Things That Affect Search Engine Rank

The Domain Name / URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

Recent studies indicate that search engines continue place a high value on the words in the domain name. Having a domain name like www.HuntsvilleBikeParts.com is far more likely to be found by someone looking for “Bike Parts in Huntsville” than www.bobsbikes.com. Note: If you are in the process of purchasing a domain name, it is recommended that you register several variations, .co, .net, dashed, and non-dashed versions because you don’t want someone taking advantage of your reputation, diverting traffic with an alternate versions of your URL. You should also configure every variation of your domain name resolve (redirect) to the same website (for example typing any of these huntsville-bike-parts.com, huntsvillebikeparts.com, huntsville-bike-parts.net, and huntsvillebikeparts.net would go to www.huntsvillebikeparts.com). In some cases, you may want to consider registering misspelled versions of your domain name.

The Navigational Structure

You want the path and file names to any document to support the searchers’ queries. If you are in Huntsville selling high-performance bicycle parts, you should consider paths like http://www.huntsville-bike-parts.com/lightweight-road-wheels/. The default page in this section would typically be an index of all the racing wheels you carry and might be further subdivided by brand (http://www.huntsville-bike-parts.com/lightweight-road-wheels/campagnolo/), size, etc. The objective is to understand what people are searching for the most and to build pages with paths that “support” the most popular search phrases.

The Page Name

The most important page on your website is the default page that is found when someone just types in your URL. Usually this page will have a name like index.html, but it may have another name or a different extension. The search engines will use this page to categorize your site and determine its relevancy. This page should be rich in textual content and use carefully worded navigational links. If you want the search engines to figure out what your site is about, it is important that the page not be filled with flash images or use images for navigation. Note: Dashes are seen as spaces by search engines and are more effective than underscores in page names.

The Page Title

The “title” of the page is even more important than the page name itself. People used to be very keen on putting the company name in the title, followed by actual title of the page, such as “Bob’s Bike Shop – Road Wheels”. This was a good approach especially if someone bookmarked the page, because the bookmark would read: ”Bob’s Bike Shop”. However, this approach doesn’t yield the best results with search engine algorithms. Page titles should reflect the search terms you would expect to see from someone looking for the information contained on that page. Each page title should be unique. The title for the page in the previous wheel example might be: “Lightweight Campagnolo Racing Wheels “. Again, the objective is to understand what people are searching on the most and to build titles that “support” the most popular search phrases in the order they would most likely appear.

The Page Content

Content is extremely important as it hopefully contains what the searcher is actually trying to find. The body of the page should contain the target search phrase and variations of it. In the bicycle parts example, you might try to create compelling copy that contains the phrases “wheels for bicycles”, “bike wheels”, “lightweight wheels”, “road wheels”, “racing wheels for road bikes”, and so forth. Search engines also pay more attention to tagged text. The H1 tag is believed to have the highest importance, and can help search engines identify the topic of the page, but bolded text and linked text all come into play and should be chosen in a way that will support key search phrases.

In Summary

The following provides a brief checklist with regard to the points you should keep in mind when creating a website:

  • Organize Your Content: Display whatever you are selling by category and cross-link to categories that are likely to be used in search (terms such as location, country of origin, brand, etc.).
  • Promote / Emphasize Your Site’s Organization: Use folders to support relevant categories; use page titles that reflect the terms people will search for; and use page names and paths that support the title / content of that page. Ensure that all of these aspects of the organization are communicated clearly in your navigation and breadcrumbs.
  • Optimize Your Page Descriptions: Create meta-descriptions that contain key phrases from the page and entice the reader to click to discover more.
  • Tune Your Copy: Each page should be viewed as a potential entry point for your site. Be sure that each page’s copy commences by explaining the topic in brief so searchers can QUICKLY determine if they have come to the right place. Then expand to explain the topic in more detail with relevant links to related items of interest.
  • Fatten Your Content: Reuse key phrases (and use variations on key phrases) to capture as many searches as possible without going so far as to negatively affect the reader.
  • Incoming Links Strategy: Search engines will give “credit” to your site based on the number of other sites that link to you, especially sites that are classed as being authoritative. One thing that can help is to register with business directories and use these domain names to have relevant anchor text pointing back to your site.

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