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SEOing Your Website: An Introduction

by Shari L. Smothers, 5.4.2010

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization [SEO] as a business strategy has been around for a few years, and is still a huge buzz term on the internet, and for good reason. In fact, if you've not heard of it, there's a big business component you're missing out on. Because it's such an important marketing component, it's not difficult to find people who can help you with it. I want to share with you just the scant basics of what it is and how it can help you. And I want to tell you a few things to look out for.

Exactly What is Search Engine Optimization?

Simply put, search engine optimization is the practice of preparing your site's contents, including images, text and other items, to attract search bots that crawl web pages. When you attract them the right way, you can increase your ranking in search sites. This can improve your incoming traffic thus increasing your conversions.

Four ways to optimize your site include:

  1. Most importantly, write the best content and descriptions you can. Quality information about the fine products and services you offer is your first best tool. It is the cake; consider search engine optimization as the icing.
  2. Evaluate the search tems that pull up your pages or pages like yours. In your website content, you want to use the best terms, those that are the most relevant and highest ranking terms. Also, the search results will list sites that are your competition. These are sites you want to outrank.
  3. In your products and services pages, you want to use these optimal terms to title your images, audio and other multimedia.
  4. You also want to make logical use of these terms in your meta tags, and page names. It's better to use a fully expressive name as opposed to generic titling such as "article01," "article02," and the like.

Why use Search Engine Optimization?

It's an important and easy way to increase traffic to your site. Traffic, along with great products and services means increasing your conversion numbers. Conversions from visitors to customers is your goal if you're in business on the internet.

The reason you have a website, your virtual shingle, is to let people know that you're in business to serve them. While the number of websites fluctuates constantly, some estimates are that there are well over a billion sites online. One estimate said that there are over two billion. That's a lot of sites to clamor over to get the attention you need.

Search engines use various formulas to rank pages. Keywords is one thing bots review because they offer a way to categorize your site. All you really need is to understand how to convey you company's message in the best and clearest way to communicate with your target audience. That's what freelance writers can help you with, in an organic way that will increase your conversions.

Organic Optimization

It makes sense to use keyword optimization because it's a safe and proven choice. SEO offers you a way to organically optimize your website. By organically, I mean that you write text, labels, and meta tags that related logically to your site's content. It's natural and not forced because you're writing is two fold. It describes your products and services to your audience. And, those words are the same terms that people will search to find your site.

Links are very important in optimization. You should link to sites your clients benefit from by way of information, products and services. This actually increases your value to your client, by making you a source for complementary services from which they may benefit.

Linking logically means that you connect with useful content. And, reciprocally, you will likely get people linking back to your quality content. Your benefit from earning incoming links is that search bots travel links in to your site. And the more links you have coming in, the more often will the bots understand that other sites are linking to you, which improves your credibility ratings.

Tactics to Avoid

There are a few things that you don't want to do. If offered to you, you don't want to accept these business deals. They are collectively as black hat tactics.

A popular one is keyword stuffing. This is the practice of overloading your pages with terms that are proven to attract search bots. It's considered unethical by many. And it can have really heavy consequences. Some ways people stuff their pages include:

  • in the visible content
  • in the meta tags
  • in hidden text - words possibly unrelated, are added coded to match the background color

Another less-than-above-board way that some sites try to increase their traffic is participating in link farms. It exploits the engines that search out sites that have many links to it, thus assuming viability and popularity of the site, and therein raising the ranking in the search engine.

Losing Your Audience

The problem with randomly swapping links with other sites, is a deep one. It means you present your clients with random, useless links. This practice can rapidly diminish your credibility with your audience. In turn, they may soon become your ex-audience.

Remember there are many sites out there competing for your audience's attentions and patronage. The possibility exists that they will never return—certainly not easily.

Cyber Shunning

So, why tell you about the bad tactics if you shouldn't use them? The answer is, good salesmanship can sell just about anything, even bad things. You need to know what bad stuff looks like, in order to safely avoid it.

You see, it may sound good and practical on paper—maybe. Don't do it! In some instances it can get you banned from search engine results, either the problematic page or your entire site. That's too great a price to pay for not doing things right. Especially when you consider the fact that out of sight often means out of mind.

These are just a few of the good and bad practices. Hopefully, you get a sense of what a questionable practice sounds like. If a practice is offered you, and it doesn't seem totally above board, research it before you agree. There is a wealth of information available for you to read, as well as people to consult.

Article Attribution:

Shari L. Smothers writes and edits website copy, articles, poetry and more. She designs and customizes websites for individuals and organizations. Learn more about Shari by visiting her website, The Word ‘Mage. You can email Shari at ssmothers@thewordmage.com.

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