Search engine optimisation: Tips and tricks

I often have people approaching me to optimize their website after it
has been built and it’s often far more complicated and costly to do it
this way around, so it’s best to factor it in before you start.

Let’s explore how a search engine works…

A search is performed, this gets sent to a massive bank of computers
called index servers. Search engines keep all the information they
gather on the internet, they don’t actually go and look at each and
every live website when a search is performed, they have versions of
every website saved on the index servers, this means they can do
searches in fractions of a second. The search is then passed through
the doc servers, which send back the results to the user in a
meaningful way, rating them in order of importance. It’s all designed
to work as fast as possible, and speedily deliver meaningful and useful
results for your searches. That, in a very simplified nutshell, is how
a search engine works.

I want to tell you a little bit about spiders! Not the creepy crawlies
but the little programs search engines use to collect websites. A
spider will visit your website roughly once a month, although if you
have a website that has content updated daily, like a newspaper,
spiders could visit several times a day. When a spider visits your site
it will strip out all the frills and go straight for the heart of the
code, it’s really important to build a website so that it can be easily
read by spiders.

Be sure to include meta tags and descriptions in your website code.
Every page of your website should contain up to 12 unique, relevant
keywords and one meta description, consisting of a 24 word descriptive
sentence about the page. It’s also really important to have unique
descriptive page titles, this is the phrase that appears along the top
bar of your browser, most times you won’t even notice it’s there but
spiders love these! Get all of these elements right and you will be
giving the spiders a good feast!

Search engines work with something called a word cloud. They take the
content of a page and list each word inside it in order of importance,
more importance is given to the words with the most use. However be
careful because you can’t simply cut and paste the same word over and
over again, search engines interpret this as spam and your visitors
will not stay long on your website either, as it doesn’t make for great
reading! Research the words people use in searches to find your
business or services. These are vitally important to use throughout
your site to help the spiders list you in relevant searches. There are
a number of websites out there that can help you research the best ones
to use. You may have more success using the less popular phrases. If
you populate your site with rich and meaningful content you should
naturally be using your keywords in a healthy manner.

Inbound links going to your website from other high quality websites
are really valuable. It’s proof to search engines that you have a
website that’s worth linking to. One way of getting links back to your
website is to use social networking sites. These websites allow you to
upload information about yourself or your company and add a link back
to your website, there are thousands of social networking sites out
there to use. Another thing to do is open yourself a free blogging
account and blog! Link back to your website in the signature of your
blog, use the articles you’ve written for your website as blogs, get
creative!

Be proactive! Don’t sit around hoping the spiders will find you one
day, go spider hunting! List your business on Google Maps, Google
Business Centre and Yahoo Local. This is an extremely powerful thing to
do as it can give you instant search engine success for local searches.

Dmoz
is a search engine built by people not spiders. It’s a very valuable
inbound link to have so it’s worth visiting and following the
instructions to get your website listed on there, it’s a little bit
tricky to do but well worth the effort. Be sure to select the right
category for your business.

SEO requires oodles of patience and planning but is your best ally in
terms of maximising hits to your site. Have fun, experiment and one
day, if you keep at it, you will realise you’ve risen to the top of the
pile!

By Roberta Beattie
Click Creations

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