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one seamless story-0000Keeping your website friendly for search engines to crawl is a full-time endeavour which needs a professional eye.


The business of websites has changed dramatically from when they first started appearing on our computer screens a short 15 years or so ago. In the beginning it was enough to have your own domain name and a page or two about your company in cyberspace. Design came a distant second and visitor interaction was non-existent.  As website numbers started to grow from a few thousand to more than 100 million today, the issue of being found by potential customers started to become a business in it own right. How can you get people to find your site and what you offer when they are surfing?

Search engines came along to help and looked for hidden words inside web pages called metatags. In simplistic terms, if you sold cars, your web designer might include the word “cars” as a metatag. You can’t see these words on the screen, but search engines used them when returning results.

But then people started to abuse the system. For example, some would use metatag words such as a dominant rival’s trade name. So someone searching for McDonald’s could find a rival’s fast food joint.


Web page designer Maak Bow says search engines – such as google and Yahoo – are working far more intelligently. Metatags, while still used, are not relied on that much, he says. Instead, search engine “spiders” crawl over websites  “reading” the text like users do. So if you sell medium-sized blue widgets, you’d need to use those words prominently in your web page text and headlines. 

Bow, who works for BKA Interactive, says finding the best keywords is an art in itself and the domain of writers who specialise in search engine optimization (SEO).  SEO writers don’t actually optimise the search engine, but ensure that keywords feature seamlessly in your online stories and sales blurbs.  These writers specialise in not only integrating relevant search terms into your copy, but pick the words people are likely to use when searching for your goods and services. It is not always as clear-cut as you may think.

one seamless story key takeaways-0000For example, someone with a broken window might search for; glazers, glazier, glass, windows, window repairs, glass companies, window glazing, laminated glass … the list is endless.  Deciding on a shortlist, and placing them in your online copy so it still flows and reads well, is a real skill.

“You should be using words that you think people will be looking for, so a headline saying ‘new in today’ won’t cut it,” says Bow.  “You have to be more specific.”

However, content is only a part of the story. Bow says the key to ensuring a website is found at all is to build it in the correct way.

“A website needs to be built in a way that google can crawl it,” he says. “Most websites built today will do this by default, but some older ones – particularly those created in the tables style – are really SEO-unfriendly.  “Unfortunately, some content management systems still use this technique. So it is really important that your website is built – or rebuilt – in a compliant way.”

To help themselves,  Bow recommends site owners use the Firefox web browser along with a range of free plug-ins to analyse their competitors’ web pages. “It will help you find out what words people are searching for to get to their website,” he says, adding: “then you use those words in your own site.”

one seamless story prioritise to optimise-0001DOWNFALL OF ANIMATED SITES

Bow cautions against websites that use lots of Flash coding, such as that used to create highly animated sites.  They can look great but are not search engine-friendly. He says search engines have trouble when they see lots of graphics and animations.

“The way around it is to build the Flash site and then build it a second time in traditional HTML coding and then have the HTML site hidden away from viewers – but available to search engines. It can get very complicated and expensive,” he says.

Ultimately, says Bow, search engines like busy sites. A crowd draws a crowd. so the more traffic your site gets, the more likely google is to push it to the top of search requests. Bow agrees that by following google’s search engine rules, anyone can increase their website’s ranking. Unfortunately, everyone has access to the same rulebook. “It is getting tougher as everyone lifts their game,” he says.  “You have really got to be onto it and that could mean a full-time job for someone in even the smallest of companies as the firm’s website is tweaked and refined to perfection and then tweaked some more. It’s an ongoing job if you want to stay at the top.”


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