HTML tags for key word placement. Also, you can change key words in these SE signposts easily, so if one set of keywords isn’t pulling in the throngs you were expecting, change ‘em.

The All-Important, SE Spider Friendliness Test
Once the site is constructed and has been up and running for at least 30 days (it takes that long for some SEs to catch up on all of the site submissions received every day — like a bazillion!), it’s time to do a few test runs. Now, first your designer should have software that will check to see just how spider-friendly you are, but there are other tools, as well — for free. Go to the Google home page, click on ‘About Google’ and check out the tools Google provides to site owners like you. You can even see how your site looks to the Google SE and make a lot of useful adjustments for cheap — and that’s always a good thing.

The facts speak for themselves. Studies show that 90% of visitor traffic is going to reach your site via a search engine. More than 50% of your total transactions will be made by people who Googled you. And, studies have shown that developing a spider-friendly site does more to improve ROI than virtually anything else you can do. So forget key word density and SEO text. Get friendly with the spiders and your PR will soon be at the top of the web.

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