Thursday, 10 July 2008

Basics of Web Site Optimisation - Rule 2

This post is mainly aimed at small to medium businesses that are just starting out and are keen to get something going, or have just gone live. I can't tell you how many times I have taught people over the past few years just a handful of strategically important things. So...here goes again, this time in a way that I can now simply refer to. As for my credibility - I would rather not divulge that here, read my Web Site Optimisation Rules and you decide. They are, after all, common sense, and common knowledge....like most things I blog about!

My number 2 rule: Good page & sub-directory names

Reasoning:
1. What is "good"? Good is quite hard to explain concisely. It is a collection of decisions that combine to effectively target your audience, as well as search engine spiders. "Good" should align as closely as possible to how your target audience would think, and how they would submit keywords and phrases in order to find your content, in order to find what you are offering. This is very hard to do - there is a branch of study called "Information Architecture" that is working on this, as are the real search engine scientists. It is simplist for me to illustrate with clear examples..

2. Examples of bad names:
http://your.site.com/i.html
http://your.site.com/b/a/d.html
http://your.site.com/bestpracticeagilesoftwaredevelopment.html
http://your.site.com/agilesoftwaredevelopmentbestpractice.html

3. Examples of good names:
http://your.site.com/best-practice/agile-software-development.html
http://your.site.com/agile-software-development/best-practice.html

4. I chose the good example carefully as I also wanted to illustrate some of the subtleties involved in choosing good names. And this is where Competitive Advantage and a bit of luck truly takes its course. I can imagine someone using a search engine would enter things like:
"best practice for agile software development"
"best practices of agile software development"
as well as
"agile software development best practice"
"agile software development best practices"

Depending on your research, depending on how you interact with your industry, depending on how you speak to your clients and how they in turn speak to you, these are factors that determine how you should name your pages and sub-directories. Of course, if you have a new web site, and you have not had much exposure to your target client base, then you are playing the guessing game, which is okay! Do not panic - make sure that you realise that, and reduce your risk by running experiments and monitoring the results! (see my previous rule about how to measure your web site ROI very simply)

5. Did you notice above that I also replaced the spaces in potential search phrases with "-" in my page and sub-directory names? As much as possible your web site structure must reflect natural language usage....

6. Did you also notice that well chosen sub-directories quickly give visitors insight into what other content might be in a particular sub-directory? Make sure your themes in each of your well structured sub-directories are consistent. Consistency, relating things that are similar, linking them, and linking to external related sites and external related sites linking back to your pages are things that all add up and count in your search engine rating against your competitor web sites. (synergy!)

And that is my Rule 2. I will be uploading the others as time allows!

2 comments:

SharePoint Development - Softweb Solutions said...

Thanks for the nice information.

Best Regards
Arpit Kothari

Offshore Software Development

Rob Brown said...

@Arpit

You're welcome! Thanks for reading and commenting!