What Is Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is a process of choosing the most appropriate targeted keyword phrases related to your site and ensuring that this ranks your site highly in search engines so that when someone searches for specific phrases it returns your site on tops. It basically involves fine tuning the content of your site along with the HTML and Meta tags and also involves appropriate link building process. The most popular search engines are Google, Yahoo, MSN Search, AOL and Ask Jeeves. Search engines keep their methods and ranking algorithms secret, to get credit for finding the most valuable search-results and to deter spam pages from clogging those results. A search engine may use hundreds of factors while ranking the listings where the factors themselves and the weight each carries may change continually. Algorithms can differ so widely that a webpage that ranks #1 in a particular search engine could rank #200 in another search engine. New sites need not be “submitted” to search engines to be listed. A simple link from a well established site will get the search engines to visit the new site and begin to spider its contents. It can take a few days to even weeks from the referring of a link from such an established site for all the main search engine spiders to commence visiting and indexing the new site.


If you are unable to research and choose keywords and work on your own search engine ranking, you may want to hire someone to work with you on these issues.


Search engine marketing and promotion companies, will look at the plan for your site and make recommendations to increase your search engine ranking and website traffic. If you wish, they will also provide ongoing consultation and reporting to monitor your website and make recommendations for editing and improvements to keep your site traffic flow and your search engine ranking high. Normally your search engine optimization experts work with your web designer to build an integrated plan right away so that all aspects of design are considered at the same time.

Website as Storefronts

A customer walks into the store, browses through products and shelves, picks up items, inspects, considers the prices, chooses a product and takes it to the cash register to pay. Now if you want to sell your products online, then your site must be enabled for e-commerce, where you must have the following features:


  • You need to provide plenty of content and product description like sizes, dimensions, colors and comparisons with other similar products. It must allow the customer to choose a product, get a clear pricing and shipping costs on the product, complete the transaction and get an order number, and/or invoice confirmation via email. Allow your customer to choose a shipping method.
  • You must tell the customer if the item is in stock or delivered against order. Ideally, you should have an email contact or live help if the customer has a question. Most importantly you must respond immediately! If you want to provide your own live chat and help desk services on your website, specialized softwares are available for purchase.
  • Be sure your customer service links are large and clearly marked, so your client does not have to dig around to find information.
  • Provide an ‘about us’ section or a section about your policies. If you have privacy statements and customer satisfaction policies, your customer will feel better about shopping in your store.
  • You probably want to have customer quotes and references on the storefront page, as well, to let your prospective client know that others are happy with your service.
  • Provide an FAQ with information about your return-back policies, guarantees, shipping prices and insurance charges if any.
  • If you are so inclined, you can offer a print catalogue if the customer prefers to order one from your storefront and shop in the privacy of their homes.
  • Do not annoy your customers by presenting products that are marked ‘sold’ or pages that say ‘under construction’ or ‘coming soon’.
  • Do add new content frequently, so your returning customers will not be bored by seeing the same products they saw four months ago.
  • If your site has got a date tag or has current references, be careful to change these references frequently so you don’t give the perception that nobody is attending or reading your site.

Web hosting Services and Domain names

Choosing an appropriate domain name is very important. First and foremost, when it comes to domain names, try to stay away from the silly, stupid, ridiculous or clever. Keep your domain name simple and make it something your customers can remember if they lose the link to your business website.


Take note that, while your domain name on Geocities or AOL may seem like the least expensive way to go, it may also get you dropped from certain search engines. Some search engines ignore domain addresses that reside on these ‘free servers’ or on the ‘cheap’ servers.


Even if your site is recognized and considered by search engines, a professional domain name that uses your primary company name or associated words is likely to get more attention and be considered as a stable business by your prospective customers.


Purchasing domain names are not that expensive which cost about $100 and there are many companies that can register the name for you, provided it is available and has not already been used by another company.


Using one of your keywords in your domain name can increase your score on some search engines. For example, solderingirons.com could be more effective as Electric-soldering-irons.com, if that domain name was available.


