Secrets and tips on promoting your website and blog
Unless your website is among the top of search engine results, no one will know your site exists. The Internet consists of BILLIONS of web pages, and millions more appear every day. Our tips help improve your search engine rankings and page quality using the secrets and tips we learned over the past twenty-years. Computer Hope currently averages over 340,000 unique page views a day and over nine million unique a month (around 50 million hits).
Secrets and tips
Below is a listing of links to specific categories on this page. If you have not yet read this page we suggest reading this whole page, so you do not miss anything that might help your site.
- Domain, titles, and URL
- Navigation and Layout
- Keep it simple, clean, and fast
- Meta Tags and robots.txt
- Let others know about your site
- Remind users of your site
- Watch the traffic, logs, and keywords
- Forum or other user generated community
- Submit and promote your site to search engines
- Analyze search engines
- Watch for errors
- Grade your website and let it age
Create new and original content
By far the most significant first step any site can do is create new and original content. Search engines use web robots (spider/crawler) designed to search a website and grab keywords and text from the website to be listed on their search engine. If your site does not have lots of content, your chances of being found are significantly decreased. For example, if your web page has ten pages and your competitor has 100 pages, it is a lot more likely that your competitor's website will be found first.
Tip: Because of abuse from content farms Google and other search engines are paying closer attention to the quality of your content. Make sure all of the content is quality content and that it is going to help your visitors. Just creating content to create content does not help you or your visitors. Always be asking yourself "Is this page good enough to be in a glossy magazine or new paper article?"
Update content frequently
Update and add new content frequently. If your site contains frequently updated content, visitors have yet another reason to return and bookmark your site and search engine crawlers will visit your site more often. We recommend creating at least 2-3 pages of new content weekly or even better a new page every day. Sites that have not been updated in over a month are considered abandoned pages by most visitors.
Scripts and other tools can also post new content as it happens, hourly, or daily. For example, the Computer Hope homepage has a computer related history event posted daily, monthly computer tips, daily computer word, and new forum posts and pages posted as they occur. When visitors see these type of features it gives them a reason to visit again.
Add content even if your site only sells products
Most users do not visit a website only to purchase a product. If your site sells anything it should have complete information about the products such as how to setup the product, how it can be used, reviews, and comments from other users. Not only will this bring more visitors to your web page, it is also likely they will convert into visitors that buy what is being sold.
User generated content such as product reviews is a must for any site that sells products. Most people expect at least a general review of a product and good reviews from many users can often talk the visitor into purchasing the product.
Format the content
Format your pages content in an easy to read and scan format by creating easy to read, short, and catchy headings. Doing this makes your web page more enjoyable to read and help reduce your pages bounce rate. For the heading of each page, we also suggest surrounding it with the HTML <h1></h1> tags. The heading tags help match keywords and can improve your search engine rankings.
Keep in mind that on average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of the piece. If your headline is confusing, tricky, or awkward, they won't continue reading.
The importance of the first paragraph
The first paragraph of text is the most important paragraph on the page. Search engine's pay close attention to the first paragraph and the first paragraph is what is going to catch the readers eyes. Placing important keywords into this paragraph and making sure it is well written can help improve your rank and will decrease your bounce rate.
Make sure each page has enough content
Individual web pages that only contain only a few dozen words do not help your page or your visitors. Make sure that at least every page has 200 words.
Add a catchy picture
People are visual creatures, adding one or more pictures that help grab the visitors eyes, build interest, and make sure they don't leave the site immediately. When adding a picture also make sure to add an alt attribute to the image that describes the picture and has keywords that a search engine is also going to notice.
Most people on the Internet expect information to be free. If your site contains free information, be sure to mention it, for example, "free computer help" is much more catchy than "computer help". However, do not abuse the word "free", visitors who visit a free link and find a non-free page, registration requirement, or another scheme will leave the page. Tricking a user may get them to visit a page or link but anyone who feels tricked is going to leave and never return.
Domain, titles, and URL
If you plan on doing anything with your web page, a domain name is a must. When registering a domain name make sure the name is a short, simple, and easy to spell and remember. For example, computerhope is a much easier name to remember and type than computerhopesfreetechnicalhelp. Many of the common domain names have already been taken, so try to think of as many names as possible. Doing a whois lookup is an easy way to determine what domains are available, the GoDaddy whois is an example of such a lookup.
