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Search Engine Optimization for Absolute Beginners I

By: Robert Bravery at Integralwebsolutions

Submitted on Fri, Aug 15th, 2008 11:25 am

I have been blessed with a 20 month old daughter. As a toddler she loves playing hide-n-seek. Only problem is that she screams every time I begin to look for her. Totally giving away her position. This totally epitomises Search Engine Optimisation.

We must not take the Alien route. You know, in cyberspace no one can hear you scream. We have to approach this with as much screaming as possible. Just like my daughter, we have to scream as loud and as hard and as often as we can. Just to get noticed, so that people who are looking for us can find us. We are not trying to hide from anyone, we are not trying to camouflage our web site. We want to be noticed.

So what is SEO or Search Engine Optimisation?

From Wiki: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results for targeted keywords. Usually, the earlier a site is presented in the search results or the higher it "ranks", the more searchers will visit that site. SEO can also target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.

So the big thing about SEO is improving the quality and quantity of traffic to your web site from search engines. This means that SE (search engines) must know you exist. They must also rank you high enough for a particular search word or phase in order to place you in the top search results. After all people are unlikely to scroll through pages and pages of information to find your site. At most they will probably go to three pages deep, maybe two or three more if they are looking for something specific. But this just means that their search term is not correct. What happens in most cases is that people often only click and consider the links returned by the first and maybe second pages of the search result.

SEO is not a once off thing, or some great magic wand that you wave. Its a process. Its a daily task. Something that you have to continually do for months and months. And then when you achieve the desired ranking, you have to work continually to keep it there. Because remember, there are other nasty people that are doing their utmost to knock you off your top ranking and to take your spot.

Search Engine Optimization-It's Not Rocket Science. Sure, you can get really complicated and technical with SEO, just like any other subject. However, search engine optimization at its heart is simple and clean. With a good strategy, and dedication. One step at a time. You can get your site ranked up there with the big boys. But dont be deluded into believing that it will happen over night.

Think of yourself as a needle in a very very big hay-stack. Some one is looking for you with a magnet. You need to magnetise yourself in such a way that the magnet will pull you out of the clutter. How would you do this, electron by electron, atom by atom. Its a slow process. But soon enough you will be magnetised and pong, the magnet pulls you out. The only difference is that this is no ordinary magnet. It operates with a resonating frequency that you have to tune into, so that only you get pulled out amongst all the other needles. Naturally the ones closest to the top of the pile stand a better chance.

So where do I start?

1.Submit your site to the search engines.

This kinda seems obvious. But you need to let the major search engines know your alive. SEs like Google, Yahoo, MSN all have pages where you can submit your site from.

2.Submit your site to directory services.

It does not stop at SE. Most beginners forget that a large part of ranking is about how popular you are on the Internet. One way to increase your popularity is by having links on other sites (I will chat about this in a later blog) that point to your site. Inbound links. One way to do that is to submit to directory services. Directories like DMOZ allow you to submit your site for free. There are other Directories around some are free some are not. Some are popular some are not. But most agree that DMOZ is the one to start out on.

3.Create a robots.txt file.

SEs use what is called a robot to crawl the Internet and web sites so that they can gather information to be indexed and categorised. A robot is a program that automatically traverses the Web's hypertext structure by retrieving a document, and recursively retrieving all documents that are referenced. Web robots are sometimes referred to as Web Wanderers, Web Crawlers, or Spiders. Web site owners use the robots.txt file to give instructions about their site to web robots. What they can crawl and what not. How deep they can go in the site structure and where they are not allowed to crawl. Check out The Web Robots Pages for more information.

4.Submit a Sitemap.

A Sitemap is exactly what is says. It is a map of your site. Of every page in your site. This is used by search engines to help them traverse your site easily and to quickly index your pages. Otherwise they have to follow hyperlinks. If you page navigation is not good enough or very complicated with long URLs, then you're in trouble. In its simplest terms, a Sitemap is a list of the pages on your web site.

Creating and submitting a Sitemap helps make sure that search engines like Google knows about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by Google's normal crawling process. In general, there are two types of sitemaps. The first type of sitemap is a HTML page listing the pages of your site - often by section - and is meant to help users find the information they need. Second, XML Sitemaps - usually called Sitemaps, with a capital S - are a way for you to give Google information about your site.

For more information go to Google's help centre for Sitemaps.

5.Content is King.

Content is what drives search engine rankings, content is what brings users to your site, and content, when sprinkled appropriately with keyword phrases, will feed robots. Content is King. Users like good content, its what brings them back. SEs like good content, its what helps to increase your sites ranking for search phrases and keywords. If this was a broken record, it would be one worth listening too. Content is key in search engine optimization. Content is key in search engine optimization. Content is key in search engine optimization.

