Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Before going into production on any website, search engine optimization needs to be considered as it is more effectively implemented during the initial design phase of a website. It is much more difficult to optimize, well modify, an existing website for the search engines than it is to optimize a new website to be search engine friendly.
Since starting from scratch is the best way to go with your Spanish (Generation Equis targeted) website, it is best to have search engine optimization planned and implemented from the beginning of the website development stage.
Keep in mind that close to ten percent of all online searches in the United States are conducted in Spanish, while less than one company out of fifty-thousand has listed their keywords in Spanish.
Does this sound like an opportunity? English and Spanish search engines offer free targeted organic traffic so an Internet user can easily find what they are looking for. In most cases the more time your website is listed with a search engine, the better placement that your website will receive. Better placement results in more visitors!
Best of all, with the right planning and search engine optimization they will find your website first. Why? Because your website is at the top of the search engine results and that will bring your website more visitors. How often do you go to page 2 or 3 of your web search results to find what you are looking for? Not likely very often, unless you are looking for your own website.
The key strategies to consider while optimizing your website for the search engines are:
•Web Crawler Friendly Design: Just like targeting the general Internet population, your Generation Equis site still needs to have the same crawl friendly design of a traditional website; you still need an error free site, a robots.txt file and an XML sitemap.
•Using Keywords: Your domain name, tags, links, images and content must be keyword rich with both English and Spanish keywords that will attract Generation Equis visitors to your site. You must also consider culturally significant keywords such as; Hispanic, Latino and Latina as well as accents as they will truly set you apart from other Spanish websites.
•Search Engine Submission: Manual submission to the major English search engines and directories will help drive traffic to your website. It is imperative that you submit your site to the Spanish search engines as well. Finally, keep in mind that the major English websites such as; Google, MSN, Lycos and Alta Vista also have Spanish websites that require a separate submission for your Spanish site.
Now let’s go into more detail about each of these topics.
Web Crawler Friendly Design
The first step in the search engine optimization process is ensuring that your web developer, whether you are wearing that hat or your site is being built by an employee or contractor, builds a search engine friendly website.
Similar to a traditional English website, your Spanish website should be built free of coding errors, contain a robots.txt file and an XML sitemap. After all, if the search engines cannot fully access your website, due to design or implementation errors, you will be penalized by the search engines resulting in a lower ranking in the search engines, or no ranking at all, and less visitors to your website. If Generation Equis is not able to locate your pages, what is the point of investing time and money in search engine optimization?
There are ample tools available to validate HTML or scripting as well as tools and programs that will verify your robots.txt file. HTML or scripting languages such as PHP are the programming languages used to build most websites. A Robots.txt file is a simple text file in your main web directory that generally has a link to your sitemap so the search engines can find it and it also tells the search engines which website pages that they should or should not index and present to the public.
An XML sitemap is an index of all of the individual pages contained in your website that assists the search engines in indexing your site’s content. There are plenty of programs available to create an XML sitemap which will even update your sitemap automatically hourly, daily, and weekly, etc to reflect any changes to your site depending on how they are configured.
After setting up your sitemap, your developer should also set up a “cron job” that will ping, or notify, the major search engines each time that your sitemap is updated so they can return and re-index your site to reflect any recent changes.
Have you ever searched for something on a major search engine like Google, Yahoo or MSN and noticed that there were millions of websites that matched the terms that you searched for? As you know, although Generation Equis has migrated to the Internet in a similar fashion as mainstream America has, it seems as though Corporate America has been a late adopter and is still struggling to reach out to Generation Equis online. Online marketing to Hispanics is almost an untapped market wide open for the taking!
Corporate America, and top Internet marketers, may have a monopoly on the majority of the common English keywords with the major English search engines. They are most often listed on the first page of those millions of pages of results that are returned for any given search string. On a positive note, Spanish keywords and Spanish search engines are still wide open for the taking. Not only are Spanish keywords used less often on the web thereby giving you an opportunity to receive good SERP (Search Engine Results Placement) but they are often erroneously used due to poor translations of English to Spanish, special characters and accents.
Keywords are a single word or phrase you establish which are the right words or phrases that people would think of when searching the major search engines for your business, product, or service. It is believed that a big component of the secret algorithm that search engines use when indexing your site and deciding where to rank your website in search results is your domain name.