Most search engines use the title of your web page when displaying your site in their search results. Therefore, it is always a smart idea to focus on every web page title. For example, this pages title is "Secrets and tips of promoting your web page and blog", this title is not only descriptive but also uses keywords: secrets, tips, web page and promoting. Follow the tips below when creating a title.
- Be as specific as possible and include what is unique on the page.
- Always use the most important keywords at the start of your title.
- The maximum size of a title should be 70 characters.
- Use no more than 10 to 12 words in your title.
Add keywords into your URL by adding subdirectories that are your keywords. For example, the Computer Hope CD-ROM help section is: https://www.computerhope.com/help/cdrom.htm. As you can see, this URL has three keywords: computer, help and cdrom. Use this to your advantage, search engines today convert your URL to text and use it as a method of indexing your web page.
Notice: Do not get carried away with using keywords in your URL. Having a short URL is also a good method of making sure your link is shared. Nothing worse than trying to send someone a link to a web page in an e-mail or chat only to find the link is four-lines long.
Tip: When linking to your web page or folder on your web page make sure to end the URL with a slash. For example, https://www.computerhope.com and https://www.computerhope.com/ both point to the same address. However, the link without the slash causes the server to redirect the request, which will slightly decrease the load time and may decrease your page rank. However, only do this with directories and not for files, in the earlier example that pointed to the "cdrom.htm" file, it should not end with a slash. Finally, keep it consistent, don't have both versions of the same link on the same web page.
Domain 301 redirects
After you have registered your domain make sure your domain is properly forwarding to the address you want. For example, Computer Hope should be "https://www.computerhope.com/" and not "https://computerhope.com." Both of these addresses are valid, but if you enter https://computerhope.com it is forwarded to https://www.computerhope.com. If we did not forward the URL, Google and other search engines treat both domains as different domains and could cause a lower page rank because of duplicate content.
Navigation and Layout
A visitor will leave if they are unable to navigate your website. Studies have shown that the typical first view time is between two and four seconds. Internet users know that if your page does not have what they want, is hard to read, or hard to navigate that there are plenty of other options available and will leave.
Link to all subpages from the main page
Your main page should link to all of your sub pages; if this is not possible it should at least link to your main sections. When designing your website, make sure visitors can find what they are looking for within a few clicks. Creating a list of sub pages or categories, adding a search engine, or making a site map can all help your visitors.
Subpages should link back to homepage
All your sub pages should link back to your homepage or other main sections of your main page. Many of your visitors will not visit your page through the homepage, make it easy for visitors to go there from all sub pages. For example, a company logo or name should link to the main page or a navigation bar should have a link that says "home." It is also a good idea to have a way to get back to the homepage at the bottom of every page for anyone looking for more information.
Get a search engine
If your page does not its own search engine, consider using a third-party search engine. These custom search engine scripts can often be implemented into your site in less than a few minutes.
Keep it simple, clean, and fast
Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)
Follow the KISS principle, if your website is too busy or over complicated your visitors will become frustrated and leave.
Do not make the visitor scroll
When first visiting a web page, most visitors do not scroll down. Keep the important and eye-catching information on the first viewable page. If your page has lots of information, create bookmark links in the first section so visitors can jump to what interests them. Finally, never make a visitor scroll horizontal, a web page that scrolls left-to-right causes frustration and most visitors will not even realize they need to scroll and leave.
Keep your headers small
The top headers of all your pages should be small, at most one to two inches in height. A large header makes the visitor scroll down on every page and is often distracting for users who visit the site frequently.
Test with other monitors and browser
Not all users have the same browser, monitor, or computer. Make sure your web page looks good on all computers and monitors. A page displayed on a 17" monitor will look different when displayed on a smaller 15" monitor or laptop display. Consider using online tests to see how your web page looks with different browsers.
Test with other devices
Avoid large images and Flash files
Avoid large images or flash animations that take a long time to load. Not everyone has a broadband connection, visitors with a modem or in other parts of the world may become impatient with slow load times. As we mentioned earlier, the average view time on a website is a few seconds, grab the visitors attention immediately with a fast-loading page. If your page needs large images consider loading those in a separate page.
Test your load times
Make sure the overall load time of a web page is no more than four seconds. Fast load times keep visitors on your site and search engines like Google use a web pages load time as part of their algorithm for ranking your page in the search results. Run portions of your web page through online tests to help determine the slow portions of your web page.
Meta Tags and robots.txt
Description and keywords example
<meta name="description" content="Free web page promotion tips and secrets in getting to the top of search engines and increasing the traffic to your website.">
The description of a web page is by far the most important meta tag to have on every page. The description describes what your web page is about and is often used as the description shown in search engine results.
