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SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

A few ideas to help you understand what search engine optimization means and how to help your website reach the ranking podium.

By:  Karin Pinter
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Stands out for: increasing the visitors to your website
Did you know? the term search engine optimization was first used in 1997

It’s tough times in the business world. Your company is suffering setbacks due to stiff competition and the economic crisis. You need an injection of new clients. You’ve tried everything to promote your business in magazines, newspapers, radio and TV… You even rented a billboard next to a one-dimensional bull placed at the top of a mountain. But somehow, something is still missing. What do you do? Set your sights on that fierce and faithful world known as the Internet.

Yes, we know, you already have a website. But apart from your colleagues, family and friends, how many people actually know it exists? How can you drive more traffic to your site in order to make ends meet? In reality, it’s really very simple. Hire an expert in what is called search engine optimization to do a little magic on your website (white, of course) so that it starts to appear in the top positions of Google, Yahoo, and MSN.

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Pulling the rabbit out of the hat: How to help people find your website.

1. First define the keywords that visitors will use to find your service or products on the internet and that best match the content on the website. You can start adjusting the text on your website in order to whet the appetite of search engine spiders that trawl the net and read websites for relevant content. They are obviously not real spiders, but rather programs that read websites like little detectives.

2. Adjust your META tags (title, keywords and description) to match the content of each page. This is like naming the chapters in a book, and is another aspect that search engine spiders look out for.

3. Create a sitemap that offers both human visitors and search engine spiders a quick glimpse of all the pages on the site, similar to the index page in an instruction manual.

4. Keywords should also be included into the alt tags that appear on the images within our web page. Remember, every little thing counts!

5. After giving your site a general spring cleaning, you need to start campaigning for votes. This is a process that involves a little give and take. You need to search for sites that are relevant to your content or industry, and ask them to link back to you. You can also achive these backlinks by being actively involved in forums and posting comments related to your activity. The idea is to be present and involved in sites related to your subject in order that search engines recognize your site as credible.

Every now and then search engines modify the criteria by which they rank sites. This is why you need someone to be up to date in order to make amendments to the site as required.

As if by magic

No pain, no gain. That said, I am often surprised by how quickly a website achieve a high ranking with hardly any effort at all. You need to follow various steps and rituals in order to establish your presence on that podium. Just like you need to take care of yourself, you need to take care of your website.

Some SEO experts will cheat and try to fool search engines in order to get to the top as quickly as possible. Using tricks can potentially harm your business and often backfire in the long run. In the world of search engine optimization we call these people black hat SEOs and search engines are quick to punish their sites. Those who work with a clean code and ethical mentality are called white hat SEOs.

The Magician’s Kit for optimizing your website: SEO tools

Obviously, no good magician will ever divulge his or her secrets. But I can tell you about some of the basic tools you can use to help you optimize your site:

· Choose your keywords carefully and ensure they relate to the content of your site and the service you provide.
· Create META tags for each page.
· Review and adjust your content to include keywords.
· Review and adjust the source code so that it loads our optimized content faster and more efficiently.
· Link strategy – Develop your presence on search engines through other established sites (eg. local directories, industry-specific sites, blogs, forums, facebook, digg …).
· Frequently analyse your traffic, visitor tendencies and search engine rankings in order to assess your progress.

How do you find out if people are visiting your website?

If you don’t know who is visiting your website, you won’t know which strategy is working. To do this you need to install software on your server (most hosting companies already have these tools set up for you to use) or sign up to Google Analytics. You can use the resulting statistics in order to see the number of visitors to your site, and discover where they are coming from. These statistics give you an idea of user habits, increases and decreases in traffic, and will also show you which keywords users are using to get to your site. This information is vital for anyone interested in marketing their website.

Can I pull the rabbit out of the hat myself, or do I need to hire a magician?

There are many books and websites containing detailed information on how to develop your knowledge about search engine optimization. But, unless you have the time to study, apply and keep up to date with the industry, then you should probably find an expert to take charge so you can concentrate on developing your business. Search Engine Optimization is a tedious and time-consuming process. Unless you are on a tight budget, or have lots of time to spare, leave it to the experts.



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El 20 March 2009 a las 1:06 AM, Mar Saavedra dijo...

carai! una no se va a dormir sin saber algo nuevo…

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El 2 April 2009 a las 10:30 AM, Sam Hopkins dijo...

I run my website myself on a small budget. If I have to focus my energy on one area of SEO, which would it be? What is the most important aspect taken into account by google?

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El 2 April 2009 a las 11:35 AM, Carlos Sisi dijo...

Hi Sam!

Once you are sure Google is able to read your site fully (is not blocked by lousy javascript or strange artifacts on graphics that acts as links) and your keywords are in place, the most important thing in my humble opinion are the backlinks. If your site is linked by 100 other sites, you will have Google considering: “hey, this site has to be interesting because these other 100 sites are linking back to it, so lets give it a push up”. In my experience, backlinks have always helped tremendously to move my sites up in the Google ranking. Also - do not focus on too many keywords. Refine your efforts. Best to be well positioned on ONE keyword than on page 13 for a number of them. Just my 2 cents!

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El 2 April 2009 a las 4:43 PM, Karin dijo...

Hi Sam,

Carlos has a very valid point. Links are an important element in terms of gathering weight and promotion from other sites so that search engines will further improve your rankings. Depending on your industry however, you may not require that many links if it is highly specialised, but quite often we find ourselves hunting for more links in a strongly competitive sector.

If you are on a small budget, the easiest way to start building links (and usually for free) is to ask your closest collaborators to exchange links with you on their sites. Everyone benefits from the all-round promotion, and you get an inexpensive jumpstart to your link campaign. You can then focus your expenses on refining the links to your site afterwards.

Good luck!

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