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Chapter 19 - Search engine optimisation

So you've built your website, now you want people to find it!
Getting your website listed by Google and other search engines is one thing most people would like to happen as soon as possible and there are several things you can do to speed the process up.

Search engines are a law unto themselves so this can only be a rough guide. We cannot guarantee that your website will be listed. If you have only just set up your domain name you should be prepared to wait a few weeks for anything much to happen. You should also be realistic about where you expect to appear - for instance the chances of your site being top when someone searches for 'photographer' are pretty much zero. You could hope to do better with something like 'wedding photographer in Milton Keynes' - the more specific, the better. Read on to make sure you are doing everything you can.

One way a web page communicates with search engines is by using little snippets of text called Meta tags. The three main ones are Title, Description and Keywords. You can edit these in the details tab on the left hand sub-menu when editing the configuration of your website.

This will appear at the top of the browser window (eg the page you are looking at has a title of LayerSpace photographers websites - how to get your website listed by Google. This tells visitors what they are looking at and gives Google something to read which tells it what to expect in the content. You should make it short but descriptive and try to include a few words or phrases which might be used by your prospective customers - Joe Bloggs Photography is OK but Joe Bloggs - commercial portrait photography in London and the South East of England is better.

The description should be a short sentence describing the content of the page. As such it is like a longer version of the title so in the example above we could use Joe Bloggs is an award winning commercial portrait photographer working in London and the South East of England for advertising agencies and design companies. Don't make it too long though - you shouldn't add a whole client list!
The description will appear under the page title in a Google search result so it needs to entice people to click on the link.

Keywords are used to tell search engines when to show a link to your site in a search result. Sadly it is not quite as easy as that but it is worth adding them in the proper way to increase your chances of getting noticed.
Keywords are a list of words or short phrases separated by commas which you think people might use to find your website. For the above example we could use: Joe Bloggs, Portrait, Commercial, Photographer, Photography, London, South East,

Keywords do not have the importance they once did due to misuse and abuse by people trying to get their site listed by using common search terms in their keywords which did not bear any relation to the page content. This can be spotted by Google so avoid it! Also to be avoided is adding too many keywords which are very similar, although it may be worth adding some common spelling mistakes (eg comercial photogrophy etc).

Once you have your met tags in place, you can start looking at other methods of improving your search engine ranking.

Text content is king!
Search engines love text. They read it and analyse it and based on that they decide what is in your page/site and put your site in the relevant metaphorical cubby hole. The more information there is in a site the more cubby holes you will be added to and the higher your ranking could get. And if the content changes frequently the cubby holes will get opened regularly and your site will be taken out to check it. That will help the ranking too, which is why a blog may help you to get a good ranking.

Start a blog
If you run a blog and update it regularly (ie at least once a week), it will get listed by search engines. If the blog has links to your main website (which of course it should) and similar meta tags then your site will acquire some of the 'SEO glitter' of the blog. If you want to start a blog we recommend Wordpress (

Links Links Links
Google counts each link to your website from another website as a 'vote' for your site. Lots of links equals lots of votes equals a higher ranking. The quality of the site containing the link is also taken into account so a higher ranking site will result in the vote being effectively of a higher quality.

Difficulties for image based websites
If your website is showing photographs or imagery of some kind then there is very little indexing that search engines can do, so it is important to add a text page of some sort to your site which contains some information that will help your ranking.

How a LayerSpace website helps with SEO
If you have an HTML template this can happily be read by search engines but a Flash template presents a potential problem. We get around this by dynamically embedding the Flash part of the site and dynamically adding text content from your pages via scripting.

This means your website looks great and all the SEO relevant information gets read by search engines.

Using domain hosting
Your search engine footprint is likely to be much larger if you use domain hosting than if you use web forwarding to point your domain name at your website. Search engines have realised that some unscrupulous people could use web forwarding to show a popular website as if it was their own, and thus get their own domain name listed highly on the back of the popular site. Web forwarding has therefore been branded 'bad' by search engines and websites which use it are less likely to get a high ranking place in search engine listings.

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