Sunday, October 14, 2007

How search engines rank your site

Back to basic theme. By now you may have ambitious goals in your mind and you know how to measure conversions. Your ex-SEO consultant hasn't tell you all the search engine secrets and you want to raise your own awereness. Good, that's the way things go, as I have talked with several directors lately. Although search engines won't ever reveal their search algorithm, it's not hard to understand the basics of how they rank your site, or actually how they rank different pages of your site.

I give you two explanations and advice how to test these with your own site, just to simplify little bit the principles of how search engines work:

  1. Every page has so called off-page factors. They are query-independent factors, so the keyword or content of the page doesn't matter...yet. Every page have starting points by how popular they are. This means how many links there are from different sites to your site and how qualified links these are. Search engines also value the most visited and updated pages.

    Type into Google a search - link:www.yoursite.com - and you'll get the result of how many links you have to your frontpage. By searching with - link:www.naviatech.fi - I found out that we have 62 links total, 48 of them as outbound and 14 internal links. And that's how some a site can be on top of the search results even they don't have single keyword in their site. Of course you can change the URL in search to find out another page's link popularity.

  2. And now, the most crucial thing, the query factors. Every page has some content and search engines are trying to decide what pages are the most relevant for different kind of searches. We try to sell our content management system, it would be great to know which page is most relevant for search as "CMS" at the moment. Type into Google a search - keyword site:www.yoursite.com - and you'll get the best page to match the selected keyword.

    By searching with - cms site:www.naviatech.fi - I found out that our page www.naviatech.fi/cms is the second result, mostly becase the first result has more links (I compared these two pages with earlier link search). When you pick out the right page for right keyword (I'll get back on this one), you have to look about content of that page. Here's a list of the most relevant things search engines look for:
    • Page titles - your keyword should be first in line and the title should include some call to action
    • URL - your URL should be www.yoursite.com/keyword not like www.yoursite.com/page.php?page_id=9
    • Navigation - you should have (sub) navigation in text format and keywords in there
    • Headings - you should have your keyword in different headings
    • Pictures - if you have pictures in the page related to keyword, they should be named as keyword.jpg and they should have alternative text as keyword etc...
    • Body text - you shoud have your keyword more enough (look out spamming the keyword too much)
Here is just a quick review about how search engines give credit to your site and rank them either well or badly. And it all depends on how much qualified traffic (potential customers searching with the right keyword) you want to generate to your site. If you want to do this search engine optimization by yourself, look out for unethical techniques and consult a professional if needed.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Open mind creates great value and new innovations

Openmind and Mindtrek seminars this week at Tampere got me thinking again. I started this blog about four months ago with open mind and purpose to be open and share information. I have had almost 500 visitors from 15 different counties with minimum marketing efforts. Most of the traffic (80 %) comes from Finland, but there are also visitors from the rest of the Europe and US. The good news is that 43 % of visitors are returning and this is just a start.

I have received very good comments and positive feedback. I would like to encourage my dear (finnish) readerds to comment and ask questions. You can also send me hot topics and I'll reveal my honest thoughts. Regardless of my starting reasons, I have learned a lot and most of the comments got me thinking. Openess will create great value and start new innovations!

I would like to hear your thoughts about this? Or do you find big advantages or competitive edge being introverted? If you think how open source has changed especially the software business, it's very hard to defend proprietary software vendors. Developing with open source is faster, easier and usually cheaper. It allows you re-engineering and avoiding the vendor lock-in.

While thinking about our company's open source software strategy, I try to use openess as a one of the key values of our services. Practically it means very open minded consulting with search engine optimization and web analytics, basicly everything I know about it. I hope we can give customers great value by sharing this information. I really believe that we'll start new innovations and I hope we have credits also in the future.