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Primer in search engine optimization

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If you are looking for a tutorial/primer/guide to search engine optimization (SEO) then I am sorry to disappoint. This is not it!

There are some very old threads dating back to 2006 that speak to this subject but there is currently no Help: article on SEO. The following lists in no particular order some possibly useful resources on the subject. I'd welcome a contemporary expert in SEO to review the list below and sort the wheat from the chaff. Perhaps from that effort a Help:Search Engine Optimization article will evolve as a reference for those of us who just want to create content and don't have the bandwidth to learn the nitty gritty details of SEO tips and tricks.

Wikia resources:

Non-Wikia resources:

If this is a Help: article you would also like to read then, please show your support.

If you know where such an article already exists then please share a link here.

--najevi 10:25, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

We do have Advice:Raising your wiki's Google ranking on Wikia Help, but is a bit more general than that list. I'll bring it up with Toughpigs, he's our resident SEO guru :) Kirkburn  talk  contr  @Wikia  13:21, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Thank you, that was a helpful article by Danny. I just added it to the list above.

The thing that started me down this path was an invitation from a staff member to change the primary domain name of a wiki. This prompted me to investigate where on the pages of Google search results based on various keywords the first reference to a ###.wikia.com wiki appears. I then discovered that the Google hit listing for a Wikia hosted wiki displays the MediaWiki:Description message. So that got me wondering what role other MediaWiki messages play in this search engine indexing/optimization/ranking/whatever game. ... For gaming related wiki's I just remembered that there's also a page at gaming.wikia.com/wiki/<Wiki-Name> so no doubt other categories of wiki have similar "portal" pages.

The list above shows only those pages that _I_ am aware of. (I don't know what I don't know.)

Of the 14 Wikia hosted resources, I learned about only one third of them during the first 6-12 months of being an active contributor. So for the complete newcomer to Wikia I suspect a walk through of which are useful and which are not might prove helpful. Danny's (toughpigs's) article is the right tone, it's just ironic that it was not returned when I searched Shared Help (w:c:help:Special:Search) (and then later on Central Wikia Help and Central Wikia Forums) for the keywords "search engine optimization". A case of the cobblers children having no shoes ... or so it seemed at the time!

Ah-ha!

  • The problem with searching Shared Help is that the search page a user is taken to is not the advertised w:c:help:Special:Search but rather it is merely Special:Search on your local wiki. (You can verify this at vsk.wikia.com/wiki/Help:Contents)
    • w:c:help:Special:Search shows up as the tooltip but <Wiki-Name>.wikia.com/wiki/Special:Search is where the link takes you
  • It cracked me up just now to discover the small print tip (randomly generated) directly under the Help:Contents page bold font banner title: Welcome to Wikia Help! It reads:
    It just goes to show that when you know what keyword you need to be scanning for ("google ranking" and not "search engine optimization") then it jumps right out at you!

--najevi 16:26, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

The primer

The most important guide to SEO is Google's Design and Content Guidelines. A few of the items on that list are already handled by Wikia on our end; the most important ones for wiki editors are:

  • Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
  • Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.
  • Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).

Google pays attention to a number of elements on the page -- including the page title, the amount of text on the page, and the number and quality of links on the page. "Quality of links" is basically determined by the placement and emphasis of the links on the page -- the really important ones should be at the top of the page, big and bold.

Google suggests having fewer than 100 links on a page, so you should try to link to things that are relevant and important. Big navigation templates that list dozens of articles at the bottom of the page are not helpful; a single link to a well-defined category is very helpful.

Your categories are also important -- it's best if your category names include the topic word. (For example, a category called "Runescape Weapons" will show up when someone is searching for Runescape weapons; a category called "Weapons" is less likely to show up.)

The design of the main page is the most important thing to get right. Your main page should have fewer than 100 links -- and those links should go to important content pages, and major categories. You should avoid linking to Special pages, Help pages or About pages on the main page -- and definitely not right at the top of the page, where Google is looking for the most important links. Your main page should also have some real text on it, describing your topic in a few paragraphs.

