Your business can have the best products or services on the Web, but it doesn’t mean a thing if potential customers can’t find your site.
The best way to get your Web site noticed is by ranking high in the results when users ask search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN and others to scan the Internet for your kind of offerings.
It’s one of the most challenging and potentially rewarding tasks you’ll face in maintaining a commercial Web site, and absolutely essential for success.
We cover what you need to know for a great start with:
- What is SEO?
- Some Cautions
- How SEO Works
- How Search Engines Rank Web Sites
- SEO Best Practices
- Who and What to Avoid
- SEO Maintenance
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is the process of making your Web site as easy to find as possible for search engines and, through them, your clients and customers.
For that to happen, your Web pages have to contain the keywords and phrases most likely to be used when a customer enters search requests in an engine, and your pages must be organized in way that’s most “friendly” to those high-tech seek-and-find services.
There are two dominant types of search engines:
- Crawler-Based - Google, Yahoo and other top search engines operate automatically, coming up with their rankings by sending “spiders” out to “crawl” Web sites, analyze their contents and rank them according to how likely they are to have what users want.
- Human-Powered Directories - These depend on Web site owners or someone working on their behalf to manually enter their listings, or enough information for directory editors to look over the site and write their own reviews. If you don’t submit your site to these directories, it won’t show up when they’re searched.
Nobody, repeat, nobody can guarantee you top rankings – much less the top slots – on Google or other major search engines. Some providers claim to have “unique” relationships with them, or an “inside” source that will get your Web site to prime time. Don’t believe it.
The simple truth is that you can’t “buy” your way to the top, because position is never sold. Some search engines merge pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion data with their regular results, but high rankings still aren’t a done deal.
One scam promises top placement, but gets your site only in lists of paid ads, not overall search results, where you need to be.
Just as you went shopping for storefront software in Step 6, take your time and look around for quality SEO software packages:
- Check in with SEO discussion boards or online forums to see what current users are saying and draw on their advice.
- Ask the SEO provider if it reports any violations of search engine guidelines it finds to Google’s anti-spam project.
- To gauge SEO specialists’ trustworthiness, ask for a money-back guarantee or some other refund if you’re not happy with their work – and get it in writing.