SEO ARTICLES - CHECKLIST ETC
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    SEO ARTICLES - CHECKLIST ETC SEO ARTICLES - CHECKLIST ETC Document Transcript

    • The Essential 2007 Code Optimization Tutorial for SEOBy James Kinsley (c) 2007Do you want to get the traffic you deserve flooding into yourwebsite? Code optimization is an essential component of thesearch engine optimization process and if you arent technicallyminded then it can be difficult to get your head round. Thisguide is meant for beginners and more advanced webmasters alike.A shallow knowledge of HTML coding is useful, however, it is notnecessary. Optimizing your code can be done by simply openingyour html document in a text editor and changing different partsas shown below. Follow these steps carefully and your code willbecome 100% search engine optimized and ready for promotion andlink-building campaigns.The steps below assume you have chosen the keywords which youwant to optimize the page code for. If you have not done that,go and do that now and return to this guide later.HTML Code OptimizationThe optimization of your HTML code for search engines is vital.It is the base of your SEO campaign. It must be optimized in anumber of ways in order to improve the relevance of a chosenkeyword. Follow the advice below as closely as possible. Thecloser the better and the higher your rank will be.Remember: Keywords are the words people will use in searchengines. Including a keyword in your site content (andoptimizing your site) will cause your site to be returned asa search result. You can choose to optimize your page for akeyword or a keyphrase (a number of related words, eg: free redhats). Using a keyphrase is more advantageous (as discussedlater) but for simplicity, I will refer to keywords ANDkeyphrases as just keywords.TIP: Try to optimize each page for just one keyword. Thiswill stop each keyword competing against each other forweightings and you will rank higher for the chosen keyword.The TITLE TagLocation: just below the <head> tag<title>Web Promotion, Affiliate Marketing, SEO forexample1. The title tag should not contain any of the words Googledisregards. These are words like and, not, a, the,about etc which are too common for Google to take any noticeof. Using these words will dilute the importance that yourkeyword is given in your title (if you put it in your title).These words are known as stop words.
    • 2. Include your keyword in the title of your page. Includingother words in your title that are not your chosen keyword/swill be detrimental to your ranking. This is because it makesyour keyword seem less relevant to the title of the page. Thisrelevance is known as weight. The more weight your keyword hasin a certain criteria the better.3. Dont include the name of your website in the title ofyour page: for example Share The Wealth – affiliate marketing.This is because it will dilute the prominence of your keyword(in this example affiliate marketing). It is tempting toinclude your sites name as it may look better, however it isnot that important as people dont pay much attention to thetitle.The Meta tagsLocation: just below the title tag.Meta data appears as follows:<meta name="Description" content="Free articles and guideson affiliate marketing and SEO"><meta name="Keywords" content="Affiliate Marketing,SEO">1. This is where you specify your keywords:<meta name="Keywords" content="keyword1, keyword2, keyword3">Also, weight is given to how near your keyword is to thebeginning of your keywords list. So you should try to haveyour most important keyword in the place of keyword1 in theabove example.<meta name="Description" content="Free articles and guides onaffiliate marketing and SEO">1. The above line is where the description, shown in googleresults, is written. It goes after content=". Do not worry aboutkeyword weighting in here as search engines do not take this intoconsideration anymore.The BODY of your HTMLOnce you have written the content of your page, you can beginSEO on it. Complete the page ready for publishing and then applythe following rules to it to ensure its optimized 100% for thetop search engines.1. Your keyword should appear in bold at least once on yourpage. This will show the search engines that the word, yourkeyword, is important to the subject of your page and so mustbe relevant to the keyword search performed by the searchengine user.2. Your keyword should have a weight of 2% on your page. This is
    • the ideal percentage as if it is too high a search engine maypenalize your page for spamming. Spamming is a term used todescribe the action of webmasters that trick search engine pageranking systems (SEPRS) into thinking they are relevant in orderto get a high ranking. These pages will not usually be relevantat all and simply "cash in" selling advertising space with thehigh traffic they receive. Spamming is increasingly becoming athing of the past as the search engine page ranking algorithmsbecome more sophisticated. To work out the percentage weightyour keyword has, visit www.live-keyword-analysis.com .3. Use heading tags ( <h1>heading</h1> etc) and put your keywordinto the heading. Again the usual weighting rules exist. Haveyour keyword as close to the beginning of the heading and haveas few other words in the heading as possible. Position thisheading as close to the top of your page as you can for increasedrelevance.4. Put your keyword in up to three of the alt attributes forimages and include it in one of the first three alt imageattributes in your code. Alt image attributes are the alt tagsgiven to images in your code which can be seen if the imagefails to load. These are great for hosting your keyword as userscannot usually see them. Dont spam though, stick to three alttags. Alt tags are used as follows:<img src="imagename.gif" alt="alt-text-here" width="image-width"height="image-height">5. Keep your page content between 100 and 1400 words. This isfor a number of reasons, including the size of Googles pagecache (amount of data from a page Google stores). If you havetoo much content, you could try splitting the page into twoseparate pages and perhaps having a page 2 link at the bottomof the content.6. Your keyword should appear at the beginning of your contentand at the end (The first and last 50 words)Code Optimization Checklist * No stop words in your title tag * Keyword included in title * Website name not included in title * Keyword in meta keywords list * Keyword placed as close to the beginning of the meta keywords list as possible * Keyword appears in bold at least once in the content * Keyword has a 2% weight
    • * Keyword is in the first heading tag and is at the top of the page content * Keyword is in the first 50 words and last 50 words of the page * Page content is between 100 and 1400 words * Keyword is in one of the first three alt image attributes and is in three of them in totalTips and Advice • Try to optimize each page for just one keyword. This will stop each keyword competing against each other for weightings and prominence and you will rank higher for the chosen keyword. • Not every page of your site will be able to be optimized for every criterion. Dont worry; just try to hit each criteria as best you can. Sometimes you wont be able to achieve a content size of above 100 words: on a contacts page for example. Issues like this are of little importance as not every page will have a particular need for perfect optimization, because surfers will find contact information from a link shown on the home page. • Constantly check your competition. You may not feel it is possible to get onto the first page on Google for a certain keyword/phrase. Choose a less contested keyword.================================================================Page RankThe search engine world never rests. As online marketingprofessionals discover new ways to obtain top rankings thealgorithms evolve right along side. There are two primaryreasons behind the updating of ranking algorithms. To increasethe quality and relevancy of the results, and to decrease themany pages of online spam.As the algorithms are updated, new ways to affect the resultsare discovered, and the algorithm must then be again adjusted.This is a cycle that has been around since the early days ofsearch, and one that wont be going away any time soon. A lothas changed over the years, and the future is sure to alsodeliver its plethora of surprises, but there are three mainfactors that will always have some level of impact on yoursearch results.SEO, Content and LinksSome people say that the world of search engine optimization isover and that the entire basis behind successful rankings lies
    • in the power of incoming links. While incoming links do play asignificant role, and in most cases are a necessity, they arefar from the only determining factor.There are many determining factors behind what will affect theranking of a site. The three largest contributing factors areSEO, links, and site content. To compete in highly competitiveindustries a site needs numerous on-topic pages of content,relevant incoming links from a variety of sources, and, solidsite optimization. While search is always changing, these threefactors will remain constant. Each may change in the level ofimpact they have, but they will always contribute to the toplistings.Site content and SEO go hand in hand. Content is very important,but without the SEO to add focus, it can go unnoticed. Properkeyword densities, link paths and keyword placement will alwaysplay a role in having the content discovered and ranked by thesearch engines. If the fundamental SEO aspects are not in place,there is a strong chance that the content may never see thelight of day. Incoming links add focus and relevance for thesite overall, but if the content is not relevant to the desiredphrases the odds of obtaining a top ranking are very bleak.Links play, and will continue to play a strong role in thefuture of search rankings as they add that important vote ofconfidence. When site A links to site B, that tells the searchengines site B is worth considering. Value is passed, based onrelevance and the overall authority of site A.As more and more webmasters develop new linking schemes, thealgorithms responsible for displaying top sites have tocontinually evolve to weed out the ever increasing amounts ofspam. While Googles current algorithm relies heavily onincoming links, especially for sites in highly competitivemarkets, this algorithm will have to change and mutate over timeas the internet continues to evolve. If rankings were determined100% by inbound links where would this leave us? Thousands, ifnot millions, of valuable websites would go completely unnoticed.We would also see many sites ranking that are not relevant tothe actual search term due to issues related to Google bombing.Political opinions aside, the single word "failure" does notaccurately represent the George Bush bio page; however, itcontinues to rank #1 in Google. This was made possible by theanchor text used in links posted by thousands of bloggers andwebmasters. If links were solely responsible for rankings, wewould see a lot more examples of Google Bombing as the actualnumber of links required to bomb would decline.Where is Search Going?For us to know the exact future of search we will have to waitand see what happens, but some things are certain to grow inpopularity.
