Search engine optimisation

Up to 80% of web traffic usually comes through search engines so SEO is a key to getting your site used. There are 2 basic types of search engines – directories & automated web crawlers.

Directories

Like phone directories, these are lists compiled, assessed & catalogued by humans.

This can have its benefits, but it’s hard to compete with the crawlers for sheer volume of sites indexed. You can submit your site using the links below:

Crawlers

Automated programs that crawl around the internet following links from site to site.

They compile reports on the links & sites found & send these back to their index. You can submit a site using the links below.

How Are Results Ranked?

The search engines won’t tell us exactly what their mathematical ranking algorithms are. Theories abound. Visit http://www.webworkshop.net/pagerank.html if you like maths & want to try to crack Google’s code.

We do know that searches rely heavily on links to gauge each page’s importance. If an engine finds 3 million sites linking to your page it will think the page is good (or at least popular). If there’s no-one linking at all, the search engine may even drop you out of its index as you’re wasting its space.

Anchor Text – A Presidential Example

The anchor text used in each link is also very important. If you use ‘Click Here’ as your link text you’re really wasting it. Links should be laden with keywords.

For example, a few years ago a large circle of websites linked to the Whitehouse page of US president George Bush, using the anchor text ‘Miserable Failure’. As a result, when Google was used to search for ‘Miserable Failure’ his official biography page ranked #1!

Useful Toolbars

FREE toolbars are available for download at http://toolbar.google.com (for Google) & http://download.alexa.com (for Alexa – an Amazon company).  These have features to show each site’s page rank & traffic.

1. Choose Keywords

What are the keywords about your subject that users most commonly search for? Find out FREE with Google’s Keyword tool (Google it).

2. Use Keywords

The ‘keyword density’ of your pages is important to achieve a high ranking. It’s thought best to focus each page on just 1 or 2 key terms. Repeat these in the title of the page, in <h1> heading tags & throughout the text.

An imprecise art? Not at all. Naturally, on the net you can find FREE tools to measure your results & report back with scores & rankings. Try www.keyworddensity.com.

3. Be Search Engine Friendly

Before you welcome crawlers to your pages you’ll need to tidy up. Crawlers can typically only read text. They can’t understand scripting languages like Javascript or PHP & using frames will often totally disorient them.

Remember, crawlers wander around following links. If all your links are images (not keyword laden text) or involve active scripting languages rather than simple HTML, you’re making their job hard, if not impossible.

Use the Lynx Viewer (text only browser) to see what your site looks like through the eyes of a search engine.

4. Introduce Yourself

There are actually too many search engines to mention them all or to bother submitting to them all. Many of them buy data off others & repackage it. If you submit to the ones listed above, you’ve covered the major bases & the others will (hopefully) find you.

5. Collect Relevant Links

This is time consuming. Try searching the web for small directories related to the topic of your site. You’ll be surprised at how many specialist directories there are & they exist just to link to sites like yours! Try searching by your keywords along with “add URL”.

Join small business networks. Apply for online awards. Use your imaginations! See how many links you’ve collected by typing “link: http://www.yourdomain.com&#8221; into a search engine.

6. Have Patience!

It can take weeks or months before the crawlers get around to adding a newly submitted site to their index. To check if you’ve been added type “site:www.yourdomain.com” into the search box. You’ll be shown all the pages from your domain that are listed.

If you have lots of other sites linking to you, crawlers may trip over you by accident sooner rather than later, but sometimes all you can do is wait…

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