For students and practitioners of complementary and alternative therapy everywhere.
How To Promote Your Web Site
Promoting Your Web Site by Jane Thurnell-Read
Do you have a web site already or are you thinking of getting a web site? Are you concerned about web site promotion and search engine optimization? Do you want more visitors to come to your web site without having to spend lots of money?
Of course, no one knows exactly how Google, Yahoo, MSN and the other search engines assess web sites, so this advice unfortunately cannot be guaranteed to be correct, but from my reading, my own experience and my thinking these are the conclusions I’ve come to.
I had been thinking about writing this article for some time, and this email from Linda Lloyd propelled the idea to the top of the list:
I have been cheered up by an enquiry coming from your website and by a colleague who tells me she found me via my article on childbirth which came up about fifth on the Google listing. You must know your stuff! Congratulations - could you write an article for the therapists on how to achieve that?!
So here goes - this is not comprehensive, but hopefully will give you some ideas.:
Content is the most important thing for your ranking. The more content you have the better it is. My web sites have hundreds of pages. If you haven’t got the time or inclination to write content, you can use content from elsewhere. Have a look at Health & Goodness. You can use any articles that have the Creative Commons symbol on your own web site, providing you acknowledge where the article came from. (Content also creates a good impression with your prospective clients – they appreciate that you are giving them free information.) The web sites of Linda Lloyd and Alicia Sirkin are good examples of this.
You need to update your site regularly. You could get your web master to do this for you, but it’s much better to do it for yourself. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. When web sites were first developed, you needed to understand things like HTML in order to be able to write web pages. Now software such as FrontPage and Dreamweaver allow you to write an article in what is effectively a word processing program, and the software turns it into HTML for you. If you’re commissioning a new web site, ask your designer to build it so you can maintain it. Adding a blog will give you regular new content too.
Use photos on your web site. Recent research has shown that people spend much more time reading text if it is accompanied by photos. Here’s a good source of free photos.
Think about how you name your pages. The search engines view this as important information, so make the name count. But how do you know how to name a page? On Health & Goodness I have used ‘Alternative Medicine’ as the name of a section of the web site rather than ‘Complementary Therapy’ or something similar, because ‘alternative medicine’ is the search term of choice for a lot of people. You can use the keyword selector tools at Overture or Nichebot. These tell you how many times a particular word or phrase was used as a search term in the previous month on one of the search engines.
Think about the search words people will use to find the page, and include those in the first paragraph. The search engines appear to give more weight to words found earlier on a page than those found later.
When someone puts a link to your web site where possible get them to use something relevant as the hyperlink text. (The hyperlink text is the text that a visitor clicks on.) So rather than it being just the name of your web site, at least some of the time, use something else as the text, e.g. ‘London Acupuncturist’ or ‘Help With Stress’. (Please note that on our therapist listing you can only use your usual web site address as the link.) There’s a great tale about how significant the hyperlink text can be. Apparently a lot of web owners put a link to the White House web site with the hyperlink text ‘Failure’. If you go to Google and use ‘failure’ as your search word, the official White House page with the US president’s biography comes up! This happens even though ‘failure’ is not mentioned on this web page. It just shows how powerful that linking text can be.
Link to important, well-respected web sites such as government, universities, the BBC, etc. This gives your web site standing too, even though those sites don’t link back to you.
When you add links to other web sites, set the new web site opens in a blank page. This means that when the person closes the new web site, your web page is still there underneath, so they can come back to your web site and read more. You don't want to lose them unnecessarily.
Put lots of internal links on your site – linking from one page to another and make sure the hyperlink text is appropriate (see tip 5), so don’t use the phrase ‘click here’ as the hyperlink text. This is in addition to having normal navigation links (usually on the left or right hand side of the page).
Do not use frames on your web site. If you have an existing web site, you can tell if your web site developer used frames by checking out the URL for each page. The URL is the address for that page – look towards the top of the page and there’s a field saying ‘address:’ If the URL is the same for every page of your web site, your web site uses frames. Why is this a problem? Most search engines can now handle frames, but it means that they cannot link a search engine enquiry to a particular page of your web site. Everyone will come in on the home page – this may not be particularly relevant to their query, so they may go away again rather than searching for it. If you’re having a web site built, check that the designer will not use frames.
Check your web site regularly for broken links. FrontPage and Dreamweaver have utilities that allow you to do this easily.
Check how often your web site is visited by Google – it may vary from page to page. You can check out when Google last indexed a page on your web site (or any other web site) by going to the page in question and right-clicking on the page. Choose ‘ cached snapshot of page’ from the drop down menu and check the date towards the top. The more important and lively Google thinks your web site is the more often it will check it.
Check what page rank Google has allocated to your web site – it may vary from page to page. For this you need to install the Google toolbar. Once it’s installed, you may need to add this facility from the options menu. You can check out the rank (1 to10) of any page. 4 or higher is generally reckoned to be good. Look for the green line, just below the word ‘Page Rank’ on the toolbar. Hover your mouse over it, and it will give a ranking out of 10. New sites usually start with lower rankings, and may take several months before they achieve anything at all. (I’m delighted to say that this web site came in with a ranking of 4 for the home page almost as soon as it was launched in January 2006.)
Make sure you have a reliable host for your web sites.
Be patient. Things don’t happen overnight. It can take several months to see the benefit of work you have put in.
If you check out my web sites, you’ll notice that I haven’t always followed these tips. This is because I’ve learnt things as I go along, and I need to find the time to go back and make some changes with some of the earlier pages.