- October 26th, 2010
One of the best ways to make your site’s content more discoverable is to make sure it’s optimized for search engines, also known as SEO (Search Engine Optimization). When I first made this site public, I wasn’t very happy with the fact that when I searched for my name my website wasn’t anywhere close to the top of the search results. So, my goal was to get my website on the first page of results listed when searching for my name in a search engine.
There are a number of different things you can do to help your site’s page show up higher in search results. SEO best practices (that worked for me):
Make Use of
These are tags that go between the
- keyword - these are the keywords you want your site to rank highly on. You will have a better chance using more selective keywords. If you use generic keywords on your page like “website” and so have 1,000,000 other people then your competition will be high trying to get higher in the search ranking. The good news is you can have just about as many keywords as you want on a page.
- description - this is the text that will show up under your title in a search result. I originally had this set to the same thing on every page and when I started seeing my site show up in search results, all the descriptions displayed the same. So my fix was to put relevant content in the description on each page.
<meta name="keywords" content="search, seo, search engine optimization, troy, grosfield, troy grosfield" /> <meta name="description" content="Welcome to Troy Grosfield's personal playground. Learn about me, learn from me, and drop me a line. Welcome to TroyGrosfield.com." />
Google Search Results
- Blog – TroyGrosfield.com – This comes from the
- Welcome to Troy… – This comes from the description
Use Your Keywords in the Body of the Content
It’s one thing to say the page is talking about something, but it’s another thing to actually talk about it. I could tell you this page was about chocolate chip cookies, but unless I’m actually using those words in the content of the article, the harder of a time the search bots will have determining what the article is actually about.
Since I’m writing about search engine optimization, it’s good to get put those keywords in the content body. The search bots that run through your site will pick up on those words and will help your page rankings.
Use Relevant Urls
There are a number of different reason to use relevant, hackable urls. A simple search for “Troy Grosfield” will also find “troygrosfield” which is good because that’s the url for my site. If you’re writing a blog, a url structure that looks like:
Doesn’t really tell you anything. From that I can tell:
- It’s likely leading me to a blog
- By a guy named Troy Grosfield
- Likely some article 462 which doesn’t tell me anything
It also isn’t something that a search bot will pick up. In fact, most url query params, the stuff after the question mark, is ignored by crawlers because the bot can’t determine if it’s a relevant part of the url. Instead use meaningful urls:
This is packed with useful information. I know:
- It’s a blog
- Written by a guy named Troy Grosfield
- Written on 2010-10-25
- The article is about search engine optimization
- This url is hackable (good thing). I can likely tell that there is a page with articles from:
- 2010 –
- October of 2010 –
- October 25, 2010 –
- 2010 –
That’s 8 useful pieces of infomation all from a single url. A search bot will pick up on this url and can pull keywords straight from the url.
Don’t Ignore the
The content in the
<title>tag is what will be displayed as the actual link in a search result. One of my initial issues here was I just had a generic title for my entire blog that was “Blog – TroyGrosfield.com” even if the page was referring to a specific article. One of my first changes was to put the blog post title within the
<title>tag. Now, you will see in the top of your web browser, depending on your browser preference, the title of the blog post should appear.
If you take the complete title of this article “SEO: Search Engine Optimization Best Practices for Your Website” and put it in quotes and do a search for it in a search engine you will see it as one of the first results listed with the complete title shown. The title is one of the main factors in determining a page’s rank.
How To Get Your PageRank
Do you ever wonder how pages actually get ranked? Larry Page, one of Google’s co-founders, created the PageRank link analysis algorithm that gives each page it’s numerical rank.
PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results.Wikipedia on PageRank
The ranking uses a number of different variables which determines a pages popularity:
- Incoming links – How many incoming links are there to a page? (others linking back to your pages)
- Page traffic – Are people actually visiting the pages?
- Relevant content – Does your page actually talk about what I’m looking for?
- Recent content – How fresh is the content?
Which all makes sense, right? If there’s a page that everyone is talking about and linking back to, then chances are that page has very relevant content.
One analogy would be a cities hottest bar. If everyone is talking about it, everyone is going there, then chances are that’s the place to be. Web content is no different. If everyone is talking about it, everyone is going there, then chances are that’s the page you want to be visiting as well. So search engines will push popular content up in the search results.
These are only a few of the factors taken into account for determining a page’s rank. Wikipedia has a pretty good article that goes into the mathematical equation behind it all. Start integrating some of these practices into your pages and see your pages start to show up higher in search results.
Another good read on getting your pages to show up higher in search results are:
- Larry Page’s PageRank algorithm. Shows some of the factors taken into account that gives a page it’s ranking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank
- A very good article on SEO: http://www.kadavy.net/blog/posts/everything-you-already-know-about-seo/
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