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Secrets to Search Engine Optimization

 

Actually, there aren't any real secrets.  

Essentially, there are a lot of basic business principles at work here.  To make sales, you need customers.  To get customers, you have to get the word out.  To get the word out, you have a number of options:

1.  Search Engines

Probably the best long run solution - since if you can get to the top, search engines are "free" -- I put that in quotes, because there is a lot of time and effort involved in getting to the top.  Namely, creating a well designed site.  Managing a diligent optimization strategy.  Building relevant, appropriate  content.

A subset of search engines is PPC and guaranteed inclusion - getting your ad to appear on search engines (or in the case of AdWords - and others - having it appear on relevant web sites).

 

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One of the things that I like about search engines is that there is actually a very logical rationale for determining whose site gets higher (although we pull our hair out trying to "beat" it).  If you have been surfing the web for as many years as I have, you will remember how bad search engine results used to be.  Over the past 7 or so years, they have gotten much better.  When I go to a search engine and type in a phrase, I typically get a fairly good result now (in terms of being presented qualified sites to visit).  This is because search engines are doing their best to find sites that are important.  They are figuring out what the tricks are, and around each corner, they are reducing the effectiveness of any trickery.  They want relevant content (and there are ways to make sure your content is presented in the best possible light for the engines).

2.  Link Building

Popularity is good for a number of reasons.  First, the engines can look at popularity and say, "This well respected site recommends this other site for a particular keyphrase - so it must be good."

 
 

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The second reason (and the logic behind the first) is that if a well respected site links you your site, then it really might be a good site.  Think of it from a consumer (surfing) point of view.  If you are on a web site that you think is valuable, and there is a link to another site, you give credibility to that link because of its association with the linker.  Engine logic follows the same course.

Now, when you go to a site that has hundreds of disparate, disjointed links, you don't give those links as much credibility, do you?  Well, neither to the engines.

There are tools out there to find out who links to your competitor (or other sites in your general field) and sometimes you have to do the legwork of contacting them for a link.

Or, post to bulletin boards, blogs, and other resources out there that are discussing principles within your market category.  That will build a link to your site, and might draw real customers.

3.  Paid Advertisements.

There are a number of ways to pay money to get the word out -- it all depends on your budget.  Banner Ads, Print Advertisement, Sponsor a booth at a convention, etc.

Again, good old-fashioned business legwork.

Finally

I am glad there are no easy solutions or else everyone would be using them (and thus, they wouldn't work as well).  This takes hard work.

Allow me to show you a problem with easy solutions.  Have you looked at domain names lately?  It used to be that you could probably put your business name in a domain name without too much problems (and having to resort to dashes and abbreviations).  Because purchasing domain names is so easy, that is no longer the case.  Essentially, the ease, has made it more difficult on people trying to get on the Internet now.

Imagine if you found out that there was a bona fide secret to getting to the top of search engines (other than relevant content, inbound links and advertising).  I suspect that (as a consumer) you would lose faith in the search engines.  If you found out that by purchasing a $500 product, you would skyrocket to the top - it might make you happy as a business person, but as a consumer, it would be a little disconcerting.

Imagine if the world found out that Google was letting people get to the top by paying for their results (and not in a designated advertising area like AdWords).  The backlash would be strong and quick.  The bottom line is that the search engines cannot afford to have people lose faith in them, and if they don't provide relevant content, they know you will look somewhere else.  And that is why, as they say, "Relevant Content is King"

So, no secrets, just a lot of hard work and follow basic business principles.  Get a good product and market it.

And, just to follow up, in the course of my daily reading, I found the section below at an "expert" site (I put it in quotes, because I really don't want to explicitly vouch for their expertise - but they are certainly an industry source).

The quote was actually from an article on whether cloaking was good or bad (the answer is "Good until you get caught" - which sounds like a lot of crime).

Quote
What do search engines want from you?

Search engines want to return high quality websites to their searchers. That means that you must make sure that your website is such a high quality site. There are three main factors that make a website a high quality website:

    1.  Your website should have a lot of content. If your website consists of one or two pages or just a few pictures then it will be very difficult to get high search engine rankings. Search engines also aren't interested in the 825th eBay affiliate page. It's important that your web page has great content. If that content can only be found on your website then that is even better.

    2.  You must make sure that search engines can parse your web pages. Make sure that your HTML code is clean and that search engines can easily find out what your web pages are about. Cluttered HTML code and web pages that have been 'optimized' for dozens of keywords often prevent high rankings. Focus on one or two keywords per web page. It's better that a web page is highly relevant to one or two keywords than somewhat relevant to a lot of keywords.

    3. Your website must have good incoming links. Links from centralized link farms and link exchange systems don't work. You should make sure that the web sites that link to you are at least loosely related to your web site. The more related websites link to your site, the better.
 

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All of this requires work and efforts on your part. Your web site is an important part of your business that requires the same attention as other parts of your business. The sooner you treat search engine optimization as an important investment for your web site success the sooner you'll get great results.

original text of quote

Note: I originally posted this in a forum - but it is all original.

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