<meta name="keywords" content="free, promotion secrets, promotion tips, promotion, secrets, SEO, banner exchange, search engines, increase page rank, pagerank, listing, keywords">
Tip: Today, the keywords meta tag is not as valuable as the description, but can still be used to list keywords that relate to your page. However, all major search engines today now ignore this tag.
General Rules of Meta Tags
- Like all other HTML code, any website's Meta Tags are visible to everyone. View the source of some of your competitors' web pages to get ideas.
- Search engines use no more than the first four lines of the description and keywords meta tags. Do not enter more than four lines of text, it is not used and could cause your site to be delisted.
- Post the description and keywords of information that is on the page. Visitors tricked into visiting your page will not stay and this form of deceit can cause your entire site to be blocked by search engines.
- Because of abuse, search engines like Google, no longer look at the keywords meta tags.
Today, most search engines no longer only rely off Meta Tags, some do not even look at them. Some people recommend skipping meta tags, however, there are still plenty of search engines that use these tags, we strongly recommend at the very least to have a description.
Tip: See the meta tags definition for further information and other possible options with meta tags.
Search engines use robots (spider/crawler) to crawl and index your web page automatically. These robots often rely on the robots.txt to tell them what they can and cannot index on your website. If this file is missing from your website, your website may not be indexed or indexed properly. Make sure to at least have a basic robots.txt in your root directory.
Respond as quickly as possible
If your page accepts e-mail, reply to every e-mail as quick as possible. If your page experience large volumes of e-mail, make sure to let your visitors know that replies may take a while.
Mention your web address in your e-mails
When replying or sending out any e-mail, always make sure to have a signature with your companies name, web address, and your e-mail address. A signature reminds users of your website's address and is an excellent free method of free advertising. However, keep the signature small, it should be no more than three-lines of text.
Do not send SPAM
Most users ignore SPAM, sending out unsolicited e-mails can get your e-mail address or domain added to lists that prohibit you from e-mailing servers that check these lists.
Let others know about your site
Link to other popular related pages and see if they participate in link exchanges. One of the ways Google ranks pages is by who else links to your site and how popular their site is. The more inbound links to your page the more likely visitors will find your page because it is higher in search results.
Friends and family
Let your friends, family, coworkers know about your website. Not only is this a good way of getting the word out, it may also provide additional feedback about your website.
Participate in online forums, newsgroups, or other community driven sites that relate to your websites topic while letting others know about your website through a signature or a link. However, do not visit only to promote, provide constructive feedback and suggestions; otherwise its likely the post will be deleted or you could be banned.
Remind users of your site
Keeping your past customers and visitors reminded of your web page is a crucial step in getting them to return. Below are some helpful tips in keeping recent visitors reminded of your web page.
Facebook fan pages and Twitter
Let users rate and share your page
With the increased popularity of social networking the ability to rate and share your pages is another important feature that can help spread the word about your page. These sharing and rating links (shown on the left of this page) can be added using services such as AddThis or Sharethis.
Creating RSS feeds is an easy way to keep users up-to-date on all website updates and new content. For example, Computer Hope's RSS feeds use the free Feedburner service for easy control, the ability for visitors to subscribe over e-mail, and the ability of posting RSS posts to Twitter.
Newsletter and mailing list
E-mail newsletters and mailing lists can be another fantastic method of keeping users up-to-date. Sending monthly newsletters and your latest deals are both excellent examples of how to remind past visitors and customers of your site.
If your company logs birthdays send your visitors or customers happy birthday notices. Most users appreciate the personal touch, even if automated.
Watch the traffic, logs, and keywords
Analyze web page visitors
Many web hosts today offer their users with charts that show traffic information. Try to view this information and determine what pages are popular or where people are leaving.
Use Google Analytics
The basic web host statistics are a reasonable first start, however, nothing compares to the free Google's Analytics service. Google Analytics reports provide a better idea of how users are using your website and is better than anything any web host could provide.
Act on the information
Examine how people are entering your site and where they are exiting and bouncing. If a page is popular, link that page to other related pages in your site. If a page has a high exiting or bouncing rating, improve the page and if needed add more information.
Examine the popular search keywords visitors are using to find your page. If a page has search keywords that do not relate to information you have, add it to your page.
