Here are the steps that we followed to make the website search engine friendly (Step 1 from this article) :
- Create and Submit Sitemap – on a website like ours which almost gets updated weekly we need to keep on updating the sitemap regularly as well. This helps visitors and search engines find the right web page and content.
- Submit your website to reputed online directories. Like Open Project Directory and Yahoo directory.
- Create a robots.txt file – which tells search engine what pages you want the to crawl and what pages you don’t want them to crawl. Use this to keep terms and policy pages out of the crawl – so that they don’t affect your content keywords as much.
- Optimize titles for your web pages. Keep the following points in mind: avoid invalid characters such as “/”, avoid the use of stop words, try to keep the title around 65 characters in length. The title shows up on the search results and convinces people to click on the link.
- Optimize description for your web pages. Just like titles description also shows up under the search results as snippets. Keep the following point in mind: avoid non-alpha characters, avoid using the stop words, try to keep the description around 150 characters in length.
- Try to keep your title, description tags unique and relevant across all the webpages.
- Make sure your webpages are accessible via internal or external links. Also link to relative and highly ranked quality sites. When analyzing your site’s external links to websites, search engines will attempt to determine the relative importance of the originating sites. This means that if an originating site offers similar or related content to the one it is pointing to, the link will receive a higher rating than if the content was entirely unrelated. As well, an originating site may be ranked based on the links that are pointing to it, and hence the importance of those links.
- Optimize the heading tags for your website. Heading tag H1 should be brief — no longer than a short sentence — and include the page’s most important keywords. Make sure the content for your H1 tag is unique for every page in your website. The text in your H1 tag displays in your page header, but it does not display with your site in search results.
- Write unique engaging content. The recommended number of words on a webpage should be around 300.
- Add images and relevant alt attribute value to your images on the webpage. This makes your search results more appealing.
It is a long way to get the SEO right – if you have seen my previous Blogshot on SEO you have already read the basic articles that I found very helpful on getting me started on the right track. If you haven’t read it here is the link.
Here I am going to design my own SEO strategy as an experiments based on those articles. This is an experiment that I am starting now and as I move forward with each steps I will keep on posting detail on how did I go about it. I am also planing on documenting the results better or worse. That way we will end up building a blog on Do’s and don’ts of SEO.
My starting points are very basic and most of you know it, but I am documenting that here anyway for those who might be benefited from that:
- Even before you get started building your website spend enough time on deciding and getting a very relevant domain name.
- Figure out your audience, and understand the audience. So you can deliver relevant and helpful content.
Title, description and meta tags are very important to get the SEO right, the very basics that should be followed are:
- Title should be very relevant and up to 60 characters.
- Description – is usually the snippet that appears under your website when the search results are returned. Try to keep it relevant and up to 150 characters. Or it will be cut off when the search results are returned.
If you are trying to figure out whether you need to hire SEO or not, here is a link which I found very useful: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35291?hl=en&ref_topic=3309300
Here is my simple strategy going forward to improve SEO on the toysshare:
- Make the website google friendly – here is the reference article and link to a very useful experiment.
- Figure out relevant keywords to reach the right audience. Here is the reference article.
- Optimize the site for the identified keywords. Here is the reference article.
- Submitting the site to different online directory. I am trying this because of this experiment. Here is the reference article.
- Of course view the Google webmaster tools and Google Analytics through out the process so that we know what is working and what is not.
In the next post we will go over step #1- Making the website google friendly.
When you are new to SEO and try to figure out how to get started, you run into tons of different links and techniques. It gets very confusing, to figure out how to get started and what should be your next strategy. Here I would like to put a list of links that I found very useful in figuring out the process and getting started with SEO.
The Beginners Guide To SEO
SEO is the practice of improving and promoting a web site in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.
Improve SEO: How we increased search traffic by 2600%
If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering “what ingenious way to increase traffic did he use?” That’s exactly the kind of mindset I had when I tried to increase the traffic for our previous product, Hypemarks. Want to see the results from trying to find an ingenious way?
10 SEO experiments that will change the way you do SEO
Google doesn’t want you to know the secret sauce behind its ranking algorithm recipe. So, most SEOs rely on gut feeling when using certain SEO methods they think should work.
However, there are ingenious SEO among us who don’t mind working their fingers to the bone and digging up hard-won SEO facts in (usually time- and resource-consuming) field experiments.
White Hat SEO Case Study: 348% More Organic Traffic in 7 Days
I need to get this off my chest: Increase Traffic
Despite what you may have heard, there’s A LOT more to white hat SEO than “posting great content.”
Sure, awesome content makes link building easier…
…but it’s just the first step.
49 Free Web Directories for Building Backlinks
So after scraping the internet for free web directory lists I squeezed 76 potential candidates into an excel spreadsheet. Most of the lists I found from Google searches were either duplicates or very out of date. The most up-to-date web directory list was one I found later today just as I was finishing up submitting to the below directories – Top 100 free directory list.
If you are searching about SEO you definitely would have come across “Rich Snippets” and probably are wonder “What are those” and “Should we use them” or “How do we get started”. Here I am going to cover a few basic details about “Rich Snippets” and in the future article we can go in more detail. Here are some basic questions answered for you:
What are snippets?
- Snippets—the few lines of text that appear under every search result—are designed to give users a sense for what’s on the page and why it’s relevant to their query.
What are “Rich Snippets”?
