I know that the home page is the most important page in the site and that the search engines give a lot of emphasis to the home page. Can you give me some tips regarding optimizing the home page of my site? How many keywords should I optimize the home page for?
You are right in saying that most search engines give a lot of importance to the home page. Other things remaining the same, the home page of your site will rank better than any internal page in many search engines. Here's how you should go about optimizing the home page:
i) From the list of keywords that are applicable for your site, select 3 that are popular among users, and can be used to describe your site in generic terms. You should generally not select more than 3 keywords because it is rather difficult to repeat more than 3 keywords in a page without making the repetition sound odd to your human visitors. Now, while selecting the keywords, try to see if there's any keyword in your list which includes another keyword. For instance, suppose your site is related to debt consolidation. Then, you will probably have keywords like "debt consolidation" and "debt consolidation services" in your list. In this case, you should select "debt consolidation services" as one of the keywords for the home page because it includes "debt consolidation". By optimizing the home page for "debt consolidation services", you are automatically optimizing it for "debt consolidation". In this way, select 3 generic keywords and if possible, try to ensure that the keywords that you select includes other keywords.
ii) Then write a keyword rich Title tag which includes the 3 keywords as close as possible to the beginning of the tag. Also, since the Title will be displayed by the search engines when they show their results, you need to ensure that the Title tag is attractive to your human visitors from a marketing perspective - the Title should be written in such a way that the visitors click on your site's listing in the search results rather than the sites of your competitors. Think of the Title tag as the headline of an advertisement. Just as the headline of an ad is intended to get people to read the rest of the ad, the Title tag should get the searchers to click on your site.
iii) Then write a keyword rich Meta Description tag which also includes the 3 keywords. Many search engines will display the Meta Description tag when they are displaying the search results. Hence, like the Title tag, this too needs to attract visitors to your site rather than the sites of your competitors.
iv) If you want, you can add a Meta Keywords tag to the home page. This should contain the 3 keywords, each keyword separated by a comma and a space. However, the Meta Keywords tag is not very important, and hence, you should not worry too much about it.
v) Now, try to repeat the 3 keywords throughout the home page, in as many places as possible, without making the repetition appear odd to your human visitors. Try to repeat the 3 keywords at least once near the top of the page and once near the bottom of the page. Put the keywords in the alt tags of your images. Also, you need to remember that many search engines do not display the Meta Description tag. Instead, they may display the text found at the top of the page. Hence, you need to ensure that the text at the top of the page is also attractive to your human visitors. Other search engines display the text around the first occurrence of a keyword in a page. Hence, the text around the first occurrence of a keyword in a page should be attractive to your human visitors. There is no hard and fast rule regarding the exact number of words that should be present in the home page. Generally, if you use at least 300 words of text, you should do fine.
vi) Now, your home page probably contains quite a few links to the internal pages in your site. If possible, try to add the 3 keywords one by one to some of these links assuming that the pages which the links lead to provide information on the keyword which has been used in the link text.
That's it. You have just created an engine-optimized yet
human-friendly home page!
Is there any limit to the number of times that a particular keyword can be repeated in a page, so that the page is not considered an attempt to spam the engines?
As far as repeating keywords in the body of a page is concerned, there is no hard and fast rule. The key thing to remember when you are repeating a keyword in a particular page is that the repetition must not sound odd to your human visitors. As long as a human being does not consider the number of repetitions to be odd, you can rest assured that the search engines won't either. Hence, your aim should be to repeat the keyword as many times as possible throughout the page, without making the repetition too obvious to a human visitor. As long as you do that, you need not worry that the search engines will think you are trying to spam them. Also, when you are repeating the keywords, it is essential to remember that the keywords should not be repeated randomly thoughout the page - the repetition must make proper grammatical sense. A useful technique to follow when you are trying to create a search engine friendly page is to temporarily forget the search engines and to write a page which provides useful content for human beings. Then, after you have finished with the content, try and see in which sentences you can bring in your target keyword. Of course, the target keyword should preferably be present at least once near the beginning of the content.
As far as repeating the keyword in the Meta Keywords tag is concerned, you should not repeat the keyword more than 3 times in the Meta Keywords tag. Also, the repetitions should not occur together, i.e. between any two repetitions of the keyword, there should be another related but different keyword.
As long as you follow the above rules, you should do just fine.
How frequently should a particular page be submitted to the search engines?
Here are the rules that you should follow when it comes to submitting pages:
i) When you have created a new site, and have uploaded all the files to your site, submit all the files manually to the search engines, at the rate of one page per day. Don't submit more than 1 page per day to any engine.
ii) After you have finished submitting all the pages, keep your fingers crossed and wait. Don't give in to the temptation of starting another round of submissions now.
iii) With some luck, the engines should add all the files to their databases. If you find a particular engine has added all the files you have created, then DO NOT submit these pages again. However, if you find a particular engine has added some of your files but not all, then wait for a few weeks. If you find that all the files are still not listed in that engine, then submit the pages which had not been added to that and only that engine.
iv) As time passes, you will probably add new pages to your site. When you add some new pages, submit them to the search engines, at the rate of one page per day.
v) Again, as time passes, you will probably end up modifying some of the existing pages in the site significantly. By significant modification, I mean major changes to the content. This does not include things like changing one word here or one sentence there. If you have made significant modifications to a page, re-submit this page to the search engines.
Hence, the rule that you should follow is that if a particular
page is listed in an engine, and that page has not changed
significantly, don't re-submit this page to the engines. However,
if a page is not listed after the first submission, or if it has
changed significantly from the time that the engines spidered it,
you can (and should) re-submit the page.
January 17, 2002
Sumantra Roy, president of 1st Search Engine Ranking.net, is one of the most respected and recognized search engine positioning specialists on the Internet. Sumantra's articles on search engine optimization have been widely published and quoted in different web sites and newsletters on the Internet. His unique formula for establishing the most appropriate keywords for a site has been used by WordTracker, the most popular keyword research tool on the Internet. This formula is also used by many other search engine optimization companies for establishing the most appropriate keywords for their clients' sites.
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