How can I improve SEO for a very big dictionary website?

Answer by Jason Darrell, via Quora; for full context, visit the original Quora thread.

My question would be: “if my site truly "is already the biggest and official dictionary in that language", why isn't it ranking first, anyway?”

You can approach the ranking aspect from two directions:

  1. content;
  2. usability.

As Jaime J Candau suggests, try offering pseudonyms and antonyms (as per Thesaurus) and other language tools on top of your explanation of the word itself.

Also, you may want to consider:

  • is your description totally unique to the Internet?
  • does the way you describe the meaning of a word add more potential value to the user than other online dictionaries?
  • is the word offered in all tenses and formats, with examples of it being used in a sentence?

Then, as Mohit Maheshwari alludes, do you offer a way for your users to share their grammatical discovery right from your website?

Do you have the time/budget to run a word-a-day promo on social?

Are you engaging with people who want to develop or learn from scratch your language?

Of course, check all the SEO basics for every page, if you've not done so.

This META SEO Inspector extension for Chrome will help you check page-by-page. It lives in the browser as an extension and you can see what's right or wrong with a page's SEO (or mark up) at a glance.

But I guess with 2.5M words you'll want to check in bulk. In that case, Screaming Frog's SEO Spider will let you download your content in bulk.

nb – if memory serves, 500 URLs are free to extract, but you'd need a pro membership for as many pages as you need to SEO.

Your SEO priority has to be the UX.

But more than anything, what does each page contain in the way of ads, flash and widgets?

From my experience of Collins and other online dictionaries, they generate income by plastering ads everywhere. In fact, there's sometimes so much advertising it's difficult to pick out what it is you've visited the page for.

Is the information the user is looking for expressly clear and visible as soon as they land on page? Try to make the user's experience as painless as possible.

More page load speed time, the less likely it is your customer will hang around. Less return visitors for you, less authority in Google's eyes.

And Google did confirm (not that we didn't know anyway) that load speed is now a definite ranking factor at State of Search Dallas not so long ago.

And, of course, optimise your website for mobile with a responsive design.

In short, aim to provide the best service possible, add the most value and your customers will begin to bookmark your dictionary and return time and again. Word-of-mouth will earn links to your site, thus may have additional benefit because of a heightened link profile.

SEO is not an overnight process and the results – as well as the implementation – will take time. But if you do it the right way, the results will be greater and last a lot longer.

image credit: screenshot of Screaming Frog free download links

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