    • The future will undoubtedly see more advances in localizedsearch, serving results relevant to the locality of thesearcher. Is this the best way? Only time will tell, but even ifthis is the future, we will still see SEO, links & contentdictating the results. The SEO and content will have to be inpart geared towards local information such as zip codes, citynames, etc, but they still will be important contributors.Links will undoubtedly contribute to rankings long into thefuture, but quite possibly will have a reduced role with moreSEO fundamentals making a comeback. One example is to take alook at MSN Live Search. As reported by Ross Dunn in the SEOBLOG (http://news.stepforth.com/blog/2006/11/msn-algorithm-update-nov-3rd-2006.php) just this past weekendan algorithm update has shown increased value on fundamentalssuch as title tags and domain names. These two areas were oncean incredibly powerful tool in obtaining rankings, and hadreduced in value. Now, at least in MSN, they are gaining groundonce again.Still in its infant stages, Mobile Search is growing as more andmore people turn to their cell phones and other mobile devicesfor search. Mobile search will likely have the most benefit forlocalized type searching. People looking for an address, weatherreport, local business, entertainment information, etc. As timegoes on the number of users using Mobile Search will continue togrow, and optimized sites will be the ones found by thesesearchers. A whole new level of optimizing mobile websites willlikely emerge.In 10 years time search will certainly look very different.While it has become a staple in the lives of millions, in thebig scheme of things the internet is still very young and searcheven younger.Why SEO will always be importantSEO will always play an important role in having sites found inthe search engines. Regardless of how search algorithms evolvethey will always require a level of on site content in order tocorrectly rank websites. As long as this content is considered,proper keyword placement and frequencies will play a role.SEO in itself will continue to change. The proper frequencies ofkeyword placement, linking techniques and URL structure mayalter, but will always have an impact.As we move into the future and as the search engine algorithmscontinue to evolve SEO will always play an important role inhaving your websites obtain top rankings. While the small thingswill always change it is important to have the basicfundamentals in place and doing so will help sustain consistentrankings into the future.============================================================
    • ====SEO CHECKLISTWhen it comes to SEO not all of us have the time to be experts.At some point the real "gurus" of SEO and other topics are thepeople with a whole lot of time on their hands. This list, puttogether with the everyday webmaster in mind, drives home someabsolutely crucial points that you should keep in mind whenoptimizing your pages for valuable search rankings.1. Check Search Engine Crawl Error PagesIts important to monitor search engine crawl error reports tokeep on top of how your site and its pages are performing.Monitoring error reports can help you determine when and whereGooglebot or another crawler is having trouble indexing yourcontent - which can help you find a solution to the problem.2. Create/update robots.txt and sitemap filesThese files are supported by major search engines and areincredibly useful tools for ensuring that crawlers index yourimportant site content while avoiding those sections/files thatyou deem to be either unimportant or cause problems in the crawlprocess. In many cases weve seen the proper use of these filesmake all the difference between a total crawl failure for a siteand a full index of content pages which makes them crucial froman SEO standpoint.3. Check Googlebot activity reportsThese reports allow you to monitor how long its takingGooglebot to access your pages. This information can be veryimportant if you are worried that you may be on a slow networkor experiencing web server problems. If it is taking searchengine crawlers a long time to index your pages it may be thecase that there are times when they "time out" and stoptrying. Additionally, if the crawlers are unable to call yourpages up quickly there is a good chance users are experiencingthe same lag in load times, and we all know how impatientinternet users can be.4. Check how your site looks to browsers without image andJavaScript supportOne of the best ways to determine just what your site looks liketo a search engine crawler is to view your pages in a browserwith image and JavaScript support disabled. Mozillas Firefoxbrowser has a plug-in available called the "Web DeveloperToolbar" that adds this functionality and a lot more to thepopular standards-compliant browser. If after turning off imageand JavaScript support you arent able to make sense of yourpages at all, it is a good sign that your site is notwell-optimized for search. While images and JavaScript can add a
    • lot to the user experience they should always be viewed as a"luxury" - or simply an improvement upon an already-solidtextual content base.5. Ensure that all navigation is in HTML, not imagesOne of the most common mistakes in web design is to use imagesfor site navigation. While for some companies and webmasters SEOis not a concern and therefore they can get away with this, foranyone worried about having well-optimized pages this should bethe first thing to go. Not only will it render your sitenavigation basically valueless for search engine crawlers, butwithin reason very similar effects can usually be achieved withCSS roll-overs that maintain the aesthetic impact while stillproviding valuable and relevant link text to search engines.6. Check that all images include ALT textFailing to include descriptive ALT text with images is to missout on another place to optimize your pages. Not only is thisimportant for accessibility for vision-impaired users, butsearch engines simply cant "take a look" at your images anddecipher the content there. They can only see your ALT text, ifyouve provided it, and the association theyll make with theimage and your relevant content will be based exclusively onthis attribute.7. Use Flash content sparinglySeveral years ago Flash hit the scene and spread like wild fire.It was neat looking, quick to download and brought interactivityand animation on the web to a new height. However, from an SEOstandpoint, Flash files might as well be spacer GIFs - theyreempty. Search engines are not able to index text/content withina Flash file. For this reason, while Flash can do a lot forpresentation, from an accessibility and SEO standpoint it shouldbe used very sparingly and only on non-crucial content.8. Ensure that each page has a unique <title> and metadescription tagOptimization of <title> tags is one of the most importanton-page SEO points. Many webmasters are apparently unaware anduse either duplicate <title> tags for multiple pages or do nottarget search traffic at all within this valuable tag. Run asearch on a competitive keyword of your choice on Google - clickon the first few links that show up and see what text appears inthe title bar for the window. You should see right away thatthis is a key place to include target keywords for your pages.9. Make sure that important page elements are HTMLThe simple fact to keep in mind when optimizing a page is thatthe crawlers are basically only looking at your source code.Anything youve put together in a Flash movie, an image or any
    • other multimedia component is likely to be invisible to searchengines. With that in mind it should be clear that the mostimportant elements of your page, where the heart of your contentwill lie, should be presented in clean, standards-compliant andoptimized HTML source code.10. Be sure to target keywords in your page contentSome webmasters publish their pages in hopes that they will rankwell for competitive keywords within their topic or niche.However, this will simply never happen unless you include yourtarget keywords in the page content. This means creatingwell-optimized content that mentions these keywords frequentlywithout triggering spam filters. Any way you cut it youregoing to need to do some writing - if you dont like doing ityourself its a good idea to hire a professional copy writer.Simply put: without relevant content that mentions your targetkeywords you will not rank well.11. Dont use framesThere is still some debate as to whether frames are absolutelyhorrible for SEO or whether they are simply just not the bestchoice. Is there really a difference? Either way, you probablydont want to use frames. Crawlers can have trouble gettingthrough to your content and effectively indexing individualpages, for one thing. For another, most functionality that theuse of frames allows is easily duplicated using proper CSScoding. There is still some use for a frames-based layout, butit is still better to avoid it if at all possible.12. Make sure that your server is returning a 404 error code forunfound pagesWeve all seen it. Were browsing around at a new or familiarsite, clicking links and reading content, when we get theinfamous blank screen that reads "404 page not found" error.While broken links that point to these pages should definitelybe avoided you also dont want to create a "custom errorpage" to replace this page. Why? Well, its simple: if yougenerate a custom error page, crawlers can spend time followingbroken links that they wont know are broken. A 404 error pageis easily recognizable, and search engine crawlers areprogrammed to stop following links that generate this page. Ifcrawlers end up in a section of your site that is down throughan old link that you missed, they might not spend the time toindex the rest of your site.13. Ensure that crawlers will not fall into infinite loopsMany webmasters see fit to include scripting languages, such asPERL, PHP and ASP to add interactive functionality to their webpages. Whether for a calendar system, a forum, eCommercefunctionality for an online store, etc. scripting is used quitefrequently on the internet. However, what some webmasters dont
    • realize is that unless they use robots.txt files or take otherpreventative measures search engine crawlers can fall into whatare called "infinite loops" in their pages. Imagine, if youwill, a script that allows a webmaster to add a calendar to oneof his pages. Now, any programmer worth his salt would base thisscript on calculations - it would auto-generate each page basedon the previous month and a formula to determine how the daysand dates would fall. That script, depending on sophistication,could plausibly extend infinitely into the past or future. Nowthink of the way a crawler works - it follows links, indexeswhat it finds, and follows more links. Whats to stop a crawlerfrom clicking "next month" in a calendar script an infinitenumber of times? Nothing - well, almost nothing. Crawlers arewell-built programs that need to run efficiently. As such theyare built to recognize when theyve run into an "infiniteloop" situation like this, and they will simply stop indexingpages at a site that is flagged for this error.================================================================Writing Effective Meta Tags for Search Engine Optimizationby Donald Nelson ©Copyright 2002-2003As with many other things which are unseen, there is a lot ofunnecessary mystery surrounding the use of meta-tags on webpages. The meta tags are information slots in the "head" portionof a web page.Though there are several possible meta tags that may beincluded in the head of a web page, the ones which are mostimportant for search engine optimization are the Title Tag,the Description tag and the Keywords tag.TITLE TAGThe title tag is really one of the most important single thingsyou can work on for improving your website’s search engineresults. Go to Google and make a search for any particularkeyword. If you look at the top ten entries in that search youwill see that all of them have this key word in the title,sometimes more than once. So when writing your title tag, it ishelpful to have your keywords included in the title tag, and notonly in the tag, near the beginning of the title.Suppose that your company is the Acme Manufacturing Companyand you are selling electric widgets and you are located inCalifornia. What should your title tag be? Most people wouldopt for the name of their company as the first word of thetitle. It makes sense, in that it looks good in the bluestrip at the top of the browser, but it doesn’t necessarilyhelp you to get a good ranking in search results for yourkeywords "electric widgets, California".The first few words of your title tag are very important.
    • People may not be searching for Acme Manufacturing, unlessit is a very important brand, but they are searching forelectric widgets, and they may not want to purchase it fromsomeone in New York, especially if it is not a mail-ordertype item.In addition, if there are tons of widget companies, it willbe difficult to get to the top of the heap in a search simplyfor the term "widgets". But if it is "widgets, California",then you will have a good chance of getting a high ranking ifyou put the keyword California prominently in the title. So,if you are in a very competitive category and your customersdon’t already know about you, then you might consider a titletag like this "Electric widgets from Acme Manufacturing ofCalifornia" or even better "Electric Widgets in Californiaproduced by Acme Manufacturing."Some guidelines for the title tag suggest that this tag belimited to 70-80 characters including spaces. (I confess tohave used more on several occasions.)META DESCRIPTION TAGThe next tag that has to be done is the Description tag.Many search engines use the description tag as a way to tellthe searchers what the page is about. On MSN, for example,the description of the site shown underneath the title is thedescription that has been placed in the description tag.The description tag is thus important in two respects: thesearch engine robot searches it for keywords to "get an idea"of what the page is about, and this tag will be seen by thesurfers as they scroll down through the search results. If itis an interesting and well-written description then they mayclick through to visit the site. So this tag should be wellwritten but also contain the important keywords that you wishto highlight.Going back to our example of Acme Manufacturing. We couldmake a description tag that reads as follows: "AcmeManufacturing is the largest producer of electric widgets inCalifornia, providing round the clock service and warrantieson all products." This description contains the keywordsagain and also says something about the company.Some guidelines for description length recommend a maximumlength of 250 characters. Once again there is no precisionabout this, but it is good to be cautious until you arealready entered into a search engine’s index.META KEYWORDS TAGThe last of the important meta tags relevant to search engineoptimization is the keywords tag. In this tag you have a chanceto list your important keywords, but this time they do not have
    • to be in a coherent phrase as in the Title and Description. Putyour important keywords near the beginning. Make sure that allthe keywords used in the title and the description tags are againlisted. On top of that, add prominent keywords, especially thosethat appear in the actual text of the page you are optimizing.For the Acme Manufacturing company we could have these keywords:"widgets, widget, electric widgets, California, widgets inCalifornia, Acme Manufacturing, service, warrantee, warranties"Many pundits advise against excessive repetition of any singlekeyword even if they appear in different phrases separated bycommas. Once again the guidelines vary and are not precise butit would be better to be conservative at first. How big shouldthe keywords section be? 800-1000 characters is the estimateprovided by some search engines and commentators alike.The thing to remember about meta tags is that they are just onepart of search engine optimization. If your text is keyword richand your page structure allows the search engines to get to thistext easily and if, on top of this, you have crafted your metatags well, then you have an excellent chance of getting thesearch engine positioning results that you are aiming for.================================================================GaryTheScubaGuys SEO ChecklistIve been trying to come up with a sort of SEO Checklist for our n008ies here at Stickyeyes to useand have come up with this list so far.I know Im missing several things. How about a little help here in identifying some other keyelements. Big or small, doesnt matter.Metatags and on-page optimisationAre the keywords in the title with a 1-word buffer (Max - 1 keyword phrase)Are Keywords in META keywords. It’s not necessary for Google, but a good habit. Keep the METAkeywords short (128 characters max, or 10).Are Keywords in META description. Keep keyword close to the left but in a full sentence.Are Keywords in the top portion of the page in first sentence of first full bodied paragraph (plaintext: no bold, no italic, no style).Are Keywords in an H2-H4 headingAre Keywords in bold – second paragraph if possible and anywhere but the first usage on page.Are Keywords in italic – anywhere but the first usage.Are Keywords in subscript/superscript.Are Keywords in URL (directory name, filename, or domain name). Do not duplicate the keywordin the URL.Are Keywords in an image filename used on the page.Are Keywords in ALT tag of that previous image mentioned.Are Keywords in the title attribute of that image.Are Keywords in link text to another site.Are Keywords in an internal link’s text.Are Keywords in title attribute of all links targeted in and out of page.
