Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic from search engines like Google to your Ning Network.
While many of the best practices for SEO are automatically built-in to your Ning Network, there is plenty you can do as a Network Creator to further increase the visibility of your Ning Network on search engines.
First, if you are interested in SEO, your Ning Network needs to be entirely public. This means that every page on your Ning Network — not just the main page — needs to be accessible to visitors. The reason for this is because Google and other search engines cannot crawl through your Ning Network if it is private. You can control the privacy of your Ning Network by following these steps. Second, you need to make sure your Ning Network is appearing in search. This should happen automatically a few weeks after you create your Ning Network. You can also manually add your URL to Google Webmaster Tools.
Tags, Keywords and Relevancy
Once you’ve completed these basic steps, you can start tagging your Ning Network with effective keywords in the Network Details section of the My Network tab. Tagging your Ning Network and content with effective keywords will help it appear in search results. You can read more about choosing the right keywords here.
Relevancy is defined by analyzing these elements:
- Network Name
- General Content
You can also tag individual pieces of content on your Ning Network. The “tags” field (for the Events feature, this field is called “Event Type”) is important for SEO and corresponds to HTML called meta-tags. Once again, you’ll want to think of specific, accurate, and descriptive words for the photos, videos, blog posts, and other content on your Ning Network. As the Network Creator, you can edit the tags and title for any piece of content — not just the content you added.
If a piece of content doesn’t already have any tags, it will automatically inherit the keywords (meta-tags) of your Ning Network. This means that the keywords you add to your Network Details page are what are automatically added as the meta tags for any content item without tags.
You can also further enhance your network’s visibility in search results by getting search engines to index more content on your network. One great way to do that is to add <head> tags to a Page. See Advanced Page Customization for more information.
Google offers several helpful resources for Network Creators who want to continue increasing the visibility of their Ning Network:
- Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide: Click the link to download a document that extensively covers the tips and best practices of SEO.
- Google Webmaster Tools: Use Google Webmaster Tools to verify your Ning Network, then use it to see the top search queries by impressions and clickthrough. Use this information to tag your Ning Network and your content more effectively. Verifying your Ning Network with Google Webmaster Tools is a built-in feature that you can access by going to My Network > Tools > Google Webmaster — check this article for more information.
- Google Analytics: Use Google Analytics to see which search queries result in the most visits to your Ning Network. Google Analytics is also a valuable resource for things beyond SEO, like tracking new member sign-ups.