As you set up your business Web site and research how to attract new customers, you will no doubt come across the phrase “search engine optimization.” But what, exactly, does it mean?
As the name suggests, it’s the process of making your site friendly to different search engines. This allows the search engines to index your site more efficiently, which in turn translates into better ranking for your site in search results. And better search ranking means more traffic to your site.
Title tags are one of the most important criteria search engines use to look for relevant Web pages. Title tags appear at the top of your browser and should include the keywords and phrases describing the content on the page.
What keywords or phrases are visitors using to find your site? If you know the answer to this question, you will be in a much better position to lure visitors to your content. You can find these keywords in your Web analytics data or Web logs. Also, to find the popularity of keywords and phrases, you can use external keyword research tools such as Google’s free keyword tool or paid services such as Wordtracker.
Basic Site Structure
Search engines look favorably upon well-written code and good site structure. Be sure that your site is not full of unnecessary code; for example, if you created your pages in Microsoft Word, then your HTML is riddled with useless code that not only makes your page slower to load, it also makes it harder for search engines to crawl your site.
Likewise, you want your page code to have as much of the search engine-relevant content as close to the top of the code as possible. If you can, learn to code in CSS (cascading style sheets), as it allows much more control over the order of your code without necessarily correlating to the way the page loads. Be sure that your site navigation is logical and that it appears near the top of your HTML.
Many sites use optimized content that is uploaded to their server but not displayed for public use. A search engine will be able to find the pages, but your users will not see them. This may improve search engine rankings in the short term, but in the long run, customers will get frustrated if they can’t find what they need on your site.
Other methods of optimization include using page titles, file names, and domain names that contain pertinent keywords.
Each search engine is different, and each one uses different criteria and software to index Web content. This can make it extremely confusing to attempt to please them all. By combining title tags and file names with quality content, you can ensure that your site will be friendly to the vast majority of search engines. This means that your site will be listed early and often in search results, increasing your ability to attract new customers.