“If Ihad to pick only one thing to do with my web site to improve it’s search engine visibility, what would it be?”
It’s a question that comes up often and most people asking it expect that there’s one right answer. The trouble is, as web sites and situations are different, so is the “just one thing” answer. It really depends on the situation.
Picture this: A web site with 10,000 pages, 6 years old, 25,000 inbound links and publishes new content daily. Yet the site gets less than 5% of all traffic via organic search. Why might that be?
The “one thing” could be navigation that blocks search engine crawlers from finding substantial portions of the site’s content. It could be that the first 40 or 50 characters of each title tag is hard coded with the site name and nothing else or not title tags at all. It could be many things.
The challenge is to find out what the issue is, or more likely, what the numerous “things” are, that all contribute collectively to poor performance in search engines. Then, recommend a course of action to fix and maintain.
All that said, if I HAD to pick one thing, it would be to make sure a site is crawlable by search engine spiders. If a search engine can’t find the content, it doesn’t matter whether you use keywords in the right places and frequency, execute internal links perfectly or any other tactic. The content that can’t be crawled, simply won’t be included in search results. At least not in a meaninful or useful way.
Solving such a problem, if it exists, will not only help PR and news related content, but overall company web site visibility.
To see if a site is properly indexed by search engines, the site webmaster can make some comparisons between the known number of pages being published to the web and the actual number of pages found on a search engine such as Google. In addition to that, the site could be validated via Google’s Webmaster Tools which would then provide insight into any crawling errors by Googlebot, Google’s software that visits web sites to supply content for Google’s search results.
Most PR professionals are not in a position to be assessing the health of the web hosting server, content management system, templates or database that make the corporate site work. Ensuring a web site is being properly crawled and indexed should be handled by properly trained and experienced staff.
To help convince those staff to do this kind of work, be sure to check out the following articles on making your web site crawler friendly visit “Ensure Your Site Is Crawlable“, “SEO Tip: Let the Spider Crawl” and “6 Tips for Google Webmaster Tools“.
This post is the first Basic SEO Tip for PR practitioners in a series of 10, “Top Ten SEO Tactics for PR Professionals” to be published over the next 2 weeks. Read on for the next post, “PR tactics that affect SEO“.