Getting More Views For Your Site: SEO 101 A good website is a valuable asset for any business. Search engines can connect visitors and potential customers to your website, and the higher your site appears on the results page, the more traffic you will see. This is why search engine optimization, commonly called SEO, is vital for online businesses. There are some easy steps you can take in the course of building your site that will make it rank higher with the search engines. Good SEO starts with research, and you'll want to start off with some very basic stuff. You need to develop a feeling for how potential customers search for the products and services that you provide. Fortunately, there are tons of free online tools that can help you gather this information. You can look at your competitors and find out what terms are bringing traffic to their site. This will help you decide whether to compete with them directly or to establish yourself in a search niche that is currently under-served. In the course of your research you'll start to get a handle on the search terms that are being used in your line of work. As you might expect, the ones that get used the most often are the ones that businesses compete the hardest for. Less-popular terms may be easier for you to work with, because you'll run into less competition. As your research process draws to a close, you should build a list of the search terms - or keywords - that you want to focus your SEO efforts on. As you begin to optimize, there are some practices you'll want to stay well away from. You might be tempted to start cramming your chosen keywords into every nook and cranny of your site. This is a very bad idea! This process is called "keyword stuffing," and search engines frown on it. They tend to treat sites where a keyword makes up a large percentage of the content as spam. Limit the number of times you insert your keywords into your content. Don't neglect your HTML code, though. You can and should incorporate keywords into the tags, titles, and URLs of your pages. You also want to stay away from programs and services that promise to provide your site with a ton of off-site links. It's true that outside links have a big impact on your rankings. It's also true that "link farming" is a process that the search engines are aware of. They're not big fans; using farmed links can seriously damage your site's ranking. To create quality links, you have to do the genuine legwork. You want to get other people on other sites talking about your site, so it's important to make real connections with other website owners. Trading links is a good idea, but you should aim to provide your trade partners with something of value. Write a review of the other site's products and services instead of simply jamming a link into the corner somewhere. There are plenty of more advanced SEO techniques that you can learn about, but the simple procedures outlined above should be enough to get you started. Incorporating keywords properly and building good external links are really the core of the process; once you know how to do these tasks you should start seeing some great results.
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