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Hack 130. Optimize Your Site for Search Engines

Hack 130. Optimize Your Site for Search Engines

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completelyfromsearchengines.Thewebmaster

guidelinesofGooglecanbewrappedupas

follows:optimizeyoursiteforyourvisitors,not

forsearchengines.

WhenGooglelooksatbacklinks,theydon'tjustincreasethe

authorityrankingofyoursite;theyalsoassociatethekeywords

ofthelinkwithyourpage.Iflotsofblogslinktoyoursiteusing

thewords"happy"and"camper"andvariationsthereof,itmay

wellbethat(oncetimepasses),you'llfindyourselfontopof

thesearchresultsfor"happycamper."

Granted,evenifyouhavegreatcontentonyoursite,

sometimesotherwebmasters,bloggers,onlinejournalists,or

onlinecommunitiesmaysimplynotknowaboutthatcontent.In

thatcase,itmakessensetogetthewordoutbygetting

involvedinothercommunities,sendingoutrelevanttipsto

webmasters,orcontactingbloggers.Alwaysthinkabouthow

yourcontent,productorservicecanhelpthem,though,by

sendingoutonlyrelevantpointersthatyouimaginethey'llbe

gladtoreceive.Toknowwhetherthey'lllikelybegladtoreceive

yourpointeralsoconsistsofknowingthem;insteadofsending

outpointersinbulk(whichyoushouldneverdo),thismeans

thatyouneedtorespectfullytakethetimetofirstgettoknow

apersonorcommunityyouwanttocontact.There'sapopular

sayinginGermanyforthis—"asyoushoutintothewoods,so

theechoreturns."

On-PageOptimization

Onceyou'veunderstoodthemostimportantpartofthe

equation,theoff-pageoptimization,youcanfine-tunetheonpageoptimization—meaningeverythingthattakesplaceon

yoursite(likeyourHTMLtemplate,yourtitles),notonother

people'ssites(likebacklinks):

Caterforthe"longtail"ofkeywordsbyofferinglotsof

variedcontent.Maybethereareonly10resultsoneach



searchresultpage,buttherearemillionsofsuchtop10lists—

becausepeoplelookformillionsofdifferentthings,using

millionsofdifferentsearchqueries.Onewayofcateringforthe

longtailofkeywordsistoensurethateachofyourpageshasa

uniquetitle(and,ideally,ratheruniquecontentaswell).

Anotheristoaddtranslationsofyourpagesforamultitudeof

languages,whichwillgenerateamultitudeofnewwaystofind

you(therearepaidonlineservicestowhichyoucansubmita

textfile,andthenpickthelanguagesyouwantittobe

translatedintobynativespeakers).

Makeyourserverresponsive,andusecleanand

structuredHTML.Thebestcontentwon'tfarewellonan

unstabletechnicalbase,somakeitthemoststableyoucan.

Onewaytocheckyoursiteforerrorsistovalidateitusingthe

WorldWideWebConsortium'sHTMLvalidatorat

http://validator.w3.org.YoucanfindoutmoreaboutHTMLand

XHTMLathttp://w3.org/TR/html401/and

http://w3.org/TR/xhtml1/,respectively.

Addonlycontenttoyourpagesthatbenefitsyour

visitors.Youdon'tneedto(infact,shouldn't)addoverlong,

keyword-stuffedtitles,orhiddenkeywords,oranythingelse

merelytargetedatsearchengines.Onethingyoucando,

though,isadddescriptivetextsomewhereonapage,likeinthe

footer,thatgivesagoodoverviewofwhatthesiteisabout;this

textwillalmostautomaticallyincludeawiderangeofrelated

keywordspeoplemaylookfor.

Treateachofyourpagesas"microcontent."Microcontent

meanscontentthatcanbeunderstoodwithoutknowingfurther

contextaboutyoursite.Thepageshouldbeableto"standon

itsown."Amongotherthings,itmeansthatapagehasaclear

concisetitle,abeginner-friendlyintroductorysentence,anda

readableandpermanentURL.

SupposethatthepageinquestionlistsfavoriteAlbertEinstein

quotes.Well,thenitstitleshouldbe"AlbertEinsteinquotes"or

similar;itsfirstheadingshouldbesomethinglike"Quotesby



AlbertEinstein";andtheremightbeanintroductorysentence

alongthelinesof"ThefollowingquipsbyEinsteinare

noteworthybothforbeingprescient,aswellasfunny."TheURL

ofthepagemaybe

http://yourfavoritequotes.example.com/einstein.Furthermore,

belowtheEinsteinquotestherecouldbelinkstoquotesby

otherfamousscientists,alinktoabiographyofEinstein,anda

linktoanEinsteindiscussionboard(whetherit'sonanothersite

oryours).Theremayalsobeaphotoofyoung,fuzzy-haired

Albertsomewhereonthepage.Inanutshell,ifyouwouldask

yourselfthequestion,"WhichisthebestsingleandselfcontainedpageontheWebforsomeonelookingforAlbert

Einsteinquotes?",theanswershouldbearesounding"Why,this

oneofcourse!"

Createagood,simplenavigationstructureforyoursite.

