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August 7, 2007

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for the beginner

Ranking near the top on the major Search Engines is the real key to bringing free, targeted traffic to your website. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will help to take your website above your competition, and towards that number 1 position.

When a search is performed on Google, the resulting Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are decided depending on certain criteria set down by that particular Engine. These criteria include the placement and density of the chosen keywords within the website, external link popularity, and structure of the web page to name a small few. Not only does each search engine use a different set of criteria for ranking websites, but also these criteria are constantly changing as they refine their results on a continual basis. The following will help you on your road to optimising your own website.

Keyword Analysis
When designing websites, finding the right key words involves considerable research and is one of the hardest and most time-consuming tasks. It involves using the keywords under which you would like to be found, and then finding out whether anyone searches on these keywords and how popular they are. For certain keywords, others may have to be chosen that give a better search-to-competition ratio. It is also important to ensure keywords are relevant and specific to each of the web pages. Each web page should be optimised individually depending on the content of that page.

Website Design
There are two goals a Webmaster should try to achieve when designing websites. First, it must be visually pleasing to the customer. Your website will probably be the first introduction to your business and so it must be professionally written and provide them with easy access to the information they are looking for. With all that hard work attracting visitors to your website, the last thing you want to do is see them press the BACK button as soon as they arrive at your site. The main goal of each web page should be either to offer something the visitor is looking for, or to direct them to that page.

Second, the website must be search engine friendly. To ensure all your website’s pages are properly indexed with all the search engines, it is important to avoid broken links, automatic redirects, an all-flash or all-images pages and every page contains unique and informative text.

Site Content
With the website’s code optimised for search engine readiness, and your keywords chosen to match the message you want to put across to your customers, now comes the task of writing those content-rich web pages that will sell your product or service to the customer. Writing rich content that contains the necessary keywords, and yet remains easy to read without being stilted, involves much thought and can take considerable time. Websites optimised in this way and avoiding quick fix Black Hat techniques, are more likely to produce a constant flow of targeted traffic to your business and prevent your website from getting penalised or even banned altogether.

Link Analysis
Many of the major search engines, and most importantly Google, assign great importance to a ‘Natural Link Profile’ when indexing a website. Unfortunately, its not just a matter of incorporating as many links coming in and going out of your site as you can, but great emphasis should be placed on factors such as who you’re linking to, using associated links from well-respected websites, and positioning your link near a small paragraph of relevant Anchor text that contains keywords associated to the page the link is pointing to.

Much time can be spent creating a natural linking pattern for your website. By avoiding link farms and reciprocal-link requests from shady websites, and concentrating on linking to and from respected and authoritative web sites, you will be well on your way to success. If you’re not sure if the website is respected, sometimes common sense can be your best friend. If the answer to ‘would you like to tell your friends and family to visit this wonderful website’ is a no, then that should be your answer.

Submit, Review, Revise, Submit again, and keep going! Optimisation is an ongoing project. It is important to review your rankings at least once a month and to compare your website against your competition. Not only do new websites appear all the time, but search engines, continually change their ranking criteria, so that a ranking on the first page today, may suddenly drop to page 3 the following week. It is also necessary for a website to grow in size and content, otherwise it will fall behind the many other websites on the Internet fighting for the same top ranking you are searching for.

With perseverance and a little by little each day, your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts should show continual rewards as you head ever upward towards that number 1 ranking spot on Google. Good luck.

Author:  Steve Greenwood has been designing and optimising websites for businesses all along the Costa del Sol for the last 3 years. Please click Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tips for further beginners information. Peachily offers design and marketing solutions including Social Media Optimisation (SMO) for today’s Internet businesses.

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