Heading - Stage 2: Optimising your Website

Unlike a high street shop that can be found by walking past it, a Website is slightly different. Due to its very nature, in some ways it has no physical presence. With any Website, a designer needs to take steps to ensure that their site can be found by as many people as possible. This means improving the site's visibility. The best way to improve visibility is through Search engine optimization (SEO). SEO entails the techniques used that increase the volume of traffic to a Website.

You don't have to spend loads of money ensuring your site is optimised for maximum results. And do not believe these companies that claim that they can guarantee you top search engine ranking - while relieving you of a lot of your cash! By undertaking the steps explained below, you can ensure your site is visible to the search engines so they rank high in them. By creating a highly visible Website that is search engine-friendly, you will benefit from a constant flow of interested visitors.

On average, over 60 billion searches are carried out worldwide each month, by search engines. Approximately 37 billion of these were made through Google. Therefore, your goal should be to ensure that your site is ranked on the first page of a Google list of search results -- ideally it should appear within the first five. Read on to find out what steps you can take to make your site more visible to potential visitors. Trust me - it's not rocket science!

Please noteSearch engines all work in different ways regarding what Websites they display. However, by working through the following steps, you will make a big difference to the visibility of you site.

STEP 1: TITLE TAG

The TITLE tag appears in between the HEAD tags at the very top of an HTML document (after the Document Type Definition (DTD)).  The text that is placed between the TITLE tags is what shows at the very top of the window (blue strip), when this page is displayed in a Web browser. It is the first thing a search engine reads when it is scanning your page and it will appear as the first line in search results.  Consequently, this string of text is incredibly important regarding page visibility.  Keep the text in the TITLE tag concise; indicate what the page is about.

Example

<html>
<head>

<title>Free Gear Design - Web Design Guide (Stage 2: Optimising your Website)</title>

</head>
</html>

STEP 2: META (KEYWORDS) TAG

This is the second tag in the HEAD section of your HTML page, after the TITLE tag. This tag refers to keywords. A keyword is what a person would enter into a search engine box and the what the search engine would then hunt for in your Website and many others. When listing keywords in this tag, you must use words that aptly describe the main content on that page and that page only! The number of keywords you use will depend on the amount of content you have on that particular page. If you list words that relate to other pages of your site, this could result in your page ranking low in search engines.

The Meta Keywords tag helps people find not just your Website, but the correct page of your Website. As the amount of content you have in your site increases, so too should the number keywords you are likely to need. One of the fastest and simplest ways to increase your site's visibility in the search engine results pages is by improving your Web page keyword density.

Regarding multiple subject pages, keyword density is based on the following three factors: keywords used, number of words on the page relating to that keyword and the total number of words on the page. For example, if we consider a page with 500 words. The Meta keywords tag contains the word house 3 times (i.e. detached house, semi-detached house and 3-bedroom house) and the word car, 5 times. If your page consists of 5 paragraphs about houses and 3 paragraphs on cars, the house keyword has a low keyword density (bad) and the car keyword has a high keyword density (good).

With single subject pages, keyword density is based on the keywords used and the number of words on the page. If your keyword occurs only once or twice in a page of 500 or more words, it has a lower keyword density than a keyword that would occur six or seven times in a page of similar length.

Not allowing for multiple subjects on a page is a common mistake made when optimising a page for search engines. As far as search engines are concerned, if a particular keyword has a higher density than that of another Website, the chances of that page obtaining a much better search engine ranking increases greatly. Not all search engines calculate keyword density in the same way but if you follow this instruction, you shouldn't go far wrong. You can check your pages keyword density for FREE at SEOchat.

Example

<html>
<head>

<title>Free Gear Design - Web Design Guide (Stage 2: Optimising your Website)</title>
<meta name="keywords" content=" free Website design guide, marketing your Website, make money on the web, web bling, SEO">

</head>
</html>

TipWhen you are deliberating about what keywords to use, think about what words of phrases people are likely to enter into search engines to find your site content. Make sure that your keywords are in the first paragraph of your body text.