EverypageyouwantvisitorstofindindexedinGoogleshould

belinkedfromsomewhere(andnotwithinpartsofyoursite

thatwouldrequireFlash,orJavaScript,orframes,either).Keep

yoursite'snavigationstructuresimpleandall-encompassing.If

youconsideraparticularpagetobeofimportance,thendon't

makethenavigationpathtoitoverlylong,butlinktoitstraight

fromyourhomepage.Ontheotherhand,alsodon't

oversimplifythehierarchyofpages—becauselinkingto10,000

ofyoursite'spagesfromthefrontpagewillgreatlydevalue

eachindividuallink.

Ifyoursite'stopicisoftenratherdry,consideraddinga

creativevideo,fungame,orinterestingarticle

somewhere.Evenifyouhavethebestcontentorservicein

yourfield,sometimesittakesalittleextratogetthewordout.

Openupyoursiteandgivefreely.Considerallowingpeople

torunwithyourcontentbymakingitCreativeCommonslicensed(seehttp://creativecommons.org),byofferinggadgets

[Hack#60]oradeveloperAPI(applicationprogramming

interface),orbyturningitintoembeddablecontentviasites

likeYouTube.Bemorewaterthanship.



Makeyoursiteaccessible.Accessibilityisabroadtopicthat

coversadjustingyoursitetoworkwithdifferentdevices(like

mobilephones,printers,text-to-speechengines)aswellas

differentbrowsersettings(likewithJavaScriptorimages

disabled)orbrowsinguse-cases(likeright-clickingalinkto

openitinanewwindow,orusingthebackbutton).Indeed,try

browsingyoursitewithimagesandJavaScriptturnedoff.How

usableisit?(Andasyourbrowsermaynotallowyoutodisable

certainfeatures,youcanalsouseatextbrowserlikeLynx:

http://lynx.browser.org.)

Manythingscanbedonetoimproveyoursite'saccessibility:

useappropriatealttextforimageswhereneeded,replace

frameswithaserver-sidetemplatethatemulatesframe

behavior,orensuretherearenoJavaScript-basedredirectsthat

breakthebackbutton.Replacingafeaturethatrequiresarare

plug-inwithoneimplementedinstandardizedwebtechnologies

canmakesenseaswell.Forafullaccessibilitychecklist,takeat

lookathttp://w3.org/TR/WaI-WEBCONTENT/

Onceyouconsidertheseissues,youcantracktheoutcomeof

yourworkbycheckingtheGoogleresultsofkeywordsrelevant

toyoursite,andbycheckingyourstatsviaGoogleAnalyticsor

otherprograms.Atthispoint,don'tworrytoomuchabout

rankingdetails,though,orexpectsuper-fastresults.Also,don't

spendhourslookingatGoogleAnalyticswonderingwhythe

numbersaren'thigheryet—rather,improveyoursiteandget

thewordout.Or,toputitintowordscommonlyattributedto

AlbertEinstein:"Noteverythingthatcountscanbecounted,

andnoteverythingthatcanbecountedcounts."



Hack131.TracktheTrafficofYour

iGoogleGadgets

GetvaluableusagestatisticsforyourGooglegadget,without

payingtoomuchattentiontopageviews.

WhenyoubuildaniGooglegadget[Hack#60]youprobably

wanttoknowmoreabouthowpeopleuseit.Nexttogetting

directuserfeedbackviaemail,trackingyourgadgetstatisticsis

thebestfeedback.

Beforeunderstandinghowyoucantrackyourgadgettraffic,

youneedtounderstandwhatexactlytotrack.Onnormalweb

pages,oneofthemostpopularvaluestotrackisthepageview.

However,thisnumberislessusefulforiGooglegadgets.That's

becauseyourgadgetmaybeincludedamongadozenother

gadgets,triggeringapageviewwhenevertheuservisits

iGoogle—evenwhenyourgadgetisignored,andtheuserisjust

performingawebsearch.Moreusefulthanthepageviewmay

betheactualnumberofgadgetusersaswellastheamountof

interactionswithyourgadget.

Tofindthenumberofuserswhosubscribedtoyourgadget,just

gotoyourgadget'sdetailpageintheiGoogledirectory.Youcan

finditbyopeningthemenufromthetoprightofyourgadget

box,andthenselecting"Aboutthisgadget."IfyourgadgetURL

ishttp://example.com/gadget.xml,thenthedetailpagewould

be:

http://google.com/ig/directory?url=example.com/gadget.xml

(Ifyoucan'tfindyourgadgetinthedirectoryyet,submititat

http://google.com/ig/submitandwaitoneortwoweeks.)On

thispage,youwillnowfindatextlike"243users",aspictured

inFigure12-4.Comparethistosimilargadgets'numberstoget

afeelingofhowwellyourgadgetisdoing.

Thenumberofusersisshownonagadget'sdetailpage



(3,993inthiscase)



Howtobestgetthenumberofinteractionswithyourgadget

dependsonthetypeofgadgetandhowyoustorethegadget

XMLcode.

Forinstance,ifthegadgetinquestionisagamestoredonyour

ownserver,thenyoucouldincludeanintroductorysplash

screenwithaStartbuttoninthemodulecode.Theintroscreen

wouldbehostedbyGoogle—asitsHTMLiscontainedrightin

themodulecode—butyou'dsetupthegadgetsothatclicking

theStartbuttonwouldrequestapagefromyourserver.This

way,youcanuseyournormalGoogleAnalyticstrackingcode

(seetheintroductiontothischapter),oranyothertracking

mechanismyoualreadyuseonyourserver,andsimplycount

thepageviewsofthegame'spage.Hereisasamplemodule,

whereexample.comwouldbeyourdomain:









FindanagramswithAnagramania!





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