…or maybe the title should read “Murray’s Website 4.0” This all started last week when I found a possible client for my friend Alley who does web design and, more importantly, knows about web advertising and Search Engine Optimization. (The client was asking me about SEO and as you’ll see, I knew nothing.) So one day last week as Alley and I were doing an analysis of the client’s website Alley started talking about the client’s PageRankTM.
I feel like a complete idiot for not knowing about this thing, like I’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years. Alley explained how a PageRank of 2 was a pretty good starting place (for this client), how values of 3 or 4 were fairly realistic targets, and that values of 6 or higher are often reserved for super-powerful corporations with major websites. I finally downloaded the Google Toolbar for Firefoxâ€”that’s how you see PageRank values for specific web pagesâ€”and started looking at all sorts of websites to compare their rankings. There were a number of surprises.
First of all, my friend Dale’s website has a PageRank of freakin’ 7, thus placing him under the official title of Demigod! (Any pearls of wisdom for us mortals, Dale?) It also beats the ranking for the California Democratic Party and a lot of other major organizations. (Note: he’s tied with the national Democratic Party site.)
So now my brain, which tends to hyper-focus on some new interest each week, can’t stop churning over Search Engine Optimization. I’ve been reading “Quick Tips” articles on general SEO improvement, specific advise for blogs sites and particularly WordPress published sites (like this one), the new Google Sitemap, etc.
What I’ve found is that SEO strategies seem to fall under three basic categories:
- The stupid practices of stuffing meta-tags full of millions of irrelevant keywords, creating spam-bots that spam the web in order to increase link-to numbers, and generally reverse-engineering the search engines in order to artificially earn an undeservedly high ranking. (And with the thousands of blog-comment spam messages I’ve had to hand-delete, I hope these people are flayed in Hell for all eternity!)
- Quickly spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on companies that claim to place links to your website in lots of prominent “for-pay” hosts and directories, submit your site to lots of directories, etc. I don’t doubt this money may often get some results, but I think it really follows the “quick fix” mentality for many.
- Best Practices & Careful Site Design
- Many SEO purists and professionals suggest that there is a huge intersection between designing a website so it is easy to navigate and useful to visitors and designing a site that earns high search engine rankings.
Of course I like the principles of the third item, and it’s lead me to ask myself how good or bad are the organizing principles surrounding my existing website. Frankly, I think there are some pretty obvious answers:
- The static content of my site is like my home: a habitual mess. (I’m working on my home right now, and it’s in pretty good shape.) Each page does not have good unified navigation back to the homepage or other major sections. Navigation isn’t consistent. Content has been tucked away in corners, like putting unsorted household items in a box and shoving it in a closet out of sight.
- Many blog articles are quickly written with more of an emphasis on writing some daily stream-of-consciousness instead of asking whether some more effort could be invested in making it useful and insightful to others. (I get partial credit for writing something, right? Does it have to be good? Okay, I’m a dammed B-level high school student all over again. Cripes!)
- It’s been ages since I’ve looked at my web logs to figure out who my referrals are coming from and which keyword searches are bringing in traffic. In effect, I’ve completely ignored my audience! That’s the sign of a bad artist!
So it’s time to rethink and tune up my site(s). (I once published some how-to articles back in 2001 on my .Mac homepage. They are horribly outdated, to the point of doing more harm than good if people followed them now. Major importance in removing and rewriting.) I need to think about what good knowledge I have that’s worth sharing with the world so I can write some targeted articles. Honestly, I need to break this down into a comprehensive, multi-stage process so I can spread it over the next several months.
Time for “Murray’s Website 4.0”. I hunger for a PageRank of 5 now. Oooh, could I dream of a “6”?