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August 4, 2008

How to Optimize Your Site for Search Engine Traffic

Yes, that’s right – not every approach to search engine optimization will work as well as others. There are things that work; and other things that don’t work. In order to be a successful optimizer, you have to learn what works and then actually do it – again and again.

As most search engine optimization experts will tell you, there’s basically one important rule of thumb when it comes to optimization. Other than that rule of thumb, everything else boils down to technical details that are subject to change over time.

So what’s that rule of thumb? Basically, try to create a site that is visitor-friendly – i.e. one that provides useful content for people interested in your particular niche. In general, search engines try to create algorithms that find and reward sites that are visitor-friendly and relevant. If yours fits these criteria, you’re probably on the right track.

How can you do this? One basic approach is to try not to over-think things. Instead, focus on creating content that will be useful to your visitors; and try to tightly-focus your site around some particular niche, so that you appeal to a certain crowd.

Another approach – which is the polar opposite – involves starting with the niche-finding process. Rather than starting with a site idea or a product, start by performing keyword research to see what products and services people want to buy (i.e. niches for which there are a lot of searches, but few sites available).

Once you’ve performed this keyword research and have selected a niche, you can then go to work creating sites that will perform well. From here, you will have to start paying attention to some technical details.

The first thing you will want to target is your site template. You should try to use your target keywords in your title tags, header tags, and meta tags. Try not to over-use keywords, as that can get you penalized, but if you can use the right keywords reasonably often, then you’ll notice an improvement in your site’s ranking positions over time.

The next thing you will want to do is target your site content. Without rich, relevant site content, you cannot expect to rank highly in search engines. For this reason, you will want to consider purchasing a batch of high-quality, keyword-optimized articles (350 to 500 words in length). This will buoy your rankings over time, as search engines spider these articles and update their rankings.

The last thing you will want to do is start looking for linking partners. Try to find people who have relevant, but non-competing sites; and ask them if they are interested in exchanging links. By exchanging links, you can both increase the perceived values of your sites (in the eyes of Google, Yahoo, etc.)

And there you have it: a step-by-step template for search engine optimization. All you have to do is optimize tags, optimize content, pursue a solid linking strategy; and, above all else, try to make your site visitor-friendly. If you follow these steps, you’ll find that you’ll not only rank well now, but you’ll continue to rank well after algorithm changes.

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