Traffic-Building Strategies For Websites
With more and more information being posted on the Internet, it is increasingly becoming more difficult to attract and retain visitors to a Web site. To make sure a Web site is heard above all the traffic and noise requires careful planning and a true knowledge of how the Internet works and is evolving. This entails a combination of preparing documents for optimal indexing by search engines, and implementing an ongoing awareness building campaign. Preparing documents for optimal indexing requires an understanding of page titles, Meta descriptions, Meta keywords, headings, and programming scripts. Issues such as whether or not to use frames must also be carefully considered, since documents designed using frames typically do not rank as well in search engines. Secondly, an ongoing awareness building campaign should be designed and implemented to identify your audience and market the information at your site to the appropriate locations and outlets.
PREPARING PAGES FOR OPTIMAL INDEXING
Since 80% of all Web sessions begin at search engines, it is vitally important to properly format all documents so that they can be optimally indexed by search engines. The better formatted a document is, the better the document can be indexed, and consequently, the more likely visitors will view your information. By knowing the techniques search engines use to index documents, a more searchable and retrievable document can be created.
Most search engines rank the information in the title of a document higher than the information found in the body of a document. Hence, it is important that a descriptive title be provided for each document. For example, if this document were placed on the Web, either one of the following titles below would describe this document. However, the longer title not only tells the user exactly what to expect when this document is viewed, but since it contains more keywords, it would also more likely be retrieved and then viewed.
Traffic-Building Strategies For Web Sites: Preparing Documents for Optimal Indexing and Implementing an On-going Awareness Building Campaign
Meta Descriptions and Keywords.
Many search engines display the Meta description as part of the results page. If a Meta description is not provided, many search engines typically display the first 50-70 words of a document. Unfortunately, the header of a document might only contain information about the author and hence it would less likely be viewed. By providing a Meta description, a search engine will more likely display a summary of the document rather than simply the first few sentences. Below is an example of a Meta description for this document.
<META NAME="description" CONTENT="Traffic- building strategies for Web sites involve a combination of knowing how to prepare documents for optimal indexing and implementing an ongoing awareness building campaign.">
Meta Keywords are also an important part of a Web page. A good set of keywords should cover the topics mentioned in the document. Below is an example of Meta keywords for this document.
<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="marketing, awareness building, campaign, reciprocal links, search engines, Web site, promotion">
Many search engines also use headings (i.e., <h1> through <h6>) to rank the relevance of a document for a particular query. They assume that words in headings are more important than the words in text. Hence, when possible, place main concepts and ideas into HTML heading tags.
Documents formatted using frames typically do not rank as well in search engines compared to non-framed versions of the same information. One reason is because some of the major search engines fail to completely index framed pages, since frames are in affect a composite of multiple pages. It is recommended that if you must use frames, that you utilize the <noframes> tag as shown in Figure 1. This allows the spider for a search engine to traverse through all the information. The <noframes> tag also enables information to be displayed in browsers that do not support frames. The second reason why documents formatted using frames do not rank well in search engines is because of the “dilution effect”. To a search engine, each window within a framed document appears as its own separate document. Hence, if a document is formatted using two frames, it is possible that half of the relevant keywords appear in one document and the other half appear in the second document. The net result is the information as a whole is not weighted as heavily.
Document Analysis and Verification.
To help analyze and verify that documents have been properly formatted, you may want to consider using online software applications such as Meta Medic or HTML Doctor. Both of these applications allow you to check a small number of documents for free. With Meta Medic, the user enters a URL, and then Meta Medic performs an analysis of the information in the document. It then generates a report describing how search engines would process the meta information and text for that document. It even illustrates how the document would be displayed on a search results page for the major search engines. Shown below is the HotBot search engine simulation that Meta Medic generated for this document.
Meta Medic also gives you feedback as to whether you are giving your visitors too many ways of leaving your Web site by simply examining the rate of external links found on a document. This application can even automatically generate a list of keywords for the meta keyword tag. A similar application is HTML Doctor. This application also helps you determine how effectively your document will be indexed by the major search engines. This application can also perform: image analysis, table analysis, link verification, browser support, and many other similar functions.
IMPLEMENT AN AWARENESS BUILDING CAMPAIGN
Register your URL with the Search Engines and Directories.
Once the pages have been properly formatted for indexing, it is essential that an ongoing awareness building campaign be planned and implemented. Locations for a Web site to be announced should include: search engines, portal directories, web guides, E-zines, Web forum sites, Web directories, and mailing lists. Even lobbying for attention on award sites and leveraging newsgroups should be considered.
There are many services available that will submit your Web site to thousands of submission sites all at once. Examples include: SubmitURL and Traffic Seeker. While these services help your Web site get listed in the major search engines and some of the major directories, they fail to get links from many of the other valuable outlets. To get the maximum number of visitors to a Web site requires that first a careful examination of the content on a site be performed. Once this has been completed, thorough research must be performed to carefully locate outlets that are a perfect match for the content. For example, the webmaster for Northeastern State University (NSU) would want to periodically visit the Web sites for every high school and two year college in the state of Oklahoma and the surrounding states verifying or requesting links from their Web sites. Typically you will also find that a Web site is far more than its homepage URL. Many sites have features and subpages that are themselves marketable. For example, the link to the document “Job openings” found on the NSU homepage should also be aggressively marketed. When done correctly, Web site promotion is a challenging and time-consuming process. You will quickly find that no two Web site awareness building campaigns are the same.
Keep Visitors Coming Back.
As part of an ongoing awareness building campaign, it is important to keep visitors coming back to your Web site time after time. Below are a few techniques used to repeatedly lure visitors back to a Web site.
- Newsletters – are a good method to give readers information about news and special events that are taking place. Located at the end of the newsletter should be a link back to your Web site.
- Bulletin Boards – provide an outlet for visitors to ask and answer questions. These applications can help invite outside opinion and advice potentially leading to increase content – without any effort required by the site’s developers. Consequently, the more content, the more likely a visitor will bookmark a site for future reference.
- Refer-it Codes – are simple techniques that allows a visitor to forward the URL to a friend or bookmark the site for future reference.
Negotiate Reciprocal Links.
Negotiating reciprocal links with other Web sites should be considered. By offering links to other related sites, you may find that you have added an increased value to your site, and consequently, there would be a greater tendency for a visitor to bookmark your site for future reference. However, it probably should be mentioned that reciprocal links are a bad idea if your product or service does not stand up against your competitors.
Verify And Track Marketing Campaign.
Many of the major search engines allow you to determine whether or not your Web site has been indexed by their spiders. For example, to determine if a Web site has been indexed by HotBot, you can use HotBot’s Check URL application. This application verifies if a URL has been indexed in HotBot’s database. For the search engine AltaVista, simply enter the keyword “link:” in the search field followed by a URL. It will then return a listing of all the documents that are hyperlinked to the URL entered in the search field. This feature can be very beneficial to help analyze the effectiveness of a Web site awareness building campaign. For after an awareness building campaign has been started, you should noticed a marked increase in the number of links to your Web site.
As more and more information is made available on the Internet, it is increasingly becoming more difficult to attract and retain visitors to a Web site. To help repeatedly drive visitors to your Web site requires a true knowledge of how to prepare documents for optimal indexing, and the design and implementation of an ongoing awareness building campaign.