    • Are Keywords in the filename of your external CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) or JavaScript file.Are Keywords in an inbound link on site (preferably from your home page).Are Keywords in an inbound link from offsite (if possible).Are Keywords in a link to a site that has a PageRank of 8 or better (e.g. .gov or .eduAre Keywords in an html comment tag?TechnicalWhat is the code-to-text ratio? (text should be at minimum higher than the code)How many links are pointing to the full url (with http://)How many links are pointing to the domain?What is the Domain name visibility? A count of results at Google for a search for the domain,showing URL visibility rather than incoming link count.Number of internal pages that link to the home page?Number of Technorati links?Number of del.icio.us links?What is the page size?How long does it take to load the page?On each page, is the top keyword density on each page between 3-7%?Are their any redirects?Is the page W3C Compliant?Is their any duplicate content out on the web?Is the site in the top 10 directories?Is a spider seeing all of the site content?Other IssuesIs there at least 250 words in the content?Is the keyword density for each kw on each page between 3-7%?Javascript in external files?Alternative navigation on flash or frames?Xml and html sitemap?Are their any broken links?Is there a robots.txt file?Browser Compatibility (IE, Netscape, Opera, Firefox, Mosaic and Safari)LinkingGoogle backlinksMSN backlinksYahoo backlinksDMOZ listing?Does the site have outward rss feeds?Does the page have rss feeds for fresh on-page content?Does the site have an SEO optimised 404 page?PDF optimised docs in root file with a navigation page listing each doc description and link. Also aseparate xml sitemap for these and separate submission.302 redirects? (Change to 301 - Google will penalise you for these if you leave them up too long)In my list I have links to specific tools that will do many of these checks for you. If you areinterested in the excel spreadsheet with the links and an actual page report shoot me an pm or anemail and Ill trade you for a link somewhere.BTW, Im almost finished with the next Top 12 SEO Tips for 2007...Volume 2 (for those interested- I slacked off for awhile trying to find some really good stuff and I think it will be worth the wait)
    • ================================================================Optimizing Content for Googles Universal SearchBy Claudia Bruemmer (c) 2007By now, youve all heard about Googles new Universal Searchconcept, which combines all the information within its verticaldatabases into one index to serve a single set of Web searchresults. As you can imagine, this will require some adjustmentsto standard search engine optimization techniques. If you havebeen following the Bruce Clay methodology, then you shouldalready be on the right track to optimizing every aspect of yourWeb site that is under your control. With the arrival ofuniversal search, its not just a good idea; its anecessity.Google Vice President of Search Products and User ExperienceMarissa Mayer said the companys goal for universal search is tocreate "a seamless, integrated experience to get users the bestanswers." Mayer stated on the official Google blog that theuniversal search vision would be "one of the biggestarchitectural, ranking, and interface challenges" the searchengine would face.Mayer first suggested this concept to Google back in 2001. Sincethen, the company has been building the infrastructure,algorithms and presentation mechanisms needed to blend thedifferent content from Images, Video, News, Maps, Blogs et alinto its Web results. This is Googles first step towardremoving the partition that separates its numerous search silos,integrating these vast repositories of information into auniversal set of search results. The object is to make queriesmore relevant for users, but what are the ramifications forSEO?Google Relevancy ChallengeBased on industry research, Google has a relevancy problembecause the database is too vast. Back in 2005, Jupiter Researchtouched on this, stating it identified an opportunity forvertical search engines. The study inferred that general searchengines were good at classifying vast amounts of information,but not very good at serving results that helped users makedecisions.A year later, Outsell came out with "Vertical Search DeliversWhat Big Search Engines Miss," a study that also mentioned theopportunity for vertical search due to dissatisfaction withgeneral search engines. This report published the oft-quotedfact stating that the average Internet search failure rate is31.9 percent. The study identified two market trendscontributing to the growth of vertical search – failed generalsearches and rising keyword prices in paid search.
    • Another noteworthy study was conducted by Convera. Over 1,000online business users were asked about their search practices,successes, and failures. Only 21 percent of the respondentsthought that search queries on general search engines wereunderstood, a mere 10 percent found critical information on thefirst try in general search engines. This study concluded, "Todate, professionals have not been adequately served by consumersearch engines."The results of these studies show that Google and other generalsearch engines are challenged to produce relevant results,suggesting vertical and niche search engines could eliminatesuch problems because the niche databases contain topic-specificinformation, serving targeted, more relevant answers to userqueries.Googles Solution to RelevancySince Googles move toward universal search, one can only assumeit has considered the above problems and decided that pullingall its databases together, comparing and ranking themaccurately at warp speed, could be the solution to relevancy.Doing this requires new technical infrastructure, including newalgorithms, software and hardware, which Google has been workingon since 2001 and is now in the process of implementing.Universal search has implications for search marketers becauseit is a departure from the uniformity that characterized searchmarketing in the past, requiring adjustments in SEO methodology.Since the modifications will be implemented in steps, immediatechanges in the SERPS wont be obvious, and there is time todevelop new optimization strategies.Search PersonalizationIn addition to universal search, Google is also focusing onpersonalization in the SERPs. This means users will be seeingdifferent SERPS based on their previous queries, if signed intotheir Google accounts. Users may or may not notice many changesin the SERPs due to universal search and personalization,depending on their level of sophistication and/or powers ofobservation. However, marketers will be scrambling. Marketerswill need to get their clients listed into as many nichedatabases as possible to increase the breadth of coverage foruniversal search. Social media optimization techniques can beused to enhance both universal and personalized search results.Universal Search Optimization StrategiesThe focus on personalization and universal search requires moreemphasis on social media SEO strategies because of user interestin creating content and the vast amounts of new multimediacontent created daily on the Web. Marketers are beginning todrive traffic via social networking sites, and these efforts areknown to enhance search engine optimization campaigns.Strategies include creating multimedia content such as blogs,
    • videos and podcasts, and then getting them listed on socialsearch sites like Del.icio.us, Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon, aswell as niche search engines like Technorati, Podzinger andBlinx.When creating multimedia content, you must ensure that it istagged and cataloged correctly. Multimedia content is optimizedthrough established fundamental SEO techniques, such as creatingkeyword-rich, user-friendly content, unique Meta tags, good sitenavigation and structure, and implementing a successful linkingstrategy. Below are a few suggestions for creating andsubmitting multimedia content for several of Googles verticaldatabases to gain extended reach through universal search.Google Image Search: It has always been a good idea to useimages on your site for illustrating your products and services.Now, this becomes a way for your customers to find your site viaGoogle Image Search. Optimize your images with descriptive,keyword-rich file names and ALT tags. Use accurate descriptionsof your image files for the benefit of the vision impaired andothers who might need to view the site with text only.Google Video (beta): As with optimizing images, use descriptive,keyword-rich file names for your video files. Also create akeyword-rich title tag, description tag, and video site map.Create a Web page to launch your video, optimizing content forSEO and using anchor text wherever possible. Besides submittingto Google Video, also include Blinkx and other social networkingand search sites like YouTube and Podzinger (audio and videosearch engine).Google News: Heres where you can submit your press releases fordisplay as "news" and subsequent indexing. Issue pressreleases containing current information about new products andevents your site is involved with and Google News will likelypick it up.Google Maps: This is also known as Google Local, a vertical thathas been included in Google search results for a while. Giveyour site a local presence through the Google Maps LocalBusiness Center where local businesses can get a free basiclisting to extend their reach in the SERPs.Google Blog Search (beta): You all have a corporate blog, right?This is how modern companies communicate with their customersand stakeholders. Tag it (digg, del.icio.us, stumbleupon, etc.),submit to Google Blog search, and extend your reach for Websearches on Google.In closing, there are many ways social and multimedia contentcan enhance your SEO efforts. Experiment and learn how to usesocial media to extend your SEO rankings. As you become aware ofthe many niche databases for submitting multimedia content, thiscan go a long way toward gaining visibility through Googlespersonalized and universal search.
