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Search Engine Optimization

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Search Engine Seduction
By Eric Lander - September 27, 2001

Many determining factors exist for consideration while planning a successful optimization campaign. Pay per performance programs and subscriptions may dominate all of the quickest and most immediate ways establish better ranking throughout search engines. There are some basic methods however, that one should employ when designing a site. The benefits will continue to come more and more as time progresses, simply by making spiders and bots continuously visit your site. It's one thing to be indexed, but it is another to make your listings hold value.

First and foremost, it is important to see what dominates search queries on popular engines. More often than not, the pages you find at the top contain numerous links to relevant resources alongside in-depth and informative content relevant to that queried topic.

What do you not find? Verbose reiterations of information, limited or no links at all, and the most erroneous of optimization structure, images that have valuable text embedded in them.

It is important then when creating an affordable campaign, to realize goals and competition. That is vital to any campaigns success, but especially so when you cannot rely on the success of paid performance systems as a back up plan.

Before you submit your root domain for review, consider the following questions as a basis to identify initial optimization completion:

Does the homepage set a theme for the site?
The homepage of any website should have a bit of content, but most importantly serve as a mini-portal to all sections of the website. Not only does this assist usability factors, it enhances the amount of information that spiders and crawlers will index when reviewing a website.

To maximize possibilities, include many text links on your homepage that have topic-relevant text within the links themselves. Engine's agents will see these links, and crawl out to them to review from that point as well. Surely, it cannot hurt.

While you are working on these text links, it is also beneficial to make deeper pages have filenames of relevance. If you are editing to that level, do yourself a favor and include a title attribute as well. It's sure to help.

Here’s an example.  Change something like this:
<a href=”next_page.htm”>Click here for Next Page</a>

…to this...

<a href=”optimization_faqs.htm” title=” Search Engine Optimization FAQ’s”>Search Engine Optimization FAQ’s</a>

…While it may not help much for the user, it certainly offers a lot more information for the spiders, bots, and crawlers to identify page value.

Are the images useful?
As a rule of thumb, do not use images to display text unless absolutely necessary. I would much rather be able to read, copy, paste, and re-use a site's contents than worry about the issues a 5K GIF may tote along with it. Simply stated, text is best. Search engines can read it, use it, and rank you based on it. Your images, though apparent to the user, are invisible to the world in which you are trying to establish yourself within.

Do you see Untitled Document anywhere?
While many optimization professionals will work late nights, optimizing every bit of content on their domains, they leave out a simple and critical element. The page's title can offer search engines a wealth of information. Do not resort to cramming an abundance of keywords in there though, because you cannot maximize your rankings for all of them at once. Rather, look at that particular document's text-based content, and create an informative and branded title to represent that page.

Have you controlled the Robots yet?
While some search engine agents may not even look for a robots.txt file in the root of your website domain, the majority do. With this in mind, the presence of this file is vital to controlling the robots to look further in and beyond the root. It is also the best way to immediately stop the indexing of information you would rather NOT allow to be seen, like site development areas not yet completed.

For more information on how to generate some great robots.txt files, look to the following resources:

Tip: Don't forget to add the META tags to each document's headings too, in order to control it one level further!

Is the text definitive and clear?
Again, search engine's and their agents will only recognize your website and classify it with a rank value based upon the information that is available in text form. When generating content for any page, make sure you stick to one particular topic. The deeper within a website too, the more focused this topic should be.

If your website over-uses it's own key words and phrases throughout each and every page, you are likely hurting your cause. Focus on making text clean, clear and concise. Never make an attempt to add more content to pages that are best left as is. Many search engines are beginning to wise up to the overuse of content, so watch your keyword density carefully.

Is quality information buried?
Rumor has it that some search engine agents will travel 4 or even 5 folders deep within a web site structure. Are you ready to risk not knowing that your most informative content is hidden? Of course not! Make an attempt when setting up the website to get the best quantity of information to the user within 3 levels of your homepage. Each level can establish a bit more direction, and the content can easily fit right into place from there.

Have you safely submitted your website?
Tools like Submit Wolf, Top Dog, and Web Position all aid in the mass submission of websites to the search engines. Now, if you have taken hours upon hours optimizing your site to rank well, do you really want to run the immediate risk of penalization through the use of one of these applications? Surely you don't! So whenever possible, access the submission sites on your own and complete the forms by hand. This way, you at least know that a quality submission has been performed on the most important engines. Once you have the top 12 engines taken care of, use these programs to submit to the other engines to maximize site exposure.

If you are able to factor in all of these elements while you are building or revising a website, you are more likely to succeed in acquiring more site rankings than ever before. In the long run, you will see your pages climb closer and closer to the top leaving your time devoted to improving the site's contents and refining the coding. Once those spiders and crawlers know you are serious about your content, you will have a tough time getting them to stop coming around.

Happy Optimizing!