We’ve all heard the term by now, but I’ll provide a brief introduction. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of influencing how search engines index and rank content on the web, in order to maximize traffic from organic, unpaid search results. It is a subtle and sometimes elusive art that marketers and technologists have relentlessly attempted to master and use to their advantage. You might even say that many marketers are obsessed with SEO and have been throughout the Internet era. This post addresses the basics of SEO and the LookBookHQ platform, answers some common questions our prospects and customers regularly ask, and provides tips and tricks for making your content experiences easier for your audience to find.
How SEO Works
Search engine technology utilizes crawlers (also know as robots) to index pages on the web. For a page to be indexable by search engine robots (and hence searchable by your audience), it needs to have an incoming link from a page or site that has previously been indexed, or to be previously known to the robots. Search engines like Google employ their own complex, well-cultivated and often esoteric algorithms — PageRank and RankBrain, which combine logarithmic scales and Artificial Intelligence, are two of the most well known — to determine the relevancy of webpages, relative to the terms used by people searching the web.
Success Factors for SEO
In addition to the number (and relevance) of links pointing to a page, other factors that impact relevance include, but are not limited to: Meta tags (keywords, descriptions); title, headings, text on the page; and page URL.
It’s worth noting that although these are widely accepted as the conventional wisdom, some of these factors have become less relevant as Google frequently updates its array of algorithms, which means SEO is always a moving target. As a result, there are lots of different opinions and perpetual debates about how best to do SEO and, thus, an entire industry of SEO consultants.
SEO and Content Experiences in the LookBookHQ Platform
Think of a LookBookHQ content experience as a container that renders your content from its original source page (for 1st and 3rd party web content added via URL) or from within our platform (for PDFs and images) in a frame. Or, from the perspective of your web browser, think of it as an HTML element that links to your content.
Does This Mean It Duplicates My Content?
Content in LookBookHQ is rendered in an iframe. IFrames do not offer Search Engine robots an alternative URL for your content, which is the definition of duplicate content on the web. Rather, LookBookHQ makes use of the underlying source URL, rendered in an iframe.
For example, if the LookBookHQ content asset that lives at companyname.lookbookhq.com/fruits/apples displays the webpage apples.com/index.html, Search Engines will be indexing the source webpage apples.com/index.html as an independent page, and as a page with an incoming link from the LookBookHQ container at companyname.lookbookhq.com/fruits/apples.
In summary, Search Engines do not see your LookBookHQ content as a duplicate or replacement of its original source content but, rather, as a link to your source content.
Inbound link success factor? Check. Bottom line? This is good for your SEO.
But What Does This Actually Mean for the SEO of My Content?
This means that a LookBookHQ content experience could help improve the SEO of your owned content, as illustrated in the example above. In no way does using LookBookHQ negatively impact the SEO of your content. It could, however, be net neutral to SEO, particularly if your underlying content does not satisfy the search engine factors covered earlier, or if you have chosen to block your LookBookHQ content experiences from being indexed by Search Engines.
In the image above, the LookBookHQ container (iframe) freshly preserves the SEO juice of the source webpage from apples.com.
How You Can Leverage the LookBookHQ Platform to Improve SEO
Here are a few practical tips and tricks to make sure your LookBookHQ content experiences are set up and optimized for search.
Title, Description and Meta Tags: By default, LookBooks (whether Private or Public) are not indexable by Search Engines, as we do not use HTML site maps. To make a LookBookHQ content experience indexable by Search Engines, it would need a link pointing to it. The Title and Description text (in the LookBookHQ settings) can help make it more relevant to search terms. Additionally, you can add meta tags for keywords and descriptions.
Note: Want your LookBooks to be completely invisible to Search Engines? You can add a “no index” meta tag <meta name=“robots” content=“no index”>
Canonical Link Elements: While Canonical Link Elements are typically used to prevent Search Engines from indexing duplicate content by pointing the Search Engine robot to the original source, tests show little to no evidence that this has any impact on the search rankings of source content, relative to the ranking of the iframe page (a LookBook in this case). Also, as mentioned earlier, content in a LookBook is not a duplicate on the web, so this is highly unlikely to make a difference in your rankings.
However, should you wish to, Canonical Link Elements such as the one below can also be added to the meta tags via your LookBookHQ settings: <link rel="canonical" href="http://original-example.com"/>
Custom Subdomains: Using custom subdomains can help improve the relevance of your content, particularly if the source web content resides on your domain. For example, content from abccorp.com within a LookBook on a custom subdomain marketing.abccorp.com could benefit from an additional link to it from the same domain (that is, XYZ.abccorp.com).
Custom URLs: LookBook and Asset URLs can also be customized to be more relevant to the content. Meaningful URLs are favorable to SEO, as search engine algorithms factor in URL-to-content relevancy in page ranking. For example, marketing.lookbookhq.com/business-intelligence/why-video would be more favorable to SEO than marketing.lookbookhq.com/b-intel-asset1.
Many savvy marketers use paid search to get their content to the top of search results. The advantage of this approach is that you don’t have to be as much at the mercy of search engine algorithm updates or rely as heavily on organic search and tinkering endlessly with keywords.
After you get the hard-earned click on your paid search (or ad) links, delivering a great content experience at the destination is still paramount to optimizing the return on your ad budget/investment. This is the case for your other channels as well.
The best practices and settings highlighted here can potentially improve the organic search rankings of your content experiences; however, it is worth mentioning that, although the right SEO can have a net increase on traffic, overdoing it can guarantee your content being relegated to the low visibility doldrums of search results.
And while this is all great stuff, it is not entirely the means to an end, because… When it comes to getting the best return on your investment in content and the marketing technology that enables it, nothing tops packaging and delivering high quality content to your audience, regardless of the channel, to allow them to engage with as much content as they need to satisfy their interests.
Anthony Ilukwe is the Head of Product at LookBookHQ. He is also the co-creator of School Locator App, and an executive member of a Toronto-based global affairs think-tank. A two-time winner of the English Premier League in Football Manager, Anthony is a lifelong Manchester United FC supporter. He also writes music reviews (on a blog that nobody reads).