    • ================================================================Creating Widgets for Your Websites and BlogsBy Doran Roggio (c) 2007With a widget you can place the current information from yourblogs and or/websites on other webpages, and your personal pageson social networks like myspace, ning.com and your privateclubs. This is not only fun and informative, but an excellentpromotional tool.What is a widget? According to Wikipedia a "web widget isanything that can be embedded within a page of HTML, i.e. a webpage. A widget adds some content to that page that is notstatic. Generally widgets are third party originated... Widgetsare also known as modules, snippets, and plug-ins. Widgets canbe written in HTML, but also in JavaScript, flash and otherscripting languages...Applications can be integrated within a third party website bythe placement of a small snippet of code. This is becoming adistribution or marketing channel for many companies. The codebrings in live content - advertisements, links, images -from a third party site without the web site owner having toupdate."You have probably seen widgets on web sites you have visited.When clicked on the widget will take you to the source of theinformation. Although widgets have been around since the latenineties, they are becoming increasing more popular especiallywith the rise of social networking.I first started playing around with widgets as a way to promotemy own AC published content. While widgets are not thatdifficult, they can be a little tricky at first if unfamiliar toyou. It took me several tries to perfect my own widgets andplace them on my blog and social networking sites. They now workperfectly without any problems. As I add content to my AC pagefor example, the widget automatically updates to show the mostcurrent article titles.If you have not had the opportunity to work with widgets or haveattempted to do so without success, this article is for you. Withlittle effort you will be able to make the widgets and placethem on the web pages that you choose. Once mastered the widgetsare really cool and worth the effort.Making A WidgetAt widgetbox.com you can make a widget to place on your pages.You can customize the widget with size, details, title andcolors and even list it in their blidget directory which givesmore exposure to your blog and AC page (every little bit ofpromotion helps). You can make as many widgets as you want, I
    • have one for my blog at Women-sense.com and another for my ACcontent producer page so far.Go to widgetbox.com, on the left sidebar click on the buttonthat says Make a blidget. This will open up a box that asksfor the url where the information is being gathered. For my blogI just entered the blog url, (http://women-sense.com).Widgetbox.com automatically draws from the rss feed for thatURL. Dont ask me how, I have no idea but it works. For myAssociated Content I added the actual RSS link which I found byclicking on the RSS symbol and copying the url address from thebrowser address bar.Once you add the link to the blidget box it will open to a pagethat will give you customizing options. You will see your widgeton the right hand side with your information from the RSS feed.You can opt to list article titles or titles with articlesummaries. Different colors as well as sizing and/or images areother options available. Fool with the options until you get itthe way you want it to look.When you finish setting the options and you are happy with theway it looks, click on one of the article titles to assure it isworking correctly. When clicked it should click thru to the siteyour are promoting.Registering and Getting The CodeIf working correctly, the next step is to get the code. Now youwill need the code in order to place the widget on your myspacepage or other website of your choice.Before getting the code the next step in the creation of yourwidget offers you the chance to list your widget in the blidgetgallery. I opted for this and you will probably want to do so aswell. It can only add to your exposure. Add keyword tags andclick publish blidget.You will then be asked to register if you do not alreadyhave an account. Dont worry, the service is absolutely free.By registering you will be able to come back and make as manywidgets as you want and add them to your account for editing.Once you have registered you will now be taken to a another pagewith several options. Near the top you will see the title of thewidget (example: AC Media) on the far right of the title clickthe green button that says get widget.Placing The Widget On WebsitesA drop down list opens up for you to choose where to place thewidget. You will see there are many choices. If you are placingyour widget on myspace, for example, choose that selection. Youwill be asked for your myspace email and password, along withwhat section you want the widget to be placed. Widgetbox.com
    • will automatically place the widget on your myspace page in thesection you desire.Perhaps you want to place the widget on a site that is notlisted. In this case you would choose the section that says,get code. There will be two choices to choose from, aJavascript and a Flash script. At this point you may have toexperiment to see which code will work on the site you areattempting to place the widget.Many sites do not allow Javascript. If you are working on yourown webpages you can probably use the Javascript code. Copy andpaste the code in your websites html, save and upload your pageas usual. The widget should work fine.For other sites like ning.com you want the flash script. Selectall and copy the code for the flash script. Paste the code intoa block where you are able to add information by clicking onedit/add in the box and paste the code. You are almost done.Before saving you will need to add opening and closing div tagsto the code in order for it to show up. At the beginning of thecode place the <div> and at the end of the code include </div>.Click save and close the opened text box and your widget shouldbe displayed. If correctly done, your widget will automaticallyupdate every time you add new content to the site your widget ispromoting.================================================================Making Your Site Search Engine Friendly - SpiderabilityBy John Buchanan (c) 2007One of the keys to obtaining top rankings, or ANY rankings forthat matter is making sure that the search engines can properlyspider and index your site. This means doing whatever you can tomake sure the search engines are able to reach each page of yoursite as easily as possible.When I talk to my clients about spiderability, Im generallyreferring to two things... 1) Are all the links in the site true hyperlinks that can be picked up properly by the search engines. 2) Are all the pages within the site reachable within 2-3 clicks from the homepage.So lets go over the above two areas of concern.1) Hyperlinks. This may seem almost silly, but you would beamazed at the number of sites I run into when doingconsultations and website analyses that have non-standardhyperlinks. By "non-standard", Im referring to javascript
    • generated hyperlinks or hyperlinks embedded within flash files.There is nothing inherently wrong with javascript or flash whenused properly, but the simple fact is that javascript and flashare NOT search engine friendly. Google is pretty much the onlyengine that is able to pick up links within javascript or flashcode. At this time, I have seen no evidence that either Yahoo orMSN have this ability.While Google may be able to pick up links, it is unclear as towhether or not Google places any VALUE on the links it finds inthis manner. Remember, much of a pages ranking in Google isdetermined by links, so you want to be absolutely sure that eachand every link is valued.So, be absolutely sure that your links are true hyperlinks (by"true" hyperlinks, Im talking about hyperlinks coded with thenormal href tags) if you want to make sure they are found,followed, and counted by all the engines.2) Distance from Homepage. Ideally, you want your visitors andthe search engines to be able to reach any page within yoursite within a maximum of three (3) clicks and preferably twoclicks. The more clicks it takes to reach a page, the lesschance there is that the search engines will index that page.It is for this reason, that site maps have become so popular.By utilizing a sitemap, you are able to link from your homepageto a page that lists all or most of the links to the variouspages of your site. The search engines (and visitors) are thenable to get to virtually any page of your site within just acouple of clicks.Youll notice Ive mentioned not only the search engines butthe visitors as well in the above paragraphs. By reducing thenumber of clicks it takes to get from your homepage to any pageon your site, you will find that you also increase the overallusability of your site.While site maps can definitely help to increase thespiderability of a site, it is important to remember that theyare not a total fix for bad navigational structure within asite. As mentioned, all of the search engines utilize pagelink popularity in one way or another in their algorithms.In general, the homepage of a site will have the highest linkpopularity of any page within the site. This is because mostinbound links to a site are pointing to the homepage. Its fromthe homepage that all the internal pages derive their linkpopularity from a sort of "trickle down" affect.A site map will only derive a certain amount of link popularitythat it can pass on to the pages it links to. To understand thisbest, think of the homepage as a large river with each link onthe homepage a smaller river branching off from the main river.
    • Each river will be fed a similar amount of water by the mainriver. Alone one branch of the river will never be able todeliver as much water to the various areas as all the branchesof the river can combined.The site map is one branch of your sites link popularity riverand it has value, but it will never have the same impact as awell thought out and implemented links structure that makes useof all the rivers of link popularity within your site.To make the most use of the link popularity of your site, youshould try and setup your sites navigational structure so thateven without a site map, the search engines and visitors areSTILL able to reach any page on your site within 2-3 clicks.So...to make a long story short...Always be sure to utilizetrue, standard hyperlinks throughout your site and be sure thatyour sites navigational structure allows any page of your siteto be reached within no more than 3 clicks.See you at the top!==============================================================8 Tips To Create A Landing PageBy Ayat Shukairy (c) 2007IntroductionYou need copy for your landing page but youre not sure whereto start. First lets clarify what we mean by a landing page. Alanding page can be a page that visitors come to after clickingon a promotional banner or link. Ultimately, the landing pagemust convince the visitor that they should stay on your site.You may also have a goal that you want accomplished, such as:• Signing up for a newsletter or filling out a form• Buying a product• Reading informational piecesWhats going to keep them there? The structure, the language,and the visual appeal all play a part of it. Check out thesetips to create a great landing page, or reinvent the one youalready have.The StructurePeople arrive at your site looking for answers. They scan tosee if theyre in the right place and assess whether its goingto be a quick and easy visit or a long grinding one. Yourlanding page is the welcome wagon inviting them in and feedingthem the information they need. The structure of the page willeither pull them in and encourage them to fulfill your goal, ordistract and cause them to cut out of there before getting thewhole picture.
    • The structure of the landing page in general should be matchingthat of the banner, ad or link they clicked on to get themthere. So for example, if your PPC Ad is targeting SEOarticles, your landing page should discuss exactly that. If aVictoria Secrets Ad for lingerie shows up and you click on it,you will be transferred to a landing page with the exact imageand structure of the ad.The Visuals• Copy placement – Strategic use of copy and graphics willcatch the visitors attention. Dont muck up the page withlarge, distracting graphics. Use plenty of whitespace and placeyour message in the central portion of the page rather thanplacing information down the sides, where the focus can be lostquickly. Keep the copy short. The visitor expects a precisemessage, so dont choke it up with tons of mindless prose.• Beauty is in the eye – Use a consistent color palette. If youhave advertising or banners that link visitors to your website,make sure the concept and color scheme match across the board.Its also a great visual indicator for the visitor because theycan easily identify that theyre still in the right place.• Simplify – Remove any distracting elements like advertisingbanners, links, or additional blocks of information from thepage and get down to the specific message.The GoalBefore you design the landing page, decide what the goal of thepage will be. If youre looking for newsletter subscribers, thegoal will be to have the visitor enter their information andbecome a member of your mailing list.Be a SleuthDo your research. Keep your visitors in mind when building yourlanding page and tailor it to suit their needs. By narrowingyour options and focusing on your visitor, youll stay ontarget.Keep Your FocusKeep the focus on you. Youve dangled a large poster board overtheir head and pulled them in. Now that youve got them, dontgive your visitors a reason to wander.Use a Call to ActionA call to action, such as subscribe now or get this offerreminds the visitor why they are on your website. Place themtoward the top of your page. For users that want to click, itallows them to find it easily. For those who are stilldeciding, its a great reminder.
