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SEO: Getting your site into search Engines

There are people who make their living doing Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. Here are some basics you can do yourself.

The most important thing:
Have quality content and update it often

Make your content unique, perhaps with interesting facts, new insights on your subject, or a new form of presentation.

If you can, update the information often and add more interesting content.

Optimize Your Pages

1. Make sure the <head> of each page has a title tag and metatags for description and keywords.

Titles and metatags are tags embedded in web page headers, not visible to the visitor, that search engines use to categorize your site.

Add a different title to each page. The title should be about 65 characters long. If you view it in the html, it will look like this:
<title>This page is about pink widgets</title>

The description tag is the must have metatag. It should be about 150 characters. Make sure each page has a different description metatag.

If you are using a DIY site such as BigCommerce or a DIY tool like RapidWeaver, they will have fields to fill in for each page that will be translated into metatags. Don't ignore them or leave them blank!

If you're using WordPress, metatags are generated automatically. You can override that with a plugin such as Add-Meta-Tags (See this page for instructions on installing a plugin. Most plugins listed on Wordpress also have a page of instructions on how to install and use them.)

2. Make sure your pages really talk about what you want to be listed under.

For example, this site is about setting up a website. The phrase appears several times, in several variations -- not in a spammy way, just embedded in the text. But also, the whole website is dedicated to that subject.

Create a sitemap

A sitemap can be a simple web page listing links to each your pages. It's not only helpful for visitors, it also helps search engines find all the pages on your site.

Publicize your website offline

1. Add your URL to all your preprinted materials, including

  • billing statements
  • letterhead
  • business cards
  • brochures
  • fliers
  • print newsletters
  • print, radio or TV ads

2. Send out announcements when your website launches or changes

A new or revamped website is a good excuse to send a mailing to customers and prospects. Mail out a postcard or flyer announcing your URL. Offer special incentives to people who go to the site.


3. Send out "internet only" special sale mailings

Or offer a free item, such as a pen or a Tshirt to people who visit the site. Here is a good example of using free items to attract people to your website

4. Talk about your website.

Let people know it's there. Frequently, it's easier to remember a URL than a phone number. Tell people they can find your address or phone number on the website (and make sure it's there!) Use it in your ads. Instead of repeating your phone number three times and hoping people listening to your radio ad will memorize it, give your URL.




Resources
Webmaster Guidelines by Google The horse's mouth.
An interview with Matt Cutts, head of Google's Webspam team about what makes a high quality site in Google's eyes
Webproworld Extensive forum on Search Engine Optimization
SEO Chat offers discussion and free site SEO analysis tools.
Use the Web to Grow Your Business A collection of articles
XML Sitemap another online sitemap building tool
Google offers a section on troubleshooting sitemaps to make sure your site map conforms to their standards.
A brief tutorial on creating metatags.
Scrub the Web offers a metatag analyzer tool to evaluate metatags.