April 27, 2003
Common Sense Advice for Search Engine Optimization
Most web surfers start their sessions
at a search engine or a web directory. There are a number of different methods you can use
to capture their traffic and drive it to your site:
Stick to the big names: The
two largest directories: Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com)
and the Open Project Directory (http://www.dmoz.org),
and the two largest search engines: Google (http://www.google.com ) and Inktomi (used by MSN search
(http://www.msn.com) and AOL (http://www.aol.com)) are likely to deliver 80% of your
traffic, so concentrate on those and dont spend too much time on anybody else.
Yahoo and the Open Project Directory are administered by humans,
so an editor will inspect your site before it's added.
They receive so many submissions that it can literally take months before your site
is reviewed, and nothing (not even paid subscriptions) guarantees that it will be listed. Its worth to keep trying, though, so check
back every month or so and, if your site isnt listed, submit it again.
Google and Inktomi are robots (software programs) that
crawl (find and read) millions of sites on the web, and add them to their
index. That's why it is not absolutely
necessary to manually submit your site to a search engine, since they may find your site
and add it automatically when they find a link to your site on another page.
You dont need to submit all the pages on your site. Once the search engine finds your main page
(homepage), it will find the other ones by following links.
To improve the chances of your secondary pages being found, create a link called
site map in your homepage, and have it point to a page that is nothing but a
collection of links to all the pages on your site. This
way, the search engine will follow the link and take in all your pages. Try putting this link as close to the top of your
homepage as possible, since it will have a better chance of being picked up by the search
Your site will stand a much better chance of showing up at the
top of the search results list if you choose keywords that are as specific as possible. In general, niche sites that use very specific
keywords have a better chance of being at the top of the list than generic sites that use
more common keywords. For example, a
restaurant that specializes in brick oven pizza (keywords: brick oven pizza) has a
better chance of showing up in a prime position than an all-encompassing Italian
restaurant (keywords: Italian restaurant).
A good search engine ranking is also conditioned by the amount
of inbound links to your site that the search engine finds in other websites. A significant amount of links to your page from
high ranked, quality sites with content related to yours, will significantly boost your
rankings. Try contacting the webmasters of
the leading websites for the keywords of your choice and try to get them to link to your
site. You can offer a link exchange or place
a paid link (advertising) on their pages, if thats an available option.
Creating a good page title tag is
also key, since its usually the first thing the search engines display in the search
results page. Also, you must create a well
written, easy to understand Description meta tag, since some search engines
will use it to describe your site. The more
your title and description match your preferred search keywords, the more likely web users
will click into your site. Don't pay too much attention to the 'Keywords' meta tag,
since most search engines ignore them nowadays, due to the potential for abuse.
Finally, one last word of advice: dont obsess with search engines, since they
are not the only way to generate traffic to your site.
Try different approaches, like writing articles and posting them in
discussion groups and newsgroups. Also,
dont overlook bricks-and-mortar techniques like passing around business cards
embedded with your website address, or advertising in traditional media. It is a combination of all these things, and high
quality, original content, what will make your site popular.
You can freely reprint this article. Just include the following resource box at
Mario Sanchez publishes The Internet Digest ( http://www.theinternetdigest.net
) a website and newsletter that gives you free advice on web design and Internet
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