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SEO for Online Businesses

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 15 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Seo Search Engine Optimisation Google

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a skills that you must develop to ensure your new online business can be found by your potential customers. Search engines now form the core of how most consumers find the online businesses that sell the goods and services they want to buy. Ensuring your website is optimised for search engines is a marketing tool you can’t ignore.

At its heart SEO is about making sure that Google can easily index and locate your website. Search marketing is now so important ensuring your website is optimised for Google and the other search engines will translate into an increase in real sales. Search engine optimisation isn’t a highly technical skill that is difficult to learn. In fact SEO skills are really about making the content on your website the best it can be. Content is king is a phrase that has been used a great deal to describe the importance of targeting your website’s material to its audience. The foundation of good search engine optimisation is that content.

Understanding Search

To develop good SEO techniques for your website it’s a good idea to ensure you thoroughly understand how the world’s search engines actually create their databases of websites. A search engine like Google uses an algorithm to determine how targeted the content on an given webpage is. In Google’s case this clever piece of software is called PageRank. Google sends out electronic scouts called spiders that crawl across the web looking for new content that they can index.

When new content is found, the PageRank algorithm has hundreds of criteria it uses to assess the content. This assessment is then used to give the webpage a ranking on the search results page that Google returns whenever anyone performs a search using keywords that relate to the content on your website’s pages.

The key skills to ensure your website is given a favourable page rank is to put your website’s visitors first. Think about what content they would like to see. Good content usually means many other websites want to link to it. This is also taken into account when a page rank is awarded.

SEO Checklist

There are many techniques to help you improve the search ranking of your website. There are also some do’s and don’ts you should be aware of:

Do:

Limit the Number of Links on a Page
It is tempting to load your webpages with as many links as possible as this can influence your websites overall SEO, but try and limit the number of links on a single web page to no more than 100.

Check your Webpages
Google’s spider is looking for plain text content when it looks at your website. Use a text browser like Lynx to check how your website functions without any graphics. This is how Google will see your site.

Avoid Session ID
Try not to put any technology in the way of the search spiders when they come to your website. Don’t track them or insist on login details as this will mean your website isn’t fully indexed.

Implement the robots.txt file
Placing this file on your server tells spiders which directories can or cannot be indexed. Make sure this file is always current.

Test Content Management Systems
If you intend to use one of these systems it is vital that the world’s search engines can still index the content that they help you maintain. Check with the vendor about SEO before you buy your system.

Keep your Content Fresh and Relevant
Your website will be visited regularly by search engine spiders. If you change the content on your site regularly and build a good rapport with your customers, this will be rewarded with a higher search result ranking.

Don’t:

Use Excessive Amounts of Keywords
It is tempting to load the pages on your website with many keywords, but this isn’t understanding how SEO actually works. Each keyword must add to the content of a webpage. Using links for their own sake won’t improve your business’s page ranking on Google or any other search engine.

Avoid Dynamic Webpages
Web content that is dynamically built by a content management system for instance, must be included in the robots.txt file or these pages won’t be indexed.

Duplicate your Content
Simply duplicating your content over several different domain names will not improve your search engine ranking. Google’s spiders are clever enough to spot this.

Build your Site for SEO
It is a mistake to place SEO at the heart of your website design. Your customers should be your focus. The better your website serves them, the higher your page ranking will become. SEO spiders can see how popular your website is, and will award a higher page ranking to reward your hard work creating engaging content for your site’s visitors.

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