Business Intelligence is the center of my practice. And I’m trying to launch a website that will tell people so. Good thing I have a great network of people who are expert in things I am a rank newbie in, like web site construction. Shawn Rogers, co-founder and executive editor of of B-Eye Network, was kind enough to give me a lesson in fundamentals that are easy to miss, even if you think you are pretty sophisticated. (As I did, until he gently slapped me around a bit.)
Some principles are obvious to any writer: have a title that reflects what you plan to write about clearly, lead with a strong summary of what you plan to say… But in the age of web sites and search engines that (hopefully) drive traffic your way, these principles become even more important. So if you don’t know how easy it is to short-change yourself – or even if you think you do – read on. If it is all too obvious to you, congratulations, and sorry to have taken your time. Maybe you can offer me a few more tips – leave a comment! For the rest of you, following are a few quick things Shawn was kind enough to beat into me.
- Writing for search engines is as important as writing for your audience. How will they find you in the first place? They’ll have to find the site somehow. Duh. Some simple tips can help.
- Make the engine find the most important attribute. OK, I’m sufficiently convinced of my own reputation to think some people will find me because of my name. Shawn: “Why, then, Merv, is the first word in your page title ‘IT’? Google doesn’t even know the difference between that and ‘it’.” Hmmm…you’re right. How do I fix that? In the tool I used, it was easy enough to change the title to “Merv Adrian’s IT Market Strategy.”
- Tell the engine some other things too. You know, I might get some people to come looking for, say, “business intelligence.” And “analyst”, “consultant,” “message testing”…”OK, stop! You can’t fit them all into the title, or the first words on the page (which Google looks at next.)” Right, so…? Yes, edit the content to get some of those words to the front sentences. But also make other page titles – and the navigation buttons – reflect them. Even “Blog” became “Merv Adrian’s Blog.”
- The magic of meta tags moves you up in the rankings. You can choose to associate a whole list of words with your site and the search engine will look at them. Again, even in my fairly simple, template-based tool, there was a properties page where I could enter a bunch of these. At last I was typing something other than my name, and I began to feel less like a megalomaniac.
- Live by the link, or lose. It’s simple: good links (ones that point to popular sites) raise your scores on the search engines. Turn text into links and score points. Wow – even in my bio, there were opportunities – pointing to companies I used to work for was the last thing I would have thought of. And of course, I get some points from Shawn by pointing to his site, too – as I did above.
You can pay a bunch for tools and consultants for some of this stuff – in fact, Shawn told me he could take me very deep if I wanted to go there, but I don’t have money or time right now. He’s done it for other very satisfied customers – but he assures me that I’ve already leaped way ahead of where I would have been without these simple tricks, which were only a few well-spent hours of my time. (Just the exercise of thinking about what my keywords for meta tags ought to be was useful, web site or no web site.)
There’s more, but I try not to make these posts too long. If I get a lot of interest I’ll share some more. Hope you find it useful.
One thought on “Business Intelligence Matters? Optimize your site for search, Merv.”
Merv, congratulations on your new endeavor and your new blog. I have been happily engaged for the past two years as VP of Marketing for SpringCM, a SaaS provider of content management solutions. As you know, there are many lessons to be un-learned from the on-premises software days (e.g. our time at Syabase), one of which is the supreme importance of search engine optimization. SaaS solutions require a lower cost of acquisition so we must be highly visible. The tips you provide are right on-target. Take care.