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Film Marketing & Blogging: 3 Basic Search Engine Tips

Montage of logos for Google, Bing, and Yahoo

Hey, we all know how search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing work. You create a web site or page, a search “spider” crawls through your content and figures out what your site or page is all about. Then, based on that determination, doles out a link to your site to the search engine’s visitors looking for the kind of content you created.

That’s all true, but the problem is that an entire industry, a disreputable one, has sprouted up to take advantage of how search engines rank links, ensuring that junky web pages filled with misleading ads end up at the top of Google’s search results while your legitimate web page end up somewhere on Page 20. To understand just how bad this situation is, read this article by Alan Patrick.

But, that’s what happens in free marketplaces. Instead of getting mad about it, the trick is to use the same tricks that the scammers use to make sure your legitimate website ends up as high as it can in search engine results. Because if you don’t end up high enough, then the less people will find your website, whether you run a film blog or a promotional website for a film.

Tip #1: The Words That Are Hyperlinked Are As Important As The Actual Link

There are two components to every text link on a web page: There is the actual hyperlink, such as http://www.undergroundfilmjournal.com/, and then there are the words that are highlighted to create that link, such as “Underground Film Journal.” When we combine those two things, we get a usable web link, like this: Underground Film Journal.

It’s important to think of every text link as those two components. Most people usually only think of links as the actual link, e.g. http://www.undergroundfilmjournal.com/. But, that’s a problem and here’s a personal example of why:

I’ve been writing and publishing articles about underground film on the Underground Film Journal just about every day since March 2006. (Excluding time off for good behavior!) That’s a pretty good track record, right? Five years? So, you’d think that this website would rank either #1 or #2 in Google search results for the term “underground film,” wouldn’t you? Well, you’d be wrong. See for yourself:

Google search results for “underground film”

Right now, some days┬áthe Underground Film Journal will show up on Page 2 or 3 of Google search results, or, if I’m lucky, somewhere towards the bottom of Page 1. Unfortunately, I can’t blame scammers and spammers for this predicament. (But, don’t cry for me. I’m only using this as an example. I rank high for all kinds of other stuff, so I know how to work the system myself.)

So, what you want to make sure of is to name your movie site or your blog title posts so that other bloggers — and yourself for that matter! — will create links using the words you want your site referred to as.

For example, if I ever wanted to link back internally to this very post, I’ll craft my link as something like “Here are some good search engine tips” and not “Here are some good search engine tips.” That way this post will get search engine credit for those tips and not just the inconsequential word “here.”

Another example, let’s say you want to internally link to your own photo gallery on your own film’s promotional website, don’t just link to the gallery by highlighting the word “Images.” Write out something like “Photo Gallery” or “Movie Title: Photo Gallery” so search engines know exactly where they’re going when they’re crawling your site.

Tip #2: Make Sure Every Web Page You Have Has Original Text By You On It

I see this tip not being followed a lot when I look at web pages that have just images or video on it.

Let’s say you have a promotional movie site with a photo gallery and a trailer on another page. I always see sites like this that just put the image up with no description of who or what’s in the image and no words indicating that a page has some video on it.

Yes, it’s clear to the web visitor that there’s a trailer to watch and that the star of your movie is striking a dramatic pose in a picture. But, search engines can’t figure that out the way people do. Search engines need text to let them know what’s on a page.

So, all photos should be meticulously marked with actor and character names — or, if there’s no people in the picture, a description of the scene — and a movie trailer page should have it written somewhere the words “movie trailer.”

This also goes for film blogs. I always see blogs that just name the movie trailer or an image in the post title, but don’t write anything in the actual post either above or below the video or the image. The more relevant text on a web page the better for search engines to figure out exactly what’s on that page.

Bonus tip: When you post up a photo gallery, it also helps to name the images by the people in the photos. Don’t just name a photo something generic like “still1.jpg.” Name it something like “jane_doe.jpg.” That’s more text for a search engine to read on your page.

Tip #3: Make Sure Your Web Pages Have Proper Titles

Remember again that there are two components to a text hyperlink: The actual link and the words highlighted to create the link.

Not only is that important for you creating links on your web pages, but it’s also extremely important to how your links show up in search results. When search engines provide you a list of links in results, they give you them in the format of the web page title text being hyperlinked, typically with the key words highlighted.

For example, if I search for “underground film” in Google. I get results like this:

Underground film – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Chicago Underground Film Festival
Underground Film Journal

That’s why Wikipedia shows up in a high position for tons of search terms. A) Lots of people link to them highlighting those search terms such as “underground film.” B) Wikipedia has a great internal linking structure where the search terms are highlighted. And C) Each Wikipedia page title explicitly includes the appropriate search term.

If you have a film promotional site, make sure each page has a proper title. (If you don’t know how to do that, run a Google search on how to do it yourself; or, beat your web designer over the head until he does it.) Your home page should just have the title for your film while all your subsequent pages should be marked with the film title and what’s on the actual page. For example:

Home: “Movie Title”
Trailer: “Movie Title: Movie Trailer”
Images: “Movie Title: Photo Gallery”

If you have a film blog, just make sure all your post titles are succinct and have the appropriate keywords. For example, let’s say I’m very excited to learn that the filmmaker Usama Alshaibi, director of the hit documentary Nice Bombs, is working on a new doc called American Arab and I want to post a news item about it. My news item should absolutely not read something like:

“Director of Nice Bombs Working on a New Movie”

First of all, I didn’t include the director’s name in the post title, nor did I mention the title of the new film, nor did I mention it was a documentary. While that post title is completely accurate, it doesn’t give the search engine the proper info. A better post title would be:

Usama Alshaibi‘s New Documentary: American Arab

That way not only do search engines know what the article is about, but it gives the proper keywords that people most likely will be using to find your article, e.g. “usama alshaibi documentary,” “usama alshaibi new” or even just the term “american arab.” For fun, check out the Google search results for just “alshaibi american arab.”

Conclusion

Playing the search engine game so that your website ranks high is a complicated and involved one. Just look how long this article on three simple tips took! But, it pays to read up on how search engines work every once in awhile to give your site some extra ranking juice.