Engine Optimization: A Primer
by Bob Wakfer
them or hate them search engines are here to stay. There is no doubt that
most web sites are found for the first time as a result of keywords entered
into some search engine. Currently the most popular of all search engines
is Google with some recent surveys indicating
So how do you get your website indexed in the first 10, 20 or 30 results presented by the search engines when someone searches on one of your keywords? The answer is not simple or absolute - put 10 SEO(Search Engine Optimization) experts in a room and you will get 10 different answers. Put the same 10 SEO experts in a room a month from now and you may get 10 different answers.
can this be so you ask? These people either know what they are talking
about or they don't. Why so many differing claims and opinions? The simple
answer is that the search engine world is
Is Search Engine Optimization Possible?
the ever changing rules, and despite the diversity of opinion and methods
advocated by the SEO experts, there are some basic principles, which when
properly applied will get your site better
Content is King
People search to find sites that contain the information or content in which they are currently interested. Search engines attempt to give them the most relevant sites based upon the search terms entered. Howcan they do that? The obvious way they can do that is by evaluating the content of the web sites in their index.
rule 1. is always have some content or information on your home page.
Generally this should be at least 200 to 300 words ofinformation about
the site and what can be found there. This content
I believe the content should be written first and the rest of the page built around it.
Keywords, Meta Tags and Other Good Stuff
Once you have written the content there are a number of techniques for optimizing around this content to make your site more attractive to the search engines. Within the content itself you should place your most important key words in titles or heading as defined with title tags. The search engines places more importance on words found in titles.
There are parts of a website that are not visible to the viewer but which are read and used by the search engines both to evaluate your site and to describe your site in the search results. These parts are usually referred to as the meta tags albeit the most important of these is the page title which technically is not a meta tag. The three elements I am talking about are the title, the description and the keyword list.
Before we go on a note about key words is in order. When thinking about and researching the keywords for your site and content, don't think of single words think of two, three and four word phrases. If you sell, or are offering information about, widgets made from stainless steel for the building trade then your keyword phrase should look like this: 'stainless steel widgets for contractors', 'builder's widgets', 'construction widgets', 'stainless steel widget information' etc.
Most website titles are too short. Most search engines will use and display between 60 and 115 characters of your title. The title should contain the most important key words on your site. It should be a mini description of the site. In the widget example the title might be: 'Construction Widgets: Stainless Steel Widgets for Contractors'.
The Description Meta Tag
description meta tag is the next most important tag and it can be up to
200 characters in length. This is the information that many search engine
display after they display your title so it should be thought of as your
one sentence sale pitch and should include as many keywords as possible
and still read smoothly. Using the above example a description meta tag
might read: 'Construction Widgets: Stainless steel widget information
and specifications for the builder and
The Keyword Meta Tag
This tag is used to list all relevant key words. Many SEO experts think that this tag is becoming less significant than previously thought. However there is nothing wrong with including it. All your keyword phrases should be listed in this tag. The generally accepted rule is to limit the tag to 1000 characters and separate the keywords or key word phrases with a comma and a space.
Other Good Stuff
If you are using images on your website be sure to include an 'alt tag' that uses one of your key words with each tag. You will have noticed that as you drag your mouse over the images on some pages a text description will appear. This is the 'alt tag'. The search engines will read these and see this as a further reinforcement of the importance of your key words.
far in this article we have dealt exclusively with content and keywords.
The other factor that search engines use to rank web sites in order of
importance is the popularity of the site. They judge the popularity of
your site by the number of links from other sites to your site. The links
need to be relevant and the more links the better. If in our widget example
they could get a Contractor
do you convince other web masters to put up links to your site? You do
this by offering to put up links to them on your site. In the example
above you would have a section on your web site that would says "here
is a list of contractors who use our stainless steel
information in this article covers only 2 of the aspects of Search Engine
Optimization. In future articles we will deal with the importance of being
listed in Directories and how to get there. We
About the Author
Wakfer is the President of Computer Partners and a long time
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