STEP 3: META (DESCRIPTION) TAG

Another useful tag found inside the HEAD section is the Meta description tag. This tag describes both your page and site content and should provide search engine spiders (search programs) in the form of an organised text string (sentence). Try and make it as exciting as possible and use as many of your Keywords as possible. Ensure that it accurately reflects what is on that particular page and by describing who you are, what you do, and why people should visit your page. Many search engines use this description as the summary for your site in its list of results.

Search engines will penalise sites that misuse the descriptive tag by excessively repeating words for the purpose of trying to obtain a higher ranking. Some consider it spamming and will consequently give your site a lower ranking.

Example

<html>
<head>

<title>Free Gear Design - Web Design Guide (Stage 2: Optimising your Website)</title>
<meta name="keywords" content=" free Website design guide, marketing your Website, make money on the web, web bling, SEO">
<meta name="description" content=" Website design guide including web authoring tools, FTP's, search engine optimisation, web objects, marketing, making money from your site and more all free.">

</head>
</html>

TipA Meta description tag can boost your rankings with some engines. To see engines that use meta description tags, click here.

STEP 4: CONTENT

Your Web page content is very important because not only do your readers take great interest in it, but search engines do too. The more unique your Web page content is, the more the visitors to your site will think of you as an expert in your field and search engines will as look upon you in a similar way.  Your page will receive a higher ranking because they feel you have something special to offer. 

Ensure that your content is well written and that it is not repeated on different pages.  If necessary, no more than 30% of page content should be duplicated.  The content on each page should bear some relevance to the theme of the site. Page content should relate to the information you have placed in your title and Meta tags.  Use Meta tag descriptive text and keywords in your content (or vice versa) -- do not forget keyword density!

The words that first appear to the viewer when the page is gradually loading in their Web browser, are the ones that they will use to determine whether they want to wait for the page to fully download. First impressions are critical! When search engines compose a short but exciting description of your business, they tend to use text near the top of the page. Don't forget -- pages with a lot of images or rich media content could take quite a while to fully show.

Search engines disregard images, graphics and videos. Therefore, if your Website contains large amounts of this type of content and only a small amount of text, your site will rank low in searches. If graphics are used to display textual content, the text will also be invisible. Only content that can be seen in your page's HTML source code will be seen by search engines. The more text your site has, the higher ranking it will get. Some search engines penalise the ranking status of a Web page if it is a slow downloading page. Therefore, resist the urge to decorate your site with superfluous rich content (animation, graphics and video etc) when text can be used instead. If the matter of SEO doesn't overly concern you, consider downloading times from your visitors point of view. If they have to wait, they won't wait -- they will go elsewhere!

To overcome the issue of search engines ignoring images, adding an ALT attribute to the image (IMG) tag, can improve your page's keyword density because spiders will perceive the image as text.

<img src="../../images/notebluebg.jpg" alt="Please note" width="40" height="40" />

Some Websites have hidden text on a page that is hidden from the reader but visible to search engines, to mislead search engines (for example, making the background colour the same as the text or placing text at the bottom of a page). If a search engine believes you are using these or similar tricks to gain an advantage with search results ranking, your site will be removed from all future listings for approximately a year.

Tip Make sure that your keywords are in the first paragraph of your body text. Search engines expect that your first block of text will contain the important keywords for the document. Why dont you make the first paragraph on the page, an introduction. Also, use Keywords and keyphrases in Hyperlinks. Search engines are looking for the theme of your page, so when they see words hyperlinked in your body text, they consider these as important.

