I think spiders are creepy and scary. They pretty much bring nightmares to millions. Fortunately, in search engine optimization (SEO), spiders can be a very good thing and you don’t need to be afraid of them.
First, though, let’s start at the beginning. For those of you who need a reminder on spiders, basically, the Search Engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN, Altavista, etc. send out automated computer programs, called spiders, to look at (“crawl”) your website and report back what they find.
As sinister and Big Brother as that may sound, it should actually benefit you. What these spider “spies” are looking for is what your website is about, what information you are providing to the search engine user. These spiders are wanting to catalog your site’s topics so it can refer visitors (your potential customers) to your website if what you are offering is relevant to their needs.
The problem with spiders is that they really, really need you to tell them what they need to know. Here’s what they need to see:
- They need to see keywords repeated (“keyword density”)
- They need to see links that are related to those keywords (“relevancy”).
- They need to see that other people know what your site is about and go there for your topic (“authority”)
- They need to see enough content to regard you as a subject matter expert.
You need to tell them what they need to know.
Problem? No! I say make it an advantage. Here’s how…
Organize your website around a theme. Use the theme as your only focus when developing content for your website. Stay true to it and spiders are much more likely to understand (and report back to potential customers) what your site is all about.
As an example, let’s say you are a mortgage loan officer who happens to be a pie aficionado. Even though you make money with your mortgage business, you are an excellent cook with incredible time-tested recipes and you decide it would be fun to sell pies. So, you decide to launch a website called AllAboutYummyPies.com
Okay, it would be alright to have different types of fruit pies, pudding pies, nut pies, whatever. It would be okay, staying true to the theme, to sell pie cookbooks and maybe link to a fruit and nut wholesaler. You could include pie pans, aprons with pictures of pies on them, and books about how to make the perfect crust.
What you would not include is anything at all about mortgages! Even using a silly catch phrase like “grab a bigger piece of the pie” in conjunction with mortgages in an attempt to tie the two topics together will only confuse the search engine spider. Just don’t do that, especially when you were going so great on the pie theme. Don’t confuse the little spider, for pie’s sake!
If you want to promote your mortgage business, create a mortgage website, plain and simple. Combining unrelated subjects can damage your search-ability and it’s not a smart move at all. You can launch a new site for as little as $20 and some time if you program it yourself in FrontPage or use WordPress’ free software. It’s worth that little to be sure your websites get the spider credit they deserve, right? Enough said.
One of the ways that some professionals try to gauge what the search engine spiders think their sites are about is to use Google AdSense.
What Google AdSense does is gives you code to put on your site that will act like a beacon for Google ads. Those ads are “related content-sensitive”, meaning an ad about pie related stuff should show up on a pie or food site, a mortgage company ad should show up on a credit or a real estate site, etc.
Not only is Google AdSense a way to make money (when people click on the ads, you get paid) but it is also a good indication about what Google thinks your site is about. If you are getting ads that don’t make sense to what you believe the theme of your website is, you need to either modify your content to contain more consistent and specific keywords, or, more likely, you simply need to add more content. To find out more about Google AdSense and to sign up for a free account to have ads put on your site, go to Google.com
Many websites that are very chaotic in their theme presentation. And, maybe in the same way that your pet looks kind of like you, so too does a website. But, that’s not really the issue.
People are meant to be complex, varied, and a little all over the place. It makes them interesting. But websites seem confusing when they are overly complex and varied. It takes a lot of skill to pull it off, not only from a search engine point of view, but from an interested visitor point of view. It can be done, but it’s not for the beginner or the timid. It’s not really a way to do business very effectively on the web.
You can actually get great variety even when sticking to a theme. Being specific to a theme does not mean you are limited. You can choose a broad enough theme to be sure that lots of content can be included, but keep in mind that the broader your theme, the less likely you will get targeted traffic. An apple pie site would be more targeted than a pie site. A dessert site would be less targeted than a pie site. It all depends on your products and services and your goal in putting them on the web in the first place.
Sticking to a theme can give you good search-ability, good content, and really make your visitors glad they came. Visitors love to find what they were looking for! The more the spiders understand what you have to offer, the more often you will get visitors that like what you’re baking. Then, you can have your cake (uh, I mean pie) and eat it too. Give it a whirl.