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How to Boost Your Site’s Standing with Search Engines

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Search engine optimization
(SEO) can be thought of as an evolving set of techniques that enhance a Web
site’s rating in any given search engine in response to specific search
phrases. There is a lot to learn about this subject. My intent here is to
outline some tasks that you, as a site owner, can do to save hundreds or even
thousands of dollars you might otherwise pay an SEO professional.

 

These tasks demand time and effort
even though you don’t need to hire a professional to handle them. For SEO of my
own projects, I partner with Louise Roach of <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>www.snowpackusa.com
. She is up to speed
on all the latest SEO techniques, having researched them to bring her site up
to page one of Google for all relevant keywords, and she inspired many of the
recommendations that follow, which you can also apply to other search engines.

 

First, figure out what you want
your Web site to accomplish and who your audience is.

 

Then define your goal as getting
your site to appear on a search engine’s first four pages; I’m focusing here on
Google, but you can use the advice to improve your rankings elsewhere.

 

Bear in mind that you want to end
up with three good phrases for each section of your site, or for each of the
site’s functions. If you have a page for each book, you will need three keyword
phrases for each book.

 

Coming Up with Keywords

Begin your keyword research by
going to Google and typing “Google Suggest” in the search field. Start typing
keywords that you think are appropriate for your book. Note the alternative
phrases that show up and look for phrases that have lower numbers to their
right; the lower numbers indicate that fewer pages have those phrases, which
means you’ll have less competition with them. Make a list of the phrases that
seem best.

 

Go to <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>www.wordtracker.com
. Sign up for a day,
a week, or a month.

Print out the Wordtracker
tutorial, which can be found at <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>www.wordtracker.com/docs/members_userguide/members_userguide.pdf
.
Go to Wordtracker’s Keyword Universe section and take the four steps, while
reading the tutorial.

 

Once you have three good keyword
phrases for each section and function of your site, design a title and a
description for every page (the title shows up at the tippy-top of your
browser). Use the keywords in each title, and keep titles down to about 75
characters or so. Give your list of titles to your webmaster.

 

Make the description for each page
a sentence about 150 characters long (the description shows up after the link in
the results of a search in a search engine). Give all your page descriptions to
your webmaster.

 

Design your site to make keywords
show up as text as close as possible to the upper-left corner of a page,
without sacrificing other design goals. See <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>www.snowpackusa.com
and notice FAST PAIN
RELIEF WITH SNOWPACK CHILLIN’ ICE PACKS in white on a blue background. This
puts the most powerful keywords “fast pain relief” and “ice pack” at the top
left of the page, after the graphic.

 

Use the keywords in different ways
several times on each page, both in the copy and—best of all—in
text-based navigation links. When you use the keywords in the copy, link them
to another page whenever possible. Use the keywords in the alt tags of <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>all
your
images, as they relate to the keywords. Link these images to other pages
whenever you can. Your webmaster will know how to do this.

 

Making Use of Links

Check on who is linking to your
site by going to Google and typing link:www.yourdomain.com. Grow that list of
linkers, so that the search engines will raise your ranking. Here are some
ideas:

 

·      Go to <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>www.sitepronews.com/article-directories.html

and find a directory of articles. Both <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>goarticles.com
and <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>articledirect.com
are good.

·      Start submitting articles
regularly to these directories, with links back to your site included in them.
Weave your keywords into the articles.

·      Submit articles to professional
associations relevant to your book.

·      Make sure your books are available
on Amazon and other sites that enable reviews, and get people to write reviews
that include links back to your site

·      Start a blog at <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>www.blogspot.com
.
Make sure your blog entries include your keywords. Link to the blog from your
site and link back to your site from the blog. Start adding relevant
information (your articles, for example) to increase traffic based on good
content.

 

Keep the site content current.
Out-of-date Web pages are horrible for your image. If yours has outdated
information, get rid of those pages. Get rid of your calendar if you’re not
keeping it up. Instead, list your events on your blog, so that you won’t need a
Web master to make changes.

 

Write press releases that include
your URL and keywords, and submit them to <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>PRweb.com
and sites such as ArticleCity
(articlecity.prwebdirect.com).

 

Go to Google and type “Google
Alerts.” Then go to the first link and sign up for both news and Web alerts
providing exact and distinctive phrases from your press releases. Google will
notify you when news sites and other sites include those distinctive phrases.
Check the links to see that they’re about you and follow up appropriately. If a
trade association has taken up your press release, link to it.

 

Remember: You must know what you
want your visitors to do. You must help them do it within two clicks of
arriving at the site. And you must tell them to do it using action verbs. This
is a good thing. People have come to you for a reason, and they don’t mind
being helped along to get what they want.

 

If the mission of the site is
unclear and the steps to take are unclear, users will get discouraged. So
include more than one call to action and use action verbs in phrases like:
“Sign up for our newsletter,” “Buy now,” “Shop now,” “Read our articles,” and
“Call us.” And if your site has more than one purpose, divide it up clearly and
understandably. See Snowpack for a good example.

 

Best of luck with your efforts. If
the work seems overwhelming, just take one step at a time. And please let me
know how these tips work for you.

 

Hope O. Kiah runs
webdesignbyhope.com, which was named one of the top 25 web design companies in
New Mexico by the New
Mexico Business Journal
in 2002. For more information, call
505/466-4447, email hope@webdesignbyhope.com, or visit the Web site.

 

 

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