How to improve your search engine positionWritten by Polly Nelson
When promoting your website, importance of submission to major search engines cannot be overstated. "46% of web-users use search engines to first find a website."1 They won't find yours unless it features in these engines. Getting a good ranking, however, is not as easy as it seems. To better your chances, you need to make sure that you do following things before submitting your site.
Start by writing a descriptive title for each page of your site. This should accurately describe services offered on page in around 5-8 words, avoiding words such as 'the' and 'and'. When your website comes up on search engines, this title will be thing that first grabs attention of user. Next, you need to write your 'meta-tags'. Featured on every page of your site (although hidden to user), these are simply either 'keyword tags' (10-12 important keywords / phrases that describe your services) or 'description tags' (just a short description of what's on page - designed to attract users from search engines). If you are trying to build your own meta-tags and are unsure of how to do it, here's a free service to help you: www.bcentral.com/products/metatags.asp
When deciding on your keywords, imagine your audience and how they would search for your services. Your keywords need to be search terms that they will type into engines. Will they search using industry-standard terms, or will you need to put some layman terms in too? You should also think about spelling mistakes. Is it likely that customers will search for you using mis-spellings or typos? If so, you should consider including these in your meta-tags. You can also have a look into which search terms are currently most in-use: try www.wordtracker.com for this. Also consider having a look at your competition - type your keywords / phrases into google with "inverted commas around them". The results that come up are your direct competition for these search terms, so if there are too many, you should think of alternative terms.
When you have finalised your keywords/phrases, write a 'description' meta-tag for each page of 200-250 characters. This doesn't need to include any words from your title, but should be based around your keywords.
Next, you need to optimise each page of your site by using your keywords throughout content and in alternative text for images. If your keywords do not accurately reflect content on your pages you are unlikely to get a good listing. You should however bear in mind that unnecessary repetition of keywords in your content will also damage your ranking. For optimum results, mix words and phrases up in different combinations rather than using same one over and again.
Although you can expect it to take up to (and sometimes exceeding) six weeks to get listed in a search engine, you should make sure that your site is 'search engine friendly' before submitting it. Ensure you have done following: Read rules/listing requirements of each search engine and make sure your site complies; Bear in mind that frames and flash-based pages on your site make it hard for search engines to index your pages; Ensure your meta-tags are complete and your content accurately reflects them; Make sure all your pages link to each other (especially if you have a 'cover page' that redirects to rest of your site) so engines can find all pages; Never have a link that points back to current page, (i.e. if your logo is a link to your home page you must make sure that it is not a link on home page); and finally - Make sure that you do not over-submit your site on each search engine. Most have some sort of 'spam trigger', which this will set off and you will not be listed. Submitting your home page once to each engine should be all that is necessary. Apart from meta-tags, there are a number of things you can do to improve your ranking on search engines. If you are willing to have links to other sites on your website, Link Exchanges can be a great way to promote your site and improve its position on search engines. If you have a large number of incoming links to your site from other sites, search engines are likely to rank you much higher up list. Links from high traffic sites will be of most use, so ask for a link from any associations you are a member of. You can also request reciprocal links from complementary sites (consider an 'on topic' link, i.e. "website design and custom software development" - including important keywords), and develop an out of way page to put links to their sites on.
Leading Your Web Designer to SEOWritten by Christian Nielsen
Many SEO projects involve taking a site that has already been built and changing or adding optimization elements to help site rank well in search engines. For a site that has already been built, web designer is usually not involved in process.
However, there are two situations where designer should be very much involved in SEO process: when a new site is constructed, or when an old site is being redesigned.
When building a new site, SEO consultant should be involved as site concept is being developed. The perspective of SEO consultant is much different from that of design team and site owner. The SEO understands that a balance of keyword phrases and well-written marketing copy is what helps site attract traffic and convert visitors into buyers. The SEO can also provide advice on best way to add new content. For example, a site that is about food will draw many visitors if it has a section that offers recipes, and a site about music will see many more visitors if it also offers MP3 music files.
More importantly, SEO can provide advice on how to best construct site. SEO consultants understand that sites which have 100% of content in Flash, or which use frames will pose problems during optimization process. The consultant will also understand how to overcome some of SEO limitations that dynamic sites pose.
When design team is aware and involved in optimization process from beginning, a site can be optimized “from ground up” as it is being built, which will involve less time spent by SEO consultant later. This can also provide a level of optimization that is often not practical after a site has already been constructed.
When keyword research is completed before site construction has started, designers can use them when they create new pages and graphics files in order to derive benefit of keyword-rich file names. e.g., Instead of using words like “logo” and “header,” designer can choose keywords that are more descriptive. The SEO can also provide a basic Meta tag set which can be used for site. By including Meta tags in site templates, work of editing each page later can often be avoided.