Thursday, December 25, 2014

Assignment 7

No, I haven't forgotten how to count. Assignment 6 didn't involve a blog post. For that assignment, we had to get our site up and running, which you can see at Danielle Draws.

For this assignment, we added pages to our sites and looked at how to promote them.

Usually when people talk about promoting their sites, they're mostly concerned with search engine optimization (SEO), or getting their page to be as prominently featured as possible in search engines. In my GeoCities days, SEO was all about meta tags. Meta tags are HTML tags that are not rendered in the browser but are picked up by search engines. The tags typically contain keywords relevant to the site, or at least they should.

It might not surprise you to learn that people started to try and scam the system almost immediately by including popular keywords that weren't necessarily relevant to the site. Under United Kingdom law, it's possible to be sued for trademark infringement for certain types of meta tag abuse.

While meta tags still matter, search engines now consider them combined with other factors. The most well-known of these techniques is probably Google's PageRank algorithm, which factors in the number and influence of pages that link to a given page.

Of course, weighting algorithms can be abused, too. Focusing on trying to game the SEO system of the moment just ends up as a sort of arms race between search engines and disreputable sites. That's why I think prioritizing SEO above all is putting the cart before the horse.

I think the best approach is to promote your site by making connections with people through channels such as social media and guest blogging on other sites. If you make real connections and get people genuinely interested in your site, the search results will improve naturally.

That said, I don't think it hurts to put up meta tags, as long as they're actually relevant to your site. Jimdo, the host I chose for my site, has built-in SEO tools in its site builder. There are also tools that register your site with search engines, such as Google Webmaster Tools' URL submitter. I used both of these for my site. I just don't expect them to do all the work of promoting my site for me.

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