Some people ask what is so important about a domain name. Many of our English website clients have told us that they thought if you register the shortest, catchiest domain name or having your company’s name in your web address that you do not have to market your website and the sales will start trickling in.
We have also had people tell us that they have heard about the seven figure plus price tags that the sale of domains like Drugs.com and CreditCard.com brought in so they want to register a bunch of short and catchy domain names and just sell them in a few years for millions and retire.
The truth is that the very few high yielding domains that sold for millions of dollars were initially registered decades ago by early adopters to the Internet. A few years back, pre-recession, We remember more than a few colleagues making six, and in some cases seven, figure profits off of houses they bought only ten years ago. Recent events have proved that those days are over. As far as short and catchy English domains go, good luck finding one and even if you do, you will still need to market your website. Contrary to what you may hear some people say; traffic, or website visitors, does not just appear out of nowhere.
Now do not get discouraged about finding a good domain name for your Spanish site because if you remember Corporate America has not really jumped on the Spanish web development bandwagon yet and neither have most of the domain name speculators; AKA squatters; or web developers. Your focus on Generation Equis should allow you to register a short and catchy Spanish domain that you may even be able to make a little money off of someday when the majority of Corporate America jumps on the Generation Equis bandwagon.
Adding your company’s name to your website really depends on the nature of your business and the goals of your website. In some cases you need to use your company name in your website so your current customers can find you and you can protect your brand. In a lot of cases, people are using the Internet to drive incremental sales by marketing to new customers and prospects. If that is the case you just need to keep in mind that if they are going to search for a website with your company name in it they probably will not be new customers.
We generally tell customers, depending on their goals, that the key to finding a great domain is identifying an available domain that is rich in keywords related to their product or service. In the absence of needing to brand your company by using a web address with your company name in it to achieve your goals, why not use a keyword rich domain that will help with your placement in the search engines and new customers can associate with your products or services.
Using effective keywords during the design of your site is also a critical piece of search engine optimization. The first step in using effective keywords is keyword research. This is where your bilingual web developer, a bilingual employee or a bilingual friend can really be an asset. You need to create a list of potential keywords that a customer would search for so they can be translated.
Assuming that you have an English website, try to start your list of potential keywords by looking at the English keywords that have been successful for you and have the keywords properly translated to Spanish. Of course only translate them if the Spanish version would still apply to your business and would be a keyword that Generation Equis users may search for.
Keep in mind that any, and all, translations have to be done by a fully bilingual person. Have you ever used an online translation program to translate something from a foreign language to English only to find that the translation makes no sense at all? You had a better contextual understanding looking at the picture above the foreign language text than you did when the translator software, or program, that you used translated it into English? Translation is just another opportunity for you to excel in your search engine placement. You can rest assured that it is more than likely that some of your competitors made the mistake during the translation process of improperly translating keywords creating yet another opportunity for your website to rank higher in the search engines results.
To get ideas for keywords, go back to your notes, bookmarks, or favorites, and take a look at your competitor’s websites. By right clicking on your competitor’s site and selecting the “view source” option you will be able to see the keywords that they are using in their meta-tags and description tag. Obviously you do not want to copy their keywords and you never want to use their name or an intellectual property protected keyword such as their brand but it may help generate some ideas for your list of potential keywords list by giving your some keyword ideas to expand on.
Sit down with your bilingual web developer, employee or friend and brainstorm all of the words, or sets of words, that you think your customers would use when searching for your products as well as breaking out a thesaurus and looking up applicable synonyms. Then add their culturally and grammatically correct translations to your potential keyword list.
Do not hesitate to also add English keywords to your list of potential keywords as long as they are culturally significant such as; Hispanic, bilingual and Latina and are commonly used by members of Generation Equis. Stay away from using English keywords like the word, “Spanish” or the string, “Spanish shoes” as most Spanish speakers searching for a Spanish website would use the word Espanol, or Español, in their search if they were looking for a Spanish website and if someone searches for, “Spanish shoes” they are most likely looking to buy shoes from Spain on an English website versus searching for a Spanish site that sells shoes or “zapatos” in Spanish.
The Spanish language uses accent marks and special characters in some of their words but not all keyboards support using accents and special characters so it is important to consider adding both versions of Spanish words, with and without the accent, to your list of potential keywords. Proper use of accents may also be a great tool for you to get to the first page of results in the search engines so min your P’s and Q’s or rather mind your ñ’s and Ñ’s.
