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SEO Tips and Tricks

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Aired May 9, 2012

This webinar provides an introduction to SEO - Search Engine Optimization. It details how you can make specific changes to your wiki to help improve your wiki's search rank. Search results are a major driver of wiki's traffic, and this webinar overviews what Wikia does in the background to help as well as what you can do on your wiki to improve your SEO.

Slides & Transcript

SEO webinar Slide01

Welcome to the May Webinar on SEO best practices: Tips & tricks for improving your wiki's search results. I’m Sarah Manley a community manager at Wikia and today we have with us Sean Colombo, an engineer at Wikia. Sean is also the founder of Lyric Wiki, one of the biggest lyric sites on the internet.



SEO webinar Slide02
Agenda

Today we are going to give you an introduction to SEO and tell you what Wikia does behind the scenes to help improve your wiki’s SEO. We will also offer tips and steps you can take on your wiki to help improve your rankings in search results.




SEO webinar Slide03
What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, which refers to how your wiki shows up in search results. It’s ideal to show up in the top of search results since people are most likely to click on one of the top search results they see.




SEO webinar Slide04

For example, if you have a wiki about bacon and someone searches for bacon recipes on Google, the higher your wiki shows up in search results, the more traffic you'll likely get. Here is an example of the search results for Han Solo in Google. Wookiepedia, a wiki on stars wars on wikia, shows up third on the search results, only behind the wikipedia’s entries for the character. This means that folks searching for information on Han solo are highly likely to click on that link and visit Wookiepedia to learn more. Once they visit Wookiepedia, they may then decide to check out other pages on the wiki or even contribute some of their own knowledge. Using SEO best practices will help your wiki grow, making it easier for people to find and contribute to your community




SEO webinar Slide05
Web crawlers

So how do search engines decide what to show? Sites like Google, Yahoo, and Bing send a Web crawler to your wiki that follows links from one page to the next, indexing what they find. In this case, indexing a page means identifying the words and phrases that best describe the page, then using that information to tie the page to certain keywords. Optimizing your wiki helps ensure that it's indexed properly and shows up for relevant searches. So how does Wikia help you to optimize? Sean will now shed some light on what goes on behind the technical scenes.




SEO webinar Slide06

Hi Everyone, I am Sean Colombo and am an engineer here at Wikia. I work on creating new features, making the site nice and fast, and improving our API. I got started on wikis back in 2006 when I founded Lyric Wiki.




SEO webinar Slide07
Mediawiki

Mediawiki, the base software Wikia is run off of, has built in tricks that help with our seo. These include:

  • Each page having keywords and a description associated with it - this means when a web crawler visits the page it can pull those easily from the page
  • Pages that are redirects are setup up in a way that it tells the webcrawler where it is pointing to, and to associate the redirect title with the page it’s pointing to. This is why it’s good to create page with misspellings or alternative spellings as redirects.
  • On the main Wikia skin we use html5 , a form of code which has ‘semantic markup’ - which is code that tells web crawlers which are the most important place on the page to read and tells them to index this content rather than parts like the navigation, ads or other content that is found across the wiki and not unique to the page.

All of this helps web crawlers to identify what is important content to index and what is not. This naturally helps a wiki’s seo without you having to take any extra steps.




SEO webinar Slide08
OpenGraph

A second thing we use is OpenGraph Meta Tags. OpenGraph  is protocol used across the internet and found on sites such as google and facebook. Its purpose is to tell other sites what is the most important text on the page as well as what image should be used to represent the page. This extension is open source and found on all of our wikis.




SEO webinar Slide09

The text and image that are added with the meta tags are all page specific. You can see this clearly in action when you add a wiki link to your status on facebook. For example, here you can see what is displayed on facebook when you add the link for the page about Rue from the hunger games wiki.




SEO webinar Slide10

The Wikia code that is used to give the best representative chunk of text and image for an article is called Article service and Image serving. You can find out what image and text are being used for a page through our API if you are interested. For pages that have multiple images, you can actually customize which image and description are shown when shared. To do this you add the following to the page:

  • Use {{#setmainimage:BestFilename.png}} to set the image
  • Use {{#description2:This is a description}} to set the description

Once these are added, that is what will be displayed when the specific page is shared.




SEO webinar Slide11

For Lyric Wiki I have gone even one step further to improve this. Many pages on Lyric Wiki are songs, and so don’t have an image on them. To help them still look good when shared, if a song page doesn’t have an image, I wrote code that tells the software to then look for an image on the corresponding artist page. So here you can see an example. The song shown is Dime by the band Cake. Dime doesn’t have a picture on it, but when you go to share on facebook, you see will see a picture from the artist page. This means that the wiki is always represented in the best way possible on sites such as facebook.




SEO webinar Slide12
Search Algorithms are ever changing

One thing to keep in mind, is that search algorithms are constantly changing, so all of these tweaks do need to be updated over time. A good example was when google add a new algorithm called panda, Lyric Wiki actually temporarily lost about half of our traffic! When I noticed this, I went in and make changes, which then boosted us back up.

Don’t worry too much though because there are basic tips you can follow on your wiki that have proven over time to work. Sarah will now take you through some of those tips.




SEO webinar Slide13

Thank you Sean for taking us through what is done in the background to help wiki’s with their rankings in search results. Many of you may be wondering, what do search bots actually look for when determining if a website or page should show up higher or lower? They look at rich content, use of keywords and high-quality links.




