Search Engine Optimization Tips
RationaleCreating a great website is only the first step in web marketing; somehow you′ve got to entice people to visit. Obviously, you can - and should - promote your website address via traditional marketing mechanisms but probably the single most effective technique is to optimise the site for search engines (like Google, Yahoo, etc). Only once your site is appearing on the first page of search results for your preferred keywords will traffic pick up significantly.
SEO OverviewThe act of helping your site attain first page search engine results is termed "Search Engine Optimization" (SEO) or "Search Engine Management" (SEM). This requires a wide range of strategies but fundamentally involves:
- Keyword selection - determining your preferred set of keywords (also called search terms)
- Website building - building a well crafted website incorporating the keywords
- Link building - getting other websites to include links to your site
Keyword selectionWhen someone uses a search engine to find sites relevant to certain words, the search engine scans its database looking for popular sites which utilise those keywords frequently. To help ensure your site is well ranked in the search results, you'll need to second guess the most likely keywords for a site like yours and liberally utilize them in your web pages.
Nonetheless, if you select keywords that are too popular, there'll be so many websites fitting the description that yours probably won't be seen. The trick here (as with any marketing exercise) is to target your website at a gap in the market - a niche where the competition won't be too intense. This niche could take a number of forms:
- Geographical e.g. bike repairs in Poole
- Socio-economic e.g. high class tailoring
- Product related e.g. left handed gadgets
- and so on
Website buildingOnce you've chosen your keywords, you need to put them into your web pages - perhaps focusing on three or four keywords per page. It's best to utilise the keywords in titles, headings, metadata (hidden data), links etc. and preferably near the top of the page. However, don't overdo it otherwise search engines will penalize you - this is called "spamdexing".
Link buildingMany search engines also take account of the popularity of a website. This is predominantly measured in terms of the number and popularity of other websites that have links to yours (i.e. a button on their website that takes the user to your site).
Two directories are of particular importance: DMOZ and Yahoo's human compiled directory. Presence in these directories will have an immediate impact on your rankings although the former involves long delays and the latter is not free.
The simplest way to get inward links to your site is to sign up to relevant directories. Not only will these improve your site's apparent popularity but will also furnish you with traffic direct from the directory. Other techniques include requesting reciprocal links from complementary sites, posting articles to online magazines, creating an RSS feed, etc.
Dirty tricksSuch is the competitive nature of search engine optimization that a number of individuals have resorted to "dirty tricks". For example:
- Cloaking - sensing when a search engine requests a page and returning a special one rich in keywords.
- Link farms - using sites that are nothing more than collections of links to other sites