Examine and learn keywords
Use online tools to monitor and compare search keywords to help better judge what keywords you should be using on your site. A good tool we use and recommend is Google insights for search, which allows you to enter and compare search keywords, compare keywords, and find trends.
Forum, bulletin board, or other user generated community
Create a community
Create an online forum or comments section that allows visitors to make their own comments, questions, and posts. Creating a community is a great way not only to build a brand community but at the same time generate more content for your site. If you already have a forum make sure that you read through our tips for making your forum more popular. See the Computer Hope forum for a working example of a forum.
Join other social networks
Register and become a member of popular online communities and social networks such as Facebook, Google+, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Twitter, and MySpace. If you have a company, product, or service also consider creating a fan page on Facebook.
Tip: After joining StumbleUpon and getting the toolbar make sure to visit your page and give it a thumbs up so other StumbleUpon users will see your page.
Submit and promote your site to Search Engines
Google - Today, Google is the ranked as the most popular and well-known search engine on the Internet and often the only search engine used by many people. It is not necessary to submit every page in your site, however, to accelerate how quickly the Google bots find your site submit your main page to the link below. What makes Google unique is their proprietary PageRank algorithm, which makes the most relevant pages shown first.
Yahoo - Another one of the most visited and known search engines on the Internet and now part of Microsoft Bing. To add to Yahoo visit the link below, sign into your Yahoo account, and submit your URL.
Promoting your local business
Search optimization services and other paid services
There are several companies and people that claim they can help improve your search engine rankings. While these services may improve your rankings, it is not likely going to happen for search queries you want or is so insignificant that it is not worth the price. It is more beneficial to follow all the free recommendations in this page than any paid service.
Analyze search engines
Google has one of the largest (if not the largest) search engine indexes on the Internet. Use it to your advantage to view who is linking to you or your competitors and what they are saying about your site. Use each of the below searches to see how your page is indexed and who is linking to you.
In the above example, Google search displays any page they have index containing computerhope.com. Replacing computerhope with your domain is an easy way to determine how many entry points you have into your website. The more entry points a page has the better chance a visitor is going to find your web page.
In this next example, Google displays all pages that link to computerhope.com but are not computerhope.com. Replace computerhope with your domain to get your results.
Setup Google Alerts
Finally, setup a Google Alert to send you e-mails anytime your web page or company name is mentioned. Google Alerts is an easy method of finding new pages and articles linking to your site or mentioning your service.
Setup Google Webmaster Tools
The Google Webmaster Tools is yet another excellent free service Google provides webmasters. With these tools you can view search queries used to find your pages, crawl errors, links to your site, keywords, diagnostics, and much more.
Finally, Alexa is another excellent place to check and compare your pages statistics. If your site is popular enough you can compare it with other sites on the Internet, view traffic details, rank, page views, and page visits per user. If your site does not rank on Alexa it may still be possible to spy on your competition if they are popular enough to rank on Alexa. Keep in mind though that Alexa's data is largely based on who is using the Alexa toolbar.
Watch for errors
Bad links are a growing issue with web pages and an easy way to lose visitors. Never change any of names or location of your pages, even when redesigning a web page. It is likely that those pages are already indexed in search engines, linked on other web pages, or even bookmarked. Removing or moving your page is like starting all over, and could cause a significant reduction in new visitors.
Tip: If your server allows for custom error pages, always take advantage of this ability. A custom 404 error page that directs visitors to other pages on your site is much more useful than a blank 404 error page.
Tip: Use the Google Webmaster Tools to also quickly identify bad links.
Spelling and Grammar
Your page is going to be seen by thousands or even millions of different people, watch your spelling and grammar. Make sure to run a spell check on your pages and proof read before posting the page. A page that has spelling and grammar errors cause a more educated visitor to leave your site.
HTML, CSS, and other programming errors
HTML, CSS, or other programming errors can cause your website to not load properly or to not work with older browsers. Make sure your web page is going to work with all recent Internet browsers and that anyone who may have disabilities is going to be able to read your page. Use free online services to check your site or blog for errors.
Grade your website and let it age
Let it age
Like a fine wine, many search engines (such as Google) are also incorporating a websites age into the overall rank of a site. If a site that has been online since 1998 is going to have a higher PageRank than a site that has only been online since 2010. When setting up your domain make sure it is going to be something you are going to be happy with forever.
It is also a good idea to register your domain for several years into the future. Google and other search engines use this metric to determine if the domain is a temporary domain to scam people.
Grade your website
Finally, after doing all of the above steps and suggestions rate and grade your website or blog using online tools.