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Seach engine optimization: The lost and found department

Editor’s note: For definitions of terms related to search engine optimization, check out Timothy Kusheret’s article.

By John Beath
itechlogofullToday I received a call from someone who said their Web site was “lost on the Net.” He further explained that his site did not come up on search engines and asked how his site could be found. I told the caller his site needed search engine optimization (SEO).
Many Web site owners have this problem because their sites are not designed favorably when it comes to search engine “bots” that index and rank sites on search result pages. While there are a lot of search engines with different ranking criteria, I’m going to concentrate on the basics used by Google. I currently have 16 sites, most of which have a top-three ranking for my specific search terms. Many of my sites rank No. 1 with one or two other listing on the first page of search results.
Here’s my list of the top 11 must-do tips to ensure a Web site does not get lost on the Internet:
1. When choosing a URL (universal record locator) name, choose something that relates to your search term. For instance, my top site, www.halibut.net, clearly reflects what my site is about – halibut. But what if the desired domain is taken? If your chosen domain is taken, pick something with your desired name followed by one or two words. “halibut-fishing” or “halibutfishingsource” with either a “.com” or “.net” will satisfy your needs. Having your search term in your domain name will help your site be found.
You can also have multiple domain names for the same site. If you had “joesguideservice.com” you could also have “bassfishingalabama.com” if your main focus was bass fishing in Alabama. You would then use “joesguideservice.com” for your flyers or other print marketing and use “bassfishingalabama.com” for search engine marketing. Both URLs would then point to the same site.  For example, www.owaa.com and www.owaa.net point to www.owaa.org. The “.org” site is what OWAA publicizes.
2. Meta titles and descriptions should be concise and match your most important search term. Meta keywords should also be included, but will not help as much as the title and description. Google does not use any meta keyword information to determine site ranking. For example, the title for Joe’s Guide Service could be: “Alabama bass fishing guide service specializing in trophy bass.” When looking at the site’s code, this phrase should be found within <TITLE> and <TITLE/> tags of the site’s header document. The text inside <TITLE> isn’t part of the displayed content on a Web site. However, most browsers will display the title at the top of the window.

title-sample

The description can be a little longer: “Alabama guided bass fishing trips with Joe’s Guide Service, Alabama’s top bass fishing guide.” The description is generally the text that appears below the site’s title in search results.

description-sample

3. Write to the search engines first, your client second. Your index page MUST have clear and concise text that relates to your title and description. For a good example of this, visit www.lingcodfishing.net. I built this site and wrote it to get high rankings for the search term “lingcod fishing” and other lingcod-related search terms. If you Google “lingcod fishing,” my site comes up No. 1 and No. 2.
4. Don’t use images or graphics with important text if you can help it. Search engine bots can’t read text from graphics. In the example image below, the text “The answer to the meaning of life” would be skipped by search engine bots. A way to get around this is to title the image with the text (i.e. “meaning-of-life.jpg”). Search bots index images based on their names.

meaning-of-life

5. Try to get as many links as possible pointing to your site. You can put your site’s link on forums, free link posts and your friend’s site. Search engines also look at link popularity. If your site is linked to a popular, highly-ranked site within the search engine’s index, it will help your ranking. This is why all of my sites link back to each other.
6. Content, content, content. Growing your site’s content will raise its ranking. Search engines can see if a site has lots of relevant content and will give the site a higher relevancy rating.
7. Make sure hyperlinks on your index page use keywords and key phrases. For example, take a look at www.halibut.net. Each link clearly defines and leads to specific targeted keywords and phrases. This leads to more content and will help your site grow into a more comprehensive, user-friendly and search-engine-preferred site.
8. For each page, use different meta tags that relate specifically to each page’s content.
9. Submit your site to the top search engines manually. You can also put your site on the index page of a top-rated page and wait for search engines to list it.
10. Use HTML code <META NAME=”robots” content=”INDEX FOLLOW”> and <META NAME=”revisit-after” content=”10 DAYS”> in your site’s header document. These two meta tags instruct the search engine robots to index your site and revisit after the specified time period.
11. You can use Web CEO to help you improve your site’s ranking. Web CEO uses the top SEO technology to help your site get higher rankings. Try the free version or upgrade to a better version for $199. For more information, go to www.webceo.com. ◊

Editor’s note: For definitions of terms related to search engine optimization, check out Timothy Kusheret’s article.

johnbeathJohn L. Beath is OWAA’s newest president and owner of Pacific Lure Communications. He is a writer/photographer and owner/editor of 14 Web sites and 10 online stores. He is also an Internet marketing consultant for several businesses. For more information about getting connected on the Internet, visit his site at www.webuildyourwebsite.net.
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