Search Engine Optimization (They don’t care what your website looks like!)

Search Engine Optimization (They don’t care what your website looks like!)
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Optimizing your website for search engines is tricky. Some people think their website needs to be flashy to attract search engines. One thing I have learned over the years is search that engines don’t care what your website looks like. Instead, they use programs called spiders or crawlers to view your website. These programs follow the links on your site to drill down and view the content of every page. They also follow links from other sites to that are linked to yours as well as links from your site to the sites that you link to. From there your websites pages will be stored in a search engine database for quick retrieval.

First, remember that each page of your site will be indexed and ranked separately. Your websites content along with other sites that link to yours, are two of the most important things if you wish to improve your search rankings. Each page on your website must have unique keyword rich content, but don’t just build pages stuffed with keywords. Doing so could hurt your rankings. Each page should be filled with well written useful content. Make sure the keywords you’re targeting are relevant to the content of the page and use them in prominent positions such as page title, headers and the subject of paragraphs, also use variations such as singular and plural versions of the same keyword. Make sure the page reads well and makes sense to human readers. Although the spiders or crawlers mentioned earlier aren’t human, they are very good at picking up on shady SEO ( Search Engine Optimization ) tricks. Trying to fool these programs may get you ranked high for a short time, but search engine companies are constantly updating these programs to catch such things and in the long run, you’ll only hurt your site ranking or worse yet, get your website banned altogether. Always remember, a search engine is there to provide a service to it’s customers, not to you. Their roll is to provide their customers with the most useful results they can for each query that is made. Your roll should be similar one. When visitors find your site for a particular keyword or phrase, you need to provide them with content that is relevant to that keyword. If you don’t, they probably won’t stay long. This is not only good SEO practice, it is also good business.

Linking

Linking with other websites – A popular method of increasing a websites search ranking is to use links from other sites. There are two types of links, inbound links ( a site links to your site without a return link ) and reciprocal linking ( a website links to yours and your site links to theirs ).

Inbound links – are the most valuable to your search ranking. This type of link tells the search engine that your site contains valuable content and it is recommended by the linking site. Although the boost you get is dependent on the site linking to yours. If it’s a popular well ranking site itself, the gain much more than if the linking to yours is low ranking, but it rarely hurts your ranking.

Reciprocal linking – on the other hand can sometimes do more harm than good. Lets say you have a high ranking page that links to a page on another website. They then link back to your site from a low ranking page. They gain from the link you provided but their low ranking page your link was placed it will gain you nothing. You just end up with visitors leaving your site for theirs. Reciprocal linking can work in your favor if you can be sure that your site is linked back to from a higher ranking page than the one you provided.

A good practice is to provide useful content that people will want to link to. Informative articles, tools, software, images. Just look around, the Internet is full of free stuff and that’s the biggest reason for it. People providing the free stuff want other sites to link to them. Most honest webmasters will link their sites to your content if they think their users will find it helpful. After all, they want their visitors to be happy they visited their site and sometimes that means linking to something that they don’t have on their own website.

Internal Linking

An important tip to keep in mind is that when you link from one page to another within your website, you should always use keywords that are relevant to the page you’re linking to. I’ve seen allot of sites that just use the phrase “Click Here” when linking to another page on their site from within the content. It is better to use a relevant keyword phrase for example, if you’re linking to a page that has advise on guitar tuning tips, you might use a phrase like “visit our guitar tuning tips“. Every link on your site should be seen as an opportunity to use keywords that are relevant to the page they link to. Also, you might want to consider using a site map. This should be a simple page that provides direct access to every page of your website.

Meta Tags

Meta tags are title, keywords and description. With the exception of the page title, meta tags don’t carry the weight they once did. Your title is still very important, but keywords and description are sometimes looked over by spiders. You should still use them though. My suggestion is to place only keywords in the keywords meta tag that appear on the page. Don’t go crazy and try to stuff every keyword you can think of in there. Fro the description meta tag, try to use just the highlights of the page so they read like a short paragraph. Often you will see a pages description under the link when you do a search so this can be the first thing that entices a person to visit your page.

Search Engines and Flash

Although search engines are getting better at indexing different types of media, I would still recommend using Flash sparingly. If you want to be ranked high, don’t design your website using Flash. Most search engines have trouble reading Flash sites if they can do it at all. If you must have Flash animation on your site, use it sparingly within an HTML layout and don’t count on search engines reading any text you might use in the Flash animation.

Search Engines and Images

Be careful when using images to always place descriptive text in the image “alt” tag. Search engine will read this text but they can’t read or see the image. As with Flash search engines won’t read any text you might use in an image.

The bottom line here is to treat your website as a business. Don’t use deceptive practices to attract visitors and don’t use them to get ranked higher, but do keep in mind that there are many honest things you can do to improve your rankings and your visitors experience.

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