Web Site Promotion, Who Needs It?


In short, YOU!

So you’ve heard the term web site promotion and you’re saying to yourself, “I have a website, should I be more proactive in promotion?”

The answer to this question is yes. But of course, this leads to more questions:

  • What is website promotion?
  • Do I have to do it all myself?
  • What if I am not selling anything, is web site promotion still important to me?
  • What are some of the more common techniques?

In this installment we’ll talk in depth about on-page factors and what you can do to increase your relevance with good site content.

So, starting at the top, we’ll try to explain some of this in non-technical terms:

Q: What is website promotion?

A: Website promotion is the combination of efforts which help you rank better against certain key phrases. In general, search engines will rank your web site on 2 major areas – on-page factors, and off-page factors.

On-page factors include your title, your description and keywords META data, your use of heading tags (i.e. H1, H2, et-cetera), ALT text on your images and of course, your body text (also known as web site copy).

The fact is, well executed on-page factors really equal good usability. Here are some examples of why:

Title tags: The title’s greatest value is to give a one-liner which can be picked up by the search engines and act as your first clue to prospective visitors what your page is all about. If for instance, your page is about Website Promotion, then “Website Promotion” is a very explanatory title. If it gets too long, the search engines tend to cut it off anyway, so remember, brevity is the soul of wit online too.

META Description: Many of the search engines, and some automated listing services will use your page title and description as the introduction of your site to viewers. For this reason, it’s important to have a brief, explanatory introduction. Taking the example above: “Website Promotion is the combination of efforts which help your site rank better for certain key phrases. Company X is an expert in Website Promotion.”

META Keywords: Think of keywords like the index of a book – if there’s something on the page you think is important, highlight it as a reference in your Keywords META tag. Other good uses of the Keywords tag are the inclusion of common misspellings, your company name, any thing which will help better describe your message to the user and the search engines.

Keywords have become less a factor for search engine ranking due to the abuses in which every keywords tag had the words “sex”, “money”, “get rich” – in short, keyword stuffing for high search traffic. Those search engine engineers are smart enough to know when they’re being toyed with and have started ignoring keywords. They still have value, but mostly to your users when they don’t know exactly what they’re looking for.

Heading tags: The internet was dreamed up and originally populated by engineers. If there’s one truism about engineers, they like structure. As such, they are prone to outlines. Think of every web page you create as an outline and you’ll understand the value of H1, H2, H3 tags in web site promotion. By defining a top-level heading, you’re saying this is my main body text, and I’m describing the whole thing and it’s therefore more important. As you continue through the text and you talk about sub-topics, second and third level headings indicate you are talking about sub, and sometimes sub-sub topics. Think “outline” and you’ll have no problem deciding what should be an H1, H2 or H3 tag.

ALT text: Way back when, the Internet wasn’t as fast as it is now. In the first browser I remember using, “Mosaic”, the images loaded in a separate viewer and you had to click a link to get them to appear. In this instance, having a good description of the image content was very important. Still today, a description of an image, or a description of the page to which you’re linking with an image are good ideas as ALT text. This way, those with sight challenges, and those who still use dial-up have a quick reference to know if they want to follow a link or load an image. Given the potential importance of ALT text, it is often misused for keyword stuffing in an attempt at better website promotion. From a usability standpoint, this isn’t so great. If your keyword phrase will help explain the image, or at worst won’t hurt the usability for those with text based browsers go ahead, but remember much of the on-page factors ranking is an attempt toward better usability.

Body text: Your body text is right up there in importance (perhaps most important) for both usability and web site promotion. Let’s face it, if your copy is no good you may attract a visitor one time, but they certainly won’t come back. Back to the engineers and their view of a web page: If you’ve ever read an academic paper, you know that often it seems quantity outweighs quality. As such, you’re rewarded for having a lot to say on one page. Hopefully, if it’s worth writing about it’s worth writing several hundred words about. The other thing the engineers seem to believe is that if a key phrase is important to you, you’ll repeat it a few times.

So, for both usability and web site promotion you want to assure you have a fair amount to say, that it will make good reading for your users and that you mention your key concept more than a couple times.

Too often, web site promotion needs outweigh usability and information needs. Thankfully, if you have a topic about which you are passionate and knowledgeable which features strongly in your site design, you can create good content, make a useable site and still be proactive about website promotion.


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