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Tech Industry

Bring some 'bling' to your Web site

Panelists at a conference tell merchants how to increase visitor traffic and get maximum search engine exposure.

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Want your Web site to rank higher? Make sure search engines can link to all your pages, use specific keywords when tagging content, promote popular products prominently and use software to track visitor traffic.

In a silly take on a somewhat serious topic, search marketing experts told merchants on Wednesday how to put some "bling bling" in their Web sites to increase their visitor traffic in a panel humorously titled "Pimp My Site!" at the Search Engine Strategies conference here.

"If people can't find your Web site how are they going to buy your products?" Todd Friesen, director of search engine optimization at search marketing company Range Online Media, asked rhetorically in an interview after the session. "Search engines are a huge part of our lives now. Everybody knows about Yahoo, Google and MSN now and they use them for shopping."

The panelists, most of whom wore bright fake fur and leopard print hats, critiqued several Web sites on how well they are optimized for search engine exposure. Two sites, and, are getting a makeover by the group, much like MTV's "Pimp My Ride" show turns common cars into glam-mobiles. Bling bling is a hip-hop slang term that refers to flashiness or luxury goods.

Both of those Web sites needed to use more specific keywords in tagging pages for search crawlers, the experts said. For instance, the sword Web site had too many pages tagged with just the company name instead of the products being sold, which reduces the chance that people searching for a product by name will see the site in search results.

Panelists also recommended linking Web pages within the site to each other so that more pages are likely to be crawled, and thus likely to come up during search queries.

"You want every page you have to be (indexed) in the search engines," not just the home page, which is typically so general that it will not always show up when users search for products, Friesen said.

Keywords should be as descriptive as possible to avoid confusion with unrelated items. For example, "flats" could mean "flat steel" or "flat shoes."

Other tips: Place links to the purchase page high up to make it easy to buy a product; make pictures small or place them at the bottom of the page so visitors don't get impatient scrolling to get to the content or waiting for the image to download; and avoid using Flash technology, which does not always get indexed by search engines.

The panel recommended that Web site owners use ClickTracks Web analytics software to see where on the site visitors go and which keywords are leading to most of the traffic and purchases.

"Mine your click traffic," said Dax Herrera, president of Web marketer WebGuerrilla. "Watching it is more addictive than TV. You can check how your (search) bots are doing."

Including RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds on the site, distributing electronic press releases, and having customers sign up for birthday and other event reminders were suggested ways of getting more publicity and return customers.

Companies can also focus on their top three products to entice visitors to their main page, make sure all active domain names being used direct people to the same Web site, and keep coding on pages to a minimum, the panel said.

"Google won't crawl a page if it is over 100 kilobytes," Friesen said. "Have pages be small, clean and code-light, so they don't time out if it takes too long to download."