Getting good placement in search results depends on a number of factor, but an essential first step is getting the on-site basics right

Know Your Keywords

Start by choosing the keywords and phrases you want to target.  With a little brainstorming, you can guess at the terms people might use when searching for your goods and services.  You can then use keyword comparison  and analysis tools, such as Google Insights, Google Keyword Tool, WordTracker or WordStream to determine which terms are used most frequently, and how much competition there is for each phrase.

Encode Your Keywords

Next, be sure you incorporate your keywords into your site’s page(s).  Since your home page usually carries the most weight with search engines, focus that page on your most important search terms; target other search phrases on other pages.

Your site content, and specific html tags, tell the seach engines what your pages are about – if you know how to incorporate your keywords.

Title tags. Use page titles for your most important search terms.

Pathnames and filenames. Incorporate search terms into the file path or filename for each page.

Page headings and subheads. The H1, H2, and H3 tags can be used to emphasize the importance of search terms.  Note that many web designers use images so they can display headings in fancy fonts, but this can greatly weaken your site’s search position.  Instead, use CSS styling to make the most of TEXT headings.

Text content. Search engines (especially Bing) give more weight to terms that appear in the first few paragraphs, so mention key phrases near the top of your page.

Img alt tags. The alt parameter on image tags can also be used to include search terms in your content.

Things to Forget About

The keyword metatag. which was once very important, is now ignored by all major search engines.  You can simply ignore it.  Some webmasters still include a keyword metatag on the theory that “it can’t hurt,” but the keywords tag can also provide information to your competitors…  better to leave it out entirely.

The description metatag also serves no purpose as far as keyword targeting.  However, some search engines still display the description in search results, so take the opportunity to include an appropriate, keyword-relevant marketing message on each page.

Use Link Anchors

When you create links to your pages, the link “anchor text” – that is, the text that people click – should include your keywords.  You can use links between pages on your site to help reinforce your keywords.  When asking for links from other sites, ask for the specific, keyword-relevant link text you’d prefer.

For More Help

It’s easy to get get placement for non-competitive search terms, but if your business relies on getting ahead of strong competitors, consider hiring a professional Internet marketer and SEO specialist.

 

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