SEO webinar Slide14
#1 thing to do - Add Content!

How do you get rich content - you add it! The most important part of building a successful wiki is sitting down and writing interesting content. That's what readers and contributors are coming to the wiki for, and that's what search engines pick up on. The more content you have, the more likely your wiki will do well in search results.




SEO webinar Slide15
Clear names & keywords

When writing there are a couple of things you should keep in mind - clear names and keywords. It’s important that the name of the wiki and all pages, photos and categories clearly reflect what they are and what they are about. Page names should reflect the most common/popular name of the topic.




SEO webinar Slide16

This applies to photos and any other media uploaded as well. Photos should use a file name that describes what appears rather than a random string of letters or numbers. The example here is from the Harry potter wiki. The file name is HarryRon, which is who is in the picture.




SEO webinar Slide17
Categories

Category names should also be considered and include relevant keywords. Here is an example from the call of duty wiki. On this category page they have included what the category is about, characters, and then from which game, modern warfare 3. This helps to describe exactly what the category is about.




SEO webinar Slide18
Mediawiki pages to update

There are also a couple of mediawiki messages that can be edited to optimize your wiki’s seo. These are:

  • MediaWiki:Pagetitle - This message determines the pagetitle for all pages, except the mainpage. It should start with the code "$1", which will be automatically replaced by the name of the page. We also recommend adding the name of the wiki, followed by 3 or 4 keywords.
  • MediaWiki:Pagetitle-view-mainpage - This message determines the pagetitle for the mainpage only. This should normally have the name of the wiki, followed by 4 or 5 keywords that people are looking for.
  • MediaWiki:Description - This determines the description of the wiki, which appears right below the title of the page in search results. This should be a short description of the wiki, with about 7 keywords and the name of the wiki.




SEO webinar Slide19

Here you can see an example from the Bioshock Wiki. They have updated these Mediawiki pages to include keywords relating to their topic.




SEO webinar Slide20
High Quality Links

The second area to focus on is to ensure that all links are high quality links. You can do this in a couple of ways:

  • Link to the most important pages - Links on the main page should point to the most important content pages on the wiki, such as major characters, titles, episodes or other keywords people will search for.
  • Put the most important links at (or near) the top of the page - This is most important on the main page of the wiki, but it's a good practice for any page. Crawlers start at the top of a page and follow the links from there. So whatever is linked near the top will be what they assume your wiki is about.




SEO webinar Slide21
Double check all links

Additionally you want to make sure:

  • Have a maximum of 100 links on the main page - Google explicitly suggests to keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100). This is because each link on a page is considered a "vote" for the page that it links to, and helps to raise the pagerank of the linked page. When there are more than 100 links on the page, the "votes" get diluted. The main page of a wiki always has the highest pagerank, so the links on the main page are the most effective way to spread that pagerank to other pages on the wiki.
  • Make sure you don't have any orphaned or dead end pages. Orphaned or dead end pages either aren't linked from any pages on your wiki or don't link to any other pages. If a crawler happens to find one of these pages, it won't be able to continue scanning your wiki. Or alternatively, these pages won't be found by a crawler at all. You want to avoid both scenarios so that all of your wiki is indexed properly.




SEO webinar Slide22

Here is a good example from the My Little Pony Wikimain page. They show the most important links near the top of the page, and link to areas where folks who come here will want to visit.




SEO webinar Slide23
Submit links to search engines

You can also take steps off of your wiki to help improve your search rankings. Things we recommend to do are:

  • Submit your URL to Google  - Google allows you to manually submit your wikis for their indexing. You can find it from Google's home page .
  • Submit links to other high-quality websites - just like you can submit your wiki’s url to google, you can also submit to other sites, such as imdb, tv.com or the open directory project.




SEO webinar Slide24
Build affiliates

We also recommend:

  • Contact similar websites - If you know of other sites on the web that cover the same topic as you, we recommend getting in touch with them to see if they want to exchange links. A good way to go about this is to start by creating pages for these other websites on your wiki with information about them. Once you've done that, write them, and send a link to the page you've created about them. Invite them to come to your wiki and add more to their page. They may end up adding a link to your wiki on their site, which will help with your wiki’s seo.
  • Post on blogs and forums - If you know of blogs or forums that cover a similar topic, you can add comments there and link back to your wikis as a source. Be sure your comments intelligent and relevant, so that they are more likely to stay up and not come off as spam.

Having links from other sites helps show web crawlers that you are a reliable source of information and should be listed higher when relevant searches are done.




SEO webinar Slide25

Here is a good example from Starwars.com. Wookiepedia is listed there as one of the main fans sites that folks can check out.




SEO webinar Slide26
Reach out to other wikis

And last but not least:

  • Contact relevant wikis - It can be helpful to have links from other wikis. Whether your wiki is related to Anime, Cartoons,or Sci-Fi, you’ll find at least one wiki that shares something in common. Track down the admins of any related wikis and offer to trade links. If they agree, add their link to an affiliate page or template on your wiki and make sure they do the same. Here you can see an example of the affiliates that the Assassin Creed wiki has set up.




SEO webinar Slide27
Conclusion

So as an overview - start with content, make sure you use clear names and link out to important pages. Then spread the word. With these steps, your wiki’s rank will improve in search results. Now we have time for some questions from the community.




SEO webinar Slide28







SEO webinar Slide30


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