Although all of my clients are happy that they now have a website and can view it on Internet, many of them are initially surprised to learn that their site cannot be found via search engines—even if they search on domain name itself! If you have decided to invest in a website for your business it is important that you have some understanding of Web terrain.
So Now You Have a Website
When a website is built for your business you must register a "domain," which is address of your website on Internet. Technically speaking, actual address is a set of numbers, but just imagine how impossible it would be if your prospects and customers had to remember a 12 digit number in order to visit your site! To make this easier, a system was devised that allows you to choose a word or phrase to represent these numbers. For example, "www.yourcompany.com" is a whole lot easier to remember than "218.19.351.43."
After your website has been built and published to your domain, you can visit it and you can let others know how to visit it by giving them your domain name. However, search engines, such as Google, MSN Search, etc., need time to learn about your site. It's roughly same situation as when you move to a new city and get your new telephone number. Your friends and family can certainly call you on new number, but it isn't in current phone directory, and won't be until new directory is published.
The good news is that unlike your local phone directory, you won't have to wait until next year for your site to get listed. Even if you take no action at all, search engines will discover your site, although it will probably take several months. The bad news is that even when search engines finally list your site, it may be so far down list that it doesn't matter anyway.
What do I mean by "down list?" If you search for "cars" using a popular search engine, such as Google, over 25 million listings will be displayed. If your company sells air fresheners for cars and your website is listed after 24 million others, it just isn't likely that anyone will locate your website by these means. In fact, likelihood of anyone finding your site drops off sharply if your site is not in first 30 or so listings displayed by a search engine.
There are two main methods by which your odds for visibility can be improved and remainder of this article will explain these so that you can understand what your options really are.
Search Engine Positioning & Search Engine Optimization
Search engine positioning mainly consists of 1) identification of optimum keywords (or search terms), 2) optimizing your web pages for those keywords, 3) getting links to your website added to as many other websites as possible and 4) submitting your site to search engines. I'll take each of these actions and describe it a bit more.
Identifying Keywords. Your business, no doubt, sells specific good and services, and obvious keywords, or search terms, would at first seem to be name of those goods or services. Such as "mortgage" if you are a mortgage broker. While it is important to include these obvious terms, there are easily millions of other websites also selling mortgages on Internet, and your site needs to distinguish itself from others as much as possible. The key here is to find a word or phrase for which, per statistics, there are lots of searches being done, but for which there are not millions of other websites being listed as a result of those searches. To make this clearer I'll give you an example. On Google each day there are over 2200 searches for "mortgage" (very good), and search engine will display around 17 million listings for this keyword (not so good). This amount of competition seriously lowers chances of getting your listing near top.
Instead, using professional analysis tools, we will identify related keywords and phrases that lots of people are searching on, such as "todays interest rates." If it turns out that there are relatively few other sites that contain text "todays interest rates" in their pages, this would be a good keyword to use. We repeat keyword identification process until we have a sufficient number for use in next step.
Optimization. Now that we have identified a number of keywords, what do we do with them? For each keyword, we will either already have a web page that primarily discusses that topic, or else we will create new pages for purpose. Each of these pages is then carefully looked at in terms of where keyword appears, how often, how near top of page, etc., and changes made to page so that keyword usage is optimum. This is actual process of "optimization." Furthermore, there is also an optimum amount of text for a page—usually around 300 to 400 words—and if page has too little text it will not really be possible to do much to optimize it.
It is important to note that there are certain web design choices that can make future search engine optimizing difficult or impossible. These include: ·Excessive use of graphic images instead of actual text. The title of this article is actual text. However, if a fancier-looking title had been produced as a graphic image, it would make page less optimum in terms of search engine appeal. When it encounters a graphic image, a search engine is unable to "see" what image represents—it just knows that there is an image in that space. ·Anything contained in a Flash animation. Flash can create real pizzazz on a site, but similar to graphic images, search engines are completely shut out of picture (in fact quite literally). This doesn't mean your site shouldn't use Flash, but not to exclusion of a sufficient amount of real text and other page elements. ·Web pages that use frames. You've probably visited sites where pages were divided into separate areas, each with its own scrollbar. Those sites use frames, which in most cases completely stymie search engines and prevent them from discovering content of your site.