How many websites are there on earth? Well, no one really knows but, at the last rough count (2012), there were around 644 million active websites on the Internet and an incredible 8.3 billion web pages.
And the Internet is still growing in leaps and bounds. New pages can be added at a rate of 5% a month (that's 31 million pages) and there are nearly 24 million new domain names registered every year.
Long gone are the days when you simply put up a website and waited for visitors. Anyone creating a website today should be astonished if their new site got noticed by search engines for weeks, let alone ranked high in search results.
Staking a claim in cyberspace may seem like an impossible task, but there is hope. ThenMedia can quietly boast some serious success in pushing pages high up the search engine tree with plenty of first page listings and even coveted number one positions for our customers.
Many important things can be done and, just as importantly, serious pitfalls can be avoided, to give your site a fighting chance of beating the competition to that sought-after number one spot in Google and Bing.
Here is just a taste of the tweaks that search engine optimisation (SEO) experts at ThenMedia employ to help drive customers' sites to the top of the search engine table.
Write unique content
if you do not have unique, well-written content that focuses on key search terms your website cannot hope to compete. Fresh content added on a regular basis also catches the eye of search engines.
Get strong links
Search engines will rank sites by how popular they are with other, similar, sites. A network of quality inbound links can do wonders for your listing on key search terms as can well-optimised anchor text and link descriptions.
Create themed pages
Site pages that are strongly themed for search terms — the 'silo' effect — not only rank pages higher but it can help strengthen other pages on a website with strategically placed internal keyworded links.
Search engine spider bots will visit your site daily. It is vital they find all your pages quickly and easily. Simple text-based and strongly themed internal links are a must, as is a sitemap submission to the major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Tweak meta tags
Web browsers like Internet Explorer and Chrome not only read site content, they also read 'hidden' meta tag information — and so do search engine spider bots. Meta tags such as site titles, descriptions, image tags and anchor text rollovers can all be optimised to give added value to web pages.
Speed up browsers
Search engines increasingly prefer sites that open quickly. There is a great deal that can be done to speed up web page displays, from crunching images and tweaking scripts, to loading heavyweight resources from dedicated sub domains on fast servers.
These are just a few pointers on how ThenMedia experts use their skills to improve the footprints of websites in search engine results. There are many more that those set out here. Issues such as page structure, code-to-content ratios, canonical mark-up and so on are also hugely important. Google, for example, admits to using more than 200 signals in deciding where to position a web page in its search results.
There are plenty of pitfalls too. Search engines will penalise sites 'stuffed' with keywords, those getting 'unnatural links', using repeated phrases, employing over-long meta tags, building complex dynamic urls, creating duplicate content — the list goes on.
Most importantly, none of the tips outlined above are ever set in stone. Search engines are continually tweaking their algorithms to improve search results. Webmasters expect minor 'updates' to complex search algorithms every few weeks and at least one major revision each year.
New linking sources, such as social media services like Facebook and Twitter are already making their impact on search listings as are 'geographical' data from sources such as Google Maps and video links from sites like YouTube.
ThenMedia advises its customers never to set about designing a website without considering search engine optimisation from the very start. Web designers have to understand the need for search engine awareness at the outset. Doing a retrofit on an existing, poorly optimised website to try and achieve good placement on search engines is difficult and expensive. It just wont cut it. So, don't build it broke. Build you website for visitors sure, but be sure to build it for bots as well.