the Top 5 "Dos" and "Don'ts" of Web Site
Optimization that Will Make or Break Your Ranking
with the Free Search Engines!
IIf you want your online business to be successful, it's a good idea
to optimize your site on a regular basis to make sure it's got a
good position in the Web's top search engines.
order to maintain your ranking, you have to keep on top of what's
happening in the rapidly changing search engine industry. The rules
that affected your ranking yesterday may be meaningless tomorrow!
Read on to
learn more about the latest developments in the search engine
industry and what key tricks you should (and shouldn't!) use to
optimize your site to make sure it gets a high ranking with all the
major search engines, plus the tools and resources you can use to
keep it there.
The "Dos" and "Don'ts" are constantly changing!
engine industry is continually evolving. You need to know which of
the major "players" is powering the smaller search engines if you
want to know where you should focus your optimization efforts.
battle of the titans
For the past
couple of years, the major search engines have been preparing to
square off against each other and battle it out for the industry's
top spot. Google
has been #1 for a while now, but
MSN have been
making moves to steal the crown.
still extremely powerful, with about a 55% market share. Yahoo! is
the closest runner-up, with about 20% of users choosing it as their
main search engine. And MSN is still a distant but threatening
third, with about 10% of the global usage share.
Keep in mind,
however, that Google and Yahoo! power many of the smaller search
engines. For example, Google powers the free listings featured on
plus the paid listings
featured on AOL, Netscape,
free listings featured on MSN,
AllTheWeb, and HotBot, plus the paid listings on MSN, AltaVista,
won't be powered by Yahoo! for much longer! MSN came out with a
preview of their own long-anticipated search engine technology
earlier this month. They're still working out the bugs, and the
official MSN Search engine is still being powered by Yahoo!. But you
can expect MSN to go solo
sometime over the next few months.
You need to be
aware of these changes if you want to gear your optimization efforts
toward the engines that will send you as much traffic as possible.
changing rules of search
Of course, you
also need to keep tabs on changes to the search engines themselves!
frequently change the algorithms they use to rank sites. They don't
want unscrupulous site owners manipulating their indexing methods in
order to get high rankings. By doing so, they damage the integrity
of free search!
As soon as the
search engines become aware of a trick being used by "search engine
spammers" to boost their site ranking, they figure out a way to
So be careful!
You don't want to catch yourself employing a "great strategy"
promoted by a marketing "expert," only to find out it's a tactic the
search engines hate! That could get you booted off their listings in
no time flat.
that's exactly what happened at the end of last year, during what
has come to be called the "Florida Google Dance."
some major changes to their algorithms in November 2003 and started
imposing an "over-optimization penalty" on any sites that appeared
to be artificially boosting their site's relevancy for targeted
of the business community were surprised to find their sites dropped
from their high ranking in Google's listings. These people had to
put a lot of work into revamping and resubmitting their sites in
order to get listed again.
And many of
the people who were penalized weren't "unscrupulous" site owners!
They weren't trying to pull a "fast one" on search engines using
frowned-upon techniques such as "keyword stuffing." They were simply
trying to be smart marketers -- and some feel they were unfairly
punished for it.
You don't want
the same thing to happen to you!
So let's have
a look at a list of what exactly the search engines are currently
looking for when indexing sites -- and what they'll punish you for!
The "Dos": Legitimate tricks the SEO masters use to optimize
their sites and maintain their high ranking
engines don't want to be manipulated by marketers. They want to
provide the best unbiased results possible for any given search --
or they'll lose users!
they need to change their algorithms so frequently -- to stay ahead
of the tricks people use to get top rankings.
said, there are still a lot of legitimate ways you can optimize your
site without angering the search engines and causing them to drop
you from their list.
Here are some
of the best things you can to do ensure your site has a high
relevant sites to link to your site
In the past,
scoring a high ranking with a search engine was all about
positioning your keywords in "prime real estate" positions in your
text and site coding. All that has changed, however. These days,
links are king!
place a huge amount of importance on the number of sites that link
to yours. But it's not just the quantity of links that matter, it's
also the quality. Search engines look at how relevant the links are
-- i.e., how much the content of the linking site has in common with
the content on your site.
The more relevant, the better!
also look at how "important" the linking site is. What kind of
"online presence" does it have? How much traffic does it get?
your site will get a higher ranking if it's linked to by sites such
as BBC.com or
nationalgeographic.com instead of, say, the personal homepage of
your friend's neighbour's kid.
attention to keyword inclusion and placement
no longer be the sole determining factor of a site's ranking, but
they're still pretty important. The most useful places to include
- In your
domain name -- only make sure your keywords are in the root of
your URL, not the stem! For example, if your main keyword phrase
is "cell phones," try to get a domain name such as "www.cell-phones.com"
instead of "www.mobileusa.com/cell-phones.com." Some search
engines will actually penalize sites for including key words in
the stem of a URL.
