Optimize Your Website

I like to compare the internet with the Yellow Pages – hundreds of pages with thousands of listings. Now think about the Yellow Pages without alphabetization or page numbers, or an index! Hold that thought and consider the internet. Over ONE HUNDRED MILLION WEBSITES AND BLOGS, all thrown up randomly, not put in any type of order, or given any kind of numbering system.

So how the heck will anyone ever find my website without knowing my site’s exact URL?

That little word “index” above is the key.

Imagine you are in a strange town, and you are craving plain chocolate. You run into an enormous supermarket but there’s nobody to help, and nothing in the store is in any logical order. Where do you look? There is only one thing you can do; run up and down every aisle until you find something that looks like a bar of chocolate!

You find the candy section – you’re close! There’s the chocolate, but where’s the plain chocolate? You find the plain chocolate but you want nuts in it! You’re down to a choice of three, but you prefer Mrs. Smith’s brand of plain chocolate with nuts in it, and only in the 8 ounce size!

This is exactly what a search engine spider (or bot) has to deal with when it goes out onto the internet to look for the words you place into a search engine. The query string.

Chocolate – Plain – Nuts – 8oz.  By a process of elimination the spider will find what you’re asking for and return suggestions with as many matches as it can. Good spider!

Now, if you have a web page that’s all about 8 ounce bars of plain chocolate with nuts, how are you going to attract the spider’s attention?

KEYWORDS

To get your chocolate-themed website on which you promote Mrs. Smiths brand found by a hungry spider, you must include those keywords pointed out above.

Easy you say.  I will make one webpage about chocolate and I will repeat the word chocolate 50 times.  That will attract the spiders! Wrong. These little spiders are clever.  They are trained to sniff out only the best chocolate sites, with optimal amounts of keywords, placed in all the right places: your header, metatags, the beginning of your first paragraph, once in every other paragraph, but only up to three or four, and then in the link at the foot of your page that takes a visitor back to your home page. They also love pictures of chocolate that are labeled chocolate, but not too many.  You have to be very careful with these spiders; they are trained to use algorithms – logical sequences of steps for solving a problem, just like a flow chart, and they will not break the rules. They’re clever little devils.

LONG-TAIL KEYWORDS

If a human puts the phrase “Mrs. Smith’s 8oz plain chocolate bar with nuts” into a search engine, that phrase is considered a “long tail keyword”. If that same human simply enters the word “chocolate”, how many results do you think will be returned?  Yes, millions.  How many results were returned with the first phrase?  Correct, not nearly as many.  The spiders did a lot less running around to find it, and BOOM, there’s your website, right on page one of the results. They found your long tail keyword.

CONTENT

While the spiders are enjoying your chocolate, they love something good to read while they’re there. They will enjoy reading interesting information about how chocolate is made, how many people work for Mrs. Smith’s chocolate factory, and where it is located. If tomorrow, you add a further interesting page about how plain chocolate is manufactured differently than milk chocolate, they will come running back, just like the human who will bookmark your site, because she too searched for this information.

Two days later you add a page about where the almonds are grown that are added to Mrs. Smith’s chocolate. The spiders will smile and say “look at all these humans who keep coming back to this site! It must be very popular; we’re going to move this site up in our ranking because we like what’s going on in here.”

BACKLINKS

A few days later, a page is added about a different kind of chocolate. White chocolate – and the spiders come back to find that a site about gourmet gifts has a link to your site. “Wow” say the spiders, “it’s not just us, lots of humans like this site too and the link is on the same subject – gourmet chocolate. Let’s move this site up again.”

This whole scenario is a very simplistic way of explaining Search Engine Optimization obviously, but the three main points above are the most important.  When you are building a website these points must be an integral part of the process of building your site, it is a big chore to change everything once your site is built.

NAME THAT SITE

Choose a domain name that includes an important keyword to your site. If Mrs. Smith’s chocolate factory doesn’t have a website, it probably would be a copyright infringement if you use “MrsSmithsChocolateFactory.com”. The extension .com, should be the one to aim for, as most people think of that extension first. The extension .org was meant to be reserved for charities and the like, but that classification is very blurred now. I would avoid it. There are many more extensions being thought up, because of the amount of websites coming along every minute of the day. Take your time and choose the right one and make it as short and easy to spell as possible. If you can’t get a .com extension, I like the .us extension, because you can play around with phrases, like GetYourChocolateFrom.us, its fun and costs less than $5 to register.

Here are a few things you should NOT do:

  • “Spam” a keyword – use a keyword too often on a webpage
  • Write or purchase poor quality content. The spiders don’t like it and neither do humans.
  • Buy or place irrelevant backlinks on your site. The spiders know all about “link farms” and they can understand why a link to a site about vacations in North Korea is totally irrelevant on a site about chocolate.
  • Don’t even consider paying for advertising until your website is getting high in the rankings, it can be too expensive. Concentrate on attracting “organic” traffic first.

Always spend a good amount of time researching your keywords, and especially long tail keywords; these are the ones that pay off. There are many free tools on the web to do this, Google provides one for free.

Do not include any advertising on your site until you know that it has been indexed, at least by Bing and Google. The spiders want content before commercials. If they see your site is one big billboard they will go away and not come back.

Always make your content interesting and relevant, and keep it coming! Make full use of the thesaurus in your Word program, it also provides synonyms so you don’t repeat the same words all the time.

Don’t cut and paste information and content from other websites, if you have to, change it around first and run it through Copyscape until it becomes unique.

Keep your website simple and navigable. Spiders get confused by JavaScript and fancy graphics; although I can see the algorithms change to include JavaScript soon, as it is so popular.

Always get as many backlinks as you can. Don’t know where to get them? Spy on your competitors and see where they got theirs. Everyone does it, don’t feel bad. You can do this simply by installing the Alexa toolbar for free.

And with the free Alexa toolbar you can watch your website climbing up the rankings!

Gabriele Cramer-Knebel
Internet Marketing Training

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