Tuesday, August 08, 2006

On Search Engine Optimization

According to Peter T. Boyd, Esq. of PaperStreet Web Design, “Search engine optimization is not exactly rocket science. It simply takes hard work. A better title tag is a great start to optimization, but it should not be viewed as the end all method. The basics of optimization are:

- Research: It all starts with research. You need to know what people are searching for before starting an optimization campaign. Targeting the wrong keywords will just be a waste of time an effort. Finding keywords that are popular and not really targeted by competitors can be link finding gold.
- Title Tags: Specific title tags need to be created for each page of content. Title tags should include the keyword phrases you are targeting. Having your firm name is not necessary, but helps with identifying your firm when a search is done.
- Headlines & Content: Most importantly, you cannot simply stuff the title tags. Headlines & page content to match up with what you are targeting. Good content needs to contain the keyword phrases you are targeting.
- Keyword & Description Meta Tags: Although a very small part of today's search algorithm's these still can be used to help target your keywords and most important be used as your description in the search results. Having a better description that your competitors can draw more clicks to your link on the search results page.
- Proper internal linking structure: Your site should have main links from the home page and internal links from various pages of the web site. This will give better internal weight to various pages on your site.
- Proper site architecture: Your site should be coded so that it allows for a complete index of your site. While no one really uses frames anymore, certain menu systems can hinder indexing of the site, along with certain technologies such as sessions.
- Older Trusted Sites: Quite simply older sites generally do better in Google. MSN and Yahoo do not penalize new sites, but Google sometimes does not allow new domains/sites into its index for several months to over a year. Optimizing an old site can sometimes prove to be an easy, almost instant turn-around. Patience is the key for new sites, as almost always the domain is eventually released from the "sandbox." This is probably due to the age of the domain, age of the site and the fact that older sites typically have better link quality. Which brings us to the most important point...
- Link Popularity: Your site must have links to it from other sites. Period. No matter how good your title tags and content are, if your site does not have links from other sites, it will not rank high. Today's search algorithms place a priority on popularity, and popularity is based on who is linking to whom. In general the more links you have the better, but targeted links from related sites are even better. Targeted links from other sites that are related, and themselves highly ranked, are the best.
- Analyzing: Finally, you should pick a goal and use metrics to analyze whether your campaign is successful. Whether it is simply gaining the vanity of obtaining top rankings, increasing site traffic, or better yet increasing the number of inquiries. Whatever, the goal everything should be tracked to prove the effectiveness of the campaign.
There are of course other factors that can positively and negatively effect your rankings, at last count over a 100, but this is a brief overview.

Peter Boyd’s blog can be read at: http://paperstreet.com/blog/index.php/archives/293

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