05 September, 2009

An Easy Search Engine Optimization Guide

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a particular discipline within web design, intended to increase the site's rankings on a search engine. Since many users who search for a topic will select a site from the first page of results, or may stop after only a few pages, most web masters want their content to be displayed at the top of the page rankings.

There are a number of techniques that can be used to promote your web site within the search engine page rankings, and a number of pitfalls to avoid. Since the field has grown and evolved over the years, there is a body of knowledge and professional debate about it, as well as some long-standing myths and hold-overs from previous techniques that no longer work.

Pitfalls include:

- “Magic formulas” for keyword density
- Dictionary-like lists of keywords in page headers
- Filling tags and headers with irrelevant content
- Using invisible tags or keywords to “trick” the web crawler
- Using link exchanges or farms

Time-tested techniques include:

- Offering high-quality, unique content
- Becoming or utilizing recognized authorities
- Carefully soliciting links from high quality, professional contacts
- Structuring your site to be easy to crawl

Getting into SEO means sifting through all of the information available on how to optimize, determining which information is relevant and current, and then applying the best of it to your own project. Doing so cost effectively is critical.

You can choose to do your own SEO on your web site or contract the work out to professional SEO services. Whether you do the work yourself or hire it out should be a careful business decision, based on the current size and completion level of your site, the amount of user traffic it can handle, the amount of time and skill you can dedicate to the SEO project, and of course your budget.

If you choose to contract the service, do your research on firms that are professional and well respected. As with any other web-based service, caveat emptor. There are good firms and scam artists, clear terms and fine print. Be sure to check the SEO provider's references, and ensure that you're paying for site architecture and content changes, rather than simply for pay-per-click contracts. Avoid any that guarantee you a particular page ranking or sound too good to be true.

By far the best technique for increasing your search engine page ranking (SEPR) is simply offering high quality content that users find valuable. The more people value and respect your site, the more respected bloggers and sites will link to you, thus increasing your rankings.

Remember that the point of SEO is to drive users to your site. You should never find yourself sacrificing a user-friendly experience or the quality of your content for the sake of the search engine bots. Search engines are themselves web sites that must offer a high quality experience to their users, so they will heavily penalize sites that use technical “tricks” that degrade their own user experience. More importantly, a high page ranking is irrelevant without a good web site that keeps users coming back.


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