Tutorials/Making your webcomic Search Engine friendly

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If you are making a webcomic, then at some stage, someone is going to want to look for something about it. Here are a few ways to improve their chances of finding it.

A (very) brief overview of SEO

SEO means "Search Engine Optimization". There is an entire industry set up about this and loads of information about it on Google. In summary, SEO is the idea of making it easy for search engines (like Google, Altavista, Yahoo, etc) to look at your site and tell people about it.

How does this apply to Webcomics?

The first thing to consider is that in a webcomic context, almost 100% of the information about your comic is presented as an image. How the characters look, what they say, where they live and so on is all shown in pictures. Search engines don't like pictures, as they can't "look" at them. Most people use pictures for the comic, for buttons, for links, for banners - it's all search engine unfriendly!

Now, with the main comic itself, there isn't a lot you can do with that. It's a limitation of the AutoKeen system. However, the rest of the site is free reign.

Alt and Title tags for images

If you use a button for linking to the About page, then don't just use the raw image tag. Add Alt and Title tags as well:

<img src="images/about.gif" alt="About" title="Visit the about page!">

Important! Note that the Alt tag means "alternative". In other words, this text will be the alternative to display if the image can't be displayed. The Alt tag should be something that tells the reader what the link is about.

With the Title tag you can be a bit less strict. This is what is displayed when the mouse hovers over the image (except in IE, which is reversed and retarded - it displays the Alt information instead). The Title tag should be a short description on what the link is pointing to.

Transcribe your comic!

This is probably the best thing that you can do for your readers! Let us assume that you have been publishing your webcomic for a long time and have 200 comics in your archive. Let us assume that a reader wants to look at a specific comic. How do they find it? A good way is to have your archive set up in an easy to search way. Another way is to transcribe your comic.

If you look at this random page from Schlock Mercenary you will see at the bottom a large box with all the text from inside the comic written out. If you grab a bit of text from this (such as lunar hellevator) and pop that into a search engine, you'll see this exact comic come out on top (#1 in Yahoo and Altavista, #2 on Google).

If you punch in a character's name (such as Kevyn Andreyasn) you'll see that every single result is about Schlock Mercenary. The whole page (on all three search engines) comes out full of references either on the site, or other sites talking about Schlock.

By transcribing your comic (either on the site itself or somewhere like OhNoRobot, it'll make it easier for your comics to be searched.

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