6.Simple Site design.

Sites that are successful in the search engine results have this in common-they are all simply designed, with a minimum of bandwidth hogging graphics, slowly loading animations or other aesthetic structures that are pleasing to the human eye but SE unfriendly, like Flash. SEs do not like or care about cosmetics, yes, your site might win the Picasso award. But who cares if Google, ala no one, can find it.

They are also easy to navigate. Simple, clean designs are what search engine spiders and search engine users like, because it enables them to get to what they're looking for; which is what? Of course, if you dont know by now - content.

7.Well written Meta-Tags.

Meta tags-keyword, description, and titles - are important, but they won't make or break your site. Meta tags are merely part of your overall success strategy. They need to be well written with compelling, keyword phrase-heavy content that will entice the user click through from the search results page. Good choice of Keywords, page descriptions and titles will go a long way towards increasing your page ranking.

There is a whole other world around keyword research. But that's for another time. These need to reflect your site and business, but also have a high search usage, but low competition. Getting the right balance can be a task.

Building good keywords also takes time. Over time you will add more keywords, and subtract those that are not working for you. Keywords and phrases that are strategically placed and crafted into your web site and its content can significantly boost your ratings in search engine results. Lack of well-chosen keywords and phrases on your Web site is a very bad mistake to make, as search engine spiders depend on these to find your site; as well as search engine users. If you have not targeted specific and precise keywords for your web site, then you will not be easily found.

8.Link Building.

Part of achieving top search engine positions is through links from other Web pages. These links can come from people who like your site (natural links), reciprocal linking, directory submissions, one-way linking, multi-site linking and directory linking. Search engines rely a lot on human interaction and indirect rating of web pages. It stands to reason that if a lot of people like a particular site that SEs will pay attention to this. How do people show that they like your site. By creating links on their site to your site. Theses are also known as inbound links.

Each of these linking strategies has specific descriptions that can be summed up as:

- Reciprocal Linking = Site A links to Site B, Site B links back to Site A

- One-Way Linking = Site B links to Site A

- Multi-Site Linking = Site A links to Site B, Site B links to Site C, Site C links to Site D, and Site D links back to Site A.

- Directory Linking = Site Directory A links to Site A

That seems simple enough. But it takes time and effort to come up with a successful link strategy and to build up good quality links. Most web site owners aren't willing to spend the time or don't have the time to spend on it.


One essential element of success which is mostly overlooked is to analyse the traffic that comes to your web site. By monitoring your web site statistics you can track visitor behaviour, popular keywords, frequented pages and other valuable information that can help strengthen weaknesses within your site.

Studying web site statistics should be a vital part in tracking your on-line marketing and search engine optimisation progress to ultimately help improve your site, converting more visitors to it. You need to know everything about how your visitors found you and how they interact with your site.

Understanding what visitors do on your site is crucial and by fixing possible errors, you could increase your sales in a very short time span.

You can sign up to Google Analytics to have a wide range of tools at your disposal. All free.

10.Black Hat SEO No No.

What is Black Hat SEO. Black Hat search engine optimization is normally defined as techniques that are used to get higher search rankings in an unethical manner. These black hat SEO techniques usually include one or more of the following characteristics:

- Breaks search engine rules and regulations .

- Creates a poor user experience directly because of the black hat SEO techniques utilized on the Web site .

- Unethically presents content in a different visual or non-visual way to search engine spiders and search engine users.

Things like:

- Keyword stuffing: Creating long lists of keywords and putting them onto your site with nothing else will get you penalized eventually by search engines.

- Invisible text: This is putting lists of keywords where the text is the same colour as the background, therefore invisible to the human eye. Like white text on a white background. This is done in hopes of attracting more search engine spiders.

- Doorway Pages: A doorway page is basically a fake page that the user will never see. It is put there fore the sole purpose of attracting search engine spiders, and attempting to trick them into indexing the site higher. Thereby increasing their page rank.

This is by no means complete. We will delve into this in more depth as time progresses. Just like you I am also learning. The internet is a changing animal, and you never stop learning. If you need to learn about it, then chances are I do too. I help you, you help me.

About the Author

Robert Bravery
Robert Bravery is the founder of Integralwebsolutions. He started programming in 1985 with dBASEIII+ then moved to dBASE plus the latest version of the great software. Seeing that Microsoft was dominating the world, he changed focus and started coding in C# using Visual Studio. He now develops web sites using the latest from MS, including Visual Studio 2008, Linq, Ajax, and a wide variety of third party control like Teleril, Devexpress and Infragistics. He has also written numerous articles on various subjects regarding programming, web development and SEO

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