7 Things to Do to Help Your Customers and Search Engine Crawlers

Help your customer and increase your Web site’s visibility with the following tips. 7 Things to Do to Help Your Customers and Search Engine CrawlersLuckily, many things that are customer-friendly are also “crawler-friendly”.

Here are 7 things you can do to increase your ranking with both your customers and search engines:

1. Identify the words that resonate with your customer.   And use them. Research keyword usage.  Then select a few words and phrases. Deliberately integrate them into page content. Use them in navigation and titles. There’s a high probability that these are the words your customers will use when searching. Usage of these words in titles and headings makes your content more scannable. Search engine crawlers also see titles and navigation as important, tending to give these words more weight when they index your site.

2. Use descriptive links. If linking to a page on health information, whose or what health are we talking about?  Use descriptive phrases in the link text (Jargon alert: This link text is also known as “anchor text”), such as Children’s health, Side effects of Product X, Benefits of daily exercise. Customers who are ready to convert, whether it’s to buy or to download some information, tend to use longer, more specific links. Search engines will give higher weight to words contained in links, which further helps customers scan and locate the content they are after.

3. Work with your Web developer to create keyword rich TITLE and Heading tags. The TITLE tag shows up at the very top of the browser window. Putting your company name first in the tag may be logical but is likely sub-optimal. The TITLE is the listing of your site that the search engine stores and your customer sees in lists of search results.

So use those priority keywords yet again. Because the TITLE tag text is prominent on search results lists returned by search engines, using the keywords in the TITLE helps your customer quickly scan and hone in on what they are looking for. Using the keywords in the series heading tags also gives more weight to these keywords and helps your ranking by search engines.

4. Use the keywords more often at the start of your content, above the fold of the screen. Your customers are more likely to spot them. And some search engines appear to give more weight to words placed closer to the start of the page.

5. Create a relevant, easy to read description to populate the DESCRIPTION tag on every one of your Web site’s pages. On the search results page, some search engines will display your DESCRIPTION below the TITLE. Your customers will therefore see this description. Use those important keywords here yet again. For directories compiled by human eyes, those eyes will read your DESCRIPTION before classifying your site. A good, clear DESCRIPTION will make it more likely you will be classified properly (and therefore found by customers).

6. When in doubt, choose text over Flash. Flash has its place. Just be mindful of its impact. Use Flash when you are sure there’s a beneficial impact, such as increasing conversion and sales. If your site has a high proportion of frequently returning customers, Flash videos might be an annoying irritation. (Besides, if you really wanted to be entertained, wouldn’t you go to the movies or browse YouTube?)  Ask for feedback (try the free service 4Q.iPerceptions.com).

As for search engines, Flash content is invisible to the engines. If you have a lot of Flash, make sure you employ other means to increase your site’s search engine visibility (such as descriptive relevant copy below the fold). So when in doubt and the benefits of Flash aren’t clear, choose text over Flash.

7. Avoid overuse of any of the above. Your Web site needs to be visually pleasing and useful to your customers. Overuse of keywords will clutter your pages and make them unattractive. Overuse of keywords on a page can also be detected by search engines. Overuse may be interpreted by a search engine as spamming, which can get you black-listed, uncrawled, lost in cyberspace and invisible to customers.

By making these 7 changes, you’ll certainly have helped your customers and made directionally helpful moves in support of search engine optimization (SEO).  Make sure you’re tracking with Web analytics before you make the changes, so that you can measure the impact of your changes.

* Note: The term Customers does not include just paying customers. Customers includes all who have a relationship with an organization:
  • For an educational institution, customers may be current and prospective students and their parents.
  • For a information portal site, customers are those who download or contribute content to the site.