|This isn't me but he reflects what I've been feeling this morning!|
Dan's Monday Blog Disclaimer: This is a blog and not a professionally written article, just my ramblings, so remember that when you're scratching your head thinking “What the heck is Dan talking about?”. I'm trying to explain the way websites should be written and pages ordered and linked together.
The internet brings most visitors to your site via 2 methods, search results and direct links (typing in your web address).
We all know how to “google” something we are searching for information on, this is called a search. Search results are a list of links to pages on many different websites all put in order by what best fits what you typed in the box, but where how does the search engine find all these and know which are most relevant? I couldn't begin to tell you how they determine what's most relevant (I know some of it but it doesn't really make sense), but I can tell you how they find the pages! Search engines have “spiders” (don't reach for the Raid, these are good spiders) that “crawl” all the pages of your website and read it, that's right, they read the actual words, so using pictures with words really hurt your website from coming up in search results. After they have crawled your site, which takes place anywhere from once a month to every 4 to 6 months (depending on how often you make changes), the pages and text are indexed, resulting in all the websites in the world being read and indexed. When you type in “Dan Hansen, Wichita”, the search engine looks for these 3 words occurring on the same page and puts a higher rank when they are used together. The search engines of the 21st century also take into account things like where you are and give you results accordingly (you wouldn't want to see results for Miami if you are in Seattle searching for “hot tubs”. Back to where I was going, the search results link to a specific page on your website, so the results most likely aren't linking to your “home page” but to other pages that contain the actual information, thus bypassing your home page. This is the major reason that you should optimize all of the pages of your website and make sure that if someone “lands” on a page that isn't the home page, that they still know where they are (your company), what they can do (contact you, order an item, or request information) and direct visitors to other relevant pages on your website.
Now for the 2nd method, direct links (don't worry this part is shorter). When you direct people to your website, either through putting your web address on your business card and brochures or by those expensive TV ads you run with your web address at the bottom, you are sending them to a particular page, usually your home page (I'm not going to get into landing pages). So, let's say you have 10 products for doing 20 different things and you have a page on your website for all 10 items and all 20 applications. When people land on your home page and they know you make products that seal plastic bags, they are probably going to be looking for links that say “plastic bag sealing” if you have that link then awesome, they will click on that and read about bag sealing, but here's where some people make mistakes, from this page you should have a link to the 2 pages of machines that you have that seal bags. Some sites just have a page links to what their products do and a page that list all of the product, so you have to guess at which machines do what applications, because they know that search engines are bringing traffic to the pages but don't take into account the connections to other parts of the website.
In a nutshell I'm emphasizing the need to optimize all pages of your website as well as have a logical flow and connection of the pages within the site.