Creating content that Google search will love

So many people still believe with the web that build and they will come, they wont. Build with great quality content, they might. Build with great quality content promoted via an integrated search, social and email strategy then you are more sure of success.

This is a great infographic that shows that investing in original quality content is essential for SEO and how ‘social is SEO and content is social’.

It also includes a great quote from Google’s Matt Cutts ‘Try and make your site so fantastic you become an authority in your niche’. A goal that should become all of ours mantra if we want to be successful in this space.

Why content is so important for SEO

Christopher Wellbelove

Advertisements

Creating a site map for Google

With more and more people finding sites through search engines it is essential that your site is search engine friendly. One way you can improve your ‘relationship’ with search engines is the creation of a Google sitemap.

Google sitemaps help Google to crawl your site, telling it where all your interesting content is, which done properly can help improve search ranks and provide you with useful insight into how people are finding your site.

A Google sitemap is different from the sitemap you may have on your web site. A Google sitemap is an ‘XML’ file placed where your site is hosted for use by a search engine crawler rather than a human user of your site. Using the sitemaps does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.

To tell Google where your sitemap is you will need a Google account where you will then get access to Googles webmaster tools. Creating an account is easy and free.

To add a sitemap to Google you first have to prove you are the owner of the website. You do this by placing a file on your site which Google then uses as proof the site is yours and that you are authorised to view statistics about it.

There are several tools available to create site maps. G Sitemaps is free without restriction. I haven’t used it extensively however it seems to do the job on first look.

Google’s advice on producing sitemaps for a large site

‘You can provide multiple Sitemap files, but each Sitemap file that you provide must have no more than 50,000 URLs and must be no larger than 10MB when uncompressed. These limits help to ensure that your web server does not get bogged down serving very large files.

If you want to list more than 50,000 URLs, you must create multiple Sitemap files. If you anticipate your Sitemap growing beyond 50,000 URLs or 10MB, you should consider creating multiple Sitemap files. If you do provide multiple Sitemaps, you can list them in a Sitemap index file. A Sitemap index file can list up to 1,000 Sitemaps.’

Video Sitemaps

If your site has video the content is hidden from the search engine except for what you write about it within the page. To improve your listing of video content and get your content listed in Google video search you need to create a video site map.

Here is an example, provided by Google, of what a video sitemap would look like.

Here is a sample of a Video Sitemap entry using Video-specific tags:

<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
        xmlns:video="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-video/1.0">
<url>
   <loc>http://www.site.com/videos/some_video_landing_page.html</loc>
   <video:video>
      <video:content_loc>http://www.site.com/video123.flv</video:content_loc>
      <video:player_loc allow_embed="yes">http://www.site.com/videoplayer.swf?video=123</video:player_loc>
      <video:title>My funny video</video:title>
      <video:thumbnail_loc>http://www.site.com/thumbs/123.jpg</video:thumbnail_loc>
   </video:video>
</url>

<url>
   <loc>http://www.site.com/videos/some_other_video_landing_page.html</loc>
   <video:video>
      <video:content_loc>http://www.site.com/videos/video1.mpg</video:content_loc>
      <video:description>A really awesome video</video:description>
   </video:video>
</url>
</urlset>

The Cuil new search engine… but how Cuil is it?

I noticed a large number of ‘Tweets‘ from my Twitter feed about a new search engine called ‘Cuil’ which has been created by former employees of Google, and for some a possible threat to Google’s dominance. The Google association has without doubt helped feed the publicity for what otherwise could have just passed as just another search engine hopeful. With Google demonstrating that there are huge revenues to be made out of search it is not a surprise that others want a piece of the action.

So how should we cope with all these new search engines, each with different algorithms to define what is relevant and displaying results in different ways?

Whilst recognising Googles dominance and focusing a majority of energy and investment in influencing natural search and the largest proportion of budgets invested in Google pay-per-click, we need to constantly monitor where traffic is coming from and industry trends.

For global organisations the challenge is even bigger monitoring the search engines influence in different countries and regions eg: Baidu in China.

The approach towards search engines needs to be similar to browser usage. I will be testing a new site on the Safari browser which has a usage of just 2.6% [June 2008]. Though this is a relatively low number, it is slowly growing and we need to ensure our sites are suitable for as wide an audience as possible.

In the same way various browsers display pages differently, search engines will pull different informaion from sites to deliver search results. Searchme provides screenshots of pages, making the size of keyelements of text on you site important as a signpost to the user they have reached the right place.

Cuil takes an extract of your site including, where available, an image which it displays with the result. Different search engines take into account different aspect of your site (including links to and from your site) to decide what makes a site relevant to a search request.

As part of the process of design, how the site will appear in the various key search engines will become increasingly important in the same way as we do now as regards to how a site appears in different browsers. This is not just the positioning of the result but how the site is represented.

You can not please all the search engines all the time, and for now Google remains a key focus for both natural and paid-for-search. Therefore, for now, a majority of time, money and energy should remain with Google, Yahoo and MSN.

From a design and marketing viewpoint things just keep getting more interesting [harder] as the number of different variants to take into consideration keeps increasing.

Is Bebo better than Facebook? Creating a profile network

As part of my research into social networks I recently joined Bebo, a social network popular in the UK and in particular among younger people.

After being an avid Facebook user for some time I wasn’t overwhelmed by the service, however added my profile details and added a link to the page to my homepage at wellbelove.com.

Being a regular egosurfer I was surprised that despite the fact that my Facebook page has been available for much longer my Bebo page was appearing higher in the Google results for a search of Christopher Wellbelove. This has since switched, however it is telling of the importance Google places on Bebo that my Bebo page has appeared on the first page of Google results so quickly.

Whilst I realise it is difficult to maintain profiles on so many sites, the benefits are clear. If Google places a high importance on Bebo then having a profile here that points to your main website, together with your pages on other social networks, by creating a profile on Bebo you will increase their rank and ensure that for users who choose the Bebo network they are still able to access some information about should they search in that network for you.

My Squidoo page, set up at a similar time as my Bebo profile, today appeared above both my Facebook and Bebo profiles in my Google egosurf. You can discover more about services like Squidoo in my article ‘Bringing it all together’.

In short, if you want the widest audience to find you, you need to invest time in placing content where the audience is – on the networks they know and trust. If you want search engines to focus on content you own, you need to invest time in creating these pages, interlinking them so that search engines will trust your profile network as an authority on information about you.