* Search Engine Envy?

June 18, 2007

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the art of getting your Web site to list higher in the search engines such as Google or Yahoo. Consider it to be like running in a race with 2,000,000 other people. The good news is some of them have only have one leg or are wearing high heels. The bad news is that some are very fast, agile and efficient.

SEO is more of an art than a science (although there is some science involved). There is no “magic switch” – if there were, everybody would be using it, and then we’d all be back to where we started. There are as many theories about SEO as there are Web sites out there. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to keep things basic.

Before we start, you might want to consider how you are going to measure your results. Most hosting servers come equipped with tools like Webalizer, where you can track what the Web site traffic trends are. Google Analytics is a great free way to tag your pages to this purpose if your hosting solution doesn’t provide one. You will, however, have to add a small bit of code to each page or to your template for Google Analytics to function.

Let’s start with a big one – keywords. Those words that bring qualified traffic to your Web site by using them in content, your domain name, page titles, links, etc. The name of the game is to get qualified traffic – people who want what you are selling.

Start by making a list of obvious keywords. If you sell flowers, some keywords might be flower arrangements, flower pots, fresh flowers and flower delivery. Keep in mind that the more general you are, the more sites out there are using it. So you may want to combine some phrases and add more specifics such as “fresh flower arrangements in Lenexa Kansas.” It still has the general term but it also contains more qualifiers to bring specific people to you.

You might also try some of the great tools out there such as Overture Keyword Selector Tool (http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/), Google Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal) or Digital Point Keyword Suggestion Tool (http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/suggestion/). You can use these tools to narrow, edit or add to the list by seeing how many people actually search for your keywords and what the competition is for those keywords. Also remember, people tend to misspell and have names for items or services used outside the industry. Some of those “off words” can be beneficial at raising your ranking.

Now what do you do with the keywords? Start with page names. You don’t want 400 keywords in your page names, but you do want keywords relevant to the page content. Then move to navigation. If your top navigation is built in Flash or JavaScript, make sure that you have it again at the bottom in text form and name them, using your keywords. Other things to consider: heading tags and using your keywords in the page content. Don’t try spamming a long string of them in your meta tags – it’s been done – it’s been overdone. Search engines tend to ignore it now.

This is just one 10,000 foot fly-by of some of the things you can do to improve your SEO status. Play with it. Check results more from month to month rather than from day to day. If you are in a big hurry, pay a professional or look into Pay Per Click. This information is to help you start your process, not complete it. SEO is never done. And there are several more factors involved other than keywords.

Now get out there and look good!

Chris Motley
Motley Creations

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