|Search Engine Optimization Made Simple
Very few topics have inspired as many tangents, as much false information . . . incurred as much abuse as search engine optimization. With the few shreds of information search engines reveal about their actual methodologies, optimizers struggle to get that extra edge over the competition, armed with esoteric theories of keyword density, precise meta-tag length, optimal internal linking, and just about any other detail that a search engine might happen to factor into its rankings. Before you find yourself scrambling to create ten more content-less pages to avert that worst than death curse of decreased PageRank, try to take a look at the big picture. Barring design factors that may not be search engine friendly, a strong foundation based on four factors will give your site good success. These factors are the holy grail of optimization:
1. Get relevant links to your site anchored to keyword rich text.
2. Write focused body text that targets specific keyphrases or that is focused on a specific topic (This occurs naturally when someone is communicating useful information. This can be a problem because a lot of businesses don’t have anything useful to say. Be detailed. Be helpful. This can naturally accomplish what automatic text generators try to accomplish through keyword density and keyword proximity calculations).
3. Write concise titles focused on useful keyphrases.
4. Be patient. You may not be using the best strategies, but you’re using strategies that work over time. Continue to get links and create more content.
Find the Words
Before you can write good, keyphrase-focused body text or titles, you need to find the phrases users search. For good keyword suggestion tools, search Google with (surprise, surprise) “keyword suggestion tool.” Digitalpoint.com has an excellent tool that compares Wordtracker and Overture keyword results. Judge from the search volume how competitive each word is (not even close to the best method, but it’ll have to due). Be specific. Pick words with large search volume and search with geographic terms if you serve only a specific area. From the list of keyphrases, start thinking about the topics you’ll want to target. Find a few phrases for each page in your site. Remember to focus on phrases and not separate words – make sure these phrases appear in your body text.
HTML titles go between the title tags in your site’s code. Write short titles that use one or two keyphrases. Don’t use the name of your company unless you are trying to brand the name. Include location if you target certain areas, and make sure your pages repeat this location information in the text. Your body text should be written to fit the phrases in your title.
Body Text and Navigation
Be specific about what you are talking about. In your navigation don’t use generic linking text like “home” or “about us.” Use specific phrases. Instead of “home” use the name or category of your main service/product, and make it obvious from the context that this is your main page. Instead of “about us” use a phrase like “A (main product/service) Company.” This communicates more information to the user and includes a keyphrase. Where appropriate, make the same type of substitutions in the body text. Use variations of nouns and verbs, including plurals and different conjugations.
It is remarkably easy to get your site indexed by the search engines – just submit to some of the many free directories. To find some of these directories search for “free directory list” in Google. Be careful to read submission guidelines, and be very careful about what you submit to large directories like DMOZ. Generally, titles should not be a list of keywords. Most directories only want your homepage and the “official title” (somewhat ambiguous term) of your site with a short description. Descriptions should be factual, and they should be written in complete sentences or meaningful phrases. Some optimization companies will rip you off by charging you money to submit your site to the major search engines – this is a waste of time. Start building links, and the search engines will find your site naturally, submitting makes no difference in your rankings.
It is important to get links from sites that are related to yours. Write webmasters requesting a link, find niche sites that offer free submissions, write articles for sites that allow you to put down a signature link, or post comments in forums that allow you to put down your signature.
If you exchange links, be careful who you trade with. Get listed wherever you want without fear of penalty from the search engines, but be careful who you link to. Your site can get penalized for linking into bad neighborhoods spamming the search engines.
It Never Ends
Expand your site and continue to tell people about its content. It’s an ongoing process. The older your site gets, the more credibility it can gain with the search engines. Keep your content fresh. Check the search engines to see what they have indexed (search site:www.domain.com). Be patient and keep up with search engine changes.
About the author:
Steve Loszewski contracts out to Pure Visibility (http://www.purevisibility.com) for search engine marketing services.
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