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Search Engine Optimization Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short, is the process of attracting more visitors through search engines. Notice how I didn't define SEO as having the top ranked site in search engines. This is because even if you have a site that ranks number 1 in all search engines, there is no guarantee that searchers are typing in the specific keywords you rank for and will even click your website in the search results. There is no guaranteed, instant way to get your websites to rank well for keywords that people are typing in. But you can make changes to your website so that it has the best possible chance of ranking well and in this article I will attempt to explain how to do this. There are two big rules, or secrets as search engine gurus may call them, when it comes to ranking well in search engines. These two secrets are the fundamental rules that every website should follow. Once we know these two rules, we can come up with strategies to implement them on our website. Secret Number 1: Have good content Secret Number 2: Get other websites to link to your site These two rules shouldn't be anything new to you, but we will explore what they mean for your website. In this article we will talk about the first rule, having good content so your site has the best possible chance of ranking high in search engines. Since the goal of search engines is to deliver the most relevant results for a specific keyword search, having content that matches what your target user may be looking for is the first step. 1) Keyword Research You need to develop a list of keywords that your target user may be searching for. A great way to do this is by using Google's free adwords research tool; https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal This free tool from Google will tell you what keyword terms are actually being searched in their search engine, and how popular the search terms are. It's a great tool to try and discover new keywords you may never have thought of. Imagine you sell a REALBasic text field replacement. Well doing a simple search in Google's Keyword research tool will show you that "realbasic editfield" is searched many more times than "realbasic textfield". You will also discover that most searches for textfield or textarea are referring to HTML controls and NOT REALBasic controls. Right there you know you should make sure your site has the keyword "Editfield" even though REALSoftware changed the control to TextField/TextArea. 2) Your Website Content Once you have your keywords you want to place them in the right places on your site. Where you put your keywords on your site can be the difference between not ranking at all for a particular search term and ranking in the top 10. There are 4 main places to put keywords; 1. In your web page title tags. Not only do keywords in your title tag help show search engines that you think these keywords are the most important, your title tag is also the first thing searchers see when your site appears in search results. Since the first 60-70 characters are displayed in Google's search results, make sure your title tag compels users to click it while still including 2-3 important keyword phrases. 2. Your meta description tag is no longer used by most search engines to rank your website but it still appears the majority of time in search results for all major search engines. Just like your title tag you need to make sure it includes enough information to get searchers to click your site in search results. 3. Webpage content is obviously a very important place to include your keywords. The trick to writing good content for search engines is to make sure it follows the logical format starting with a header using the h1 tag, then your text content and sub sections split between h2 and h3 tags. It's important that your webpage content is written for your customers first and search engines second. It makes no sense to try to stuff as many keywords into your page copy to attract users to your site, because even if you get the users it will be hard to compel them to buy what you are selling if it makes little sense to them. Each page on your site should stick to individual topics, such as a single feature for your software. This helps to target specific searchers with specific topics. Lets say you create a text editor with HTML exporting, spell checking, and free clipart. If you include all 3 features on one page you may find it hard to target 3 different keyword groups. You would have to create a title like; "See The Features of Cool Text Editor" Someone searching for a text editor with HTML exporting, won't see a reason to click that link in their search results (assuming you even rank for that term). Instead, if you split up your site so that each page talks about one feature you can use a title such as; "Export Your Text Documents As HTML with Cool Text Editor" Making your site more appealing for a searcher looking for that specific feature. By splitting topics into individual pages you make it more likely that your page will rank for more specific keywords and can better target these individual pages to people looking for certain topics or features. Since content is so important, make sure your most important pages have enough text content to be relevant to search engines. Search engines don't care that you want your home page to appear on search results over your contact page because may think it makes more sense to do so. If you are finding that less relevant pages such as a contact page appears for a search about your company over your homepage, consider adding more relevant text content to your homepage. 4. If you do a search for the keyword term 'Click Here' in Google, notice the first result that appears. Now click the Adobe Reader link which ranks number one and do a search for that keyword on their page. Why would a website appear as number one for a keyword that is not even included on the page? The answer is that Google, and most other major search engines, take into account the text you use to link to specific pages on your site. This also applies to text used by other websites to link to your webpages. When linking to different pages on your site, instead of writing something like; "To Download Cool Text Editor, click here' Where click here is the linked text (anchor text), consider re-wording this to; "Download Cool Text Editor' Now your anchor text includes keywords you want to rank for in search engines. When linking to pages on your site, make sure the anchor text describes the page the user is about to see, using keywords you want to rank for. By using the tips from section 3 on splitting up pages by topic, you can keep your anchor text consistent and specific to what the user is about to see and what search engines can expect to find on the linked page. Remember, that the less clicks it takes for a visitor to get to a specific page on your site from your homepage, and the more times you link to a specific page, the more important search engines will determine it will be. 3) Other Important Optimizations There are many other strategies to implement on your site in order to ensure your website ranks as high as possible in search engines. Here are just a few more tips; 1) It is very important that you have an XML Sitemap file. An XML Sitemap file lists all pages on your site, how important each page is, how often each page is updated so search engines know when to come back to index your website and when each page was last modified. Not only do all search engines recommend that you have an XML Sitemap file but they will also provide you with a wealth of information about your site including why it may not be ranking well in search engines, who links to your website, your top keywords and more through their Webmaster Tools. Google, Yahoo and Bing all provide a Webmaster Tools interface to submit XML Sitemaps to. Google Webmaster Tools provides the most feedback about your site by far. 2) The natural expansion of content and links to your website will help your website rank well in search engines. Search engines like to show new and unique content to their searchers. A great way to ensure your site grows naturally is to start blogging about your business and industry and including a way to for your users to help you grow your site with a forum or some kind of community software. 3) Including your company address using the <address> HTML tag can help with local searches if you target specific geographic locations. There is also a setting in Google Webmaster Tools that lets you target a specific country which means your site is more likely to rank higher in a local search engines such as google.ca, google.co.uk etc… 4) As mentioned early, how your website links to different pages on your site can effect how your website ranks. Include your most important pages in your navigation bar or footer using keywords as the anchor text.
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