02 Mar 2010

Don’t be Afraid of Spiders: In Fact You Should Lure Them In

890284_lan_spiderThere are spiders around our homes and all over the Web, or, shall we say, the Internet. But the creepy crawlers lurking under our kitchen sink are very different creatures from those who traverse through and index websites. The biological specimens are fond of old, dirty clutter that they can hide behind and wait for their victims. The mechanical arachnids seek out fresh new territory that they can explore; they tire easily of the same old prey and will move along quickly when they are hungry for something relevant. These are the spiders you want to host, and you should invite them over frequently.  

It’s getting to be that time of year when we can actually see spring just around the corner; which means it’s also time for spring cleaning. So all the stuff that’s been accumulating around the house will be sorted and some of it will be thrown away; the rest will be carefully stored. Then we will dust, wash, scrub and clean everything until it shines. This is also an excellent process to do to your website. How long has it been since you’ve taken a careful look at all of your pages (not just your home page)? Has your content been the same for a while? Is there really anything on your site that’s interesting and worth talking about? Well, just follow along for a couple of ways to get your site all cleaned up so those search engine spiders will be crawling all over it, and at the same time keep your users happy. 
 
Keyword Research
 
Do you know what words or phrases searchers are typing in the search engines to find the pages on your site? If you don’t, you need to find out, now. And even if you do, it’s always wise to make sure none of your keywords changed. There are various tools available to perform keyword research, such as Wordtracker and Google Adwords. Through these tools you can discover the keywords that your pages should be optimized for. 
 
There is a current trend toward keyword phrases instead of single words. For example: “long sleeved striped shirt” instead of “shirt”. Like catnip for a cat, search engine spiders are attracted to plain text as this is what they can read and understand. Spiders don’t like to be confused, so you can help them out by making sure that your targeted keyword phrase(s) are included in the URL (if possible), page title tag, page heading (h1, h2, h3) tags and page content. When these spiders understand what your page is about, they feel content and welcomed, and will want to visit often. 
 
Link Worthy Content
 
The old Bonnie Raitt song, “Something To Talk About”, could be considered the theme song of the Internet. This is what all website owners hope for, to have link worthy content that users will want to share with others; hopefully by placing a link that goes back to your site. For search engine spiders, links are like the transporter on the U.S.S. Enterprise. The spiders find a link and are teleported to new territory. The more transporters that the crawlers find that have your coordinates, the better. Links to internal pages of your site work in the same way, leading the spiders to the other pages of your site. Make sure to include a few of these internal links in your content on each page.
 
You’ve got your list of keywords or phrases that you’ve researched, right? Now put them to good use. When creating the content for your pages, be sure to include your targeted keyword(s) or phrase(s) in the first paragraph, last paragraph and several times within the text on the page. Keep in mind that every page on your site is a potential “home page” for a searcher. Not every user starts out on your home page then clicks through to the page they’re looking for. Make sure each landing page welcomes users with great content that makes it clear where they are and what they’ve found. 
 
In regards to the content itself, think about what your site offers that is unique, unusual, weird or special and accentuate it. Here are a few content ideas you can use to get a buzz going:
 
·         Top 10 Lists
·         User tips for your products or services
·         Humor related to your industry
·         Case Studies
·         Video
·         Press Releases
·         Contests or Giveaways
·         Research Reports
·         Survey Results
·         Free Tools
·         How-to’s
·         Charts or Graphs
·         A Blog (perfect for new content on a regular basis)
 

Websites need to be in a constant state of evolution. You should check the relevancy of your keywords and freshen up your pages often. While always striving to be spider bait, the ultimate goal for a website is to provide a great user experience. Hopefully you are inspired to begin your website spring cleaning project today.

 

3 Comments

  • Double_Vee Mar 20, 2010

    Great reminder. We often rely too much on previous tactics or ideas – a website is not meant to be conservative. May I just add that any website should have a precise goal: what do you want users to do with it? How will you make sure they do so?

  • verticalmeasures Mar 22, 2010

    Great tip! Thanks!!

  • Cleaning up Mar 14, 2011

    This is very true; tons of great tips here! “Top 10” lists and such are really great link bait as you said; small bits of easily readable information is really easy to spread as people are so much more likely to go through and read it opposed to a wall of text.