Basic Search Engine Optimization


Have you ever wanted to have your Web page appear on the first page of a Search Engine or even better, have your page listed first on the first page. The following contains some information that I have learned over the years that I hope you find useful.

Page Organization
Organizing your site into topics is important for optimization. Lets say that you where a fruit vendor and you had a web page with all your fruits on the same page. The Search Engines would categorize your page as "fruit" which may not be desirable. A better approach would be to have one page for bananas, one page for apples, one page for grapes, etc. and have your main page about fruit. So if a user searches for fruit, they could see your main page listed on the Search Engines. If they searched for Bananas, that different page would could be listed. This basic organization sets you up for the next step - Keyword Density.

Keyword Density
It is important to have an idea of what words people are using to search the Internet with. If they were searching for "apples" then you want to have a page that has the word "apples" (the keyword) on it many times. This is called Keyword Density. The Search Engines will show your page in their listing as your page is all about apples. It is a good idea to use the keyword in the Heading Tags, Page Title and even the name of the page like, aples.html. The images on your page should have keywords in the "Alternative Text" area.
Note: Obvious overuse of keyword density is called "keyword stuffing" and could lessen your ranking. Try to have around 7 keyords per page but this is an arbitrary.

Links to your Site (Important)
Having other websites linking to your website is very important, especially other websites with good ranking. The wording in the link is also important. It should contain the keywords that you are using for a particular page. If a bookseller had a page dedicated to poetry and another website had a link to his poetry page, that link should contain the keyword poetry, not a domain name. Example:

Good
To find books on poetry go to: poetry books

Poor
To find books on poetry go to: www.bookseller.com

Link Sharing
There are many websites that offer free link sharing. You subscribe to the service and they hook you up with other sites who will swap links with you. This is called link farming and is frowned up by Search Engines and could lower your rank. Still many webmasters use it and it could work for you as it makes your site look popular. I tried it once and it did work for me but you have to be aware that surprising number of people who say they put your link on their page actually didn't. The other catch is that they put your link on an obscure page that a search engine will never find. Search engines discover link sharing by noting the reciprocal links, so if you swap links with someone who has your link on an obscure page and your link is not, who is going to benefit?

The best pages to have linked to your site are those that have a related products to your own. If you had a site that sold golf clubs, you would want links to your site on golf equipment pages.

Finding out who is linked to your site
You can find out how many links are pointing a site by using the link: command in most search engines. Just enter the word link with the colon, a space, then the domain name.

BLOGS, News Feeds and Social Networking
Adding a blog to your site gives you a tool to increase traffic to your site. You can write articles that have great keyword density and links. News Feeds (or RSS) do a similar thing and thus increase your traffic. Same with Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Google will come and scan your site regularily as there is continual changing, updating or new content. This is good as Google won't classify your site as "stagnant". There is a lot to cover on each of these tools so it is recommended you learn about them and implement them into your website.

How to find out how your page is doing with the Search Engines
There is a tool from Google that can be used to find out how well your pages are being listed with Google and its free! It is called the Google Toolbar and it tells you how well a web page is "ranking".

You can get the toolbar by clicking here. Note: This tool is not perfect.

The Google Toolbar

After you've installed the Google Toolbar you can start checking out the PageRank of Web pages. The green bar under the PageRank gives you the 1 to 10 ranking. In this case it is a 10.

No Ranking 5 Ranking - good
1 Ranking 6 Ranking
2 Ranking - common 7 Ranking
3 Ranking 8 Ranking - you rock!
4 Ranking 9 Ranking

Helpful Pages
Offering free advice on something your expert at, is another good way of driving traffic to your site. If you had an online grocery store, having a page on how to make Salsa would get your page recommended to others.

Submission Failure
In my early days of web design I went to the submission page of Google and entered in my URL and clicked submit. "How easy this is" , I thought, but a couple of months went by and I still didn't get listed. I thought that there were errors on my Web page so I changed a few things around and resumitted. Still no listing occured so I sent an e-mail to Google - no response. I searched around for a solution for submission failure and found a reference that stated I needed to have a link pointing to my site. I got a friend who was listed with Google to add a link to my site and I was listed in a month. If you know of someone whose website is searched by Google every week, just get him to put a link on his site to your page and you'll be listed in a little over a week. The lesson I learned is that you are better off to have someone who is listed in a search engine to put a link to your site on their page in order to get listed.

Google Submision Page

Meta Tags
Meta tags are not something that you see on a Web page as they are located in the HEAD tags of the Web page. The information inside the head tag contains information about the document, but doesn't show up on the page returned to the browser. The meta tags are still sometimes used by search engines, but because of their abuse, are only used by a few search engines. It is still a good idea to have the keywords and decription Meta tags. To view them you need to right click on the page and select "View Source". They are listed between the head tags as seen in the exampe below.

<HEAD>
<TITLE>Example Meta Page</TITLE>
<meta name="description" content="This is the description of what is on the page">
<meta name="keywords" content="Fruit, Bananas, Apples, Peaches, Pears ">
<meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">
</HEAD>

A Brief Description of some Meta Tags

<meta name="description" content="">
Enter a description of your Web page between the quotation marks.

<meta name="keywords" content="">
Enter the Keywords between the quotation marks. Seperate each keyword with a comma and don't use a space after the comma.

<meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">
This tag is used to prevent Microsoft from high jacking or using your site. This technology has been dropped in Windows XP.

<meta name="ROBOTS" content="INDEX, FOLLOW">
Tells the search engine robot that its OK to scan the page. If you don't want a scanning, replace the INDEX, FOLLOW with NO INDEX, NO FOLLOW.

<meta name="revisit-after" content="30 days">
This tag tells the search engine robot to come back in 30 days. Search Engines don't often listen to this tag.

<meta name="rating" content="general">
This tag gives your site a rating like movies get. The ratings are general, mature, restricted, and 14 years.

<meta name="Expires" content="">
This will cause a document to be reloaded from the website if the date on the surfers computer is after the given date in the content (even if it is stored in the user's cache). Enter a date from the past between the quotation marks so that the page is always new.

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