While technology and gadgets usually implies hardware that's held in hand or placed on a shelf, the software driving the technology is just as crucial as the hardware -- if not more so.
While sites bandy about this great digital tool or another few think about what drives the sites or makes them effective. All kinds of sites exist to provide information, processes, relationships and a total virtual life for some. But what makes the site effective.
Though I have written about lots of other subjects over the years and, by being re-born as a new media driven individual, I have tried to understand the best ways to use the internet both to reach an audience and "re-brand" myself. Scanning the web, reading the books, attending the conferences and workshops, I've accrued a resourceful layman's knoweldge of the best way to use the digital pathways for modern communications. Along the way, I have had to figure out the best way for websites to be built -- especially on the DIY level in advising others and making decisions for myself.
Though this checklist is fairly rudimentary, it maps out most of major areas of concern. Of course, as efforts shift from websites, to blog-like enviromments to various social netwroks, key decisions as to how the web is best will shift around but the main issues are outlined below.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has evolved in order to make your web efforts effective not only as a tool for users directed to your site, but as a vehicle to gain eyeballs from the vast wilderness of the web. This is a set of techniques and strategies you can use to, in effect, game the system--or rather, best present your site to the eyes of the web--the algorithms called "crawlers" or "spiders" that troll the internet and its myriad websites for evidence of your site's existence.
The traffic your site generates (whether it occurs through organic, contextual, or paid search) and the rankings that come as a result, are determined by a set of rules or options you can exercise or manipulate in order to increase your search ranking and your traffic.
The key is to get Google or the other search engines to index your site and as many of its pages as possible. Once that is done, your site is in the vast directory of data run by Google, et al. that allows for your site to register in a search, for pages to be found, and, hopefully, to meet the needs of data seekers.
Here are several concepts to keep in mind to effectively optimize a site:
1) To get your pages indexed properly with the search engines, your web designer can do some things internally, such as making sure there are many inter-linked pages throughout the site. That means a lattice work of internal links; when someone's name is mentioned in one place or on one page, it should link to where that person is mentioned elsewhere. For example, you mention an actor's name in the plot outline; there's should be a link to that person's bio within the site.
2) Another thing you or your designer can do is place lots of photos that are properly named so that image searches can provide further traffic. Remember, your site can be found through your visuals as well; still images and videos are as keyword-friendly as text.
3) Make sure the URLs for every page of your site are effectively, efficiently, and succinctly written. Web sites are found by their address, a URL, or Uniform Resource Locator; every website and page within it is assigned a URL with a set of instructions that catalog the site, the pages and information on the pages according to a set of prioritized words. Why is the URL important? Sometimes CMS systems will create less-than-useful URLs, and you may have to have your webmaster/programmer manually modify your URLs to be effective.
4) Use well-conceived meta tags, meta descriptions or meta keywords. If you think of what you see as a website on the screen as the skin that covers blood vessels, muscles and other elements underneath, meta tags are the words that lie behind the text and images you see.
They are part of the stuff (text, images, layout, designs, databases, links to videos, etc., that's describe in HTML (the language that makes the internet run) what makes up your site; it can be seen through the programs that construct your site.
5) Most important are effectively written meta descriptions--those sets of word under the URLs found through a web search. You can actually go in and write or change the ones that appear when a search find your site or some subject that is related to it. Those descriptions not only define your site--they can direct people to look at your site over others that have related content.
6) Understand and exploit the best practices for keywords and key phrases. You need to think, "What 10 or 15 words or phrases is this page MOST about?" Consider that throughout your site--whether it be the page that lists the film's plot, the cast and crew bios, or business information.
7) Remember, your site doesn't only exist within the context of itself. Use the subject of your film to have as many links as possible between your site and other relevant sites; and by "relevant," that means everything possible! From what the film is about, who is involved, what influenced it, etc., you should forge links with everything related to your film in any way.
That not only mean you/your designer-programmer makes links out to external sites; these outward links also means you need them to establish links back to you--and sometimes you get those by simply e-mailing the other sites, their administrators, webmasters, designers or owners and ask them to create links back to your site. Though you want lots of links, you don't only want to do them favors and take eyeballs away from your but to make sure they reciprocate in kind and bring you eyeballs.
8) Make sure that when you post anything--whether it be a blog about the film; a fully realized press kit; the director's statement--you intelligently situate key words and key phrase that you want search engines to pick in the first paragraph or headline that accompanies the text. That goes for captions and the underlying names of photos or videos the are integrated into the site.
9) Of course the richer the content of your site, the greater chance search engines will find keywords in the range of subjects your site covers--so there is a balance between focus and breadth or range. If your film is about a certain subject include related articles or stories and images about that subject.
10) Though often overlooked, two other important elements can improve your ranking in searches. One is "duration"--how long do people stay on your site either by reading or watching it -- and the other is "click-thrus" -- much do users jump around the site. By getting a hit or, as the term has been updated, a click-thru demonstrates user activity.
When someone clicks on an article or image on the site and then clicks onward, that's a "hit" or "click-thru." The diversity of clicks is more important than just someone hitting the site because hits can be rigged. Most important is that someone is really moving through the site not just clicking at one point.