STEP 6: SUBMITTING A WEBSITE

Once your site is completed and published, submit it to the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN etc.). They are the key to getting noticed on the web. You can submit to several search engines at once for FREE at Submitexpress.  Alternately, you can submit your Website manually, one at a time. Although submitting to many search engines in one go sounds easier, it is documented that singular submissions are more likely to lead to be more successful regarding registration. You may find that concentrating on getting a high ranking with one particular search engine may prove to be more effective because the all have different rules regarding their rating systems. Recommend search engines are Google, Yahoo and MSN. You can register your site with them for FREE. Before you submit your site to a search engine, print a copy of their rules on site submissions and find out how their search engines work. Design your Web page to get the best results from their search engines, in conjunction with their rules.

There are two types of search engine. Sites like Yahoo and Google have editors (people) who review each site. When you register your site you need to compose a short description about your site. Once an editor has viewed your site, they will decide if it is relevant to that category. Site editors are usually inundated with registrations, so ensure your site is relevant to the submitted category. Sites like Lycos and Ask Jeeves use program-based search engines search (crawl or spider) through your site and index them (add the content of your site to their database). If you change your site content, a crawler based search engine will amend your ranking. This could be either good or bad. Crawler based search engines will re-index your site between every 48 hours to every 7 days depending on the company. To accommodate search engines that use editors (people), if you change your site content in a major way, re-submit its content to them.

TipWhen you compose your site description, save it as you might need to use it again for subsequent search engine submissions. There is currently an Open Directory (via Google) being created, with editors viewing each site. It is advisable that you use this service and it is FREE. To acquire more information, view the submission rules or join, visit the Dmoz Website.

STEP 7: RECIPROCAL LINKING

One of the best ways to increase traffic, and to target specific audiences, is to trade links with other sites that attract a similar audience. I recommend that you have a page dedicated to displaying links with other sites that have agreed to put a link to your site on their page also. The phrase "You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" is the name of the game when it comes to SEO.  Exchanging links is a great way to build your search engine ranking. Many consider the relevancy of a site by the number of sites that link to it.

STEP 8: SEO ONLINE TOOLS

Google Webmaster Tools provides a FREE and easy way to make your Website more Google-friendly. Google Webmaster Tools can be used by anyone with a Website, no matter how big or small. To get guidelines and other useful webmaster information, please visit the Webmaster Help Center at Webmasters. Google Analytics shows you how people found your site, how they explored it, and how you can enhance their visitor experience. Improve your Website return on investment, increase conversions, and make more money on the web. To get your FREE code for Google Analytics click here. Google Analytics generally updates your reports every 24 hours. This means that it could take 24 hours for data to appear in your account after you have first installed the tracking code but well worth the wait. You can also get a FREE reliable invisible web tracker , which is a highly configurable hit counter and has real-time detailed web stats at Statcounter.

STEP 9: HUMAN Vs ROBOT INDEXING

There are always two sides to every coin and Website indexing is no different. Search engines such as DMOZ (open directory), that are more selective with their indexing, use people to search sites and catalogue their content. Other larger search engines (for example, Google) are less choosy concerning what Websites they index. Submitting your site to these types of robot powered search engines like Google is fine; however, it is advisable that to receive the best ranking possible, you must help them to index your site correctly.

The following list indicates what factors influence Google’s relevancy rankings, when searching and indexing your site:

  • How close keywords are to each other (the closer the better)
  • Content that includes keywords in text or links
  • Whether each keyword listed, has been mentioned several times on a page
  • Whether header tags have been used to structure content
  • Whether there are links to other sites (external) whose content is of a similar theme
  • Whether there are links to pages in the same site (internal) that link to relating content
  • The number of words on a page (acceptable range is 50 to 600)
  • Whether page titles are suitably descriptive (use at least 90 characters)
  • Spam, link farms, cloaking or excessive repetition is penalised

It has been SUGGESTED that Meta tags have no known influence on its indexing process.

Now your site is uploaded and submitted how about adding some extra objects to make your site more attractive, Find out how by reading Web Design Guide STAGE 3: Adding Web Bling




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