Search engine marketing can be a full time profession. If you want to do it well you have to be concerned with link building, good content, and a lot of technology. While search engine marketing is typically not your web developers primary responsibility, your web developer will affect your search engine ranking.
Here are 5 signs that suggest your web developer "gets" search engine marketing.
1) Your site uses title tags.
The title tag is one of the most important factors in achieving high search rankings. A great title tag should contain your company name and a specific keyword phrase (ideally 4-7 words long). For example the current title tag at Twisted Oak is "Twisted Oak Winery - Rhone Spanish Tempranillo Viognier Petite Sirah".
Here is how to tell if you have a title tag: In your browser title bar (on a PC this is the bar (typically blue) at the very top of the browser) - you should see the title. If it only says "Internet Explorer" or "Firefox" your title tag is missing. On this particular page the title is: "Vin 65 - Blog - 5 Signs that Your Web Developer "Gets" Search Engine Marketing".
A good developer will ensure that your site starts out with some decent title tags. (If you engage a search engine expert, they will want to massage these title tags).
Learn more about title tags here.
2) Your site has a robot.txt file.
Visit www.________.com/robots.txt and see what happens. On our site, this would be www.vin65.com/robots.txt.
A robot.txt file is a file that tells search engines what content they can and cannot index on your website. Search engines generally follow the rules set in this file (Google, Yahoo and MSN/Bing all read the robots.txt file). This robots.txt file is also a key way to send an XML site map to the search engines.
Read more about robots.txt files here.
3) Your site has a XML Site Map
What is a sitemap? According to sitemaps.org, it's "an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their site that are available for crawling". A site map lists the URLs on your site along with some metadata (last update, page importance, etc). All three big search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN/Bing) look for this file.
Using an XML sitemap will get your content on Google faster.
4) Your site uses marketing URLs.
A marketing URL looks like this www.vin65.com/About-Us while a dynamic URL of the same pages looks like this www.vin65.com/index.cfm?method=pages.showPage&PageID=84a00363-029c-a4e3-efba-273908d6e131
There are a number of reasons to use marketing URLs instead of dynamic URLs:
- Having keywords in your URL is a moderate factor in ranking on search engines.
- Having duplicate contact (typically because of dynamic URL structures) is a negative factor with search engines.
- Readability, copy/pasting links, statistics, etc are all easier with a marketing URL.
- Dynamic URLs are ugly.
Your developer has a lot of control over the URL structure on your site, and your URL structure can assist and/or penalize your ability to come up on search engines.
5) Your site has an analytical package
Technically an analytical package won't assist your performance on search engines, but it will sure let you know what's going on.
Google Analytics is free and very easy to setup. There are dozens of other great free web analytical packages.
An analytical package is the best way to tell what people are searching for, how much traffic is coming to your site from search engines, keywords they are using, etc.
I'd like to say that we at Vin|65 always "get" it, but sometimes we miss the mark. We are working hard to improve (and our platform is doing more of this work automatically for us). If you see a site we have where we break our own rules, make sure you send me an email.