You might also choose to establish more than one domain name using keywords and then link your ‘doorway’ domain sites to your primary site. But you will have to pay for each of the domain name and also the monthly hosting fees. It all depends on the type and size of your business and your competition.


Keep in mind that some search engines disregard ‘doorway’ sites. So put at least a page of content on the doorway site with some useful information and then link it to your primary site. But don’t design it as an empty page. The other reason being, you can have one, three, five, or even more email addresses that all contain your business name, and give your business a professional feel. When customers get emails from dominicstone@solderingirons.com they feel as if they are dealing with a stable, professional business operation.


No need for customers to understand how you manage all your email boxes on your domain. They just need to feel your business is dependable and reputable.

Web Hosting Companies

With thousands of web hosting companies in the market it can be difficult if not impossible to know which web site hosting companies truly provide an excellent hosting solution at an excellent price. When you have an established domain name with a good web hosting company, you can get reports on your traffic and which of your pages your customers are visiting most often, as well as many other statistics.


Your web host will charge you a fee for monthly service that ranges from $10 or $20 to the more expensive $50.00 per month. Plan to pay between $300 and $500 per year to your web host.


Always avoid free or very inexpensive web hosting services, because you may experience bouts of server downtimes and you are likely to have significant limitations in storage, number of email addresses, FTP upload etc.


Be sure your web host can accommodate e-commerce and storefronts, wireless capability, bogs, forums, chats, online interactive helps and anything else you want to add onto your site.


Estimate what your growth needs are and ensure that this web host can serve you as you grow. The last thing you want to do is change host mid way unless you absolutely have to do so.


Check your bandwidth capability to be sure that, if your website traffic grows rapidly, your customers will not have to wait to download or view information. Three things to look for in a web hosting company are:


  1. Excellent Customer Support: Your hosting provider should be there for you 24/7 and give you instant access to the technicians you need to solve your problem. Ask them how long it takes for them to typically respond to your problem. A good test is to call them in the mid night to check if you get to a live, level 3 support.


  1. A Sound Infrastructure: Check whether they offer a multi-homed network powered by multiple bandwidth providers to ensure redundancy. Some offer a 100% guarantee on its network availability or network uptime.


  1. Financial Stability: If you’re running very critical operations, you can’t afford to be with a hosting company that may not be in business in a few months.

Use Keywords In Page Titles

It is recommended to use keywords in page titles itself. This title tag is different from a Meta tag, but it’s worth considering it in relation to them. Whatever text one places in the title tag (between the <title> and </title> portions) will appear in the title bar of browsers when they view the web page. Some browsers also append whatever you put in the title tag by adding their own name, as for example Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or OPERA.


The actual text you use in the title tag is one of the most important factors in how a search engine may decide to rank your web page. In addition, all major web crawlers will use the text of your title tag as the text they use for the title of your page in your listings.


If you have designed your website as a series of websites or linked pages and not just a single Home Page, you must bear in mind that each page of your website must be search engine optimized. The title of each page i.e. the keywords you use on that page and the phrases you use in the content will draw traffic to your site.


The unique combination of these words and phrases and content will draw customers using different search engine terms and techniques, so be sure you capture all the keywords and phrases you need for each product, service or information page.


The most common mistake made by small business owners when they first design their website is to place their business name or firm name in every title of every page. Actually most of your prospective customers do not bother to know the name of your firm until after they have looked at your site and decided it is worth book marking.


So, while you want your business name in the title of the home page, it is probably a waste of valuable keywords and space to put it in the title line of every page on your site. Why not consider putting keywords in the title so that your page will display closer to the top of the search engine listing.


Dedicating first three positions for keywords in title avoiding the stop words like ‘and’, ‘at’ and the like is crucial in search engine optimization.

Tools to monitor your website

You can’t just put your website on the net with right keywords and all the right touches and expect your traffic and ranking will remain constant. As the web is an ever changing landscape, you have to keep track of your own web results like what is happening with the competition and also the best and highest ranked sites. There are many useful tools to help you find out what exactly is happening.


