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Optimize Your Website…and They Will Come

What’s the big deal about search engine optimization? Isn’t it enough that you’ve put up a website, purchased some Google AdWords, and sent out an email to everyone you know announcing your site? In short, no. There is an art and science to search engine optimization (SEO), and it is critical for web-based businesses to know, understand and utilize if they want to drive quality traffic to their website via the Internet.

Where do you begin, though? How can you possibly know whom to trust or what to do first with so much information out there on SEO? Do you buy links or not? Pay per clíck or go organic? And what about those SEO companies who are aggressively promising Number 1 rankings? When it comes to search engine ranking, there are a lot of rumors and myths about what will improve your rankings and what won’t.

Debunking Some Popular Search Engine Ranking Myths

– Pay per clíck (PPC) ads will either help or hurt organic rankings. (Organic simply means the process by which web users find websites having unpaid search engine listings.)

Debunked: PPC is categorized differently than organic listings. There is no effect, one way or the other, on ranking.

– Websites are banned if they ignore Google guidelines.

Debunked: While it’s a good idea to read Google Webmaster Guidelines or Google 101: How Google Crawls, Indexes and Serves the Web, you are not banned if you ignore their guidelines.

– Websites are banned if they buy links.

Debunked: Sites are not banned. The links just aren’t counted.

– Copy must be a certain number of words, use a specific keyword density, and contain bold or italicized keywords.

Debunked: It used to be thought that there was a magic number of words used or certain times a keyword or keyword phrase should be repeated. Not so. Same with bolding and italicizing. They don’t do anything for ranking.

– Duplicate content will get your website penalized.

Debunked: It will just get filtered out and not counted.

– Reciprocal links won’t count.

Debunked: Every link counts, to a certain extent.

– SEO companies can improve your rankings without doing any on-page work.

Debunked: Run if an SEO company tells you this.

According to SEO expert Jill Whalen, SEO isn’t magic and isn’t a crap-shoot. “SEO is about making your website the best it can be for your site visitors and the search engines.” Want to help the right kind of people find your website? Then you need to design your site so search engines can find, crawl and index your pages.

Seven Ways to Get Your Website Crawled

It’s better to have one main website with numerous domains pointing to the main domain, than to have mini-sites or multiple sites with similar content. Mini-sites and multiple sites with similar content do not increase search engine listings and are frequently viewed by search engines as SPAM.

If you do have several stand-alone websites, make sure each serves a different target audience and has unique content with different domain or sub-domain URLs.

Search engines need to be able to follow internal links. To make that happen, use tags, text links, image links, and CSS menus. Spiders have difficulty with JavaScript menus, pop-up windows, drop-down menus, and flash navigation.

Choose keyword phrases that are most relevant and specific to what your web page is about. Think from the perspective of someone searching for what you are offering on your site. Ask, as if you were they: What would I search for if I am looking for something on your page?

Validate your keyword phrases through either paid or free services, such as Keyword Discovery, Wordtracker, or Google AdWords.

Check for keyword competitiveness. Take into consideration the size of your business. In this case, size does matter. If you are a major player with a major brand, you can play in a larger competitive pond than a smaller company just starting out. Know what size pond is right for you, and check for competitiveness by putting: allintitle: “keyword phrase” in your browser and check the number count.

Once you have your keyword phrases validated and checked for competitiveness, use them in anchor texts, clickable image alt tags, headlines, body text copy, title tags, and meta descriptions. Meta tags aren’t all that important for crawling.
SEO can be both intimidating and exhilarating. Intimidating because it seems as if just about everyone has an opinion on what it takes to get a high ranking in Google, so it’s hard to know what to believe. Exhilarating because, once you understand the method behind the madness of SEO, you see the art and science of it. Then it becomes fun and easy to come up with a strategic plan about where to place keyword phrases, how to write copy, and what size pond is best for your company to compete in. Optimize your website, and they will come.

About The Author
Dr. Susan L. Reid is a business coach and consultant for entrepreneurial women starting up businesses. She is the Award-winníng author of Discovering Your Inner Samurai: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Journey to Business Success. Susan provides intuitive small business solutions, powerful attraction marketing tools, inspiration, and direction. Visit SuccessfulSmallBizOwners.com and download your copy of her latest free business success article.