Make the Most of Your Web Site!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a key strategy with regard to Web-based marketing as it helps to promote your site to a targeted audience. To utilize SEO you will need some basic familiarity with HTML. Generally, SEO can be defined as a method to optimize your Web site so that it becomes more search engine friendly, thus gaining higher search engine rankings.
A basic tenet of SEO is that there is no guarantee that you will obtain top rankings even if you follow all the rules. At the same time, if you neglect the basic guidelines, your site will likely go unnoticed by a large majority of your target audience. It is better to set focused and realistic goals rather than be too broad based. For example, aim to get into the top 20 results on Google using one particular keyword, rather than using 10 keywords to gain top ranking in 5 search engines. When starting out keep your goal modest so that you can meet with some success!
SEO is not the same as advertising. You can, of course, pay to be placed at the top of the list (called a sponsored placement) but the basic premise behind SEO is to get near top placement by using certain keywords that your target audience is likely to use when certain for products or services similar to yours.
SEO can be a one-time effort or something that you track on a continuing basis. There are situations where you may create a generic one-time SEO strategy in order to get high rankings. This would especially be the case with those fields that are somewhat esoteric in nature and the keywords not commonly used. However, in most cases you will need to employ and on-going SEO strategy and devote much time and effort to it. In order to better implement an SEO strategy, it is helpful to understand how search engines work and how to choose keywords.
Foundation in SEO
The first thing to understand is that search engines are content-driven. Activities that search engines perform include-crawling, indexing, processing, sorting, relevancy, and retrieving.
Search engines crawl the web searching for content that provide a clue as to what your site is about. This task is performed by a type of software called a spider. Spiders look for links among pages and index what they find. Because of the millions of pages on the Web (over 25 billion), it is not possible for the spider to visit any particular site on a consistent basis just to determine if a new page has been added or if an existing page has been changed in any way. It may take a crawler a couple of months to again visit your site, even if you have made keyword modifications.
After the crawler travels through the web the next step is to index the content. The indexed page is stored in a large database form where it can be retrieved at any point. The essential task of indexing is to identify the particular keywords used index it according to those terms. You can help the crawler to index your site correctly (and boost your rankings) by choosing the most appropriate keywords for your product or service.
When a user enters a search term the search engine will process that request-i.e. compare the search term with the indexed pages in the database. Since it is likely that many pages will contain those keywords, the search engine starts to sort the pages of the index by their relevancy to the search request.
There are various algorithms (methods of problem-solving) that calculate keyword relevancy. Each algorithm assigns a relative weight for such factors as keyword density, links, or metatags. This is why different search engines will list different pages for the same search request. Each of the major search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo regularly change their algorithms which can change the order of rankings. This is why it becomes important that your SEO strategy be an on-going effort. You should check your ranking on a weekly basis to see if it has changed and make any needed modifications to remain near the top.
The final step in a search engine’s process is retrieving the results. Basically, the pages of search results are displayed in the browser from the most relevant to least relevant sites.
Differences among Search Engines
Although the basic principles of SEO remain the same with all the sites, there are some minor differences between them that can lead to significant changes in page relevancy. Different search engines apply different levels of importance to certain SEO factors. For instance, Yahoo! And MSN place the most emphasis on keywords, while Google considers links to be of primary importance. Google also tends to favor sites that have been around a while and gives these sites higher rankings. Yahoo! has no such age preference to be granted high rankings.
The Importance of Keywords
Keywords are the most important part of SEO strategy since they are what the crawlers look for and index your site by. With this in mind, it is critically important that you optimize your site by using the most appropriate keywords.
Basically, when you begin SEO you will need to think about those keywords that best describe the content of your site and are most likely to be used by your target audience to find you. If you have performed sufficient research you will know who you target audience is and the words they will most often use when searching for your product or service. You can also consider the use of synonyms since users will very often apply different words for the same things. For example, with regard to a law practice, the word attorney can be exchanged with the word lawyer. You do not need to overdue the use of synonyms since search engines contain algorithms that include synonyms in keyword searches.
Rather than concentrate too much on synonyms of one keyword, try to think of two or three that most clearly describe what your site is about. Also keep your site centered on a particular theme; e.g. employment law.
After you have chosen the most appropriate keywords for our site, the next step is to make your site keyword-rich. Keyword density is a popular measure of how relevant a page is. The basic rule is that the greater the keyword density, the higher the relevance to the search request for that keyword. You can use just one keyword but place it strategically throughout your site because search engines will drop those sites that seem to be overdoing keyword density. Recommended density is between 2% to 7% for your most popular 2 or 3 keywords.