Do People Find your Website?
Are your visitors the people you want and need to reach? This depends upon you and your actions taken before you publish any content on the World-Wide Web. How?
Realtors know that the ability to sell a property depends primarily on its location (Location! Location! Location!). Website owners who take the same approach fail much more often than they succeed because they forget about…
Clearly identify the reason for your Website. You might think, What’s the point? I want to sell used turtles! I suggest that, while you may have a product or service to sell, that the purpose of your site must be greater than that. There are a lot of online stores on the Web; what niche do you need to fill to have a chance to sell your offerings effectively? I submit that this principle applies to Websites that are not online stores.
Every Website sells something to someone.
Your critical mission is to identify what your site sells and to whom. When you have done this, you will be able to organize and write your content much more effectively from the start.
I setup and maintain two separate Websites that, at their core, deal with volunteer trail construction and maintenance for different aspects of a single organization, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. Why two Websites?
- One site serves to support men and women who voluntarily maintain sections of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
- The other site seeks to advertise and promote participation in a volunteer trail crew who specialize in the construction of public hiking trails
- All content on the former site is focused on the Appalachian Trail located in one of the three administrative districts of Shenandoah National Park
- The latter Website promotes trail construction that may occur within a four-state area in the Mid-Atlantic region
Both Websites are focused on a fairly broad demographic—adults who:
- Are age 21 – 65
- Can hike some distance without assistive technology
- Carry at least two tools that weigh about 6 lbs each
- Can use tools to dig and build a backcountry hiking trail
As you can guess, identifying these elements drives the type and structure of the content published on each separate Website.
The Web Library
Metadata? Metadata give information about the information on your Website, such as location, date of publication or modification, author, and the purpose of the content.
When you have your content mapped out and written, you must provide the means by which visitors can find, evaluate, and use that content. How? By ensuring the inclusion of appropriate metadata within your site structure.
The Internet was designed to be an electronic library of data that, originally, was shared between universities, federally-funded research and development centers, and federal laboratories, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The hypertext markup language, or HTML, used to build Websites uses tags to identify data types or categories that allow the site to be catalogued and indexed. Search engines accomplish this using software robots, or “bots,” coded to seek the metadata on Websites. The metadata tags used by search bots include:
- Uniform Resource Locator (URL)—Automatically tagged
- Also, and more accurately, known as the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI)
- Description—Short narrative to describe the:
- Each individual article or blog posted on the site
- Heading—The title of an individual article or posted blog (automatically tagged)
- Keywords—Single, comma-separated words used to describe content of the:
- Each article
- Links—The two varieties of interest are:
- Outbound links from your site to another
- Inbound links to your site from another
- Ensure that the URI/URL of each link is short and descriptive
- Images—Identify each image with:
- A short narrative description
- An alternate text attribute for accessibility
If your Website uses a content management system, the user interface includes fields where you can enter meta descriptions and keywords. If you do not use a CMS, you must go modify the HTML source code to enter tags and metadata appropriately.
If you want your Website to do what you want, or need, it to do:
Identify your goal for the site
Identify the focus, or niche you Website must address
Identify the primary audience you want to attract
Write content focused on your audience
Assign metadata that best promotes your content to your primary audience