Making Your Website Popular

I got a call from a relative tonight. We were talking about his business and its web presence (something more and more critical by the day). He was disappointed because search engines weren’t bringing a lot of traffic to the site. In fact, they brought almost none!

He’d looked into the idea of ‘search engine optimization’ or SEO and realized he had a problem. I opened my browser, looked at his site and realized the more he knew, the less happy he’d be with his site’s usefulness in the real world.

Search engines don’t see the Internet the way we do. They can’t understand pictures. There are also various methods of page markup that are, at best, difficult for them to understand.

My relative’s site was nearly 100% written in Adobe Flash. That’s one of those tough to read methods.

The site looks good to a human and horrendous to the machines that really decide what we’ll see. There are some small improvements he can make, but his problems are deep seeded.

I was having this discussion about SEO at work a while ago. I offered an opinion on story headlines and how they should be written. In TV, headlines are teasy. They promise to deliver something in the future, but give you almost nothing now.

On the Internet they can’t be done that way. People are searching online for what they scecifically want . They’re not looking for a play-on-words pun or ironic little twist. Headlines that tease and don’t convey the gist of the story are counterproductive on the net!

The intelligence built into Google or Yahoo isn’t as clever or adaptable as you are. Some very good content is lost, because it’s ‘too fast for the house.”

I will help fix my relative’s site, if asked. Sadly, I won’t be improving it for the end user. My goal is to make it more attractive to machines!

3 thoughts on “Making Your Website Popular”

  1. I am glad I read your blog in the morning rather than before bed. Now at least I can actually rant and rave at the programers & other responsible parties in person rather than in my sleep!!! [Michaal is banned from talking business to me outside the office beyond working hours.]

    Looking forward to seeing you and your lovely wife in October!

  2. Geoff, we had a similar problem with our website but one we knew when we started construction on a new and updated website. We liked the look and feel of the Flash website but were told that the functionality for the webcrawlers from the search engines wouldn’t find it to be of any use. Therefore, for little extra money, we had our web developer build the same site in HTML as well. This way we covered the search engine equation PLUS we covered ourselves for those that didn’t have the required Flash plug-in installed since the site would then default to the HTML version for those folks.


  3. Geoff, As a web developer, I run into this problem all the time. I agree with Mike’s solution about creating a non-flash version of the site. Usually, I try to convince clients to use flash sparingly, but some folks just love the bells and whistles the technology offers.

    Another solution for your relative that will work for Google, but not as effective for Yahoo (yet) is to dump all the page content into an xml file and use it as a site map, then tell google where the file is, and that’s what the spider will use to index the site. If you use Google’s webmaster tools, it tells you more about how to go about doing this.

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