The Basics of Search Engine Optimization (S.E.O.)Written by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg, Ph.D.
One means of making sure your site receives maximum visibility is search engine optimization (S.E.O.). You must think in terms of search engine optimization from earliest stages of planning and design if you want to receive heavy traffic from major search engines. In order to optimize your site, you need to understand how search engines work, how web surfers search, and what elements of your site contribute to successful search placement. While much information (and misinformation) exists about search engine optimization, experts agree that elements you must focus on are keywords, meta tags and links from other sites.
How Search Engines Work
Before delving into specific elements, it’s necessary to understand how search engines work. True search engines (as opposed to directories like Yahoo!) use a program called a “robot” or “spider” to “crawl” web while gathering and indexing information they find. A searcher receives results of these crawls when s/he conducts a search. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, every search engine (and literally thousands of engines exist) has its own criteria for indexing sites, and further criteria for determining ranking of sites. It’s easy to see why S.E.O. consultants can make a handsome living – it’s virtually impossible for a single webmaster to know all of various rules that will optimize his/her site for every engine.
Feeling Overwhelmed Yet?
While a search engine optimization consultant can provide a greater amount of detailed knowledge for an individual web master, experts tend to agree that there are a few rules that almost anyone can apply to optimize his/her site.
First, while thousands of search engines exist, most surfers do their searching on a handful of sites. Yahoo! generally accounts for half of all web searches. While they charge a fee for simply considering a business listing in their directory (currently $299), many business people may find that a reasonable investment, considering popularity of this portal. Among true search engines, most popular by far are Google and Overture. It’s important to know that many search engines actually get there results from these giants, so applying rules that work for these two can help get your site listed in many engines.
Optimizing You Site
In order to make sure your site is listed in searches that directly apply to your type of business, it’s essential to use best keywords and phrases. Keywords are words that searchers use to find web sites that will give them information they want. In order to take advantage of power of keywords, you must find out what keywords and key phrases are most popular among searchers you want to attract to your site, so you may want to consider using a service like Wordtracker (http://www.wordtracker.com) to find out words and phrases that searchers are using. Once you’ve determined this, you want to place those words and phrases at points in your page most likely to be noticed by search engines. Experts tend to agree that best places to use keywords are in your page title, your page’s copy, and in site’s meta tags.
The page title is likely most important place to use proper keywords, as all search engine spiders tend to look at it. Precision is key – use keywords that are most likely to bring right visitors to that particular page. While some consultants suggest using many key words, or many slight variations of key words, or repeated key words, search engines have caught on to these strategies and may actually penalize your site for using such tactics. According to Webmonkey.com’s Paul Boutin, it’s best not to include extra words, such as a company name; using only keywords as site title will generally bring best results.
The Failure of the SEO System.Written by William Cross
The Failure of SEO System.
I see people daily preaching about how web site owners need to pay upwards of $7,500.00 or more for a marketing consultant who also practices search engine optimization. The reason given for this is that any SEO can get you top rankings, but that will not help you sell your products. They preach that searchers have no trust, they say that getting a #1 position for your relevant keywords will only bring visitors, not sales.
To an extent this is true. But fact is, this is said so you will pay fee they ask. They know their service, they know their prospect's mindset, and they do a fine job of turning you into a new customer.
You know your products or services better than they possibly could. You know your customers better than they ever could. This stands true of any industry or business model. Make that work for you!
Instead of shelling out dinero, why not sit down and lay out groundwork for a plan of action based on what you know about your business and it's customers. What do they want to see, how much detail do they want to see, and above all, what does it take to close sale.
Once you know all of this, rest is merely laying it all out on web site according to your plan. It sounds easy, and it really is not, it takes hard work on your part. But you are not relying on someone who claims that they will research your business and be expert enough in a matter of days to sell your product line.
Do not fall for hype.
Once you have a web site that you are confident will convert searchers into sales, it is time to make sure you have searchers finding your web site. These same marketing consultants will tell you that you need them for this also. They will tell you that you need to concentrate on lesser search terms that will bring in lesser amounts of traffic. They will tell you that this method will bring you better quality traffic because it targets visitor better. Bull! The fact is these marketers know that they do not have ability or means to target more competitive search terms and keywords. They use this method so that they can show you good results using lesser keywords, to keep you ignorant and happy in your newfound traffic. I say ignorant, because they will not tell you that you could in fact have twice to three times targeted traffic if you used someone who was a true professional.