Basics of search optimization and search promotion
With this article we’re starting a cycle of posts about search optimization and search promotion. Instead of talking about how to promote client websites we’ll focus on getting search traffic to your sites. Everyone knows that it’s one thing to promote client websites and earn money from this according to some agreements, which can end as fast as they started, and another thing to promote your own websites and answer to no one. There is another motivation – if you manage to get search traffic to your sites and convert it into money, including through Admitad, you will understand what your efforts are worth, and the amount you earn will depend solely on you.
And please note – to promote your web pages, not websites. Websites consist of pages. You should optimize pages for search queries, because the home page and interior pages can be seen by queries for which they are optimized.
Common principles of search engines
You have a website with a certain number of pages which contain some information. If you want to show these web pages in the search results, you need to tell the search engines about them – in other words, the web pages need to be indexed by search engines.
The databases of search engines store cached web pages – the image saved by a search bot while visiting the page. When a user types a query, the search engines select the most relevant pages based on a lot of factors (we’ll talk about them later), primarily relevance (how a search query matches a page’s text), and then sort them based on their ranking principles and show them in the search results.
There are internal and external ranking factors of search engines.
Internal ranking factors
You can view a large list of internal factors and their influence at a website https://moz.com/search-ranking-factors/survey. You should check it in order to broaden your horizons and understand how many internal factors you can work with. We’ll look at the basic ones which can help you drive search traffic.
For the sake of convenience, we can divide every website html page in the following blocks which can help optimize them for search:
- Value of <title> tag
- Value of <h1> tag
- Text content on the page
- Graphical content on the page
- Values of <h2-h3> tags
- Human=readable URLs
- Values of keywords and description metatags
Let’s look at them in more detail.
The value of the <title> tag is the most important from a relevance standpoint. It has the biggest weight in ranking. We strongly recommend to make its value 7-8 words minimum, and this should be a thoughtful and understandable phrase or set of phrases, which conveys the meaning of this page. In the screenshot you can see how title tag looks in the search results.
The value of the <h1> tag has less influence than <title>, but it’s still pretty high. The text inside the <h1> tag has to be short, it shouldn’t partially or fully overlap with value of <title> attribute, but must complement its meaning or at least paraphrase it. It would be great if it roughly included the keywords by which this page would be promoted in search engines. In the screenshot you can see what the value of the h1 tag looks like on the page.
Text content on the page should completely answer question which brought the user to this page. Currently, SEO texts don’t work – texts that are semi-automatically generated by different content studios. Search engines have learned to differentiate really useful content which meets the informational needs of a user (why they initially came to your website) from content which was written in order to get to the search engines index.
Of course, there are methods and ways to “push” SEO texts into the search index (we’ll talk about them later), but they won’t last long there, and even if they do, it’s harder to promote them than ordinary texts.
Graphical content is not mandatory, but in most cases it is a great advantage. In some cases graphical content provides a quick and visual answer to the user’s question. Also, unique graphical content can generate additional search traffic from image search.
Graphical content can be unique and optimized for SEO, and we’ll talk about it later.
The value of the <h2-h3> tags should partially overlap with semantics (meaning) or complement it logically. If the value of the <h1> tag is basically the title of the “document”, which presents the page’s content, the values of the <h2-h3> tags are its sub-headings. Based on practical experience, we recommend using no more than 3–4 <h2> tags per page and no more than 7–10 <h3> tags, if you don’t want to confuse the search engine.
The values of the “keywords” and “description” meta tags were used for ranking in the early days of search engines. But when spammers began to use them, search engines stopped using the data from these tags for ranking. Even so, you should still use them, because they help Google generate snippets which influence clicks from search results to websites. We’ll also talk about this later.
In keywords you should specify all the keywords which correspond to the meaning of the document which is represented by the html page. The content of the description should reflect the meaning of all information on the page in one sentence. As a description you can add a call to action, phone number or other contact info.
Example on https://blog.admitad.com/in/?p=145:
<meta name=”description” content=”Before you start working with Admitad as a publisher, you should add at least one ad space that will bring in traffic. While adding your ad space, please” />
Human-readable URLs also influence ranking if the URL contains a keyword or transliteration of the title. You should pay attention to this factor.
Other internal factors which influence ranking include the following:
- Age of website and domain
- Negative history of the domain
- Hosting and its settings
- Availability of sitemap
We’ve noticed that it’s easier to promote older websites over young ones, provided that search engines haven’t previously caught them using forbidden methods of promotion and optimization and they weren’t sanctioned by the search system.
If you have bad hosting and sometimes your website isn’t available, search bots can fail to find it during their visits and this can adversely affect the current positions of the website. If a search bot regularly fails to see your website’s content (hosting is down), then your website could completely disappear from search results.
Interlinking can be useful when a website has 100 or more pages. If every page has some weight, even when there are no external links to it from other websites, you can improve the positions of your website in search results through internal resources alone.
According to our observations, websites on some CMS are promoted better than those on others. Static html pages are an ideal option. Unfortunately, this applies to a very limited number of websites, that’s why results of promotion depend on optimization of CMS. Pay attention to this. According to experts, the popular and free WordPress engine, if optimized properly, promotes easily if you comply with the search engine optimization rules and if you have high-quality content.
A sitemap at sitemap.xml makes it easy for search engines to find and index your pages, that’s why you should use it. Many CMSs have their own functionality for creating sitemaps. If necessary, you can use free third-party services.
External ranking factors
External ranking factors include not only external links, as it may first appear. Let’s look at these factors:
- External links
- The website is included in authoritative catalogs
- Behavioral factors
- Penguin or Panda Google Filters
External links can be bought or procured (received artificially), and you can also create a resource with pages, links to which would appear naturally. It’s easy to buy links – there are a lot of marketplaces of links, the most popular of which are sape.ru, gogetlinks.net, rotapost.ru and others. Procuring or naturally receiving means performing some actions which would allow you to place links directing to your website: comment blogs, sign up on websites and fill profiles, write messages in captions on forums, etc. If you receive natural links, it means that you have a high-quality website with useful content which answers some questions of users or gives valuable or relevant information.
Usually in order to procure search traffic you have to buy links on marketplaces, exchange them with other websites or procure them through sign-ups on different resources. The issue of receiving external links is a topic for a separate article.
On the Russian web authoritative catalogs include the DMOZ catalog. The DMOZ catalog doesn’t take any fee for inclusion, but not all websites can become part of it. Moreover, DMOZ is moderated by volunteer editors and certain sections may not have editors at all. Also, editors don’t have to add your website to the catalog directly. The main advantage of being part of DMOZ previously was the fact that Google used it as a basis for its own catalog and it gave a bonus to your ranking if other requirements were equal. Now Google doesn’t have a catalog, that’s why DMOZ might not give these bonuses anymore.
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