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September 20, 2007

Search Engine Optimization: Ten Golden Rules For Beginners

The following are the ten simple ways to optimize and increase traffic to your website. The guide is meant for those who intend to or are just starting out in Search Engine Optimization. It shows you all the basic things you need to know and what do to improve your rankings with the search engines and increase traffic to your website. No geek speak. No technical jargons. Just practical, easy to follow tips.

Directory Submission:
Submit your site to online web directories. There are several directories you can list your site with. There are free ones as well as paid services. Directory registration can be a time-consuming elbow grease so the temptation is to go for a paid service whereby you pay a company or any other concern to help submit your site to all relevant directories. However you do not really need to shell out to get listed in the right directories with decent traffic and pagerank. The search engines have their own directory services and is a great place to start. Yahoo has its directory service www.dir.yahoo.com. Visit the site and submit your URL and feed in the category that matches the kind of website you run and / or your kind of business. It might take a while but your site will be listed. Getting listed in a directory like that offers all the exposure and presence a major player like Yahoo has to offer. Another directory to aim for is the Open Directory Project (dmoz). It does take some effort to get listed here but given the fact that this directory is highly valued by most of the big search engines, then it must be worth every effort. It can be found at www.dmoz.org.

Search Engine Registration:
Register with the search engines. Registering with the search engines is introducing your website to them, inviting them to visit the site and help announce your existence to the world wide web. This can be explained simply without getting into geek mode. Forget about algorithms, spiders, crawlers and all that. In plain terms, the search engines on being registered with, will visit your website and index it. Hopefully they like what they see and they keep coming back and once someone searches for the contents they have found on your site, they point that person towards your site. So a sure way of being noticed by the search engines is simply to register with them. Of course Google should be your number one target here. Other prominent search engines you should register with include Alexa, Entireweb, Scrub The Web, Jayde, Info Tiger, Exactseek, Lookseek and Lifetips.

Article Submission:
Submit articles to online article publishing and syndicating websites. When you do this, put a link to your website at the end of the article or any other appropriate place depending on the website you are submitting to. Be aware that this does not correlate to just a blatant plugging of your site. The article should be well written, informative and most preferably relevant to what your line of business or website is about.

Build Links:
Link building is perhaps the most important and influential factor to consider when looking to increase your standing with the search engines and increase traffic to your website. Basically link building can be seen in two broad terms: Viral and Organic. Viral links are from websites who belong to a link building group or association of websites all exchanging links for the basic purpose of having as many links as possible irrespective of any other considerations. In other words people join certain websites where all the members are there for the sole express reason of populating their link list. This is deemed as cheating by the search engines and is frowned upon. Some of the sites could have been blacklisted or penalised by the search engines. Some may have no relevance to your website. So you want to avoid this kind of link building like the plague. If your website gets blacklisted by Google for instance, it takes up to the better part of six months to get back in their good books. Organic link building is the way to go. These are links that that you acquire naturally. Examples are websites that link to your website due to its relevance or quality. Organic link building can be attained by various ways. See below for some of these.

Join online Groups and Forums:
By joining a group or a forum you can network with people with the same interest as you thus it follows that these people will visit your site. Not only that your group members will visit your site, they might mention your websites on their own sites thereby giving you more exposure. Since most of you in the group are members because you share a common interest then this can also serve as a source of quality links for your website thus improving your pagerank. Remember that the relevance of links to your website is considered by the search engines in ranking your site. You increase your exposure by posting on forums that relate to your website. A lot of people read forum postings even without being members and i even know people who use forums as a search method. Yahoo Group is one of the earliest and is my choice. However there are now a plethora of groups and forums that will deliver just as well.

Closely related to these two is Yahoo Answers. Here you can establish yourself as a source of reliable information regarding the subject matter of your website or the business you are in. Put a link to your website when you post an answer to a question. If people find your answers useful and relevant of course the tendency is that they will visit your website.

Advertise:
Paid advertising is a more direct strategy in increasing or improving your web traffic. A very effective strategy it must be said. The best idea is to go for a Pay Per Click deal. Google Adwords is the one to target here. Basically, a banner of your website is displayed on Google search results and if the banner is clicked the person is automatically directed to your website. You can find more information on Google Adwords and how to start at http://adwords.google.com

Use Web 2.0 and Social Media:
Open accounts with sites like MSN Windows Live,Yahoo 360, Blogger and Wordpad. Register with sites like Technorati, Flickr, Stumbleupon, Ryze and Facebook. They all afford you to maintain a presence on the web. You can reach a wide audience or potential customers through these pages. Even big business concerns have realised the power of Social Media and are making use of it to maintain a competitive edge. Also you need to register with pinging websites. These are sites that work for you while you sleep so to speak. All they ask is you let them know once you have new contents on your site and they will bellow it to the whole world wide web. My pick here is pingoat.You can join pingoat at www.pingoat.com.

Content is king:
This fact is a dog eared expression in Search Engine Optimisation these day. So much so it is fast attaining the status of a cliche. I am not one easily caught dropping cliches but if it is a crime to do so then i plead guilty on this instance and will gladly do my time. Your site`s content should be well written. No grammatical errors or spelling howlers. Such errors make a bad impression on visitors to the site. Keep your sentences short and compact. Aim for clarity and try to make the site as easy to understand as possible. Again it is paramount that the content of your website should be relevant to it`s title or your business. This is important for two main reasons: If the site contents and site description do not tally, your standing with the search engines might be adversely affected or worst still they might suspect you of being a spamming or other dubious site. And you do not want that. The other reasons is that visitors might be disappointed and discouraged from re visiting a website they thought was about fishing but found out, on visiting the site that it was about computing. Sure you can have some computing talk on a fishing oriented website but your main focus should be on fishing. As implied in your website`s name or description. Update your website with new contents regularly. The search engines love new contents. The search engines periodically scan the net for new contents. As i mentioned earlier, they send out feelers (robots, spiders or crawlers in geek speak) to see what is there in cyberspace. If time after time your website is visited they have something new to report back then they will always come back. The result of which is that your pages are constantly updated. This improves your standing in their search queries for a keyword related to your website

Use your e-mail as a campaign tool: You can do this by using the url of your website as a signature. So every mail you send carries a clickable link to your site. This is quite easy enough to do. Most e-mail clients have this facility. For example if you use hotmail go to Options> Preference >Signature and insert the full address of your website.

Create a sitemap:
A sitemap outlines the structure of your website. It arranges your website into sections. This makes the website easy to navigate by search engine robots and spiders. This of course makes the indexing of your site easier. To learn more about sitemaps go to www.xml-sitemaps.com.

Author:  Leo Jackson is a London, UK based web entrepreneur and freelance journalist.

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