Friday, December 19, 2008

Webcomic Keyword Optimization, Part 2

Yesterday we looked at keywords, and you need to read that post for this one to make sense.

Today we're looking at selecting and optimizing keywords.

Selecting Keywords:

The goal is to pick keywords that will rank high in search and bring people to your site. But, you have to do it efficiently, because if you stuff in as many keywords as you can type, the value of all will diminish.

Comics have a peculiar aspect, in that most of their pages are indistinguishable to search engines. They are simply comic pages.

This suggests that you deploy your best keywords on your home page, supplementary pages and throughout the site to lesser degree. You can then concentrate certain keywords on selected interior pages, chosen almost at random. While it's preferable to have search results feature landing pages, you can't optimize a landing page for every possible search.

  • Word efficiency means combining and arranging keywords within a tag to get the most bang. Continuing yesterday's example, we might combine Scratchin Post + Comics to become one keyword phrase. That phrase will also offer Google options like Scratchin Post and Post Comics. 
  • Word density means packing most of the tags on one page with a certain keyword or keywords, perhaps going from your URL to page title to description tag to ALT (image) tags. Note: never use tags you wouldn't want people to see. For example, some browsers display ALT tags when you mouse over an image.
  • Word variety means customizing different pages to respond in different searches. Be sure to have a clear link to your home page from your interior pages, or this traffic will wash away.

Optimizing Keywords:

The most potent combination starts with a URL, if possible, and populated all of the tag entry points. The keyword is enhanced if it overlaps with words in the page's text. It also helps if somewhere there is a link pointing to that page that uses the keyword in its wording.

Some people write text tailored to their keyword needs. This can make for some mighty dull reading, so use caution. Padding a site can damage it as much as a keyword in the text helps it. Follow this idea: only write something if it's worth writing anyway. Consider the downside of distracting comic readers, and keep it short and tight.

While no one rejects accidental traffic, the best keywords lure people to your site who want to be there. You didn't sign up to be a full time site designer, after all; you want to make your comic. That means you want visitors who are exposed to your comic to include a high percentage of people who are possible future readers. Use logic and select words that are about the qualities that make your comic distinctive.

Chart by Jakob Nielson 
The chart above is an illustration of a little known fact: long keyword 
phrases (like five words or more) outperform single words over time. Part 
of this is from the tendency of some people to pose questions as search 
queries: How do I make a webcomic?

I also recommend against getting in competitions with another site over use of a word. If you overfill any particular aspect of your sites tags, they will begin to lose meaning. There must be a natural relationship between all the components and characterizations of a site.

Webcomic keyword optimization overlaps with optimizing for image search, because your image tags (called ALT tags to devil you) do much of the talking when Google is deciding what an image depicts. You can use image captions to enhance the fertility of image identification, and increase the chances that your images will emerge on an image search results page.

As I wrote yesterday, I am learning and trying. Some readers will no doubt notice things worth commenting on, correcting and expanding. Please do -- I consider it a favor, not a slight.