  1. A tool which you can use to test your own website links or other websites for broken links:



  1. With this tool you can check search engines for the number of back links to your URL i.e. other web pages linking to your site:



  1. It sometimes becomes important to know where the servers of your hosting company are physically located. Because, some search engines like Google have the ability to filter search results based on their physical location called geotargeting. This could be used to determine why your site is showing in only a certain country. This link can also be used to research the country location of a particular competitor’s website:



  1. In order to track the location of the visitor or a customer to your website:



  1. In order to check the Yahoo! web ranking of your’s or your competitor’s website use :



  1. Here is a link to check the web ranking of a website using a Mac or Apple computer:



  1. You need a Google AdSense account for using this. This link provides you with charts and reports which will help you analyze traffic, clicks, and results from your AdSense advertising



  1. If you have an AdSense account, you can analyze your website address or another website address to see what Google ads will be displayed when the customer selects certain website names or keywords:



  1. This link will take you to a cooperative advertising network where you can join to display and

share your ads with other website owners:




  1. You can add the Search Functionality on your website which uses Google. This works only if your site is listed in the Google Index.



  1. Here are some links to free website counters which you can use on your website to track your traffic and hits:







Tips to Increase Ranking and Website Traffic

It is worth cataloguing the basic principles to be enforced to increase website traffic and search engine rankings.

  • Create a site with valuable content, products or services.
  • Place primary and secondary keywords within the first 25 words in your page content and spread them evenly throughout the document.
  • Research and use the right keywords/phrases to attract your target customers.
  • Use your keywords in the right fields and references within your web page. Like Title, META tags, Headers, etc.
  • Keep your site design simple so that your customers can navigate easily between web pages, find what they want and buy products and services.
  • Submit your web pages i.e. every web page and not just the home page, to the most popular search engines and directory services. Hire someone to do so, if required. Be sure this is a manual submission. Do not engage an automated submission service.
  • Keep track of changes in search engine algorithms and processes and accordingly modify your web pages so your search engine ranking remains high. Use online tools and utilities to keep track of how your website is doing.
  • Monitor your competitors and the top ranked websites to see what they are doing right in the way of design, navigation, content, keywords, etc.
  • Use reports and logs from your web hosting company to see where your traffic is coming from. Analyze your visitor location and their incoming sources whether search engines or links from other sites and the keywords they used to find you.
  • Make your customer visit easy and give them plenty of ways to remember you in the form of newsletters, free reports, reduction coupons etc.
  • Demonstrate your industry and product or service expertise by writing and submitting articles for your website or for article banks so you are perceived as an expert in your field.
  • When selling products online, use simple payment and shipment methods to make your customer’s experience fast and easy.
  • When not sure, hire professionals. Though it may seem costly, but it is a lot less expensive than spending your money on a website which no one visits.
  • Don’t look at your website as a static brochure. Treat it as a dynamic, ever-changing sales tool and location, just like your real store to which your customers with the same seriousness.

Tips to Get Repeat Web Traffic

  1. Update the pages on your website frequently. Stagnant sites are dropped by some search engines. You can even put a date counter on the page to show when it was last updated.


  1. Offer additional value on your website. For affiliates and partners you can place links to their sites and products and ask them to do the same for you. You can also advertise their books or videos, if these products relate to your industry and are not in competition with your own product.


  1. 3. You can allow customers to ‘opt in’ to get discounts and special offers. Place a link on your site to invite customers to ‘opt in’ to get a monthly newsletter or valuable coupons.


  1. Add a link to your primary page with a script ‘Book Mark or Add this site to your Favorites’.


  1. Add a link ‘Recommend this site to a Friend’ so that the visitor can email your website link, with a prewritten title, “Thought you might be interested in this”, just by clicking on it.


  1. Brand your website so that visitors always know they are on your site. Use consistent colors, logos and slogans and always provide a ‘Contact Us’ link on each page.
  2. Create a ‘Our Policies’ page that clearly defines your philosophy and principles in dealing with your customers. Also post your privacy policy as well so that clients know they are secure when they visit your site.