- In the
title tags in your source code
- In the meta
description of your site -- this is much less important than it
used to be, but it can't hurt.
- In your
meta keyword tags
sure you only include relevant keywords! Search engines will
penalize you if you try to sneak in keywords that have nothing to do
with the content of your site.
Create content-rich "information pages" to direct traffic to your
An easy way to
boost the number of pages that link to your site is to create some
have to make sure these pages contain valuable contents that provide
people with useful information. Search engines hate "pointer pages"
that have no content and exist only to add to the number of links
pointing to a site.
Be sure the
information relates to the content on your site and has your
keywords placed in advantageous positions. This will boost the
ranking of your pages with the search engines and ensure they get
lots of traffic -- which they can then redirect to your site.
Submit your site to online directories
Be sure to
submit your site to important directories such as Yahoo!, the
Open Directory Project,
and About.com, as
well as smaller directories. Your listing on these directories will
help your ranking with the major search engines.
Multiply and conquer!
"community" of related sites that link to each other. Why stop at
only one information page? The more content-rich sites that point to
your site, the better!
You can also
boost the number of links that point to your site by dividing it
into several separate sites that all link to each other.This works
especially well if you sell a number of different products or
If you build a
different site to focus on each of your products and services, then
you can also concentrate the use of specific keyword phrases on each
site. That's another great way to boost your search engine ranking.
The "Don'ts": Tricks the search engines hate and why you
should never use them, even if your competition does
Now that we've
covered the "dos," here come the "don'ts." Although these
questionable tactics have worked well in the past, the search
engines absolutely hate them. If they catch you using any of these
tricks, they may go so far as to drop you from their listings like a
Beware irrelevant links!
Yes, it's a
good idea to get a lot of different links pointing to your site, but
the search engines only like RELEVANT links. If they find sites that
have nothing in common with the content on your site linked to your
web site, they'll lower your relevancy rating.
Beware irrelevant keywords!
hate finding irrelevant keywords on your site -- especially in your
meta tags. If they catch you using keywords that have nothing to do
with the actual content of your site, they'll penalize you for it.
Don't "keyword stuff" your meta tags!
In the past,
people used to repeat their keywords in their meta tags over and
over again. This used to get them a high ranking with the search
engines -- but not any more! Search engines are on to this trick and
will punish you for it by dropping your ranking.
Don't create "link farms"!
are the evil cousins of the "information pages" we discussed above.
In the past,
some spammers used to build multiple "doorway" sites that existed
only to multiply the number of links pointing to their sites.
content-rich information pages,these doorway pages would usually
only include a string of keyword terms that would earn them a high
ranking with the search engines.
engines have caught on to this tactic, however, and will drop you
from their listings if they find you using it.
Avoid "free for all" link pages!
placing links to your site on pages where everyone and their dog is
invited to put up a link. Such sites have extremely low relevancy
ratings and will cost you points with the search engines.
Essential tools and resources to optimize your site and stay
n top of the search engine game
There are a
lot of great tools out there that can help you optimize your web
site while ensuring that you stay on the good side of all the search
engines. Here are a few of our favorites.
This great online tool helps you select specific keyword phrases
that will direct more traffic to your site. Free and paid versions
Optilink: A lot of search engine optimization experts swear by
this software. It's a "link reputation analyzer" that helps you
determine a site's reputation and why the search engines like it
or dislike it. It certainly comes in handy when you're checking
out the competition or looking for reputable sites to link to
WebPosition Gold: This is a great piece of search engine
placement software that generates Web pages designed to rank high
on the major search engines. It also analyzes your existing Web
pages, providing suggestions for improvement, and tracks your
ranking on different search engines.
Engine News: Planet Ocean's online resource, "The Unfair
Advantage Book on Winning the Search Engine Wars" is updated
monthly and provides excellent optimization tips and information
on the Search Engine industry.
Engine Watch: This free site is another rich source of tips
and information on the Search Engine industry. Paid memberships
are available for more advanced content.
Search Engine Guide: This free site contains a lot of useful
information about the smaller search engines on the Web, and who
you should submit your site to in order to get a better ranking
with the bigger search engines.
research by search engine optimization experts suggests that there
is a surprising lack of overlap between the results produced by the
major search engines. All too often, sites that are ranked high on
Google get a much poorer listing with Yahoo! and vice versa.
mean that webmasters are focusing their optimization efforts solely
on one search engine while neglecting to improve their ranking with
the other. They might be using optimization tactics that work for
Google on Yahoo!, without being aware that Yahoo! uses different
criteria to index a site.
sites that aren't optimized for both Google and Yahoo! are missing
out on a lot of potential visitors.
forget, MSN will soon be throwing its hat into the ring and
switching from Yahoo! to its own search engine technology. When that
happens, you should be sure to submit your site to MSN as well.
No one really
knows what the future holds for the search engine industry, but one
thing's for sure: Businesses that don't stay on top of the changes
are going to find themselves slipping behind. Don't let that happen
to your business!