Here comes part deux of my Handy and Useful “web development for dummies/ top tips guide” to perfect websites! Having already discussed user-friendly websites, let’s look at creating SEARCHABLE websites and then how to MEASURE results 🙂
Searchability – Can Customers Find You / Does Google Love You?
Meta Data – this is the info nestled in between the <head> </head> tags of your webpage. I don’t claim to understand much about this stuff, but there are some basics which the interweb spiders can read and use to organise your website.
The META data ought to have a NAME and some CONTENT, and is most useful for defining keywords and a description of the page (this what is shown by web browsers!)
So that would look like this, maybe for this page for example:
<meta name=”description” content=”Blog covering online marketing, social media, communications and customer service” />
<meta name=”keywords” content=”marketing, customer services, online marketing, social media, blogging, websites, web design” />
You will also need a nice title, shown in the very top of your browser when you look at a webpage.
<title>Fruitful Communications</title> <– notice this has an end tag but your meta tags do not.
Oooh, and if your title is more than 66ish characters, browsers won’t display it properly. Check your count here. More information on length, here.
This is useful as search engines use this information to see what your page is about. Simples.
TOP TIP: Try not to use generic page titles such as HOME or ABOUT or WELCOME. This is part of your online marketing and searchability, so USE this space wisely. What is actually unique about you? What do you do? Instead of “HOME” or “PAGE ONE” try “Theatrical Supplies” or “Glasgow Joiner” for better searchabilityness.
URL Format: Silktide will score you on this, and search engines will judge you on this as well. This embodies the difference between:
http://www.site.com/sasjh-akjshf%sololo-psdhjkg/fsdhgoog/kjh&^^bcskdhgksdjgjhgsldhgjsdhgsd (assuming this still was an actual URL)
and http://www.marketing.com/adverts.html or http://www.glasgowhair.com/highlights.html
Everyone prefers a neater URL. Keep yours short and sweet, and as specific as possible.
“Broken files usually mean part of a webpage is missing or broken, like so:Some broken files aren’t noticeable to the user, as the missing file may not be used in a way that is obvious. For example, a background image might be missing, but a plain background might still appear ok. These broken files are still an issue however, as they slow down the webpage from loading; the missing files must be unnecessarily requested and rejected by the webserver.”
Thanks, Silktide. Couldn’t say it better myself…
W3C compliance: I only recently discovered how utterly essential this is, as my website wouldn’t display properly in Mozilla Firefox. (Remember, ALWAYS test your website in the most popular browsers! This includes Safari, Opera, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox.) But there is no point in testing your website unless you know what is going wrong (and how to fix it.)
Anyway, I discovered that Firefox will only show very well coded webpages – those that follow the strict rules of CSS.
Luckily, W3C provides a handy checker! Available, free, here: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/
You can also make sure your website generally complies with W3C, which will make it a well-loved and respected site! http://validator.w3.org/
These will also tell you *what* to change, and where it is in your code, so they are extreeeemely useful.
Incoming links: Search ranking will also be decided based on how many other (good) sites link to your site. (This will affect your Page Rank score, see below.) SEOmoz Open Site Explorer is useful for checking this (but can only be used a certain number of times in one day.) See how many (and what type of) sites link to your site, and make sure the information they have is correct and up to date, so that their users might just click on the link!
Facebook and Twitter: Having social media accounts will increase your searchability (users can find you more easily if you are present in more places) and ranking (not least because you will be creating more links to your actual website..). They are also, of course, useful in themselves.
Use CSS!! As discussed, make sure your Cascading Style Sheets and in-page styles are tip top using the W3C checker, to increase the chances of perfect display in all browsers. Also, where possible, use CSS to reduce the amount of code search engines need to read.
Keep your formatting in a separate document, in other words. Learn more – lots of simple articles on this site.
Search Ranking: OK – search for your site on Google (either by company name, products, services or other keywords that you know your customers use – I’m sure you have researched that by now) and see how high up it is listed. Anything past Page 1 may as well not be there, so you want to be on this first page for your main keywords. Silktide provides a Search Ranking score based on your defined keywords.
Google page rank is also cool, as it shows how “good” your website is in Google’s mind (if it had a mind). This is decided by hundreds of factors, some of which I have outlined here, many of which are mysterious to all.
Popularity Silktide also measures your overall “popularity”, using http://www.alexa.com/ stats. This shows how your page measures up to other websites… worth keeping an eye on.
Analytics This is the most important measuring tool, like, ever. Make sure you are tracking every single page of your website, monitoring results, and making changes to improve results. http://www.google.com/analytics/
Fairly easy to use and self-explanatory, although remember to exclude your own viewing of the site.
Go to the cute little Settings icon (like a wee nut for a bolt) once you have logged in, and click to Filters. You can then Exclude Traffic from your IP address.
Find out your IP address by going to http://www.whatismyip.com/
So much more to say on analytics but, basically, make sure you have it and you have the tracking code on every page 🙂
Anything else you think I should include here? Let me know 🙂