On this page I will try to explain a little bit about how Search Engines work, and what can be done to improve your ranking in them. There are also many things in the actual design and code of the web site that I will incorporate into your pages, but here I will explain what YOU need to know and what you can do regarding search engines in order to rank higher. I will try to answer the following questions:
WHAT IS SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?This refers to configuring your site so that it ranks well for particular search terms, and will have a better chance of being picked up by search engines you are not currently listed in. Getting listed does not necessarily mean you will rank well for particular terms, it just means the search engine knows you exist.
Achieving a high ranking in the search engines is an elusive, ever changing process. This is because the search engines themselves are continually changing their methods and continually conceiving new ways of making money form web site owners such as you.
WHAT IS A SEARCH ENGINE?Search engines are "robots" which extract data from the internet through a "crawling" process (also called "spidering") and organizes it in a database (also called an "index"). This database is then searchable by people who type their search terms in the search box. The search engine then sorts the information in it's database according to "relevance".
HOW IS MY WEBSITE RANKED BY THE SEARCH ENGINES?The search engines use complicated "algorithms" to sort the sites and rank them according to "relevance". These algorithms are a well guarded secret, and are constantly changing to improve search results and to thwart what they consider "spamming" techniques to trick the search engines into placing sites higher than they should be.
Relevance in search results is determined by two sets of factors - the content of the site and other external factors.
WEB CONTENT FACTORS IN RANKING:
- Keywords and Key Phrases - How often the words being searched for occur on a page, with importance being placed on word order and whether search phrases are on the page.
- Location of the Search Terms - Where are they on the page? Especially important are the words in headings and near the top of the page.
- Relational Clustering - Do other pages in the site have the search terms?
- Site Design - Sites must be designed for easy search engine spidering. Things such as using Frames, Java or Flash navigation systems, bad links, or very slow loading due to excessive use of images or Flash are all impediments to search engines and should be avoided if possible.
- Links - According to recent statements by Google, quality links pointed to your site count more than anything else in determining your ranking. The most important thing you can do to get listed by the search engines and get higher in the results is to get quality sites to link to your site. Quality sites are popular sites which have a high ranking, and have content which is somehow related to yours.
- Click Popularity - Sites visited more are ranked higher. This is also called "clickthrough measurement". Getting a lot of hits to your site from search engine results will improve your ranking.
- Pay for Exposure - For some, it can be economically feasible to pay for placement or ads in the search engines. It will certainly get you listed sooner. Yahoo charges $299 per year just to be included in their search directory (no guarantee you will get found), although with enough patience and good links coming to your site from other sites already in their index you will probably eventually get indexed there also. It is possible to advertise your site in Google, and Yahoo/Overture, although that may not be economically feasible unless you are able to derive a significant income from online sales. If you want to look into this further, we have more information for you here.
- Submitting to the Open Directory - The Open Directory was started with the idea of indexing the entire contents of the internet, and in doing so being the only directory which reviews each site by an actual human (all volunteers). Most search engines use this directory to add to their databases, but it is declining in importance. The main reason for this is because with the huge growth of the internet, it has not been possible to keep up with the reviewing required, and it currently can take many months to get a site reviewed for inclusion. It is far quicker to get a few good links to get the search engines to notice you.
There are many important things YOU must consider when organizing your site. We will go over what these important things are now.
HOW ARE KEYWORDS BEST INCORPORATED INTO MY SITE?
- Search engines place importance on all headings. You should have headings with the most important keyword or key phrase in them.
- The upper part of all pages are the most important to the search engines. Use keywords and keyphrases as often as possible here.
- Have at least 100 words per page - and try to have one keyword for every 12 to 20 words.
- Each page should ideally be optimized for one keyword or key phrase. You should optimize for different keywords or key phrases on different pages.
HOW IS LINKING BENEFICIAL TO MY SITE?Links from other sites are not only good for the traffic you may receive from them. They are also very important regarding search engines. There are three main advantages to having links to your site from other sites:
- If the link is from a well frequented site, you may get quite a few visitors through it.
- It can be the fastest way to get indexed by the search engines. When they spider the internet, they follow these links to your site and index yours also. The only ways a search engine will index your site is by you or me submitting your site to them (usually involving a fee), or by them following a link to you from an already indexed site.
