Tips To The Top Of The Search Engines
by Jill Whalen
Having a Web site that gets found in Google and
the other engines isn't hard to do, but it can be difficult
to know where to begin. Here are ten tips to get you started
1. Start out slowly. If possible, begin
with a new site that has never been submitted to the search
engines or directories. Choose a domain name that best fits
your brand, and start out by optimizing just the home page.
(Many SEOs recommend purchasing a keyword-rich domain name;
however, I've been optimizing sites successfully since 1995
without using them).
2. Learn basic HTML. A
lot of search engine optimization techniques involve editing
HTML code. Your can depend on knowing which
codes are necessary, and which aren't. Minimally, you should
be able to view the source code of any page and understand
what it all means, as well as be able to slightly edit it
3. Choose keyword
phrases wisely. The phrases you think might be perfect
for your site may not be what
people are actually searching for. To find the optimal words
for your site, use a research tool such as Wordtracker. Decide
on two or three highly targeted phrases for each page of
your site. Never shoot for general keywords such as "travel" or "vacation" as
they are rarely (if ever) indicative of what your site is
4. Write approximately
200-250 words of visible text copy based on your chosen
keywords. This is
a crucial component to high rankings and a successful Web
site. The search engines need to "read" keyword-rich
copy on your pages so they can understand how to classify
your site. Write the copy based on your keyword phrases,
and not the other way around. Don't be afraid to use your
phrases as many times as it makes sense to do so. The optimal
number of instances will vary by search engine, the number
of words on your page, and also by how well the copy actually
reads to a person. Simply sticking keyword phrases at Write
approximately 200-250 words of visible text copy based on
your chosen keywords. This is a crucial component to high
rankings and a successful Web site. The search engines need
to "read" keyword-rich copy on your pages so they
can understand how to classify your site. Write the copy
based on your keyword phrases, and not the other way around.
Don't be afraid to use your phrases as many times as it makes
sense to do so. The optimal number of instances will vary
by search engine, the number of words on your page, and also
by how well the copy actually reads to a person. Simply sticking
keyword phrases at the top of the page or only in headlines
probably won't cut it (Purchase and read my "Nitty-gritty
of Writing for the Search Engines" handbook for exact
tips on how to do this).
5. Create a killer
Title tag. Title tags are critical because they're given
a lot of weight with all
of the search engines. You must put your keyword phrases
into this tag and not waste space with extra words. Do not
use the Title tag to display only your company name, or to
simply say "Home Page." Think of this tag more
as a "Title Keyword Tag" and create it accordingly.
It should reflect exactly what your page is about, using
the keyword phrases people might be using at a search engine
to find your company.
6. Make sure your
site is "link-worthy." Other
sites linking to yours is a critical component of a successful
search engine optimization campaign, as all of the major
search engines place a good deal of emphasis on your site's
overall link popularity. You can go out and request hundreds
or thousands of links, but if your site sucks, why would
anyone want to link to it? On the other hand, if your site
is full of wonderful, useful information -- other sites will
naturally link to it without your even asking. It's fine
to trade links; just make sure you are providing your site
visitors with only the highest quality of related sites.
When you link to lousy sites, keep in mind what this says
to your site visitors as well as to the search engines.
7. Create meaty Meta tags. Meta tags have
some value, but they are not a magic bullet. Create a Meta
Description tag that uses your keywords and also describes
your site. The information in this tag often appears under
your Title in the search engine results pages, especially
if the keyword phrase that was searched upon in the engine
appears in your tag. The Meta Keyword tag isn't quite as
important as the Meta Description tag. Contrary to what many
people believe, what you place in the keyword tag will have
very little (if any) bearing on what keywords your site is
actually found under, and it's not given any consideration
whatsoever by Google. Feel free to use this tag for technical
synonyms or common misspellings if you want to, but do NOT
obsess over it; it definitely won't make or break your rankings.
8. Be careful when submitting to directories
such as Yahoo, DMOZ, JoeAnt, Gimpsy and the like. Having
directory listings are a key component to getting your site
spidered and listed by Google and the other search engines.
Therefore it's important to read each directory's FAQ and
follow it precisely. Making mistakes in the submission process
could cost you dearly as directory listings are difficult
to change later in the game. Be cognizant of the fact that
you will be dealing with human editors, and always think
about how you can make their job easier when it comes to
listing your site.
9. Don't expect quick results. Getting
high rankings takes time; there's no getting around that
fact (even with paid-inclusion). Once your site is added
to a search engine its rankings may start out low and then
slowly work its way up the ladder. All search engines measure
link popularity, and it takes time to really and truly become
one of the most popular sites in your niche. Be patient and
give your site time to mature.
10. Don't constantly "tweak" your
site for better results. It's best not to make changes to
your on-the-page optimization for at least three months after
you optimize it. You certainly don't need to sit on your
hands or twiddle your thumbs during this period, however.
You should constantly work on adding new stuff to your site
to make it better and better, plus you should always be on
the lookout for other sites that might be interested in making
your site available to their site visitors.
If you've followed these tips and
still can't find your site in the engines, the first place
to "tweak" would
be your page copy. If you added less than 250 words of visible
text on your pages, this could be your culprit. Also, double-check
your keyword density, and make sure that you only targeted
two or three phrases per page.
Eventually, you'll see the fruits of your labor with many
top-ten rankings in Google and the rest of the search engines!
Read "Common Sense
Search Engine Ranking" from our search engine ranking
A little word
about the author:
Jill Whalen of High Rankings is an internationally
recognize search engine
optimization consultant and host of the free weekly High
Rankings Advisor search
engine marketing newsletter.
She specializes in search engine optimization,
SEO consultations and seminars. Jill's handbook, "The
Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" teaches business owners
how and where to place relevant keyword phrases on their Web sites so that
they make sense to users and gain high rankings in the major search engines.
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