    • Many sites place the consultation form or contact form directlyon the landing page, which may not be such a bad idea. Again,you need glaring calls to action. Dont add several uselesslinks on the page that will take the visitor back to your mainsite; rather include the links that will get them to actuallypurchase your product/service.Write Like a ProNo, you dont have to hire one to look like one. Whats thebest way to come off like a professional? Create landing pageswith no grammatical or spelling errors. I recently hit awebsite offering discount holideys. As I clicked out ofthere, I pictured the four-star flea-bag motel by the swamplandI might have booked if I stayed.ReassurePeople get leery when theyre asked for their personal data. Ifyoure asking for personal information, make sure you have acredible privacy policy to back you up.================================================================Knowing Your Visitors Through Website Traffic AnalysisBy Don Resh (c) 2007Analyzing your web traffic statistics can be an invaluable toolfor a number of different reasons. But before you can make fulluse of this tool, you need to understand how to interpret thedata.Most web hosting companies will provide you with basic webtraffic information that you then have to interpret and makepertinent use of. However, the data you receive from your hostcompany can be overwhelming if you dont understand how toapply it to your particular business and website. Lets startby examining the most basic data - the average visitors to yoursite on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.These figures are the most accurate measure of your websitesactivity. It would appear on the surface that the more trafficyou see recorded, the better you can assume your website isdoing, but this is an inaccurate perception. You must also lookat the behavior of your visitors once they come to your websiteto accurately gauge the effectiveness of your site.Traffic AnalysisThere is often a great misconception about what is commonlyknown as "hits" and what is really effective, quality trafficto your site. Hits simply means the number of informationrequests received by the server. If you think about the factthat a hit can simply equate to the number of graphics per page,you will get an idea of how overblown the concept of hits can
    • be. For example, if your homepage has 15 graphics on it, theserver records this as 15 hits, when in reality we are talkingabout a single visitor checking out a single page on your site.As you can see, hits are not useful in analyzing your websitetraffic.The more visitors that come to your website, the more accurateyour interpretation will become. The greater the traffic is toyour website, the more precise your analysis will be of overalltrends in visitor behavior. The smaller the number of visitors,the more a few anomalous visitors can distort the analysis.The aim is to use the web traffic statistics to figure out howwell or how poorly your site is working for your visitors. Oneway to determine this is to find out how long on average yourvisitors spend on your site. If the time spent is relativelybrief, it usually indicates an underlying problem. Then thechallenge is to figure out what that problem is.It could be that your keywords are directing the wrong type ofvisitors to your website, or that your graphics are confusing orintimidating, causing the visitor to exit rapidly. Use theknowledge of how much time visitors are spending on your site topinpoint specific problems, and after you fix those problems,continue to use time spent as a gauge of how effective your fixhas been.Additionally, web traffic stats can help you determine effectiveand ineffective areas of your website. If you have a page thatyou believe is important, but visitors are exiting it rapidly,that page needs attention. You could, for example, considerimproving the link to this page by making the link morenoticeable and enticing, or you could improve the look of thepage or the ease that your visitors can access the necessaryinformation on that page.If, on the other hand, you notice that visitors are spending alot of time on pages that you think are less important, youmight consider moving some of your sales copy and marketingfocus to that particular page.As you can see, these statistics will reveal vital informationabout the effectiveness of individual pages, and visitor habitsand motivation. This is essential information to any successfulInternet marketing campaign.Your website undoubtedly has exit pages, such as a final orderor contact form. This is a page you can expect your visitor toexit rapidly. However, not every visitor to your site is goingto find exactly what he or she is looking for, so statistics mayshow you a number of different exit pages. This is normal unlessyou notice an exit trend on a particular page that is notintended as an exit page. In the case that a significantpercentage of visitors are exiting your website on a page notdesigned for that purpose, you must closely examine that
    • particular page to discern what the problem is. Once youpinpoint potential weaknesses on that page, minor modificationsin content or graphics may have a significant impact on thekeeping visitors moving through your site instead of exiting atthe wrong page.After you have analyzed your visitor statistics, its time toturn to your keywords and phrases. Notice if particular keywordsare directing a specific type of visitor to your site. The moretargeted the visitor - meaning that they find what they arelooking for on your site, and even better, fill out your contactform or make a purchase - the more valuable that keyword is.However, if you find a large number of visitors are beingdirected - or should I say misdirected - to your site by aparticular keyword or phrase, that keyword demands adjustment.Keywords are vital to bringing quality visitors to your site whoare ready to do business with you. Close analysis of thekeywords your visitors are using to find your site will give youa vital understanding of your visitors needs and motivations.Finally, if you notice that users are finding your website bytyping in your company name, break open the champagne! It meansyou have achieved a significant level of brand recognition, andthis is a sure sign of burgeoning success.================================================================The Lucky Thirteen: The Critical SEO ChecklistBy Mike Tekula (c) 2007When it comes to SEO not all of us have the time to be experts.At some point the real "gurus" of SEO and other topics are thepeople with a whole lot of time on their hands. This list, puttogether with the everyday webmaster in mind, drives home someabsolutely crucial points that you should keep in mind whenoptimizing your pages for valuable search rankings.1. Check Search Engine Crawl Error PagesIts important to monitor search engine crawl error reports tokeep on top of how your site and its pages are performing.Monitoring error reports can help you determine when and whereGooglebot or another crawler is having trouble indexing yourcontent - which can help you find a solution to the problem.2. Create/update robots.txt and sitemap filesThese files are supported by major search engines and areincredibly useful tools for ensuring that crawlers index yourimportant site content while avoiding those sections/files thatyou deem to be either unimportant or cause problems in the crawlprocess. In many cases weve seen the proper use of these filesmake all the difference between a total crawl failure for a siteand a full index of content pages which makes them crucial froman SEO standpoint.
    • 3. Check Googlebot activity reportsThese reports allow you to monitor how long its takingGooglebot to access your pages. This information can be veryimportant if you are worried that you may be on a slow networkor experiencing web server problems. If it is taking searchengine crawlers a long time to index your pages it may be thecase that there are times when they "time out" and stoptrying. Additionally, if the crawlers are unable to call yourpages up quickly there is a good chance users are experiencingthe same lag in load times, and we all know how impatientinternet users can be.4. Check how your site looks to browsers without image andJavaScript supportOne of the best ways to determine just what your site looks liketo a search engine crawler is to view your pages in a browserwith image and JavaScript support disabled. Mozillas Firefoxbrowser has a plug-in available called the "Web DeveloperToolbar" that adds this functionality and a lot more to thepopular standards-compliant browser. If after turning off imageand JavaScript support you arent able to make sense of yourpages at all, it is a good sign that your site is notwell-optimized for search. While images and JavaScript can add alot to the user experience they should always be viewed as a"luxury" - or simply an improvement upon an already-solidtextual content base.5. Ensure that all navigation is in HTML, not imagesOne of the most common mistakes in web design is to use imagesfor site navigation. While for some companies and webmasters SEOis not a concern and therefore they can get away with this, foranyone worried about having well-optimized pages this should bethe first thing to go. Not only will it render your sitenavigation basically valueless for search engine crawlers, butwithin reason very similar effects can usually be achieved withCSS roll-overs that maintain the aesthetic impact while stillproviding valuable and relevant link text to search engines.6. Check that all images include ALT textFailing to include descriptive ALT text with images is to missout on another place to optimize your pages. Not only is thisimportant for accessibility for vision-impaired users, butsearch engines simply cant "take a look" at your images anddecipher the content there. They can only see your ALT text, ifyouve provided it, and the association theyll make with theimage and your relevant content will be based exclusively onthis attribute.7. Use Flash content sparingly
    • Several years ago Flash hit the scene and spread like wild fire.It was neat looking, quick to download and brought interactivityand animation on the web to a new height. However, from an SEOstandpoint, Flash files might as well be spacer GIFs - theyreempty. Search engines are not able to index text/content withina Flash file. For this reason, while Flash can do a lot forpresentation, from an accessibility and SEO standpoint it shouldbe used very sparingly and only on non-crucial content.8. Ensure that each page has a unique <title> and metadescription tagOptimization of <title> tags is one of the most importanton-page SEO points. Many webmasters are apparently unaware anduse either duplicate <title> tags for multiple pages or do nottarget search traffic at all within this valuable tag. Run asearch on a competitive keyword of your choice on Google - clickon the first few links that show up and see what text appears inthe title bar for the window. You should see right away thatthis is a key place to include target keywords for your pages.9. Make sure that important page elements are HTMLThe simple fact to keep in mind when optimizing a page is thatthe crawlers are basically only looking at your source code.Anything youve put together in a Flash movie, an image or anyother multimedia component is likely to be invisible to searchengines. With that in mind it should be clear that the mostimportant elements of your page, where the heart of your contentwill lie, should be presented in clean, standards-compliant andoptimized HTML source code.10. Be sure to target keywords in your page contentSome webmasters publish their pages in hopes that they will rankwell for competitive keywords within their topic or niche.However, this will simply never happen unless you include yourtarget keywords in the page content. This means creatingwell-optimized content that mentions these keywords frequentlywithout triggering spam filters. Any way you cut it youregoing to need to do some writing - if you dont like doing ityourself its a good idea to hire a professional copy writer.Simply put: without relevant content that mentions your targetkeywords you will not rank well.11. Dont use framesThere is still some debate as to whether frames are absolutelyhorrible for SEO or whether they are simply just not the bestchoice. Is there really a difference? Either way, you probablydont want to use frames. Crawlers can have trouble gettingthrough to your content and effectively indexing individualpages, for one thing. For another, most functionality that theuse of frames allows is easily duplicated using proper CSScoding. There is still some use for a frames-based layout, but
    • it is still better to avoid it if at all possible.12. Make sure that your server is returning a 404 error code forunfound pagesWeve all seen it. Were browsing around at a new or familiarsite, clicking links and reading content, when we get theinfamous blank screen that reads "404 page not found" error.While broken links that point to these pages should definitelybe avoided you also dont want to create a "custom errorpage" to replace this page. Why? Well, its simple: if yougenerate a custom error page, crawlers can spend time followingbroken links that they wont know are broken. A 404 error pageis easily recognizable, and search engine crawlers areprogrammed to stop following links that generate this page. Ifcrawlers end up in a section of your site that is down throughan old link that you missed, they might not spend the time toindex the rest of your site.13. Ensure that crawlers will not fall into infinite loopsMany webmasters see fit to include scripting languages, such asPERL, PHP and ASP to add interactive functionality to their webpages. Whether for a calendar system, a forum, eCommercefunctionality for an online store, etc. scripting is used quitefrequently on the internet. However, what some webmasters dontrealize is that unless they use robots.txt files or take otherpreventative measures search engine crawlers can fall into whatare called "infinite loops" in their pages. Imagine, if youwill, a script that allows a webmaster to add a calendar to oneof his pages. Now, any programmer worth his salt would base thisscript on calculations - it would auto-generate each page basedon the previous month and a formula to determine how the daysand dates would fall. That script, depending on sophistication,could plausibly extend infinitely into the past or future. Nowthink of the way a crawler works - it follows links, indexeswhat it finds, and follows more links. Whats to stop a crawlerfrom clicking "next month" in a calendar script an infinitenumber of times? Nothing - well, almost nothing. Crawlers arewell-built programs that need to run efficiently. As such theyare built to recognize when theyve run into an "infiniteloop" situation like this, and they will simply stop indexingpages at a site that is flagged for this error.================================================================The Hard Line Keyword Sales Pitch(Page 1 of 4 )Have you ever tried to be nice to one of those kids making money for college by allowing them to"clean your carpet" for free? Then, after they sucked all that dirt out of one little spot, youremembered they couldnt leave until their "supervisor" came to pick them up? You knew that youwould have to suffer through one of those tenacious hard-line salesmen before you could get ridof the two of them.
