The Internet has become a vital tool for collecting information. Almost everyone relies on the Internet for information. Suppose you would like to know about a particular product or service. All that you need to do is open a search engine, like Google, Yahoo or MSN, type the keyword and search for the information. Then you get a list of websites that can provide relevant information.
For a person keen to start an online business, having a website without search engine optimization is as good as not having one at all. A good SEO ranking ensures that your website is listed at the top by search engines. Many beginners often ignore search engine optimization, considering it to be a complicated task. They should put a little time and effort into learning some simple SEO techniques. Properly planned optimization can prove to be a great blessing on your site. If making some small changes to your website can drive huge traffic, they are worth making.
There are a number of SEO consultants promising to help you achieve a high ranking. While it’s true that there are a number of reputable firms that offer true services, there are also a number of scam companies. Beware of such companies. Before you seek the advice of an SEO consultant, here are a few steps you can try out yourself to get recognition from search engines.
Search engine optimization involves two steps, namely on-page and off-page SEO.
On-Page Search Engine Optimization
The title, content, headers and images of a website are considered on-page objects. Organizing these on-page objects to increase the search engine ranking of a website is called on-page optimization.
The title of your website often makes the first impression. The website title appears on the colored bar at the top of the web page. Make the title attractive and impressive. Choose a good keyword that best describes your website. Similarly, give good keyword rich titles for the sub-pages linked within your website.
Website content is the major thing you must concentrate on in order to get a good search engine ranking. Keep the relevant content that best portrays your website and its purpose. Search engines have automated crawler programs called spiders or bots (or sometimes even spiderbots), which crawl through the content of the website and search for keywords entered by the user. So make the content of your website keyword rich.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can just jumble the keywords wherever possible. Make the content fluent with proper keyword usage. Unnecessary and excess usage of keywords can make a search engine devalue your site or completely ban it from its index. Keep updating the content of your website so that every time a particular visitor visits your site, he or she can find the updated content. This makes the visitor keep visiting.
Using duplicate content reduces the chances of your website being crawled. So avoid using duplicate content. Also check that the content of your website is grammatically correct. Remember, there is a lot of difference in spelling between American and British English. Use the grammar of your target market. Always keep your text in HTML format rather than using graphics to convey text. This is because the search engines do not give much attention to graphics.
Meta tags can also be used to boost the search engine rankings, but not to a great extent. Moreover, meta tags are now rarely used to check the relevancy of a website. Adding them, however, will do no harm to your website.
Make your website look pleasant and appealing to the visitors. Add suitable designs and light graphics to make it beautiful. This entices people to give your site a second visit. It’s a natural human tendency to give a second look to things that please the eyes.
Check that all pages of the website are properly linked and have proper content. This helps the spider crawl through each page.
Off-Page Search Engine Optimization
Off-Page search engine optimization deals with the establishment of incoming links to the website. This is often known as link building. Search engines give great consideration to incoming links and their popularity.
It is always wise to link to a site relevant to your own. Good quality linking, which means a link that has a high ranking, can definitely drive good traffic to the site linked to it, thereby increasing the page ranking of the site. To the contrary, if the site linked to your site is of poor quality, your site is at a high risk of being affected. A careful study of what sites you are linking to is essential.
Link Building Can Be Two-Way or One-Way
Two-way link building, or reciprocal link building, is a sort of link exchange. Two site owners mutually agree to place each others’ links on their websites with an assurance that the links will drive traffic to their site.
One-way link building is placing your link on some other sites and offering them something in return. A simple way of building links is to submit useful articles with your link to different article directories or writing blogs. This is the best way to drive traffic to your site.
There are a number of other factors that can determine the search engine requirements of your website. One such factor is the utility of the website. What is the goal of your website? Are you selling a single product or a number of products through your website? Well, if your website is a single product website, the probability that visitors will buy the product is less. Therefore, more SEO techniques are needed. On the other hand, if your website is a multiple product website, you will require fewer SEO techniques.
The level of competition is another important factor. For example, if the product or service you are selling is a common one, you’ll have to compete with a larger group. Thus, you’ll need extensive search engine optimization. But if your product is less common, the level of competition you face is less. And with minimal SEO techniques, you can achieve great success.
Keyword popularity is another SEO technique. The more popular the keyword is, the more SEO techniques you’ll need to use. If the keyword for your website is less popular, there are fewer websites competing with you. Hence, with very little optimization, you can rank high.
Protecting Your Search Engine Rankings
Search engine ranking is extremely important in online business and has caused a number of webmasters to use illegitimate methods to gain popularity. However, search engines have identified these techniques and such sites have been banned from the search engine index.
Sometimes, it happens that even the good websites get labeled as scams. Even after you apply all the legitimate methods of optimization, your website is still at risk of being identified as a scam. This can be avoided by taking the proper precautions.
Link building of course adds to the search engine ranking. Top ranking can be achieved by link popularity, but you need to be careful when choosing the sites you wish to link to. You can get a good website ranking when you link to quality websites. Due to increased optimization, some sites have been exclusively designed for enhancing link popularity. Such sites are recognized by the search engines as "bad neighborhoods" and some penalties are imposed. Even though you won’t be penalized when a bad neighborhood links to you, you’ll have to pay a penalty when people see the bad link and stop visiting your site. Keep checking the active links on your website to make sure there are no links to bad neighborhoods.
So how do you recognize that a particular website is a bad neighborhood? Google has a solution. You can download the Google toolbar. When you open a particular web page, the Google toolbar shows the page rank of that website on a sliding green scale. When the scale is completely grey, the site is likely to be penalized. Hence, it is best to avoid linking to such sites.
When light green is shown on the scale, the site isn’t penalized. You can link to such sites, but keep checking them regularly to make sure they are not penalized. When the scale shows green, the site is of good quality and you can link to it.
Another illegal way webmasters try to fool search engines is by placing hidden text. The keywords are placed in such a way that they are not visible to the human eye. That is often achieved by keeping the color of the text the same as the background. This trick is also identified by spiderbots and such sites are penalized.
Also, many good sites are penalized by mistake. Suppose the text color and background color is found to be same. The site is penalized even if the text is highlighted with some other color. The best way to avoid being penalized is to keep the text color and background color different.
Webmasters also apply the method of keyword stuffing to boost the site ranking. To avoid such artificial boosting, search engines have set a limit to keyword density. If the density is higher than the limit, the site is penalized. Therefore, never overuse the keywords in your site.
Another way some webmasters deceive the search engines is by cloaking. Here the spider is fed a page that can boost the website ranking, while the visitor is directed to some other site. Search engines have become intelligent enough to identify such tricks. A problem arises when some sites, which are cloaked for valid reasons, are being penalized. Keep yourself away from cloaking or else your website may lose popularity.
Just as you work to build traffic and increase the ranking, you also need to work to maintain your website. Only then can you soar high in online business.