We've been working on the SEO on Muppet Wiki for years -- that's where I learned all of these strategies. We've managed to get really high in the results -- #2 for Muppets, #1 for Muppet characters -- beating the official sites, and beating Wikipedia for some important keywords. So the main page of Muppet Wiki is a good example of an SEO-friendly wiki. Marvel Database has recently redesigned their main page to use this model, and they've been really successful at raising their rank.

So there's your basic primer! :) I love talking about this stuff, so let me know what you think. -- Danny@Wikia (talk) 17:06, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Thank you, Danny. There were one or two surprises for me in that brief primer but all-in-all I reckon the wiki nearest to my heart is in good order. --najevi 14:42, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Could there be a tool, extension or something that would count the number of links in each page, including sidebar, footer and all that appear on every page, and then show a list of the pages with the most links (like pages with the most categories) ?
Could be usefull. — TulipVorlax 01:37, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I've actually got that set up as a bookmark on my toolbar! Create a bookmark with this as the Location:
javascript:alert($("a[rel!=nofollow]").length);
When you're on a Wikia page, you can click that bookmark, and it'll bring up a pop-up that counts the number of links on the page, not counting the ones that have "nofollow" tags. (I hope. It works for me, and for some other people that I've told about it, so I hope it works for all browsers.)
All of the links in our skin are already set to nofollow -- sidebar, toolbox, footer, the edit bar, the login buttons, section edit buttons, table of contents, the link to Special:Categories in the category bar... etc. I went through the skin with a fine-tooth comb over the last year, adding nofollow everywhere that I could think of! So you don't have to worry about sidebar links or anything -- just the text and images that are in the content space.
So I hope that js bookmark works -- I've found it really helpful as I've been working on main pages. -- Danny@Wikia (talk) 18:20, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
GREAT !
I forgot about the nofollow. Or is it that i was thinking them to be counted by Google.
At first i wasn't able to set up the fav with that js bit it was saying (in french) : No such file.
So i made a fav/shortcut to the first URL that came up when i began typing http: and next a right clic on it for the properties and i was able to make it accept the js bit even though it said the the javascript: protocol had no program associated to it.
What is so great with this fav is that i can use it anywhere, even on my own webpages.
Thanks. — TulipVorlax 23:43, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
There's now 90 links on this page ! Lol. — TulipVorlax 23:48, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
Ok, after a bit of thinking about it, just before trying it elsewhere, i suddently understood that this need jQuery and that it wont work on sites where it's not present. While making the favs, i saw the "$" in the code and knew what it was but... it did not hit me until now.
I could do a small app (in VB.net) that would analyse my web pages and give me some stats like number of link, number of words, number of word in link, etc. But since it's not something i really need, i'll probably never get it done.
It not like the XML sitemap generator that i needed and that is now done and working great (and is downloadable on my site, under CC-BY-SA).
Great tip anyway. — TulipVorlax 02:52, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, I just know that it works on Wikia. :) By the way -- don't stress out too much if a regular content page has over 100 links. Fewer than 100 is optimal, but content links are important on a wiki, and I wouldn't cut good content out of an article just because it has more than 100 links.
However, if there are unnecessary or repetitive links on a page, it might be good to cut them. Some wikis use big navigation templates at the bottom of pages, listing all of the pages in a category. Those can sometimes have up to 100 links just in the template alone, so they're usually a big drain on the wiki's Google rank. It's better to structure the categories or use the sidebar in a way that helps people navigate around, rather than trying to provide "one-click" access to every important page in the footer. -- Danny@Wikia (talk) 17:28, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

Wiki community custom footer

Just as Wikia has claimed a Wikia_corporate_footer on every page of each community's wiki, what I would like to see is each community having a small slice of vertical space for an article or page footer. The two classic pieces of information I'd want to place there are

  • About Project
  • Copyright notice (at game wikis screenshots are typically used to illustrate the wiki and of course those are copyright the game developer however their use at a wiki is typically granted explicitly (permission) or implicitly (fair use). It's courtesy to acknowledge the copyright owner.
  • I might also add the "article count since date" information in such a footer, however this would look more at home in the existing articleFooter.

My point here being that each community ought to be given a MediaWiki message that they can customize to tailor a page-footer or article-footer to their unique need. --najevi 03:16, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

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