Search Engine Optimization for Beginners - by Benny Alexander

There are millions of users using search engines to find information from billions of sites. The chances of increasing your visitors is high if your site is positioned only in top pages in the search engines or Directories. This article teaches you prepare your site for search engines and helps you promote your site a straight forward way. The author has more than 4 years of experience with search engines and promotion. This is an updated version of the article written in the year 1998. If you have any clarifications you can contact the author at [email protected]

What are Search Engines and Directories?

Sites providing search facilities are of two types. A search engine is a software compiled Index (like Lycos, Hotbot etc.,) or a human compiled directory (like Google, Yahoo ,DMOZ etc.,). In other words, it's a huge database which contains links to all the websites that have been submitted to them including a few details about each site. The main difference between the two is that one is reviewed by a human being and the other by a Spider or Robot.

In some cases the person who reviews your site may reject it because it is not submitted in the proper category or if the site is not good in its quality. But in the case of a computerized search engine, a program called a Robot or Spiders sent by the engine to visit the submitted site, collect the information about the site and then include it in the search engine database. These Robots are faster and not as discriminating as human beings.

How to prepare your site SEO?
Before submitting your site to any search engine you'll need to make sure it is ready. You may need prepare the web page title, META tags (keywords and Description) and some of the first few lines of text of the page you submit.

Client amusement:
"Yesterday I got my first order from website. Maybe soon others will find me. It was exciting.. Thanks - Michael Kelly"

<title> Tag
The title is the one you see in the top of the browser as your website title.. It is not the one which appears on your web page. The search engine will give a high degree of importance on the words in the title. Therefore, if someone is searching for Alaska logistics and if the word Alaska Logistics is in the title of the site then there is a good chance of the site appearing on the first page of a search. If you open the HTML source of this web-page you would find something that looks like this.

<title>Alaska Logistic solutions</title>

You need to type your title of your site in the place between <title> and </title> as it appears above.

META tags

META tags announce all the details about your site to a search engine. They are hidden in the code of the website and can give different information to the search engines for example, keywords, description, author and more. Though these are all optional in any web page it's a must for marketing your site through search engines. Each search engine gives its own weightage to each META tag. It is therefore important to know some of the things that interest these search engines.

Keywords

Keywords are the words or phrases which are used by search engine to locate a site. It is really important to phrase the keywords carefully so that any user who is using a search engine may find your site when he/she enters the appropriate keywords or phrases.. You should come up with a set of keywords that exactly fit into the content of your site and its goals and purpose. If you view the source of this page you'll be able to find the keywords which I used. The example below gives you an idea of what the keywords would look like for the page you are now reading.

<Meta name="keywords" content="Search Engine Optimization, website marketing, Social Media Marketing">

You need to really work hard on finding the best keywords. Try and put yourself in the shoes of the person looking for your site. What words or phrases would she/he use?

Description

This is also a META tag that tells the search engine about your site. It is the description that appears below the title in the search results. This should be around 50 to 60 words. The description is often difficult to prepare. On one hand it needs to be very appealing and cause the person to click and go to your site. On the other hand it should contain good keywords and phrases to get a high ranking in the search results. To get a good ranking it is necessary to prepare a very good description which repeats your title and at least one or two keywords on which you want to focus.. This META tag like the others should be added in the HTML source, may look like this:

<meta name="description" content="We ship goods from and to Alaska">

You can learn more on meta tags at www.searchenginewatch.com, read more on the Vancouver-webpages dictionary of meta tags.

What is Spamming?

Search engines are very sensitive to the data that you feed them. The keywords that you use might be repeated in the title, keywords, description and in the content. This is OK but there is a limitations in repeating the keywords. You should be really careful of how many times you repeat them. All the search engines will allow a certain level of repetition of keyword. However, if it is higher than what they permit, it will be considered spamming and your page will never get indexed. The spiders can calculate the keyword ratios faster than you can.

Here are some tips to avoid spamming:
  • Do not use text color of same as the page background color and hide text.
  • Avoid repeating keywords more than 3 times. Do not dump page with keywords.
  • Do not try to create one page for promotion to not change it with some other page after getting indexed.
  • Put only relevant keywords. Do not try to use some popular keywords just to get hits which are related to your page.
  • Form your keyword wisely. Do not use words like "Great" "Extraordinary" or Sentences like "we are the only one...".

How to Register your web pages?

