Learn how to optimize your site for searches
Over the weekend, I watched a presentation by former Bing Senior Product Manager Duane Forrester, who used to run the company’s Webmaster program. It’s no surprise that he had a lot to say about search engines and SEO. In this post, I’m going to focus on what Forrester had to say about how to optimize your site for searches. The four main areas, he says, are quality, trust, popularity and timeliness. Let’s look at these key factors one by one.
- Quality. It goes without saying that no one will spend time on your site if the quality is poor. You may be able to attract searchers to your site, but if it doesn’t provide what they’re searching for, all you will really have achieved is getting a high bounce rate.
So how do you create a quality site? According to Forrester, some of the most important factors are content, links and appearance. Searchers are looking for fresh and relevant content, and links to your site from trusted websites convey the all-important authority that helps your site rank well. Appearance goes beyond having a site that looks professional. Is it also easy to understand and navigate?
- Trust. This is another important factor, especially for an e-retail site. Who is going to make a purchase from a site that doesn’t appear to be trustworthy? Forrester suggests building trust through authority (in the sense of expertise) and being a useful resource. In other words, think about who your audience is and what that audience is looking for. Then do your best to provide it. A site that can be used as a resource builds trust.
- Popularity. Forrester suggests building your site’s popularity with traffic, inbound links, and repeat visits. There is some overlap here with the trust factor. If you’re a trusted resource, that will drive inbound links and traffic. Useful content is key here. You want to give searchers a reason to visit and, in the case of other sites, to link to your site.
A great way to get repeat visits is to use social media. One thing to remember about using social media is to refrain from talking about your own product or service most of the time. Forrester mentioned that his own newsletter talked about Bing only 3% of the time.
- Timeliness. Forrester says you have to stay current, fresh and relevant. That includes content, links and design. Building a site is not a one-time process; it’s ongoing. Do you stay current within your field and regularly add new content? Are users going to get a 404 error if they click on an outbound link? Does your site look up to date or like it was designed in 2007? Is your site mobile-friendly?
What ideas do you have for how to improve your website?
If you want more tips on how to optimize your site for searches, watch the Expert Session here: Learn the Basics of Search Engine Optimization.