- They are type of a page markup.
- Google creates “Rich snippet” based on the understanding of the page. They are sort of detailed information intended to help users with specific queries.
- You can highlight reviews or price or author details or recipe photos or restaurant menu items using the rich snippets.
How does it help?
- Better presentation of your information within the search results may attract more clicks.
- And those more clicks might lead to a better ranking on google search results. Though google does not guarantee a better ranking I have found that on different articles such as: http://dashburst.com/google-search-what-are-rich-snippets/
How Do I get started?
- Google can use 2 different method to understand the data :
- HTML markup
- Data Highlighter
- HTML markup gives you more control, is helpful when your site changes structure frequently and works across all the search engines.
- Data Highlighter does not require a lot of resources, can help when you can’t consistently add HTML markups to your website or when you are trying to highlight an event.
Once you have figured out which method you want to use, you can get started on that.
Follow this link if you want to go with the HTML markup: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/99170?hl=en
Follow this link if you want to go with Data Highlighter: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2692911
In the future articles we will go in more detail on HTML markup and how we are planning on using it for our web portal – www.toysshare.com
The development phase starts when you approve the design PSDs and the team starts to work on converting the PSD into HTML pages and actual flow design. Here is where your SOW is going to come in very handy, and in our case a well defined SOW made it a lot more easier to navigate through this phase. This phase is when you will want to have well defined internal milestones where you run the testing of various flows as they are getting built and put in place. The well defined testing milestones are important so that you can discover any issues in the flow that you have defined or uncover any gap between your and your teams vision. You want to identify it sooner then later, because it will involve a lot more to change it once the backend is in place,
Also the thing that you should keep in mind is SEO and how you want to use any mark up language or Rich snippet. We used various tools while navigating through the development phase
- SOW – A well defined SOW is very essential during the whole project life cycle but during the development phase you are going to get the maximum usage out of it.
- Basecamp – To keep every one informed about all the steps being taken and all the comments or conversations being done.
- Bug Tracking System – A good bug tracking system is very essential to keep track of all the open issues and check how the progress is going – we had to come up with our own that we developed using google docs and google spreadsheets
The first milestone we had defined was converting the PSD to HTML and just have the page to page flow. This is done by simple linking between the pages with no backend. This process is very similar to the tool “Axure: Interactive Wireframe Software & Mockup Tool”, if you are familiar with it. The only disadvantage with Axure is you are not able to take the “HTML” pages that Axure creates directly into your project, where as in when we used this approach we already had HTML pages ready to be used directly in our project. Just as an additional note, it would be a good idea to use some SEO tools to help you with any markups or Rich snippet. As you already have some HTML example pages defined.
By first defining the basic flow with just HTML links – we were able to examine each flow and refine and correct it if need be without putting a lot of work on the back end. This was a great way of eliminating a lot backend changes for simple design tweaks. And it also gave us a way to make sure that the offshore team and us were on the same page as far as the basic flows were concerned. Very important when you are working with the offshore team.
Once we had refined the basic flow – the development phase milestone 2 work began. The milestone 2 was defined at putting the backend for those flows. But we wanted to work through one flow at a time. For example in our Toysshare project there are 5 main flows,
- Sing up/Login/Logout
- Listing Toys for Sale/Swap
- Searching for Toys
- Contacting the Sharer
- Admin Panel
Again as each flow was put in place one milestone was achieved and we tested each flow individually as they were put in place – this eliminated any refinements still needed in each individual flows without affecting the others.
And as the last milestone we put all the flows together and tested the whole project making sure that all those flows interact with each other the way it was expected. At this point after any fixes you should do regression testing to make sure the fix does not introduce any new bugs or while merging the files some old bugs don’t come back. – This is where we had to develop our own bug tracking system to make sure we are on top of each bug and we are doing regression testing at each level.
Also here is when all the mobile devices come into play. We wanted our site to be responsive – meaning now the testing had to be done on Windows PC, MAC , IOS, Android and Windows Phone. It helped a lot on how we had designed the milestones and testing setup – as most of the corrections and refinements were done way ahead of this final testing phase. In the next post we will go over Testing, Bug tracking and Beta launch in more detail.
It is very important to figure out what is the right time to get started on the “SEO” for the website. It is never too early to start. Before even going into the “Design Phase” it is best to think about “SEO” as well. Of course you can always add keywords and description meta tags. But google also wants to see how many of your key words actually shows up on your page content and how many times – that is the basis of the content keyword for Google. So if you want your web page to show up on certain type of search results you need to keep that in mind while you are designing the webpage layouts and figuring out the web page contents.
The rate at which google will crawl your page also depends on how many websites are linked to your site. If you are going to be launching a new website it is going to take some time before there are links to your website on the internet. In that situation – you should keep in mind that google does not cache your pre-beta version – as it will take time before google decides to crawl your page again and caches the actual live version.
If you want your website to show up under some key word search results – it is important to incorporate the key words in the tagline, on the page content, on the page title and so on. This is extremely important for the google’s content keyword relevance. It is a good idea even to use the Rich Snippet – that way you will have control on what is shown as snippet when google returns the search results.
In the next post we will go over how to work with Rich Snippet!
PS: I know this is a deviation from the outsourcing topic, but I think it is best to cover both in parallel. We made a mistake of not worrying about “SEO” during our design and development phase – and I did not want people to repeat the same so I am going to cover SEO and Development Phase in parallel.