Submitting a site to any search engine is fairly simple. On the home page of the search engine locate the "Add your site" or "Register url" or "Submit your site" link. Simply follow the instructions given by each search engines to add your site. Some of the search engines may ask you to submit all the pages that you want indexed, for example AltaVista. Some ask that you submit only one page URL of your entire site and all the remaining pages will be spidered. This means that the search engine will automatically add the remaining pages. Google is an example of this. In Google there is no direct link like "Add URL", then where will you submit it? Just do a search at Google.

Submitting to the directories like Yahoo!, DMOZ, and Looksmart is a tiresome job. Since they keep web pages under separate categories (directories), you will need to find the best category under which your site will fit. Remember, these are viewed by human beings. If you submit to irrelevant categories it may be considered spamming causing your site submission could be omitted.

How to get Get listed?

Now you know that submitting your site is not a big deal, but how sure are you that your site will be indexed? Getting indexed is nothing but getting a place for you site in the search engine's database. How do you find out if your site has been added to the search engine? It's easy. If you search with your URL or domain name as the keyword and the results of the search will show whether you are indexed in that search engine.

Each search engine has its own policies (secrets!) to accept URLs that have been submitted. Some search engines take less time than others to get you listed. Be patient. Directories take more time since they need human intervention. It is good practice to resubmit the pages once in thirty or forty days regardless of whether the site has been listed or not.
  • AltaVista
    In the search box enter http://mysite.com. You need to add the promotion code which appears on the site.
  • HotBot
    Enter your domain and subdirectory in the form given.
  • Excite
    Select Advanced Search. Select the option "URL must contain the phrase" and enter the URL.
  • Lycos
    Enter the complete URL, like http://www.mysite.com/
  • Overture
    You have to pay per click. First you bid one your keyword and pay. This search engine supports ask.com, Lycos, Bing and more.

Where are you?

If your site has been listed then you may want to know where you rank. If you can find your site in the first 20 positions you have done a nice job. If you are not ranked in the first two pages, then again you need to do some work. To save time finding your rank you can use a position analysis tools. But we don't recommend any tools.
You can submit your site but in my opinion, if you are not in the first three pages then there is no benefit. If this is the case then you need to start thinking about professional services!

What is Professional web site submission service?

Professional services can offer result oriented promotion. It takes a lot of effort and understanding of the inner workings of search engines as well as fine tuning your site. Here are some steps that you can do to improve your rankings.

  • Try again with the keywords you used before.
  • Visit 5 or 6 competing sites ranked at the top.
  • View their HTML source and understand their usage of title and META tags.

This will give you an idea of how they got to the top. After this you may need to tweak your site at a constant interval. You may need to change the content to make sure the keywords are in the content with the allowable repetition. Do not hesitate to modify your content.
You can learn the latest search engine strategies from articles available online. Try to subscribe to some newsletters with search engine news. You can use web based site promotion tools like Selfpromotion.com. This is a great tool that can help you a lot. At the bottom of this page I mention some other useful sites.

Do you like to learn more?

To understand search engines and their ranking strategies you need to study their secrets constantly. The only way to do this is through researching and listening to what others say. Here are some links which can help you to learn more.

Searchengines.com
SearchEngines.com offers four highly effective solutions to achieve targeted web traffic for your company's web site

Spider-food.net
This is a good place to go for an easy explanation of site promotion. She also describes each major search engine in detail with pointers on how to submit to each. Lots of resources and articles.

Searchengineworld.com
This site is the home of the widely read Search Engine World Quarterly Magazine for webmasters and search engine promotion specialists

Selfpromotion.com
A great site containing a lot of information. It has a web based application developed by the site's owner Robert Woodhead which is really helpful. You can avail his secret tools like "Rankulator" for a small fee. Robert unleashes the secrets of search engines.

Searchenginewatch.com
Great tips and news about each search engine's characteristics by Danny Sullivan. Secret tips for paid subscribers. A must read for all web masters

Searchengineforums.com
An archive of all the search engine message boards and some site promotion forums. You can post your questions at the board and exchange ideas with other like you.

Linkpopularity.com
Link popularity is the total number of web sites that link to your site. It's important because good link popularity can dramatically increase traffic to your web site. Well placed links are an excellent source of consistent and targeted traffic. Due to recent developments, they can even generate additional search engine traffic to your site. You can check your link popularity here. We feel some search engines give weightage to link popularity too.

Moz.com
Plenty of good information on SEO Social Media and other site promotion tools. An expert panel of authors from Moz share their vast experience in their blog. They also provide free and paid tools which can help your SEO efforts simple.

How can we help you?

"For large and small companies optimizing their web pages to provide top listing in search engines such as, Google, represents a task to be outsourced to professionals. " - says Darrell Zahorsky of About.com. We have over 4 years of experience in search engine optimization and look at our services which you might be interested in.


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