    • Here is a technique that makes your web page do the job of that supervisor. Its for use whenyour main objective is to sell, or otherwise convert the visitor, and you have a good product, forwhich there is a ready market.With this technique, the goal is to take our share of those customers who are already lookingevery day for the product that we want to sell. It is a hard line approach from the search enginerobots point of view. To the human reader, your web site will feel organized, authoritative andgive a sense of credibility to your business, encouraging the "buy" or sign-up from those who areserious, ready-to-buy customers.Start with the DomainLets say we want to sell bat houses.If we were real people looking for a place to buy a bat house, we would start with our favoritesearch engine and do a search for "bat houses." Because this is the first phrase that comes tomind when thinking of our product, we know that the most efficient and aggressive domain forthis product from a keyword standpoint would be bathouse.com. It should be a dot com domainbecause most people are still conditioned to automatically associate it with the domain name,even after being told the top level domain is .net or .org.After our potential customer finds our web site the first time, we want them to be able toremember it and return -- especially if they didnt buy the first time, or once they need threemore bat houses after they see how well this one works. If our first choice of domain name is taken already, we will try variations until we come up with something that is similar. For very popular keywords, we may have to work a bit to get what we want. Other variations of bat house could be:Bat-house.comBat_house.comBathouses.comBat-houses.comBat_houses.com For very popular keywords, even these will be taken, so we get more creative with domains like:Batshouse.comBats-house.comBats_house.comBatshouses.comBats-houses.comBats_houses.comMost domain providers will offer suggestions for variations as well. We want to stay as close to theoriginal keyword as we can.The Domain IS Our Keyword
    • Because our domain is our keyword, every internal link we create and every page in our domainreinforces our relevance.Keyword optimizing is easy. Make title, meta tags, descriptions, etc, begin with the domain name,in this case "bat house."We will use every optimization technique for links and images that follow on the remainder of thepage, by filling all the tags with our keywords, and using names for links and images that relate tothe keyword. Be certain that all of your images are named for the keyword.bathouse-tall.gifbathouse-large.gifbathouse-fancy.gifUse at least three images that have high visual relevance to the domain name / keyword. Wewould not use pictures of bats flying in the wild. We want images of the house(s) we have to sell,or if we have just one, well show the house in different views, sizes or uses.The Hard Line Keyword Sales Pitch - The Ask for the Sale Keyword Link(Page 2 of 4 )You will often see images used as order links on web pages. While they are pretty, we want tocreate an ORDER link that is populated by our keywords. We are opting to use text over an imagebecause we want the words to draw the human eye, as well as the search engine robots eye.In addition, many of the sites returned in top search engine results may be bat related sites andnot have bat houses for sale at all. Because of the placement and wording of this order link, thekeywords it contains will most likely show up in the short description of the site. For the surferwho already knows they want to buy a bat house, this is a way to encourage that customer toselect our site from among the other ten listed on the result page.In the example shown below, we may also get delivery information and the guarantee wordinglisted in the description.For our bat house, we can use: Bat House Orders HereBelow you will see what the link will look like to the search engines robot. Notice the keywordshighlighted in brown.
    • <a title="Bat house orders click here. Delivery in 7 days. 30 day Money Back Guarantee."style="color: blue; text-decoration: underline; text-underline: single"href="http://www.bathouse.com/order.html">Bat House Orders Here</a>Place this link in at least the following spaces on the web page:Side navigation linksTop navigation linksFooter navigation linksIn the first paragraph of textAfter the final paragraph - Sample Page Top - - Sample Page Bottom -
    • Text and Keyword for Aggressive SalesWe are not going to talk about psychological sales techniques and using certain triggers to getcustomers to buy. If we did not have a strong product, with a market already defined, we mayhave had to use those methods. As it is, our products market is set, so our job is to convince thecustomer that our web is the best place to buy, not to convince them they need the product.To do that, we are going to take the high road and use a writing style that funnels our visitorthrough the information they want to see and then to the sale. Instead of relying on salesmethod, well rely on our information, and the strategic placement and use of keywords to closeour sale.The text will be specific, using five keyword strong paragraphs.Paragraph one will introduce the product briefly.The first sentence will start with Bat house and describe the use.Sentence two will tell the products rating from good to best, and cite the source of the rating ifthere is one.The third sentence states your delivery policy and guarantee.The fourth sentence tells why your company is worthy of buying from.The last sentence covers the order procedure.These are sentences that introduce, not give detail. We want to allow the person who alreadyknows they want to buy to get on with it and not make them wade through a sales pitch. There isno sense in wasting their time. For the customer who wants to make sure this is the right place tobuy, or that we have the product they are looking for, we are going to outline what we have andwhat we can do in this paragraph.
    • In the remainder of the text that comes after paragraph one, take the time to expound on what issaid in the introduction. In fact, the other paragraphs on this page are defined by the sentences inthe first.Paragraph one is the introductionParagraph two will tell about the products ratingParagraph three tells the delivery policy and guaranteeParagraph four tells a bit about our company and why we are the best source for supply of bathouses.Paragraph five gives details about how to order, and is followed by the text order link as discussedabove.Each paragraph states the keyword as the first words of the first sentence. We arent forced touse the keyword in the body of each paragraph after the first sentence, but probably will, simplybecause it is most descriptive of the product.In each paragraph, create contextual links to pages that give more detail, or to our order page.We wont link to anything that is not directly related to the sale. Not to other products we have tooffer, or to other interesting pages about bats on our website.
    • If we also sell bat house cleaner, we are going to avoid the temptation to tack on a sales pitch forbat house cleaner on our bat house sales page.It is more aggressive to create a home page with links to our various products, or to create athank you page after the sale with reference to the bat house cleaner and other products. If usingthe thank you page, we also want to tell the customer to save the page for verification of the sale.That way, they will see the add-on, keyword rich sales pitches any time they check theinformation for the guarantee period, or if they want to buy another bat house.To increase keyword prevalence on our page, we will include links to bat sites. For this area wecan afford to be altruistic. We can use links to bat societies; bat farms, an article on Wikipedia, toAsk.com, anywhere that relates to bats as a whole.We do not want to include links to our competition anywhere on this page. If a sale is going to bemade, we want that sale made on our web. Remember to make links open in a new window.The website footer is a perfect place to reinforce our keyword rich links to important parts of theweb, like the product page and the order page, or a coupon page. A link to the guarantee is alsogood here. Dont forget a link to reload the page or to go to the top. Again, all of these linksshould be named to reflect the keyword and have tags filled with the keyword phrase.The Hard Line Keyword Sales Pitch - Pulling Our Keyword Sales Page Together(Page 4 of 4 )
    • Using one keyword phrase, we have developed a keyword rich page that focuses on sales for oneproduct. Every element, from header to footer and text in between courts the search enginerobot, while satisfying the human visitor.We have eliminated any tendency to send the customer away from our page and into the arms ofanother bat house salesman, while offering useful information in the form of articles and sourcesfor bat info to our customer. At the same time we satisfy link hungry search algorithms with linksto stories, articles or groups directly related to our keyword.Most important, we have used the text on our page to give the consumer what they really want -information about the product, our company, how to order and information about the guarantee(an important secondary keyword).When were on the Internet to sell, we want to make that sale as easy as possible for the seriouscustomer. Serious customers are those who want to buy now. Their time is precious. They alreadyknow what they want or need, and are simply looking for the best and most convenient place toget that item.For this customer, our to-the-point, keyword focused web, will not only deliver what they want,but will alleviate their frustration in finding that special product.Remember that the true goal of search optimization and marketing is to match a searcher with aweb site that features the item for which they are searching. How better to realize this goal thanto take the hard-line approach to keyword optimizing your sales web sites? Help your business byhelping your customer with a keyword aggressive web site.June 19, 2007The Secret To Getting More Links For Boring Sites: The Importance ofthe Secondary AudienceBy Scott GoodyearYou have a web site. You are looking for better rankings in the search engines, but your site ispretty boring. Perhaps not boring by your own standards, maybe not boring even by thestandards of your target audience, but what about the secondary audience for your site? Can youhope to obtain links, essentially search engine recommendations, from some one outside of yourcore audience?Many first time web masters will say, "But Im not trying to get links from sites outside of mycustomers." I ask why not? For many "boring" sites, they have little chance of being linked to bytheir core, primary audience.Lets say that you were selling large vending machines. The vending machines that you sell arethe type that youd pop a few quarters into in order to buy a can of Coke or Pepsi. Outside thegrocery store, in a break room, you would see these machines dispensing small bags of chips,
    • candy, gum, etc. Pretty straight forward right? Not too technical nor too exciting. Your targetaudience would be grocery stores, convenience stores, businesses small and large, and manyothers. Although not many people search on "vending machine sales" or similar keyword phrases,when they do search, you want to show up. You may have all of the content on your site thatdescribes your vending machines to the smallest detail, like how many 12 packs of soda you canload into the machine at once, but why would your latest client link to you? Sure you had the bestprice, lowest cost shipping, etc. but their company does not link to the company that they buydonuts from on Fridays, nor will they link to you. And if they did, would a link from XYZ BusinessMachines and Copiers really help you to improve your rankings for vending machines when mostsearch engines see vending machine keywords often found with pages and sites about drinks,snacks, and so on? Links are an integral part of a high ranking. So, who WILL link to your site?Remember Brainstorming and Creating a Mental Map?There may be a secondary audience that you need to consider in your plan to gain more links andimprove your rankings. In order to create some content that might appeal to the secondaryaudience, youll have to explore a few directions that you might take to interest them. Rememberbrainstorming ideas for a report in school? Remember creating an outline or mental map? There isnot a wrong or right way to brainstorm but it is essential that you do it. It can help you to pull outsome ideas that normally might not hit you right away. Here is a quick example of some ideasrelated to the phrase "vending machines":Pulling Ideas Out of The Mental MapThe picture above shows just a few trains of thought that I had with the phrase "vendingmachines". I could go on and on and the mental map might never be completed. Lets pull a fewideas out of this exploration of ideas. • Vending machines dispense snack food, juices, sport and soft drinks. There are various recipes that call for candy or soda as an ingredient. Create an area for recipes on you site. Seed the area with a few recipes that you find or create (get permission if needed), allow users to submit their own recipes, go to various food related web forums and ask for user submitted recipes. Buy a cook book or two each month, follow some recipes online, and
