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Search Engine Optimization... Getting people to your web site

We provide the basic steps, and help you to understand the fundamentals...

What is search engine optimization?

Search engine optimization is the process of making changes to your web site (the structure) and web pages (in the code and text) that will make it easy for the search engines to 'see' what your web site is about. It is also about intelligently making those changes so that you attract the traffic that is interested in what you have to offer. If you are selling jewelry, people interested in video games are not going to help you much!

The key steps to preparing your web site

Don't use framesets

HTML framesets can be fun (for those crazy people out there! :)) But they wreak havoc with the search engines. When most search engines hit a frames based page, the best you can hope for is that they index the text you inserted into the 'no frames' section of the frameset.

The 'noFrames' tag was designed to display text to people who did not have browsers that could read frames properly. Typically you would put something like:

''This site is designed with framesets, please update your browser ...''

There was once a time when frames were new and some browsers didn't support them! Must seem strange considering framesets are now considered old crap that should not be used!

I've been off frames for a long while but about 2 years ago a client insisted on using them (I forget why) so I grudgingly created the frameset-based pages. In the 'noframes' tag I inserted text that went something like this:

''Get yourself a browser that wasn't made in the stone age! In case you didn't know: browsers are free! ''

I put in that little amusement for myself figuring no one would ever see it because framesets were a 100% supported. About a week later I got a call from my client because his popular web site was re-listed in the search engines with the text from the 'noframes' content being displayed in the site listing! Tens of thousands of people, when searching, would be kindly greeted with my 'little' joke.

The power of keywords

The first thing you have to do when building your web site is to figure out what keywords and phrases your target audience is using to find web sites like yours. Besides using a little common sense, where you put yourself in your audiences' shoes, is the use of word search tools that give you the following information:

• How often people search for particular terms or phrases

• How many other web sites are targeting these keywords

• Keywords that are related to your category

• Typical keyword misspellings when people make searches

This type of information is invaluable, and companies traditionally pay a fortune to get this kind of information, so take advantage while it's still inexpensive. Marketing to your target audience like this is like getting the secret fishing spots from the locals ... you catch much more fish!

Effective Site Structure

Search engines find web sites and pages by following links – for your web site to be found by the maximum number of engines, you need to get other web sites to link to yours.

To ensure that the search engines can properly index your pages you need to include text links to all your sub pages that the search engine robots can follow. One of the best ways to this is to create a site map page. A site map is just a simple HTML page that contains links to all your websites pages. The site map should be accessible from your websites home page.

Be careful of Flash or DHTML menus

Fancy Flash and DHTML menus give most search engines a tough time crawling / searching your web site. The site map helps solves that problem as well a secondary text links at the bottom your pages.

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