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Discover the Top 5 'Dos' and 'Don'ts' of Web Site Optimization that Will Make or Break Your Ranking with the Free Search Engines!
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Discover the Top 5 "Dos" and "Don'ts" of Web Site Optimization that Will Make or Break Your Ranking with the Free Search Engines!
By Derek Gehl
If you want your online business to be successful, it's a good idea to
optimize your site on a regular basis to make sure it's got a good
position in the Web's top search engines.
However, in order to maintain your ranking, you have to keep on top of
what's happening in the rapidly changing search engine industry. The
rules that affected your ranking yesterday may be meaningless tomorrow!
Read on to learn more about the latest developments in the search
engine industry and what key tricks you should (and shouldn't!) use to
optimize your site to make sure it gets a high ranking with all the
major search engines, plus the tools and resources you can use to keep
"Dos" and "Don'ts" are constantly changing!
The search engine industry is continually evolving. You need to know
which of the major "players" is powering the smaller search engines if
you want to know where you should focus your optimization efforts.
1. The battle of the
For the past couple of years, the major search engines have been
preparing to square off against each other and battle it out for the
industry's top spot. Google has been #1 for a while
now, but Yahoo!
have been making moves to steal the crown.
Google is still extremely powerful, with about a 55% market share.
Yahoo! is the closest runner-up, with about 20% of users choosing it as
their main search engine. And MSN is still a distant but threatening
third, with about 10% of the global usage share.
Keep in mind, however, that Google and Yahoo! power many of the smaller
search engines. For example, Google powers the free listings featured
plus the paid listings featured on AOL, Netscape, Ask Jeeves,
Yahoo! powers free listings featured on MSN, AltaVista,
AllTheWeb, and HotBot, plus the paid listings on MSN, AltaVista, and AllTheWeb.
However, MSN won't be powered by Yahoo! for much longer! MSN came out
with a preview of their own long-anticipated search engine technology
earlier this month. They're still working out the bugs, and the
official MSN Search engine is still being powered by Yahoo!. But you
can expect MSN to go solo
sometime over the next few months.
You need to be aware of these changes if you want to gear your
optimization efforts toward the engines that will send you as much
traffic as possible.
2. The changing rules of
Of course, you also need to keep tabs on changes to the search engines
Search engines frequently change the algorithms they use to rank sites.
They don't want unscrupulous site owners manipulating their indexing
methods in order to get high rankings. By doing so, they damage the
integrity of free search!
As soon as the search engines become aware of a trick being used by
"search engine spammers" to boost their site ranking, they figure out a
way to catch them.
So be careful! You don't want to catch yourself employing a "great
strategy" promoted by a marketing "expert," only to find out it's a
tactic the search engines hate! That could get you booted off their
listings in no time flat.
In fact, that's exactly what happened at the end of last year, during
what has come to be called the "Florida Google Dance."
Google made some major changes to their algorithms in November 2003 and
started imposing an "over-optimization penalty" on any sites that
appeared to be artificially boosting their site's relevancy for
Many members of the business community were surprised to find their
sites dropped from their high ranking in Google's listings. These
people had to put a lot of work into revamping and resubmitting their
sites in order to get listed again.
And many of the people who were penalized weren't "unscrupulous" site
owners! They weren't trying to pull a "fast one" on search engines
using frowned-upon techniques such as "keyword stuffing." They were
simply trying to be smart marketers -- and some feel they were unfairly
punished for it.
You don't want the same thing to happen to you!
So let's have a look at a list of what exactly the search engines are
currently looking for when indexing sites -- and what they'll punish
"Dos": Legitimate tricks the SEO masters use to optimize their sites
and maintain their high ranking
The search engines don't want to be manipulated by marketers. They want
to provide the best unbiased results possible for any given search --
or they'll lose users!
That's why they need to change their algorithms so frequently -- to
stay ahead of the tricks people use to get top rankings.
That being said, there are still a lot of legitimate ways you can
optimize your site without angering the search engines and causing them
to drop you from their list.
Here are some of the best things you can to do ensure your site has a
1. Ask relevant sites to
link to your site
In the past, scoring a high ranking with a search engine was all about
positioning your keywords in "prime real estate" positions in your text
and site coding. All that has changed, however. These days, links are
Search engines place a huge amount of importance on the number of sites
that link to yours. But it's not just the quantity of links that
matter, it's also the quality. Search engines look at how relevant the
links are -- i.e., how much the content of the linking site has in
common with the content on your site.
The more relevant, the better!
Search engines also look at how "important" the linking site is. What
kind of "online presence" does it have? How much traffic does it get?
For example, your site will get a higher ranking if it's linked to by
sites such as BBC.com
or nationalgeographic.com instead of,
say, the personal homepage of your friend's neighbour's kid.
2. Pay attention to
keyword inclusion and placement
Keywords may no longer be the sole determining factor of a site's
ranking, but they're still pretty important. The most useful places to
include them are:
In your domain name -- only make sure your keywords are in the root of
your URL, not the stem! For example, if your main keyword phrase is
"cell phones," try to get a domain name such as "www.cell-phones.com"
instead of "www.mobileusa.com/cell-phones.com." Some search engines
will actually penalize sites for including key words in the stem of a
In the title tags in your source code
In the meta description of your site -- this is much less important
than it used to be, but it can't hurt.
In your meta keyword tags
HOWEVER: Be sure you only include relevant keywords! Search engines
will penalize you if you try to sneak in keywords that have nothing to
do with the content of your site.
3. Create content-rich
"information pages" to direct traffic to your site
An easy way to boost the number of pages that link to your site is to
create some pages yourself!
However, you have to make sure these pages contain valuable contents
that provide people with useful information. Search engines hate
"pointer pages" that have no content and exist only to add to the
number of links pointing to a site.