    • place a review of the resulting dish on your site with a few pictures. Better yet, hire some one to "blog" their discoveries on your site. There are bound to be some "foodies" that would be more than happy to get paid to do this for you. • The food industry has history. Some companies like Coke, Hershey, and others are proud of their history and have mini- museums in some states, company stores, and factory tours. Provide a guide or review to getting to or around the towns where these attractions take place. When people go online to plan their vacations and find your resource, they may link to your guide. • Products in vending machines often have promotional packaging. Odds are good that some of the products that are sold from vending machines have "promotional" cans, bags, additional "standees" that are normally meant for grocery stores or mini-markets, or other materials that candy memorabilia collectors, blogs, and others might find interesting. There are collectors out there, fans of various promotions, etc. and many like to browse web sites about their hobby and link to related sites and product pictures.These are just a couple of ideas that I was able to quickly come up with, but maybe you seewhere Im going with this?You want your site to rank on phrases like "coke vending machines"?Search engines not only need to see optimized pages on your site that talk about the phrase inorder to give it a high ranking, they also need to see that other web pages from other sites alsolink to your pages about the same subject.Think about who WOULD come back to your site over and over. Think about visitors who mightnot be your direct competitors but who do have related web sites. Encourage them to book markyour site and make the extra effort to link to your site by providing content that is appealing tothem and you improve your chances of being found by your primary audience as well, an audiencethat may not really care about recipes that include ingredients from vending machines, and whowill probably not link to you or write reviews about your site or products.The Graphic Re-design Process. Little to No Budget? No Problem.By Scott GoodyearIn life, as in web sites, first impressions can make or break sales, long or short term businessrelationships, and more. What does your web site say about your business? If youve beenwanting to update your site but dont really have deep pockets, youll find the following posthelpful for graphically re-designing or just sprucing up your web even if you have little to nobudget to work with.First, like my last post, and for better or worst, most site owners or designers have fallen in lovewith their web site. Some times you may need a few comparisons in order to understand if yourweb site even needs a graphical update. Check out Web Pages That Suck and especially its "dailysucker" page. While the WPTS site uses Google AdWords in an obnoxious perhaps even "sucky"
    • way itself, the "daily sucker" section has links to anonymously nominated "sucky" web pages thatwere nominated for their design, user interface, or other shortcomings. When you visit some ofthese sites, does your own site seem similar?Find a Pro or Amateur Artist.There are many, many pro and amateur web designers that would be happy to assist you andwork within a budget.There are plenty of places where you can place a free or low cost advertisement for a designersuch as Guru.com and of course youve probably heard of Monster right?. You can always post tothe online version of your local news paper but it may be casting your net too wide. Why not gowhere the more internet savvy hang out? Try checking the jobs, gigs, or services areas ofCraigslist. You can also find artists via art associations such as AIGA. If you want to give atalented amateur their big break, consider some of the "hidden" talent markets. Post your needson the job boards and art departments of your local community colleges and universities. You canalso peruse the art and contact amateur and pro graphic designers via Deviantart. Deviantart hasbeen around for years and I would argue that it is the "myspace" for graphic designers.A Few Tools You Might Try...If you have a bit of time and talent, you may want to create and add graphics on your own. Evenif you find that you do not have the talent required to make great graphics or designs for yoursite, dont write off trying. Often times creating at least a mock up of what you are shooting forcan be extremely helpful to a designer. Your plans may be modest or even too grand, but a goodweb designer / graphic artist can often work to hone your ideas to a more manageable form.No cost:Paint.NetFauxtoGimpImageMagickLow cost:Paint Shop ProLViewHigh Cost/Pro Tools:From Adobe: Photo Shop, FireworksFrom Corel: CorelDRAW, PainterDownload a Tutorial.While the ease of use and learning curve will differ with each of these programs, there are manyfree tutorials that can guide you through creating some some amazing special effects for graphics.If you cant find a tutorial for your specific graphics program, understand that many programsutilize different names for the same software features. As you begin to understand more aboutyour selected software program you can then go through and follow many of the tutorials forother programs in order to create roughly the same results.A few tutorial sites that Ive found useful:Web Design LibraryCBT Cafe
    • SitePointPhotoShop Tips & TricksAdd Some Interesting Photos and Graphics.Some times you have to go cheap with your graphics. If you dont have the talent for creatinggraphics through a free or inexpensive program, you may turn to buying clip art or using aprogram to modify clip art. Years ago, I was buying clip art CDs in order to quickly create graphicsfor web sites. Most of the inexpensive clip art CDs that Ive found today, still include those sameclip art files from years ago. Do you really want your site to look like it was made 10 years ago orlike something newer? Forget outdated clip art CDs!Consider using the "find" option at Creative Commons to find art, photos, or other items that youcan use on your site. The licensing terms will vary but often a quick email to the license holder willclear up any questions that you might have about usage. And quite often, the CC photo authorswill let you use their photos for free, as long as you reference them on your about page, copyright/privacy page, or similar.On the other hand there are tons of online image banks that can be used. These image banks aremuch like the clip art CDs of years past except there are always new photos and graphics beingadded to the mix and you can preview the art before plunking $30-$200 into a CD collectionwhere you might only use 1 graphic. There are sites with large selections like the well knownGettyimages, but for the license price you might also check out smaller competitors likeiStockphoto. If you think stock photos cant help or look too generic, think a bit more creativelyabout what can be done with them. Although Kathy Sierra pretty much froze her web blog a fewmonths ago, Im still inspired by many of the posts on her "Creating Passionate Users" blog. Withjust a little bit of creativity, a post can be spiced up by a great graphic in a very positive way.Now Go Make Something Beautiful... Need a Little More Inspiration First?At this point youve probably picked up a few resources that you can use. Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or you are hiring some one to help, it is great to have some inspiration and a gameplan. Like many, I find that looking at what others are doing can really help. Often you can canpick out the things that you like/dont like from other sites and work some of those ideas. Intoyour own design plan.If you are looking mainly for color schemes, check out Geoff Peters "Instant Color Schemes". Histool pulls photos in from a Yahoo image search in order to create a common color palette. Sometimes it works really well, at other times, the results are odd. But as Yahoos image search isconstantly changing, it is always a bit different from the last time you had used the same search.Also check out one of my all time favorites Design Meltdown. DM brings together examples ofvarious web site designs, then slices and dices common site features into categories. You can gainsome inspiration from ideas like "clean" design, "orange" sites, and others. DM also runs The DailySlurp where users submit their own suggestions for great site design. When your site startsshining after a re-design, you may want to submit it.Before I close, understand that visually good design does not necessarily mean a well optimized orsearch engine friendly design. The reverse is also true, a well optimized site does not necessarilymean a visually good looking site. However a good mix of engine friendly and visually appealingtechniques can be quite beneficial. There are also arguments for and against a well designed website or an ugly design that I havent mentioned, and I encourage you to explore those issues. Andwhile I encourage you to review what others sites do and form your own game plan based on bitsand pieces that you find and like, I dont recommend that you clone some one elses web site.Large companies may be able to get away with it, but you may or may not be able to, why take
    • the chance? In a nut shell, whether your budget is large or small, there are lots of inexpensiveways to make your site look more professional and graphically appealing with out breaking thebank.Defining Web Analytics and How It Relates To The Bottom LineBy Curtis FriedlWebsite developers and those who manage website content need to understand the multitude ofinformation that can be gathered through the Web Analytics process. A good web analytics toolcan help you to understand the numbers that affect the bottom line. • How are visitors finding my site? • When they get there, what do they do? • Are they taking the desired action that I want them to take? • At what points are they falling off from the intended process? • What geographical regions are these visitors located in? • What is the most popular content on my site? • Do certain visitor segments respond differently to campaigns or to my site than others? • Which of my online marketing campaigns are the most effective at drawing visitors to the site and converting them into customers? • Are customers that are coming to my site for support finding their answers? • How effective am I at reaching and engaging target demographics in my audience?The first target of understanding those who visit your site is where are they coming from, a searchengine, an associated website, etc. Which one of the marketing channels that you employ aremost effective, and what is the returned derived from that ad spend. Is the ROI sufficient, shouldI increase the ad spend, or should I evaluate other channels?Once I have captured the visitor, did they leave right away, or did they browse through my site.What was the path that they took, was it the one that was envisioned to lead to the properconversion which was desired, or did the potential client abandon?Geographically where are the visitors from? Were they from my targeted market, or have youuncovered a new avenue to direct sales efforts towards. If you are advertising to a diversemarket, does one segment behave differently then another one? Did one of your campaigns leadto a better conversion rate from a targeted audience, and was that conversions with in thedemographic that I expected it to come from, and did it meet our target benchmarks from thatdemographic.All of this and more can be answered by looking at the audience that is reviewing the content onyour site. A review of those who traffic your site, and an analyses of the path and locations thatyour visitor viewed, can lead you to make decisions on how to design a site, how to construct thelanding/offer pages for a targeted audience. These site usability studies do more then aid in futuresite designs, they permit a deeper understanding of your target audience. In addition these effortswill lead to a much greater understanding of your visitors.These analytic results can also lead you to a better understand of how to target the advertisingtoward your client audience. Are ads on the search engines more effective then banners onassociated websites/portals, or is the old fashion targeted mailing the best avenue to cover, andmeet your audience. In simple means analysis of your visitors, and content that they review canlead to:
