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April 4, 2008

The Search Engine Trinity

In Cajun cooking, almost every dish starts with what’s known as “The Trinity” onions, celery and bell peppers. These 3 ingredients are the foundation of almost every savory dish. Whether you’re eating gumbo, jambalaya, or even a Cajun soup, they all start with these components. These form a delicious base to each of these dishes.Like Cajun food, getting a small business listed on the search engines also is based on a trinity of components. These components give your search engine efforts a base to be built off of, and ensure that you’ll be successful. Those are: the ease of getting listed, the effectiveness of your listing, and then finally, the level of placement.

1. Ease: If you’re like most small businesses, you’ve got a lot going on. You’re running your business, doing your marketing, creating your products and/or delivering your services, and trying to squeeze in some life balance on the side.

Hours and hours of search engine optimization work are the last thing you need to add to your to-do list. You need a simple, easy system to get the most search engine attention for the least amount of work.

2. Effectiveness: Effectiveness is two-fold. First, you want your efforts to be effective with the search engines. You want them to look at your site’s code and to rank you well.

Second, you want your listing to be effective for your searchers. If a searcher is looking for products or services like yours, then you want them to see your listing’s description, read it, and to be compelled to click on it.

3. Position: Your website probably doesn’t have to be ranked #1 for your best keywords to get all the attention you need being in the top 10 is just fine for most small businesses. You also probably don’t need to be ranked well for a very general term, like “consulting”. You have to find the combination of search terms and position on the search results that works best for your business and gives you a balance of ease of maintenance (staying in the rankings) and bringing you good clients.

How do you take advantage of the trinity when you work on optimizing your site? Here are some suggestions on how to address each of these issues in your plan:

Ease:

1. Start with solid advice. There are a lot of search engine systems out there, and a lot of “how-to” advice. Make sure that the system you’re using has been tried and tested, so that you’re not just going to be spinning your wheels as you work on your optimization.

2. Break your efforts down into short activities. Optimizing your site for the search engines takes several steps and trying to sit down and just do them all, end-to-end, will take a while. To preserve your sanity, and to do things in a way that will make your efforts have the most impact, plan to do each step one at a time, and then upload your revised files and wait a bit before making additional changes. That way, you’ll avoid going crazy, and you’ll also be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts along the way.

Effectiveness:

1. Really look at what you want your site to do for you. Is it really important that you get huge numbers of visitors to make lots of sales? It may be if you’ve got a product to sell. But, if you’re a one- or two-person service business, then it’s more likely that you only need a few well-qualified visits to make all the sales that you can handle.

2. Experiment with your description in your listing. Use different description tags on different pages of your website to see which compels more searchers to click. By looking at your site statistics, you should be able to see which page your visitors are coming in through.

Position:

1. See where you really need to be ranked. If your optimization efforts have gotten you to the second or third page, then you’ve already got a good start. You may just need to do a bit of work to raise your ranking to the first age.

2. Ask your best clients and visitors how they found you. What words were they searching on? Which search engine did they use? You want to get more of these “best” clients through your website, so asking clients who you already work well with about how they came to work with you will help you to make your listing more effective.

These few tips will help you optimize your website with a solid base of the optimization trinity�making sure the process will be easy, effective and will get you the position you need.

Erin Ferree is a brand identity designer who creates big visibility for small businesses. As the owner of elf design, Erin is passionate about helping her clients stand out in front of their competition and attract more clients. One of the best ways to do that is with Search Engine Optimization, which you can learn about in her eLearning product, Raise Your Ranking, which is available at http://www.howtoraiseyourranking.com .

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