Visitors often see your website almost as a piece of graphic art. They notice the color scheme, the layout, the pictures, and the videos.
As humans, we like things that look pretty—computers, not so much.
To a search engine, your website looks like words, words, and more words—all surrounded by semi-comprehensible formatting directions.When Google, Bing, or Yahoo looks at your site, what do they see? You might be surprised.
Hint: It’s Not All about the Pictures
In fact, search engines don’t care about pictures. Pictures rank almost nowhere for them.
What they care about falls into three categories: the words on your page (content), the things coming into your site (advertisements and links from other sites), and the way your site is set up, both in terms of its navigational structure (site map) and coding.
We’re not suggesting that you go under the hood of your website and start fooling around with the settings.
That’s best left to the experts, or at least people who have read the appropriate “for beginners”-type books.
But in case you’re wondering, here’s what search engines love about websites...
Search engines like content that is original, authoritative, plentiful, and frequently updated.
The use of pertinent phrases (called keywords) is important, but overusing them can actually cause your site to suffer a bit in the rankings.
Incoming links lead from another website to your own.
Generally, the more links you have, the better your site looks to Google.
However, the links need to come from reputable sites.
Some websites are called link farms—their whole goal is to artificially boost the number of incoming links to a site.
Using this type of site is a bad idea and will get you penalized.
And while a few ads here and there are okay, having a lot of ads on your site is also unattractive from a search engine standpoint.
Web pages are just individual pages until they link together. Then they form websites.
To make a search engine happy, your navigational structure—the way your site pages are linked to each other—should be simple and easy to follow.
Search engines also need descriptive tags for the site itself, headings and subheadings, and images.
Making sure these are expressive and accurate is one of the most important things you can do to make your site look good to a search engine.
Image-related tags are particularly critical, since search engines do not process images like they do text.
Need more information on how search engines work? Check out this post on search engine optimization.
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