Increasing your Web exposure

It seems like companies are finally starting to pay attention to how they appear on the Web. At long last, many companies are realizing the importance of page rankings and search engine optimization (SEO), and as a result, are hiring specialists or advertising companies to help them out.

While optimizing search engine results is an excellent idea and can provide great returns for your business,  not everyone can afford to hire such a someone to perform this work.  And in all honesty, there is no reason to. Anyone can manipulate their site to increase its ranking. Here are a list of a few tips and tricks I have picked up over the years to get you started in SEO.

1. Understand how the process works – Search engines send out Web crawlers called spiders to archive and explore sites. The information these spiders gather is then used in page ranking. Almost everything following is geared towards these spiders.

2. Use keyword-rich text in quality copy – This is the single most important thing you can do to increase your page ranking. Spiders look for common search terms. Make sure copy on your Web site, especially on your homepage contains these words in relevant text. There are varying reports on what is ideal keyword density, but a good average seems to be around 8%. Remember the old adage, “Content is King”

3. Design your site for visitors, not spiders – I know what you’re thinking, doesn’t this fly in the face of #1? Surprisingly, no. Spiders will search through several levels of your site, however, most human visitors will not. Readabilty and usability are key. To make your site appear more attractive in search engine results, title your pages in a way that will attract visitors. For example, “Tony’s Pizza – Hot and fresh, delivered in 30 minutes” will attract more clickthroughs than “Tony’s Pizza – Home” or “Pizza, Italian, Delivery, St. Paul, Food, Pepperoni, Sausage, Onion…”.

4. Use HTML tags and descriptions – This includes Meta tags, image alt tags and page title tags, as well as Meta descriptions. These help steer searchers towards your site.

5. Use a site map – This helps crawlers, as well as providing an easy navigation for your visitors.

6. Use links wisely – Links to related sites are a great way to both increase traffic to your site and improve your overall page ranking. However, don’t blindly link with anyone offering reciprocity. Develop relationships with other sites in your industry and exchange links with them. This will prove highly beneficial.

7. Use an analytics program – Google analytics is a great program for keeping an eye on visitors. It lets you determine how visitors are reaching your site, as well as what keyword searches are landing them there. Use this info to make strategic adjustments accordingly.

8. Do your research – Piggybacking on #7, do your homework. Find out what terms decision-makers in your industry are searching for and adjust your site as needed.

9. Don’t use “black hat” techniques to fool search engines – This means don’t use shady, underhanded tricks to fool search engines, such as using invisible text, keyword stuffing or  “doorway” pages. While these techniques may work in the short term, they’ll eventually get your site banned from the major search engines. It just isn’t worth it.

10. Consider paid advertisements – Search engines offer paid ad placement on a per-click basis. If you have the budget for this, consider using it to your advantage. If you bid high enough, you’ll always appear when a specific term is searched for.

A few other things to keep in mind:

1. Not all search engines work in the same way. However, instead of concentrating on every engine out there, concentrate on the major ones, including Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask, which drive the majority of the traffic anyway.

2. This is an ongoing process. You’ll have to keep an eye on your status and make tweaks as needed. The Web is not a static environment.

3. Keep looking for new and better ways to improve your ranking. Read sites that specialize in SEO, for example:

There is a ton of really good SEO information out there. If you’re serious about improving your Web exposure, this is a great place to start.

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