    • • Optimize marketing campaigns • Improved content, and search engine marketing efforts • Increase website conversions • More profitable sales activity • Determination of the ROI of specific pages • Greater targeted and more cost effective business processesThe bottom line is understanding your client will make it more easy to sell to them. The best wayshort of standing at the door asking them to fill out a survey is to review the how, where, whenand why from your website analytics provider. Attempting to discern why the visitor selected onepath over another will help you to understand how to better layout your sites design, or textcontent to encourage the desired conversion. Additional reviewing the eatery and exit points foryour visitor will uncover potential strengths, and weaknesses in your sites design. Continuousreviewing of analytic information, and implementation of the solutions developed from thisresearch will lead to a healthier bottom line.The Forgotten Fundamentals of SEOBy Chris Diprose (c) 2007The Website Revelation – What owning a website actually means.As a Web Developer and SEO consultant I deal with many existingwebsite owners who are looking to modify or improve theirwebsite. I also deal with many people who are looking to starttheir web presence with a new website. Through both of theseinteractions there is often a common theme; a misunderstandingor an attitude. I call this a misconception of reality, as oftenthe reality of what the Internet can actually do for the personsbusiness and what they think it can do differ massively.Often it is presumed that by simply owning a domain and having awebsite built and published on the Internet, thousands of peoplewill magically find the website, visit it and buy theirproducts. "If you build it, they will come" should be removedfrom the vocabulary as soon as possible if you are to adjustattitudes to the underlying search technology. As a businessmanin the real World, it is obvious that it would not happenoutside of the Internet either, so what is so different online?Maybe it was the Technology boom 10 years ago that caused a riftin understanding or maybe the buzz that caused the meteoric risein the stock prices of Tech Companies, I can hear the thoughtsof the small businessman, "surely this can be replicated for mybusiness" – in answer I would say, "well, it is unlikely, butyou should be able to achieve some results over time".It is most important when taking on a project like Search EngineOptimization for a website, to know that it is important to becommitted for the long haul. It is no small task and sufficientfunds need to be allocated to the project. Delivery deadlinesneed to be correctly scoped against required changes, in orderto meet client expectations. The key points of responsibility tothe SEO project are in knowing that there are big changes nearthe start and during setup, but the changes do not stop after
    • setup, there are continuous ongoing refinements to the designand system over time. In this regard I find it important tomanage expectations and set realistic long term goals on what awebsite can be expected to achieve and in what time frames thosegoals hope to be met.So what should your goal be when you are delving into SEO foryour website? Well, everyones goal is exactly the same; improvepage rankings, improve page visits and hits and finally gainmore sales through the website.When it comes to SEO and achieving these goals you have to haveprinciples and my main principle is, "Good websites get goodratings and bad websites get bad ratings or none at all." Astime goes on with the improvement of search engine technologyand the refinement of search engine results this statementbecomes truer and truer. I believe in results through "whitehat" principles and methodologies.What are "white hat" principles? I guess I would compare it todoing things the honest way and the right way without risk. Sodevelop a good site, promote good linking, have good informativecontent and keep working on it and then you are on the road togood rankings through "White Hat" principles.So, why should you do things the "white hat" way? Well, searchengines do have some kind of understanding, an artificialintelligence. They soon catch on to websites spamming or linkingto websites with no relevance and bad cross linking. Its aboutbeing smart, in for the long term and wanting your business togrow organically, naturally.So how do I go about improving my site and making it optimizedfor search engines naturally? Well, thats why youre here! Solets run through few of the things you should be doing in yourwebsites from a fundamental level.Domain names:When choosing a domain name, choose one that is relevant to theproduct or service you are going to provide and that is assimple as possible. There are considerations of branding andproduct/service provided that should go into this choice.Involvement of marketing personal and product understanding isrequired but also consultation with your SEO professional isadvantageous. In this step I would say, take some time andchoose wisely. Keep it simple and easy to remember, often sayingit out loud will make it clear whether it can be understood by asimple man.It is a strongly held belief by many SEO professionals thatbuying a domain which is older, and that has been around for awhile, means it will not be sand boxed by Google. Whats thesandbox effect? Well, it refers to what Google does to a websiteor domain that is new or is relatively unknown by Google. In
    • many instances Googles Sandbox effect relegates the new domainto sub-optimal inclusion in search results. Regardless of thesites optimization it lowers the websites relevance and rankingto the term searched upon. If you can use your old businessdomain name, then consider this very important.If, however, you are buying a new domain name, then keep itrelevant to the product or service being sold or offered on thewebsite. Keep it close, relevant and simple. Relevance isprimary.Location specific domain or international domain ( .com orcom.au)? Personally I think dot coms are better, mainly becausethey appeal internationally, but if you want to you can keep itlocation specific and to your region, then consider purchasingall similar higher level domains, yourdomain.com andyourdomain.com.au, if you can.Choosing a Host:Fast, reliable and gives you all you that you need and want.Preferably gives a unique IP. Again some SEO professionalsbelieve this can also have a detrimental affect in Googlerankings but from my experience it sometimes does and itsometimes doesnt. I have had some sites come in with high PRrankings on shared IPs and others when I shifted to a new IPthe PR of the site jumped, so this is still a bit of a mysterywhen it comes to Google rankings.Traffic Considerations:When choosing your host ensure the plan you are on canbe expanded so that any new increases in traffic can beaccommodated accordingly.Site Design:There are several fundamental things to consider when you aremodifying or designing a website.Flash:Flash is/has been popular for a few years now and I trulybelieve it has its place. It is a great way of showing manyproducts or services in a small area, has great visual impact ifdone properly and can set a good friendly tone to the websitevisitor. Having said that, I also hate flash; it can be anabsolute nightmare when it comes to search engine optimization.What you should know about flash; it cannot be read by a searchengine as the search engine cannot read the text or the imagescontained within it nor can it interpret what is in the picturesbeing shown.When it comes to flash I would suggest, not making your whole
    • website flash. If you are designing a new website and you wantto use flash, then use it in high impact areas to capture theattention of your intended audience but use it sparingly. It isimportant to ensure that as much text content (to a maximumdiscussed in my next book, generally 300-500 characters) isavailable on the webpage and in simple HTML.Frames:Many older websites were designed with frames. Frames are wherethe main home page is actually a frameset page that includesseveral other pages into it. This makes the page hard to indexin search engines and should be avoided. While Google does nowindex framed sites, it is important to note that most of theother top search engines still cannot follow frame links. Theyonly see the frameset page and ignore the rest of the innerframes. This presents an SEO problem to us because it is highlylikely those inner pages contain our content keywords.Nowadays this is not really a huge issue as it is so uncommonfor a designer to actually use frames, but the easiest way toresolve the issue would be to enforce a no use policy onframes.Page Layout:According to research the Googlebot trawls web pages from leftto right and top to bottom. So given this little tidbit ofinformation it is clear that you should be putting your mostvaluable keywords and information on the left and near the top.Of course this is a blanket statement and does not take intoaccount design principles and beautification. Just keep it inmind during design of page layout. Position your more relevantkeywords to the left of the page and near the top.Good HTML Coding:A lot of HTML generator programs out there bloat HTML to thepoint it is 3-4 times larger than what it would be if you handcoded it. Keep it simple, use a text editor, edit your HTML theold school way; until there is a HTML generator tool worthy ofuse. If you cant code HTML, then do a search on the Internetand find a decent, free, e-book and learn how to do it.Javascript:This is very popular among many web development professionalsfor menus, popups, scrollers etc etc. It would be my suggestionto use simple plain HTML menus or as little javascript aspossible in web pages. There are many small javascript menusout there that are slim on javascript code to reduce this issueand make it almost negligible. Dont over clutter your site withjavascript as it increases page size, page load times and thesearch engines wont understand it.
    • Image Sizes:Keep them small and use only what you need to. This is essentialfor decreasing page loading times and getting information ontothe users screen as soon as possible.Overall Page Size and Loading:The overall page size is an important factor. It should loadquickly and be easily trawled. If you have followed the HTMLhand coding, used minimal javascript, used simple table layoutsand good image sizing, then you should be fine. There is muchevidence that supports the fact that Google and probably theother search engines also, do not like to scan huge files, sokeeping your overall HTML page size below 25k is my suggestion.Dynamic URLs & Page/File Names:Dynamic pages are roadblocks to high search engine positioning.Especially those that end in "?" or "&". In a dynamic site,variables are passed to the URL and the page is generateddynamically, often from information stored in a database as isthe case with many e-commerce sites. Normal .html pages arestatic - they are hard-coded, their information does not change,and there are no "?" or "&" characters in the URL.Pages with dynamic URLs are present in several engines, notablyGoogle and AltaVista, even though publicly AltaVista claimstheir spider does not crawl dynamic URLs. To a spider a "?"represents a sea of endless possibilities - some pages canautomatically generate a potentially massive number of URLs,trapping the spider in a virtually infinite loop.As a general rule, search engines will not properly indexdocuments that:• contain a "?" or "&"• End in the following document types: .cfm, .asp, .shtml, .php,.stm, .jsp, .cgi, .pl• Could potentially generate a large number of URLs.To avoid complications, consider creating static pages wheneverpossible, perhaps using the database to update the pages, not togenerate them on the fly.Slightly Off Topic Thoughts:The topics covered here are not considered completely SEO topicsbut in terms of overall objective – increasing sales, thissection is very important. Take these things on board, considerthem, consult with your designer and marketing team. Makeeducated and informed choices on these topics when consideringyour audience and what your website objectives are.Screen Size:
    • Over 65% of all screens in the World are set to run at the1024x768 resolution. Of the remaining percentage, 13% arerunning at 800x600, 20% running at larger sizes and 2% areunknown. So this affects the way you design. It would be mysuggestion to always design for the smallest user to visit yoursite, but often I find 800x600 restrictive so I tend to designfor slightly larger. Not large enough to make an 800x600 userangry but large enough to make it look good on larger screensalso. I size up my target users, my intended amount of contentand find some happy medium. I generally design for 1000x620 asthis is the perfect amount of real estate for a 1024x768 userwhen they have the browser top bar and status bar and Windowstaskbar.Colors and Themes:One important aspect of marketing - selling - is the use ofcolor. Meanings are attached to colors in the same way meaningsare attached to words.• Gold is the color of wealth and prosperity.• White is the color of pure innocence and cleanliness.• Pink is the color of femininity and softness.• Green is the color of natural things and freshness.• Red is the color of danger and stress.• Blue is the color the calmness, intelligence. The majority ofthe World selects blue as a favorite color. It often represents"trust"Use of color to establish an image or a brand is common in themarketing community, yet when you visit the websites of manysearch engine optimization professionals, its obvious thatcolor significance plays no part in their own web optimization.Some of the colors I found on SEO websites:• Baby Blue, a color which implies weakness.• Red, a color which implies risk, or danger.• Orange a color which implies a cheerful "levity". Orange isone of Americans least favorite colors.Although color selection is off topic for SEO, I would considerit a very important factor in what SEO is trying to achieve, inthe end, for your website – selling more product, creatingloyalty to your brand and customer impact. Color research issomething you should seriously consider. In summary of colorchoices, I would suggest studying and learning more about yourcustomers, researching color choices and their relevance to yourunderlying products and making informed choices on these incollaboration. If in doubt, then I suggest sticking to safe andtrusted colors within safe, eye pleasing designs.Gifs for Logos & jpgs for Pictures:Ensure you are using gifs for logos and background placements
    • and jpgs for photos on your website. This helps reduce size andimprove clarity of the web site overall.Browser:It is vitally important to ensure your web page works in bothIE, Firefox and Opera. Testing other browsers is also anadvantage, but these are the main three in use nowadays (2007).I think quoting stats on the browser breakdown are irrelevant asyou need it to work in all browsers. W3C cross browser complianceis great for this.