SEO, page ranking, no follow, meta-description, page titles. What does all this mean? If, like me, you’ve either not heard of these before, or have done but have no idea what they actually mean or how they relate to getting people to read your musings, then start here and I’ll try to explain it. As this is so long, I’ve split it into two posts (Part II here). I hope it helps!
Ok, let’s start with SEO. You probably know what it means: Search Engine Optimisation. And perhaps even get that it’s about how far up the search results a website gets when someone Googles a phrase or term. In simple terms, it’s the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors to it.
Search Engine Results Page: the list of web pages Google (other search engines are available) returns when you put in a search term.
Essentially, a Googlebot (or “spider”) crawls the web to collect the words on a website and builds them into a list as well as watching how many people go to each page. It then assigns a score to the page and domain. I like to think of it as a cop on a stakeout, watching a number of suspicious houses and taking a note of who goes in and out and how long they stay there and using that information to decide which house is more successful at it’s criminal activity. The Googlebot takes a note of how many visitors there are to your site, do they go in and then leave immediately, perhaps clicking into another search result instead (which is called “Bounce” and indicates that the search parameters have thrown up unrelated information to what they were expecting to find), or do they stay a while, maybe clicking on links on your pages or going and looking at other pages on your site?
Page ranking can go into negative figures if there is something wrong with your site, but generally, a PR score of 3 or above is good going, especially for a private blog.
Various activity can affect your site’s ranking dependent on links, anchor text and meta-data (yeah, I didn’t know what this meant either!). Apparently, if you happen to have a good ranking and someone (like me, no doubt) has a bad ranking, but they manage to get you to link to them from your homepage (which is generally the top-ranked page on any website, with 99% of the page ranking generated here), then that person can improve their page ranking by taking a share of yours. Which is actually pretty cool, and may explain why you get all sorts of weird comments to your blog from random websites that have nothing to do with your content – they are trying to get a share of some of your page ranking! I guess the fact that they’ve found you and are trying to do this, is an indication that you’re doing something right though, so it’s not all negative! Commenting on blogs to get PR share is an old practice however, that most blog-hosting sites (like WordPress who were the first to address this) will automatically block. This is called No Follow and I’ll go into more about this in Part II.
Page ranking cannot be directly improved using social media such as Twitter or Facebook unfortunately as Googlebot doesn’t record links clicked from these sites. However, more social “shares” gets more people clicking into your site (and hopefully finding something of interest) and of course, lots of people tweeting one of your links is great for promotion even if it doesn’t help your page rank. You can get around this apparently by embedding the link into your website so that it can be picked up if shared. I’m not sure what happened here, perhaps I missed it, but I don’t really know how you do this – I’m guessing it’s something to do with the html coding on your page! But don’t quote me on that – remember, this is about the basics!! And, as I’ve since learnt, hosted (or free) WordPress sites don’t allow you to manipulate the html coding as everything you need for SEO should be built-in. Unfortunately, this means you are somewhat limited in what you can actually do to enhance your page ranking, but some of the tips I’ll be sharing will still help and can still be done.
One social media site that does affect your page ranking, is of course Google +. Not surprisingly really – the clue is in the name after all. And this explains why so many bloggers are part of the G+ community. I joined when it first started (and was invitation only) but didn’t really get it, so happily returned to Tweeting. Now, I understand it’s significance, I also realise why having a good G+ profile linked to my blog can enhance it’s page rank (PR).
Have I lost you yet??? Time for a breather to digest. Then head over to Part II for the rest.