This is the second post in a series about Winning on the Web.Ã‚Â If you missed part one, click here to find out the importance of having a best in class site.Ã‚Â Making sure that your site puts its best foot forward for search engines is called on page search engine optimization (on page SEO).Ã‚Â LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s talk a little bit about how search engines are able to figure out if your site is one of the best sites for your industry or not.
It might help you better understand how search engines work if I make a simple analogy: search engine spiders are to web pages as Star Trek ships are to intergalactic races.Ã‚Â Star Trek ships try to figure out:
- Where intelligent species are.
- Their level of sophistication.
- What those species are Ã¢â‚¬Å“aboutÃ¢â‚¬Â (culture, etc.).
- Their morals and motives.
Similarly, search engines try to figure out:
- Where new content is at on the web.
- How sophisticated that content is.
- What that content is about.
- The morals and motives of the web owner.
Without going into detail now, just take my word that unlike finding a new species in the vastness of the universe, search engines have a pretty easy time of finding new web content.Ã‚Â Therefore, this post will focus on the next issue on the list, which is how do search engines determine your level of sophistication.Ã‚Â Phrased differently, are you using slingshots or plasma cannons, covered wagons or star ships?
One of the important things that search engines will look at to answer this question is your siteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s adherence to web coding standards.Ã‚Â The languages and standards of the web have evolved a lot since the internet began, even over the past few years, and search engines rank more highly those sites that have evolved as well.Ã‚Â In our experience, the vast majority of websites are in need of website repair in order to be in line with this basic search engine requirement.
Some of the major things search engines consider are:
- Do you specify what Ã¢â‚¬Å“generationÃ¢â‚¬Â of code you are using?
- How recent is that generation?
- Do you use that code correctly?
The easiest way to get an inkling for whether or not your webpage will be considered sophisticated by a search engine is to have it validated at validator.w3.org.Ã‚Â Obviously, perfection is the goal.Ã‚Â If your site has a few errors you might be dinged slightly, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s probably not a huge deal.Ã‚Â But if your site has double digit errors and warnings according to the validator, chances are the offending web page is not ranking as highly as it could.Ã‚Â In the worst case scenario, the errors make it difficult or impossible for the search engine to figure out what your page is about.Ã‚Â Only slightly better is that they are able to figure out what youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re trying to communicate, but they penalize you for doing so poorly.Ã‚Â If you think this is happening to you, taking action to repair your website will likely result in an immediate boost in search engine rankings.
Following web standards doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just make it easier for search engines to read your page.Ã‚Â For example, web browsing programs on mobile phones, video game consoles, and other devices may not be able to display your page if it is using old or broken code.Ã‚Â This means fewer prospects able to see your webpage when they want, and start a relationship that will ultimately lead to one or more sales.
Lastly, adherence to web standards is only a small part of on page SEO.Ã‚Â Your site might validate without few to no errors, but still be guilty of violating several other guidelines that search engines have established regarding canonicalization, url structure, broken links, and so much more.Ã‚Â If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not comfortable identifying and addressing these issues yourself, our website repair program will help you fix these problems and more so that your web pages can begin getting the ranking they deserve.
(Did you miss the first post in the Winning on the Web series?Ã‚Â Learn why professional web design is important.)