Now that you have compiled a list of potential keywords, it is time to research their popularity. Their popularity will tell you how often your keywords are searched for in a given time period so you can identify the more popular keywords. This can be done in a couple of ways. Either enter the keywords from your list of potential keywords into the major search engines as well as the Spanish search engines and see how many, what type and which of your competitors sites come up in the results or go the easy route and use a tool specifically designed for this. We recommend using Google Suggest, Overture, or Wordtracker to measure the popularity of your keywords. Be sure to rank each keyword on your list by popularity and keep the forty highest ranked keywords at the top of your list while retaining the others for future advertising campaigns.
With your keyword list in hand it is now time to sit down with the web developer and plan out the keyword placement for your site. A good strategy is to select your top ten ranked keywords to optimize your homepage. When using keywords to optimize a webpage you should focus on keyword density in your tags, headings, links, images and content while avoiding excessive repetition. A good rule of thumb to go by is that if it makes sense when you read it or it is in context, it is not too excessive.
Meta-tags provide information about a given web page, most often to help search engines categorize them correctly. They are hidden in the source code of the web page, do not affect how the page is displayed and are not visible to visitors unless they view the source code of your web page. Meta-tags allow you to insert keywords into the title, description and keywords of your page so they will be indexed by the search engines.
In addition to meta-tags, the alt tags of your web page can be a great place to insert your keywords. Alt tags were developed to present text to visitors when an image does not load and to provide a textual description of an image. Alt tags are somewhat hidden to visitors unless they mouse over the images they are attached to.
Links are also a great location for your keywords. Whether the links are outbound, to other websites, or inbound, to other pages in your website, try to use your keywords if possible when creating your links.
In addition to links, your image files can be a great place to use your keywords. Instead of naming your images logo.jpg or button.jpg try inserting your keywords into your filename. For example our site logo is named GenerationEquisMedia.jpg versus logo.jpg.
This strategy not only gives you better keyword density on your web page, it also optimizes your page for the “image search” that a lot of the major search engines offer.
Content and text are another great venue for keywords. The challenge is providing keyword rich text and content without distracting the user. If your text and content is written with your keywords in mind, it will only help with your placement in the search engine results.
Finally keep in mind that search engines love keywords in the headings and bolded print of your text and content.
Once you have planned how to optimize your homepage, select the individual pages of your site and plan on using three keywords from your top ten ranked keywords list and use three, different when possible, keywords from the remaining top forty ranked keywords list.
The goal is to optimize each page of your site for different keywords thereby increasing the chances of one of your pages being found no matter which of your keywords is searched for.
Search Engine Submission
There are a couple of basic methods you can use to submit your site to the major search engines. You can either submit the home, or index page, of your website or you can submit your XML sitemap. Either way, you need to decide whether you are going to automatically submit your site to the search engines or do so manually.
We always recommend manual submission as it is in some cases better received by the search engine and at times can give you additional drill-down or category information that is not available during automated submission.
Although Generation Equis uses the major English search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN, they also utilize Spanish search engines as well as Spanish versions of the major English search engines.
You cannot stop at just submitting your Spanish site to the major search engines, you also need to submit your site to the Spanish version of the mainstream English search engines such as the Spanish version of Google, Yahoo and MSN.
It is also imperative that you submit your website to the Spanish specific search engines such as; Terra, Mexico Global and Univision.
To properly submit your website to the Spanish specific search engines, you will need a text file with the following information, in Spanish, available to copy and paste into the submission fields:
- Title: The title of your website.
- Description: The description of your website that you want to appear on the search engine results page.
- Categories: Two relevant categories that apply to your website.
- Email: An email account that you are open to receiving spam email in. It is not a good idea to use your regular email address.
- Directories are another way to freely market and promoteyour site to Generation Equis as well as build quality inbound links to your site that the search engines recognize and reward you for.
- Submitting your site to the Spanish directories such as; Hispanic Surf, Top 100 Latino and Busca Pique is another important piece of search engine optimization.
- Directory submissions often require a manual submission as well as a complete description so it is important that your bilingual web developer, employee or friend completes the submission on your behalf.
For more information onHispanic friendly, or Spanish SEO, please visit the Generation Equis Media website.