  1. Create a FAQ page which addresses most of the doubts and clarifications about your product or your company that are likely to be asked. This helps to resolve most of the customers doubts in their first visit to your site.


  1. Ensure that each page on your website has appropriate titles and keywords so that your customer can find their way back to your site if they lose the book mark.


  1. Never spam a client, who has opted for newsletters, with unsolicited emails. Later if they decide they want to ‘opt out’ of the mailings, be sure you honor their request and take them off the mailing list. They may still come back if they like your products. But they will certainly not come back if you continue to flood their email box with mails they no longer wish to receive.

The Importance of Search Engines

It is the search engines that finally bring your website to the notice of the prospective customers. When a topic is typed for search, nearly instantly, the search engine will sift through the millions of pages it has indexed about and present you with ones that match your topic. The searched matches are also ranked, so that the most relevant ones come first.


Remember that a prospective customer will probably only look at the first 2-3 listings in the search results. So it does matter where your website appears in the search engine ranking.


Further, they all use one of the top 6-7 search engines and these search engines attract more visitors to websites than anything else. So finally it all depends on which search engines the customers use and how they rank your site.


It is the Keywords that play an important role than any expensive online or offline advertising of your website.


It is found by surveys that a when customers want to find a website for information or to buy a product or service, they find their site in one of the following ways:

  • The first option is they find their site through a search engine.
  • Secondly they find their site by clicking on a link from another website or page that relates to the topic in which they are interested.
  • Occasionally, they find a site by hearing about it from a friend or reading in an article.


Thus it’s obvious the the most popular way to find a site, by search engine, represents more than 90% of online users. In other words, only 10% of the people looking for a website will use methods other than search engines.


All search engines employ a ranking algorithm and one of the main rules in a ranking algorithm is to check the location and frequency of keywords on a web page. Don’t forget that algorithms also give weightage to link population (number of web pages linking to your site). When performed by a qualified, experienced search engine optimization consultant, your site for high search engine rankings really does work, unless you have a lot of money and can afford to pay the expert. With better knowledge of search engines and how they work, you can also do it on your own.

The Importance of Referrer Logs

Referrer logging is used to allow web servers and websites to identify where people are visiting them either for promotional or security purposes. You can find out which search engine they used to find your site and whether your customer has come from a ‘linked site’. It is basically the URL of the previous webpage from which your link was followed.


By default, most hosting accounts don’t include referrer logs but may be subscribedd for an extra monthly fee. If your web host does not provide a graphic report of your log files, you can still view the referrer logs for your website by logging into the host server using free or low-cost FTP software, like these:


FTP Explorer:   http://www.ftpx.com/

LogMeIn: http://secure.logmein.com/dmcq/103/support.asp

SmartFTP: http://www.smartftp.com/

FTP Voyager: http://www.ftpvoyager.com/


The log file is available on your web server which can be download into your computer later. You can use a log analysis tool, like those mentioned below, to create a graphic report from your log files so that the files are easier to understand.


Abacre Advanced Log Analyzer http://www.abacre.com/ala/

Referrer Soft http://www.softplatz.com/software/referrer/

Log Analyzer http://www.loganalyzer.net


You can view the files using Word, Word Perfect, txt or WordPad files even if you don’t have the right tool. This information is very crucial to your business and marketing plans and is not advisable to neglect it.


In addition to identifying the search engine or linked site from where your visitor arrived, referrer logs can also tell you what keywords or keyword phrases your client used for searching.


As referrer information can sometimes violate privacy, some browsers allow the user to disable the sending of referrer information. Proxy and Firewall software can also filter out referrer information, to avoid leaking the location of private websites. This can result in other problems, as some servers block parts of their site to browsers that don’t send the right referrer information, in an attempt to prevent deep linking or unauthorized use of bandwidth. Some proxy software gives the top-level address of the target site itself as the referrer, which prevents these problems and still not divulging the user’s last visited site.


Since the referrer can easily be spoofed or faked, however, it is of limited use in this regard except on a casual basis.