Having a Web site that gets found in Google isn't hard to do, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are ten tips to get you started.
1. Start out slowly. If possible, begin with a new site that has never been submitted to the search engines or directories. Choose an appropriate domain name, and start out by optimizing just the home page.
2. Learn basic HTML. Many search engine optimization techniques involve editing the behind the scenes HTML code. Your high rankings can depend on knowing which codes are necessary, and which aren't.
3. Choose keywords wisely. The keywords you think might be perfect for your site may not be what people are actually searching for. To find the optimal keywords for your site, use tools such as WordTracker. Choose two or three highly targeted phrases for each page of your site. Never shoot for general keywords such as "travel" or "vacation."
4. Write at least 200 - 250 words of visible text copy based on your chosen keywords. This is a crucial component to high rankings and a successful Web site. The search engines need to "read" keyword rich copy on your pages so they can successfully classify your site. Use each keyword phrase numerous times within your copy for best results.
5. Create a killer Title tag. HTML title tags are critical because they're given a lot of weight with all of the search engines. You must put your keywords into this tag and not waste space with extra words. Do not use the Title tag to display your company name or to say "Home Page." Think of it more as a "Title Keyword Tag" and create it accordingly. Add your company name to the end of this tag, if you must use it.
6. Create Meaty Meta tags. Meta tags can be valuable, but they are not a magic bullet. Create a Meta Description tag that uses your keywords and also describes your site. The information in this tag often appears under your Title in the search engine results pages.
The Meta Keyword tag isn't quite as important as the Meta Description tag. Contrary to popular belief, what you place in the keyword tag will have very little bearing on what keywords your site is actually found under, and it's not given any consideration whatsoever by Google. Use this tag, but do not obsess over.
7. Use extra "goodies" to boost rankings. Things like headlines, image alt tags, header tags, etc.), links from other pages, keywords in file names, and keywords in hyperlinks can cumulatively boost search engine rankings. Use any or all of these where they make sense for your site.
8. Be careful when submitting to directories such as Yahoo and the Open Directory Project (DMOZ). Having directory listings are a key component to getting your site spidered and listed by Google. Making mistakes in the submission process could cost you dearly as directory listings are difficult to change later in the game. Therefore, it's important to read Yahoo's How to Suggest Your Site and How to add a site to the Open Directory before submitting.
9. Don't expect quick results. Getting high rankings takes time; there's no getting around that fact. Once your site is added to a search engine or directory, its ranking may start out low and then slowly work its way up the ladder. Some search engines measure "click-through popularity," i.e., the more people that click on a particular site, the higher its ranking will go. Be patient and give your site time to mature.
10. Don't constantly "tweak" your site for better results. It's best not to make changes to your optimization for at least three-to-six months after submission. It often takes the engines at least that long to add your optimized pages to their databases. Submit it, and then forget about it for a while!
If you've followed these tips and still can't find your site in the engines, the first place to "tweak" would be your page copy. If you added less than 250 words of visible text on your pages, this is probably your culprit. Also, double check your keyword density, and make sure that you only targeted two or three phrases per page. Eventually, you'll see the fruits of your labor with many top ten rankings in Google and the rest of the search engines!
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