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What is Search Engine Optimization? (SEO)

In today's online world, your website doesnt mean anything to anyone unless it can be found by your customers. Optimizing your site so it appears high in the search engines seems to be as much as an art form, as it is a science. Find out what you can do to keep up with the quickly changing world of Search Engine Optimization, to keep traffic coming to your website.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines through a natural search results. Usually, the earlier a site is presented in the search results pages or the higher it "ranks," the more visitors will visit that site. Search engines are one of the primary ways that Internet users find Web sites. That's why a Web site with good search engine listings may see a dramatic increase in traffic.

Everyone wants those good listings. Unfortunately, many Web sites appear poorly in search engine rankings or may not be listed at all because they fail to consider how search engines work. Therefore, SEO is the active practice of optimizing a web site by improving internal and external aspects in order to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines. The improvements can mean the difference between achieving top rankings, which can result in thousands of monthly visitors, and being lost in oblivion.

All too often SEO is an after-thought for most site owners and web designers. SEO should play a major part of a website, even before it’s built. You should incorporate SEO in the planning stage, during the design process and after the site is launched.

The majority of web traffic is driven by the major commercial search engines - Google Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask. If your site cannot be found by search engines or your content cannot be put into their databases, you miss out on the incredible opportunities available to websites provided via search - people who want what you have visiting your site. Whether your site provides content, services, products or information, search engines are a primary method of navigation for almost all Internet users.

Building a Traffic Worthy Content Site

Search engine optimization should play a major part in the decisions you make for your website. Listed below are 10 golden rules to follow:

  • Website's Domain Name
  • Website's Simple Design
  • Website Structure and Usability
  • Website's Informative Architecture
  • Website Functionality
  • Website's Navigation
  • Authoring High Quality Content
  • Link Building
  • Website Accessibility
  • Use of a Sitemap

Why can't the search engines figure out my site without SEO help?

Search engines are always working towards improving their technology to crawl the web more deeply and return increasingly relevant results to users. However, there is and will always be a limit to how search engines can operate. Whereas the right moves can net you thousands of visitors and attention, the wrong moves can hide or bury your site deep in the search results where visibility is minimal. In addition to making content available to search engines, SEO can also help boost rankings, so that content that has been found will be placed where searchers will more readily see it. The online environment is becoming increasingly competitive and those companies who perform SEO will have a decided advantage in visitors and customers.

Critical Components of Optimizing a Website

Website's Domain Name

Search engines do take into account keywords in the domain name. It is recomended that registering a domain name containing your most important keywords. However it is also important that the domain name is memorable and brandable. Please avoid domain names like, "A1-ALL-INTERNET-WEBSITE-SOFTWARES-DOWNLOAD.COM"

Website's Simple Design

If you’re thinking of building a site that uses fancy multimedia special effects, such as Flash, you may like to reconsider. Search engines rely on the keywords in a site for categorization. Flash is mainly used for entertainment and lack content. As such search engines have decided not to index Flash files. This is why you rarely find Flash pages with minimal text, ranked high in the search engines.

Stick to basic HTML if you want to get top rankings. You can use other languages such as ASP and Cold Fusion, but make sure they are created using search engine friendly URLs and links. A final consideration would also take into account the importance of ensuring that critical elements in a site's design (like menus, logos, colors and layout) were used consistently throughout the site.

Website Structure and Usability

Usability represents the ease-of-use inherent in your site's design, navigation, architecture and functionality. The idea behind the practice is to make your site intuitive so that visitors will have the best possible experience on the site. It doesn’t matter how great your content is, if your visitors have problems or get frustrated trying to find the information they’re searching for.

Website's Informative Architecture

The organizational hierarchy of a site can also strongly affect usability. Topics and categorization impact the ease with which a user can find the information they need on your site. While an intuitive, intelligently designed structure will seamlessly guide the user to their goals, a complex, obfuscated hierarchy can make finding information on a site disturbingly frustrating

Website Functionality

To create compelling usability, ensure that tools, scripts, images, links, etc., all function as they are intended and don't provide errors to non-standard browsers, alternative operating systems or uninformed users who often don't know what or where to click.

Website's Navigation

Site navigation is one area that few web designers worry about, with regards to search engine optimization. For example, some search engines don’t crawl deeper than the top two or three levels of a website.

So unless you use SEO techniques to help the search engine spider go deeper than the top levels of your site, your lower level pages may never get indexed. Since navigation is one of a website's primary functions, provide users with obvious navigation systems: breadcrumbs, alt tags for image links, and well written anchor text that clearly describes what the user will get if they click a link. Navigation standards like these can drastically improve usability performance

Authoring High Quality Content

The content of a page is the most important aspect of search engine optimization. It is the keywords contained within the page content that makes or breaks a page’s chance of top search engine rankings. Make sure that when you design your content outline, you include data and information that can be found nowhere else. While collecting and amalgamating information across the web can create good content, it is the unique elements in your work that will be noticed and recommended.

Choosing the right topics to target when creating your site. Split your site up into the wrong categories, or not knowing what categories to target, could cost you a lot of potential visitors and customers. To attract the most number of targeted visitors, you must offer products, services and content that people want or need.

Create Documents that Can Serve as One-Stop Resources - If you can provide a single article or resource that provides every aspect of what a potential visitor or searcher might be seeking, your chances for success in SEO go up. An "all-in-one" resource can provide more opportunities than a single subject resource in many cases. Don't be too broad as you attempt to execute this kind of content creation - it's still important to keep a narrow focus when you create your piece

Link Building

After the contents of a page, links is the most important aspect of search engine optimization. In general, the more outer links pointing to a site, the higher it should appear in the search engines ranking.

Search engines are very particular about growing their ability to detect artificial manipulation and link spam, so effective SEOs who want to promote sites to the fullest extent must use natural, organic link building processes in order to have success.

Website's Accessibility

Accessibility refers primarily to the technical ability of users to access and move through your site, as well as the ability of the site to serve disabled or impaired users. For SEO purposes, the most important aspects are limiting code errors to a minimum and fixing broken links, making sure that content is accessible and visible in all browsers and without special actions

Use of a Sitemap

Sitemaps which are used by Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask are another great tool that gives search engines a closer look at your website. A sitemap tells search engines's robots exactly where to go on your website to index it instead of it having to crawl through your entire site. With a sitemap your website will be indexed more quickly.

It's wise to have the sitemap page linked to from every other page in the site, or at the least from important high-level category pages and the home page. The sitemap should, ideally, offer links to all of the site's internal pages. However, if more than 100-150 pages exist on the site, a wiser system is to create a sitemap that will link to all of the category level pages, so that no page in a site is more than 2 clicks from the home page. For exceptionally large sites, this rule can be expanded to 3 clicks from the home page

Free Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

Just want to let you know that Google has just released a free Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. You can get access to it here. Save this pdf file in your computer and read it.

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