There are literally thousands of websites that are lying there, hidden from the visitors, both potential and casual surfers. This guide deals with the optimization tips for those sites who would want to improve their site ranking without feeling the pinch to their pockets.
There are various aspects to consider for Search Engine Optimization. A field of its own, which was revolutionized by Google. SEO, though looks complicated, is pretty simple. It is a perfect example of "there is no short cut to success" Improving your site rankings is done over a period of time with diligent efforts and patience.
SEO can be classified as follows.
1. Keyword Optimization
2. Meta Tags
4. Link Popularity
Let’s first look at what a search engine is and what it does.
While there are various definitions for this, we summarize it as "A server or a collection of servers dedicated to indexing internet web pages, storing the results and returning lists of pages which match particular queries. The indexes are normally generated using spiders. Some of the major search engines are Altavista, Excite, Hotbot, Infoseek, Lycos, Northern Light and Webcrawler. Note that Yahoo is a directory, not a search engine. The term Search Engine is also often used to describe both directories and search engines."
So a search engine basically searches on the world wide web and indexes sites according to the keywords and relevance. Visitors on the WWW do not have the time or the resources to browse through millions of sites just to see the site they want to see. Search engines make it easier by indexing the websites.
Let’s take a look at the various aspects involved in SEO.
1. Keyword Optimization
: As the title is self explanatory, keyword optimization deals with optimizing your site based on the keyword relevance. For example, if you have a site that deals with flower delivery, then the keywords to be used would be flowers, delivery, free shipping, etc. Now the obvious question that arises is "how do I know if my site is optimized?"
There are various resources on the Internet which provide you with free optimization tools. One such example would be overture or wordtracker. When you enter a keyword, it gives you a list of the most searched keywords in terms of the %age. This will shed enough light into the kind of competition you are heading into.
Search engines are smart. If you were thinking of just typing out the word "flowers" a hundred times, to increase the density of keywords, search engines would simply not index your site. Make sure that your keywords are repeated and most important at relevant. Also keep in mind the keyword weight. By weight, I mean to say that your keyword prominence has to be atleast 9-10% in a single page. In order words, out of every 100 words on your page, ensure you have your keyword repeated atleast 9 times.
2. Meta Tags
: Meta tags and descriptions that is read by the robots which spider the websites. These tags are not visible in the webpage but only in the coding of the page. You will find the meta tags enclosed within the <HEAD></HEAD> section of your HTML coding. Meta tags can have the following. Keywords, description, content, etc.
When a search engine spiders your site, the way it reads the site is completly different. Consider this example: If you had a site dealing with flowers and had the first visible text as "Welcome to ABC Florists" while the meta tags have the description as "Flowers for sale" the visitor view the "Welcome to ABC Florists" in the browser, while a spider will see the content as "flowers for sale"
Most of you might have noticed that when you type in a keyword or phrase in any of the search engines, you would see the URL and a short description. This description is taken from the Meta Tag's <description> tag.
Instead of targeting a highly competitive keyword, try to broaden your reach by targetting smaller keywords and phrases as well. This way, although you might not rank good on one keyword, chances of your site showing up for the other keywords related to florists are pretty good.
: Robots, or Bots as they are usually called are scripts which are programmed to "crawl" websites and collect information from the site's meta description tags. These bots then store the information on their servers and index according to the keywords. Consider this example: If you had a site dealing with flower delivery, and your keywords were related to just "roses" and "lillies" then chances of your site showing up for roses or lillies are much higher than showing up for keywords "florists" Keep in mind that you have different kinds of people using the search engines. Some may type in the word roses to research on that flower, showing up your site for this keyword under this scenario might not be what you intended it to be. The catch phrase here is to target your keywords appropriately.
The bots are smart but not intelligent. You would not want your contactus.html page to show up on the search engine. Or any other private page which only you have access to. Or you would not want a page which is under development to show up. By setting up the robots.txt file you can specify what directories within your root directory to be indexed. This way you can hide your other pages from showing up on the search engine.
4. Link popularity
: I came across this very cool definition of Page Rank, or Link Polularity. Conside a community of people. Let's say you have a person A who knows B. B introduces A to C and it goes on upto Z. During this process what happens is that the popularity of A increases giving A a higher link polularity or a page rank.
Similarly, you need to link your site to other sites. What happens is that a search engine will promote your site within the listing if you have a higher page rank, or in other words, higher popularity. While you might be thinking that you can get this done by linking your site to every other site you come across, keep in mind the fact that some search engines actually give you a rank only from relevant sites. So if you are a florist, then dont entertain the idea of linking to sites dealing with medical or healthcare. It would be sensible if you went a step further and linked to sites dealing with stationery, gifts, chocolates, etc.
SEO is a field that is gaining recognition. Companies have been built solely relying on SEO by offering its services. Instead of spending money and let someone else do the work at which you have absolutely no clue, it is always good to start it on your own and then if the need arises call in for a professional. This way you will exactly know the strategy and you would be in control rather than being taken for a walk.