SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimizing and refers to a set of good practices that teach you how to improve your website so that it would be easily tracked, indexed, and ranked by search engines. Getting your site indexed by Google and other major search engines will help you attract visitors and increase traffic.

SEO is an exciting and ongoing process that involves not only an initial optimized website but also permanent maintenance and evaluating search results on a regular basis. With the ever-changing Internet technology, SEO experts sometimes have contrasting opinions on what makes a good website. However, there are some general guidelines most of them agree on.

Design & Content

  •  You should build your web pages for human beings and not for search engines. A clean design and a strong content will ultimately drive search engine spiders to your site.
  •  Make a clear hierarchy and provide text links to each page.
  •  Don’t put too many links on a single page (maximum 100).
  •  You should include a site map to help users navigate easily through your website.
  •  Make sure you have clear TITLE tags, no HTML errors and all the links work.
  •  You should use text instead of images to display important elements, as search engine crawlers may not recognize a text inside an image.
  •  While keeping your content useful and clear, do use keywords that you know users would type to get to your page.

Technical Issues

  •  Most search engine crawlers see your website similar to the way a text browser sees it. Consequently, you should use a text browser, such as Lynx, to check your website. If you can’t see the whole page because of JavaScript, session IDs, DHTML, or Flash features, search engine spiders will probably have trouble with crawling your website.
  •  Check with your web host to see if the server supports the If-Modified-Since HTTP header. This header tells Google whether the website content has changed since its last visit.
  •  While it is advised session IDs to track visitors’ paths through the website, you shouldn’t do this for search bots.
  •  The robots.txt file on your web server tells spiders which directories can be crawled and which cannot. Make sure it’s updated and it doesn’t somehow block search engine crawlers.

Website Promotion

  •  After you’ve built your website and put it online, try to get high PageRank sites link to it.
  •  Submit your website to major search engines (Google, Yahoo/Altavista, MSN) to get it indexed, along with a site map that will tell them the site structure.
  •  Submit your website to relevant directories, such as Yahoo and Open Directory Project.
  •  Get involved in community-based websites, blogs, and forums and build a strong reputation.

Whether you choose to implement these techniques yourself or go to an SEO expert, no one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google and other search engines. Search engines change their crawling algorithms often and competitor websites appear all the time. However, following these basic SEO guidelines will improve your chances of increasing your website traffic and is a better practice than looking for a way to cheat on search engines in order to get your pages indexed.

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