How to build traffic by leveraging technology and building robust community. How to optimize your site to build search engine traffic. How to use syndication (RSS) & subscriptions to build recurring traffic. How participating in the bigger blogging community drives traffic and comments. The works. Featuring mega-blogger Elise Bauer and Vanessa Fox, who can address the issue of SEO from the biggest SE of them all, Google.
Only made the second half of this; busy having hall conversations as you do. So I missed Elise and came in to listen to Vanessa.
Vanessa looks after webmaster central for Google.
So why is search important? With search your audience is telling you exactly what they are looking for; this is not broadcast advertising. People are looking for what you have.
You’ve all probably used google?? (laughter results). We want the searcher to find exactly what they are looking for, our goal is to get them off our site and onto yours.
First of all we have to know the pages exist. First, the discovery process, we follow links from other pages. So having a blog really causes a lot more people to link into your site. Reading this magazine yesterday, there was a question from a reader asking about a blog on the corporate site; the example was a site the jumped from 81 to no 1 on the search after blogging. Keywords links drive ranking.
You can also submit your sitemap; we accept an RSS feed as a sitemap.
Q: dynamic sites/CMS? A: there are scripts you can add to your site that helps build the sitemap which we explore. Really helps the site assessment.
You want to make sure your pages are crawlable. can we access the pages?
Q: my ecommerce site is ranked but not my blog? Why not? A: have you been able to tell if the sites are indexed? I’ll show you a few tools to see what you can do.
You need to be access pages and there is another aspect of getting text from pages. Blogs are easy, they are text; we ar a text based search engine. Flash and images are a problem. For blogs you can have video and audio; js or ajax also causes problems. So turn off everything and see what the text is. And it is not just for searches; look what you can see over the mobile device. You have to think about screenreaders, other access points. Putting the extra elements in there – think about what is necessary. Have a graceful failure point.. We are working on improving our ability to crawl ajax, but not there yet. Provide the alternatives.
Q: What about text in images.
A: We can read alt tags – so use proper language. Don;t use logo as your alt for the logo. We look at caption and description around it.
Once it is in there, We crawl, calc page rank and we build the index.
We look at what pages are linking to it, are those sites relevant for the search. Links should be relevant links, not just high rank links; relevance is as import. With blogs it is much easier; you write about stuff and interesting relevant sites link back
Think about the content and what you write about it. What words do people use to look up your site, your product. Use them in the writing. Looking at a site for real estate, which is a search term the writer was after, nothing on the site was about real estate, just houses for sale. Look at what people are using.
Here are some tools: wordtracker.com, yahoo keyword selector, google adwords selector tool. etc etc (links will be on blog, google.com/webmasters blogs..) Slide links will be posted on BlogHer.
So about the LOng Tail. Blogging is great way of capitalising on the Long Tail.
Look at what searches are been done, don’t ignore the longtail terms.
The older style of site was a a home page pyramid, starting there and moving through. Now, entry points are multiple. you don;t rely on one page, they can start everywhere and anywhere.
Zappos got 21% of searches for shoes; Nike got 1%, was ranked 14th for ‘shoes’. But a year ago when you looked a the site, there was nothing there at all, the only reason we knew about it was other people linking to it. It was all flash, not text to index. So when you link, you should use good words! Do as search for ‘click here’ see how useless that is. Make sure the anchor text is good for links you do internally.
Q: my friend showed me a shoe site with the terms all ‘hidden’
A: so this may not last very long and we will probably remove from index. Look at the guidelines, we don;t allow sites that show us something different to waht the user is using. So putting white text on a back ground can be seen from crawler but not user. This will work for a short period of time, we will find it and remove from index. Go to webmaster tools and sign up, you can see where you are. You can say you have fixed it and be let back in.
Q: how about the image, video searches?
A: we still index text; we have a tool for putting metadata on your images which feed into the image searches – Image Labeller.
Q: is there a tool to see how your site is indexed? A:we have several things; I’ll do a quick tour.
Q: I’ve been highly ranked for a number of terms, then suddenly disappear? Why?
A: we have changed things, we are re-indexing every day, not every 6 months. There may be other things going on; the tool swill help you pinpoint the problem.
Looking at Nike again, there’s no shoes in the text as seen from search engine.. Look at Zappo – it has about 15 mentions – in relevant places.
Make sure your title tag is descriptive; the description tag is import – get keywords in the blog posts. Make sure each is unique.
Think of search engines as another browser – you have to design site for that as well.
Links, both in an out, help us get a better idea of the context of your site.
Avoid link exchange/link farms – that will get you banned from index.
Buying links – we think of those as advertising, so not included in page rank.
Blogs are great for links, it’s updating, you talk about interesting things. make sure your blog links back to corporate site where appropriate.
Q: text links vs image links?
A: text links are the way to go; if using images make sure the alt is relevant.
To get what words people use to look up your site or your product, try using KeywordDiscovery.com keyword research tool which offers a free trial and similar (monthly and yearly) subscription options like WordTracker. Key difference is that KeywordDiscovery has a much larger keyword database and provides historical data for the past 12 months for every keyword.
RC Edit: this comment promotes a subscription site..please note there are free ones that are available. I use ultimate tag warrior on wordpress which gives me suggested tags/keywords from yahoo. Yahoo and google both offer services