In part one, I covered the basic things you need to make sure are correct with your website, before considering anything more advanced. There are a couple more things to add to that and I want to describe principals of linking and PageRank which are key to getting good search engine results.
The first thing I want to point out is that you should not be duplicating content. One reason is for SEO purposes, duplicate content is not helpful. Although people claim Google will penalise a site for duplicate content, it is not quite so simple as they have only duplicate filters within countries (I have not tested the exact theory!). However, the first results returned are always distinctly different from each other so do yourself a favour and make your content original. The second reason is – copying is not good and it upsets people, so don’t do it. Yes, this is a dig and a hint
The next on page factor which will help with your SEO and keywording is providing alternative text to describe the images you post on your site. That’s all images, not just pictures – logos and other JPG’s, GIF’s or PNG’s are just as relevant. A search engine spider cannot ‘see’ an image or define it’s content, so you need to give it a helping hand. Don’t expect Google’s spider to say ‘Hey, is that the church in the village by Bill’s house?’.
So, whatever images are posted make sure they have alt text to define what they are. This is set in the HTML code for the site, or in HTML view or your gallery if you are writing a WordPress post. Use relevant keywords, but again make sure it sounds natural for the most benefit. So, ‘Wedding Guests arriving at Bodidris Hall’ would be deemed good keyword rich alt text. If you want to target a venue – use the venue name extensively on your site and in your keywords.
Here you can see two examples of alt text on our home page. ‘Pic1.jpg’ (I know, terrible non-descriptive name!) is the bride on the top left of our home page.
‘marie lloyd signature.gif’ is the signature and I’m subtly making the point here that although it is a picture of text, Google will not see Marie Lloyd, it will see Chester Wedding Photographer.
We use a flash viewer for our gallery which allows you to post picture descriptions. I’m not yet convinced but am currently experimenting to see how much Google takes notice of the descriptions contained in the content of the xml files.
This is probably the biggest factor in your search engine ranking and you need to understand a little about PageRank to get the most from it. Simply put, any links to your webpages are considered by Google to be a vote of confidence for the value of that page. More links means the page has more importance and should be ranked more highly. This rank is called your PageRank and is measured from 1 to 10.
Bear with me on this next part as it is important…
Any incoming links to your pages are weighted based on where they have come from. If you have a link to your home page from a page with a PR of 4 or 5, then that could well be better than 10 links from pages with a rank of 0 or 1. Remember this – quality of incoming links counts more than quantity. Also remember, pagerank is measured on a page, not the site as a whole. You may have a PR of 4 on your home page and 0 on all the others.
For example, here is our homepage and our wedding page. Notice the differing page ranks.
If you have a link fom a page on another site, then the amount of weight this is given in determining your page rank is divided by the number of other links from this page to pages other than your own. So if yours is one of a hundred links out of that page, the linkjuice is diluted amongst all of them. This works both ways – if you have lots of links out of your page, some of the link value of that page ‘leaks away’ to the pages you are linking to.
This brings up a further possibility for keeping that link value within a page on your site. If your home page is getting a reasonable page rank (2 to 4 is the normal range you should be aiming for - only sites getting serious traffic are likely to get higher), then to keep that value on your home page, you need to prevent Google leaking it out to other pages, even on your own site. To do this, use the ‘nofollow’ flag on your site navigation hyperlinks unless you really want them to receive some linkjuice. Consider the ‘flow’ of PR around your own site and where it may be leaking to areas it is not necessary – a T&C’s page for example.
Two points. Using a properly constructed sitemap.xml file negates the need for having lots of internal links to help Google find its way around your site. If you do not want a page to be indexed at all by Google, this is not the same as setting ‘nofollow’ on links to that page (do this using robots.txt or a meta tag).
Here is an example of ‘nofollow’ in the links on our footer. Notice I have not used it on the link to the ‘weddings.html’ page.
If you are linking to other sites, consider if you want to use the nofollow flag.
Once again – this is just a factor and often you will find pages listed on a search not based solely on PageRank. If you want to see the pagerank of your site, install the Google Toolbar (google it!) in to IE as in the screenshot above.
So, how do you get incoming links? Don’t take an attitude of build it and they will come otherwise you’ll end up being just another site on the internet gathering virtual dust! You need to promote your site and submit it to various places, directories, etc. Not all link directories are bad, the paid ones are best as obviously they have less outgoing links and tend to be more trusted by the search engines. Find as many directories as you can along the lines of freeindex and register your details with them. I’m not suicidal, so I’m not about to list them all – you’ll have to do some of the work yourselves….
Be wary though, paid for link building schemes can have a negative impact on your ranking so research what or who you are buying from and try to keep things looking natural – 150 new links appearing overnight does not look natural! If you have multiple websites with similar names or hosted from the same service provider or with the same IP, it is easy for Google to see that you are link building within your own network. It has it’s benefits in moderation, but as I keep saying – it needs to look natural.
Reciprocal links count for less, so if you link back to someone who has linked to you, then don’t expect as much benefit as a one way link. If you are writing articles or posting weddings to your blog, then submit them to the various directories and blogs to try to generate links back to yourself. Also, consider commenting on other peoples blogs as this can provide links back to your site and generate return traffic – feel free to start below! When you publish new posts, announce it on Twitter. Twitter is indexed by Google every 15 minutes, so the link will get followed and your content indexed pretty quickly this way.
I think it’s fair to say though that all links count to some degree, so go out and start networking!
If you can get links from sites with an .edu or .gov or .mod then these rank very highly – or the BBC . Also, register with DMOZ as Google rate entries from this manually managed directory listing very highly. Volunteers sanity check every single submission, so expect it to take months to get listed – submit asap!
This article is starting to get a little too wordy, so I’ll leave the next section for part 3 where I will discuss anchor text and the tools you can use to check your pages content, validate the code in them and also link diagnosis. Then it’s on to search engine submission and analytics. There is more to cover than I first thought! Hope you are enjoying this and finding it useful.