Be sure the information relates to the content on your site and has
your keywords placed in advantageous positions. This will boost the
ranking of your pages with the search engines and ensure they get lots
of traffic -- which they can then redirect to your site.
4. Submit your site to
Be sure to submit your site to important directories such as Yahoo!,
Directory Project, and About.com, as well as smaller
directories. Your listing on these directories will help your ranking
with the major search engines.
5. Multiply and conquer!
Create a "community" of related sites that link to each other. Why stop
at only one information page? The more content-rich sites that point to
your site, the better!
You can also boost the number of links that point to your site by
dividing it into several separate sites that all link to each
other.This works especially well if you sell a number of different
products or services.
If you build a different site to focus on each of your products and
services, then you can also concentrate the use of specific keyword
phrases on each site. That's another great way to boost your search
"Don'ts": Tricks the search engines hate and why you should never use
them, even if your competition does
Now that we've covered the "dos," here come the "don'ts." Although
these questionable tactics have worked well in the past, the search
engines absolutely hate them. If they catch you using any of these
tricks, they may go so far as to drop you from their listings like a
1. Beware irrelevant
Yes, it's a good idea to get a lot of different links pointing to your
site, but the search engines only like RELEVANT links. If they find
sites that have nothing in common with the content on your site linked
to your web site, they'll lower your relevancy rating.
2. Beware irrelevant
Search engines hate finding irrelevant keywords on your site --
especially in your meta tags. If they catch you using keywords that
have nothing to do with the actual content of your site, they'll
penalize you for it.
3. Don't "keyword stuff"
your meta tags!
In the past, people used to repeat their keywords in their meta tags
over and over again. This used to get them a high ranking with the
search engines -- but not any more! Search engines are on to this trick
and will punish you for it by dropping your ranking.
4. Don't create "link
"Link farms" are the evil cousins of the "information pages" we
In the past, some spammers used to build multiple "doorway" sites that
existed only to multiply the number of links pointing to their sites.
Unlike content-rich information pages,these doorway pages would usually
only include a string of keyword terms that would earn them a high
ranking with the search engines.
The search engines have caught on to this tactic, however, and will
drop you from their listings if they find you using it.
5. Avoid "free for all"
Don't bother placing links to your site on pages where everyone and
their dog is invited to put up a link. Such sites have extremely low
relevancy ratings and will cost you points with the search engines.
tools and resources to optimize your site and stay n top of the search
There are a lot of great tools out there that can help you optimize
your web site while ensuring that you stay on the good side of all the
search engines. Here are a few of our favorites.
This great online tool helps you select specific keyword phrases that
will direct more traffic to your site. Free and paid versions are
SitePromoter: This useful software
program helps you create individualized submissions to the different
A lot of search engine optimization experts swear by this software.
It's a "link reputation analyzer" that helps you determine a site's
reputation and why the search engines like it or dislike it. It
certainly comes in handy when you're checking out the competition or
looking for reputable sites to link to yours!
WebPosition Gold: This is a great
piece of search engine placement software that generates Web pages
designed to rank high on the major search engines. It also analyzes
your existing Web pages, providing suggestions for improvement, and
tracks your ranking on different search engines.
Engine News: Planet Ocean's online resource, "The Unfair
Advantage Book on Winning the Search Engine Wars" is updated monthly
and provides excellent optimization tips and information on the Search
Engine Watch: This free site is another rich source of tips
and information on the Search Engine industry. Paid memberships are
available for more advanced content.
Search Engine Guide: This free
site contains a lot of useful information about the smaller search
engines on the Web, and who you should submit your site to in order to
get a better ranking with the bigger search engines.
Recent research by search engine optimization experts suggests that
there is a surprising lack of overlap between the results produced by
the major search engines. All too often, sites that are ranked high on
Google get a much poorer listing with Yahoo! and vice versa.
This could mean that webmasters are focusing their optimization efforts
solely on one search engine while neglecting to improve their ranking
with the other. They might be using optimization tactics that work for
Google on Yahoo!, without being aware that Yahoo! uses different
criteria to index a site.
Either way, sites that aren't optimized for both Google and Yahoo! are
missing out on a lot of potential visitors.
And don't forget, MSN will soon be throwing its hat into the ring and
switching from Yahoo! to its own search engine technology. When that
happens, you should be sure to submit your site to MSN as well.
No one really knows what the future holds for the search engine
industry, but one thing's for sure: Businesses that don't stay on top
of the changes are going to find themselves slipping behind. Don't let
that happen to your business!
About the Author:
Derek Gehl specializes in teaching real people how to start
profitable Internet businesses that make $100,000 to $2.5 Million
(or more) per year. To get instant access to all his most profitable
marketing campaigns, strategies, tools, and resources that he's
used to grow $25 into over $40 Million in online sales, visit:
********** Additional References **********
Site Build It - the only all-in-one site-brainstorming-building-hosting-and-marketing system.
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65 Instant Web Design Answers! - answers those "how do I do that?" type questions with edge-cutting web design tips and tricks.
Simple PHP - easy guide teachs how and why you should add PHP to your web site.
Affiliate Armor - protection for affiliate links against bypass and lost commissions.
Java Scripts Magic - advanced web page design with easy copy and paste codes for those who want to skip all the HTML techie talk.
Absolute Beginners Guide to CGI - step-by-step guide to learning the basics of CGI scripting.
XSitePro - an easy way to create a stream of income-generating web sites in minutes.
MateMedia - puts your business on the web in 4 steps with affordable hosting plans.
Easy Site Magic - adds special features to your web site / free report: "23 Tips to Get Repeat Visitors to Your Site, Build Your Subscriber List and Turn More "Browsers" into Paying Customers".
Best wishes for your online success!
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