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Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a very important part of any serious web site marketing strategy. SEO is also one of the most widely discussed and debated web marketing topics of discussion

Let's begin by getting on the same page with regards to the definition of Search Engine Optimization, also known as "SEO". SEO refers to an entire process the objective of which is to improve a web site's ranking in the major search engines for specific keywords and phrases. The process includes:

  • Selection of the best keywords and phrases related to your web site.
  • The integration of those keywords and phrases into the content of your site.
  • The application of a number of technical procedures that tie the above together.

Remember, the objective is to optimize your site in order to assist the search engines with aligning your site with Internet users that are performing web searches using those same keywords and phrases.

Let's take a closer look at the key elements of this process...

Keyword Selection - Choosing the best keywords and phrases is the cornerstone of a comprehensive optimization strategy. One of the most common mistakes made is to target the wrong keywords and phrases. Many web site owners simply make assumptions about what keywords and phrases they think people will punch into the search engines when looking for their products or services. The majority of the time, making assumptions instead of performing a thorough analysis of what terms would be ideal based on some facts leads to dissappointing results A proper analysis will provide you with the following essential pieces of information:

  • Exactly what words and phrases related to your website's subject matter are actually being entered into the search engines by Internet users?
  • How frequently are those words and phrases being searched for on the engines compared to one another?
  • How many other web pages appear to be targeting the same terms?
Once you are armed with the facts you can proceed with selecting the best keywords and phrases for your own Search Engine Optimization efforts. Those are the ones that strike a balance between being used most frequently and being targeted by the fewest other web pages. This is because is it is much easier to get high rankings in the search engines when there are fewer other web pages competing for the same keywords and phrases.

If you decide to tackle the optimizing of your site yourself there are a couple of excellent online resources that will assist in your research for the best keywords for your project.

The "Search Term Suggestion Tool" at Overture.com is a free tool that is somewhat limited in terms of its functionality but is helpful and... Free!

A more powerful and comprehensive suite of keyword research and analysis tools are provided by WordTracker.com. The service they provide is not free but is very affordable and will prove to be an excellent investment.

Web Site Content - Once you have completed your analysis and have selected the best keywords and phrases for your site the next step is to include them in the main content pages of your site. Your carefully selected keywords should be sprinkled generously throughout the body copy (text) of your site's pages. They should not be repeated over and over again relentlessly but rather, used as frequently as practical without adversely affecting the quality of the content or readability of the page.

Technical Steps - There are a few things that can be done as part of the programming, design and assembly of the site that will assist the optimization of your site for the search engines. Some of the most important of them are:

- Page Names - Whenever possible, the name that you give each page on your site should be relevant to the content of that page and include the keywords you are targeting for that page. Use hyphens or underscores to separate the words.

- Page Titles - Each page on your site should be labeled independently and the title should be relevant to the content of that page and include keywords you are targeting for that page.

- Meta Tags - Although declining in importance with many of the major search engines they do play a role and should be utilized according to current guidelines. Of particular importance is the "Description" Meta Tag.

- Image ALT Tags - You have the option to include descriptive text that will be visible to anyone that holds their mouse over images on your web pages. The text should be relevant to the image and its purpose on the page. You have written a good ALT image tag if the text is helpful to anyone viewing the page but was unable to see the image itself. Whenever practical, work your keywords into the alt text.

The list of steps above is by no means complete but they are considered by most experts to be some of the most important technical steps that should be taken as part of a comprehensive to improve the search engine rankings of a web page.

List Your Site - The process for getting your site listed in the major search engines varies depending on the engine in question. Many of the larger ones, such as Google for example, do not allow you to add your site to them yourself. Instead, they add your site automatically over time after their automated web-surfing "bots" visit your site and "read" it to determine what it is about and how to rank it vs. other pages for certain keywords. These bots most often get to your site by following a link to it from another site (more on linking below). Some do allow you to "add your site" to them by completing an online form. Some allow you to do this at no charge others require you to pay. Still others will allow you to list your site for free but provide an option to have your site listed with them more quickly for a fee.

It is very important to also add your site to the relevant cateogories in the major "directories" on the web such as DMOZ, Yahoo and others. Not only do Internet users visit them to look for web sites in a categorized fashion but many of the search engines use the listings in the major directories to generate their listings and search results.

Link Building - Arguably one of the most important and cost-effective methods of driving targeted traffic to your site and enhancing the rankings of your site. This refers to the process of getting the webmaster of another site to place a link to your site from their own. Sometimes this is done in exchange for the same from you. The effect of a link building strategy is improved exponentially when the site you are exchanging links with is related in some way to the subject matter of your own site. There are two major benefits to this. The first is that visitors to the other site that click on your link to visit your site will be more qualified and highly targeted. The second key benefit is more directly related to the SEO of your site. Some of the most important search engines count a link to your site from another to be a sort "vote" for your site's relevance and importance. More weight is given to links that are located on sites that the engine considers relevant to the subject matter of your own and the perceived "importance" of that site, which again, is related to the number and quality of related links pointing to that site. An ongoing link building campaign should be part of any web site marketing strategy and Search Engine Optimization effort.

IQNetCom Corp, a full service provider of successful e-business solutions owns and manages this site. IQNetCom provides the entire range of services needed to launch and maintain a successful online presence and can help you achieve improved search engine rankings.

Other services provided by IQNetCom Corp are:

Website Design
Web Hosting
Shopping Carts and Storefronts
Online Payment Processing
Internet Merchant Accounts
Website Accessibility
E-Business Strategy Development
Marketing Consultation

If you would like to discuss how we might help your organization put the power of the web to work please contact us.

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