How To Optimize Your Website For Search Engines

The following is a guide on optimizing your website and improving its rankings on search engine results pages, according to Microsoft’s Small Business Center.

1. Potential site design problems

  • Search engines do a poor job of indexing frames and your site is better off without them.
  • Most search engines cannot or will not list dynamic URLs that contain any of the following: ?, &, %, +, =, cgi-bin, or .cgi.
  • Search engines cannot index splash pages that are made mostly or entirely from Flash. Hyperlinks made with Flash cannot be spidered by the search engines. So, unless you add standard HTML hyperlinks, none of your pages will be spidered.
  • Sites that use Image Maps for navigation run the risk of not being accessible to search engines because the web crawler often gets trapped in the code that makes up the Image Map.
  • Search engines also cannot follow links found in Javascript.
  • Any of the previous three indexing problems can be addressed by creating a site map page using standard HTML links that link to every page and adding a standard HTML link on each page that links back to the site map.

2. Keyword optimization

  • To get listed correctly on search engines, each page of your site needs to be optimized. Since keywords are essential to this process, choosing the right ones is crucial.
  • Try to think about specific phrases instead of just words. Competition on the internet for general terms makes it extremely unlikely that a site that relies on words or phrases that are too general to rank well in search engines.
  • Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes. Think about what they would search for if they were looking to purchase your products or services. Ask friends and family members what they would search for if they were looking for a site like yours.
  • Check out the competition. Do a search using keywords that you already know you want to utilize and click through to the top sites that come up. View their source HTML code and see what keywords they used in their meta tags.

3. Choosing your title tag

  • Search engines and directories place a lot of importance on the keywords that are found in your title tag.
  • Your title tag is what most search engines will use for your title on their search results page. Make it interesting!
  • Title tags should be between 50 and 80 characters long – including spaces.
  • You should include one or two of your most important keyword phrases in your title tag but it should remain as close as possible to a readable sentence.
  • Place keywords at the beginning of your title tag in case it is too long for some engines. If it must be shortened, you won’t lose the most important parts.
  • Every page on your site should have its own title tag with its own keywords that are related to the content on that specific page.

4. Utilizing your page copy (the actual text a visitor will read)

  • Each page should contain at least 200 words if possible.
  • The text on each page should contain keyword phrases but remain logical and readable.
  • Use the keyword phrases that you have used in your title tags and meta tags.
  • Add additional text pages to your site in the form of how-to-articles, tips, or tutorials. This will help you obtain better rankings through the use of keywords and the addition of links as other sites will want to link to useful information.

5. Using meta tags to your advantage

  • Meta tags were originally created to enhance search engines ability to investigate websites by giving them information that they otherwise might have had trouble determining.
  • Most people still believe that meta tags are the be all and end all of search engine optimization. However, increasing competition for high search engine rankings led to many people stuffing their meta tags with keywords in order to spam the search engines. As a result, meta tags are no longer awarded as much importance.
  • There are two types of meta tags that can help you in your endeavor to improve your ranking: meta keywords and meta description.
  • Your meta keywords should not exceed 1024 characters and should only include keyword phrases that you used in the copy of your page, title tags, meta description or other tags. Be careful not to use any one word more than 5 times. Be sure to include specific geographic locations, if appropriate to your site.
  • Your description meta should not exceed 250 characters. Its job is to accurately describe content while trying to attract visitors to your site. The description meta should include 3 to 4 of your most important keyword phrases with the most important at the beginning.

6. Your images “alt” attribute

  • Any image on your page can help your page’s ranking if they include an “alt” attribute.
  • An “alt” attribute can be added to any image on your page and will show up to help those who may have images turned off in their web browser.
  • This attribute should be used to describe the image and not just to use the opportunity to make a list of keywords. Limit yourself to 2 to 3 keywords per image.
  • An “alt” attribute is a good place to use common misspellings for your keywords or plurals that you may not have used elsewhere. This will enable you to capture those users who search for these terms as well.

You should never do anything in your optimization that could lead the search engines to believe that you are trying to trick them into giving your site a higher ranking.

This is considered spamming and you will be penalized, perhaps by the removal of your site from the search engine’s database. These tricks include but are not limited to:

  1. Listing keyword in places other than your meta tag. There are very few legitimate reasons for a list of keywords to appear in the text of a page or within the HTML code of your site.
  2. Using the same color text as your page’s background color.
  3. Using the same tag more than once, such as the inclusion of multiple title tags.
  4. Submitting identical pages. Never duplicate a page and submit it without giving the copies different file names.
  5. Submitting the same page to any one engine more than once within 24 hours.
  6. Using keywords in your keywords meta tag that do not directly relate to your page content.
  7. Submitting your URL more than once a month.


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