- Search engines rank sites higher for what they call "link popularity". That is, if you have other sites linking to you, it can increase your standing in search results. Not all links are equal though. They must be links from sites somehow related to your site content, and high ranking sites linking to you help much more than lower ranking ones. A lot of links from very low ranking sites probably won't help at all, and links from "link farms" or "link rings" will probably hurt.
How can I find out who is linking to my site?That is easy, just click here to find out how to find out!
What are some specific things I can do for my web site to rank higher?First, read the above about keywords and linking, then do what is advised below.
Check your text on all your pages. Can you re-word it to get more of the important keywords and keyphrases in there, while still sounding good to read?
Can you add headings containing an important keyword or phrase?
One of the most important things to do - and also one of the most difficult and time consuming is getting quality links pointed to your site. But, this is a MUST for gaining a higher ranking. You want to get links from high ranking web sites with related content. It takes contacting the web site owner, and many will be glad to link to you, especially if you offer to put a reciprocal link back to them on your site. It is a win-win situation.
How to do it:
- Talk to local businesses you know which have web sites, and see if they will link to your site.
- Do a search on Google, and find related businesses that are NOT competitors. Contact them and suggest reciprocal links.
- In your search on Google using the keywords for your website, look for Internet Directories which list related businesses, and request to be added. Some may charge a fee for this. A suggestion: don't list in directories that send you spam emails, just list in the ones that come up in search results using your keywords.
- See if there is a professional organization you can join or are already are a member which has a website with links to it's members.
- Another way to find smaller places to submit is to search on Google for the words "Add URL" or "Submit URL" (or any other variation of related text such as "Submit site") and your keywords. This will find a slew of places for you to submit your site to. Be careful not to submit to link farms though, especially ones that require a reciprocal link. One clue as to whether it is a Link Farm or not is if the links are totally unrelated to one another.
Not all kinds of links are equal. If possible, it is best to have a text link made of important keywords. Another words, It is better for the actual link to look like this: Hawaii Web Site Design rather than this: www.alohasonline.com.
If you need any help with this, let me know.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION SCAMS TO AVOIDIt seems wherever there is money to be made, there are scammers trying to make it the easy way, and the SEO business seems to have attracted a lot of them. SEO companies can help, but be sure who you are hiring if you go that route. Most important, don't respond to unsolicited emails from any company promising to improve your ranking. Most of these are spam coming from unscrupulous people who will take your money for little actual benefit to your, and possibly could do things to get you penalized in the search engines.
Here are some of the more common scams:
- "Let me charge you monthly for your optimized pages" scam.
You should be charged only once for website optimization, not on a continuing basis. If they contend that they must do further work on your site, you should find out what it is and why it is necessary. If a site is properly optimized, continuing work is ordinarily not needed.
- "I need to host your optimized pages" scam.
There is no advantage to changing hosting servers unless your site is currently a sub-domain with your domain name forwarded. There is a disadvantage if you would be paying more than you should for hosting and your pages are held hostage to their continuing monthly charges for questionable services. A good SEO company will NOT need to move your site.
- "Guaranteed ranking in major search engines" scam.
Most of the time these guarantees are worthless. There are always conditions, such as being ranked high for a search term only your site would contain, which would put you high in the listings even without their help, or in a search engine you've never heard of (and neither have most others).
- "We will automatically link you to 100s of websites and increase your link popularity" scam.
These automated link scams are really bad. They create "link farms" which are long loosly related bunches of links that plague the web. Search engines hate link farms, and being in them won't do you any good, and could cause you to be penalized.
- "Get Listed In 1000s of Search Engines for only $30!" scam.
All these do is run your URL through an automated submissions program (which are banned by all the major search engines) and submit to thousands of search engines that few use. There are many tiny search engines that are foreign, or very specialized for things such as sports or pets etc. Usually all it gets you is lots of spam email.
- "Dear YourURL.com,
We recently visited your website and noticed that you were not listed in major search engines..."
Yes, I get these too, or some version of this. They never visited your website, their spam program automatically puts your domain name in the heading. This, or something like it, is an automated spam that everyone with a website gets.
There are many reputable SEO companies also, and for a website competing for very popular keywords, they can make a difference. You must expect to pay quite a lot for their service, and for websites in areas not highly competetive or without a lot of income being derived directly from them, it becomes questionable as to when the cost is worth it.
When I do your web site, search engine accessibility is a major consideration of the design. I also give extended help to my clients in coming up with web site content which will give the best search engine results. Ordinarily, the additional cost of a SEO company is not required.
Website Design by Alohas Online