Search engines look for a common theme throughout a Web page, so it’s important that the title of your page as represented in the title element be relevant to the subject matter of your page, and that the keywords listed in your meta tags reflect the subject and title matter.
Using the title tag to your advantage
Most search engines place the most emphasis on the title element of your Web page. A title element that has no meaning will be incredibly inefficient, whereas a title element that contains a value that has direct relevance to your Web site will begin to show almost immediate results in many search engine page rankings. This is due to a concept known as relevancy, which is part of the algorithm used byWeb search engines to help determine a search result. The higher the relevancy, the better placement a page gets in a search result. You can have low traffic and still get good results from a well-named page. Plus, the title of that page is used as the first line of the search result.
Using meta tags
The Web is such a huge repository of information that it’s useful to create digests of information about information. Think of an abstract in a repository of journals that describes an article or book, and you have an idea of what meta information is. Meta tags involve the use of HTML’s meta element. The two primary types of meta tags are Meta Descriptions and Meta Keywords.
Using Meta Description
This element is used to describe your site. Search engines use this tag to match against your title element. The better the match, the better your results will be. If your page is titled “Vintage Records—2003” and your meta description says, “Hits by Roy Orbison and other oldies,” your page won’t do as well as it would if your title more closely reflected the description. The Meta Description tag is written like this:
The preceding meta tag should be on a page that has a title element that reflects the topic of your Web site, like this:<title> Hits by Roy Orbison and other great rock performers from the Traveling Wilburys.</title>
Using Meta Keywords
A slightly disparaged but still very effective means for creating search engine optimization patterns is to use Meta Keywords. This, like Meta Descriptions, involves the use of the meta element:
The content attribute is filled by comma-delimited keywords and/or phrases. The key to making this work is to use it legitimately. If you try to fool search engines by using the same keywords repeatedly in the content attribute, search engines will ignore the tag and may even banish your site or part of your site from its database. As with Meta Descriptions, keep your keywords relevant to your page title and description.
Using the alt attribute in an img element
One of the least utilized of search optimization techniques involves the use of the img element’s alt attribute. If you have a picture of Roy Orbison on a page that has content like that described in the previous sections, you should most certainly be sure that the alt attribute is used. You could write content like this:
<img src=“orbison.gif”alt=“Roy Orbison”>
Or, you could write this:<img src=“orbison.gif”alt=“Roy Orbison while performing with The Traveling Wilburys”>
Creating “Intelligent” URLs
You can also improve your search engine optimization by building “intelligent” URLs, which simply means that your URLs have relevance to the topic of the pages they point to. In our current example, this can be as simple as something If you’re working from a database, you can create relevant links by making sure that your site’s URL variables contain names relevant to your site.
Using a custom domain name
Creating a custom domain name isn’t as easy as it was when the Web was young, but you can still sometimes acquire a domain name that is similar to your business specialty. When you do that, users who type a URL into their address bar to “guess” a domain name may find yours. This is especially true if you have a very unique name and your customers know the name, even if they don’t know how to spell it. For example, if they type the name into a Google search, there’s a good chance that if they get the name wrong Google will supply alternatives by asking the user, “Did you mean xxxx?” This phenomenon has led to software companies taking on some very strange names, secure in the fact that customers who type something close to their name in a search engine’s text input box will still get taken to the right page.
Strategies for Retaining Visitors On-Site
Once people have found your site, how do you keep them coming back? One way is to provide services. Such services can include chat rooms, discussion boards, and other interactive facilities.
Providing resource services
One of the best ways to both attract people to your site and keep them coming back, is to provide a service or resource that keeps people interested in your business field. For example, many of the larger software companies, such as IBM and Microsoft, maintain extensive libraries of developer information and tutorials. Whether they maintain these libraries out of altruism is only known by the executive officers of these companies, but there isn’t any doubt that these kinds of sites drive traffic. If you’re selling vintage records, you might want to maintain a series of articles on music, or links to musicians. If you’re an insurance agent, you might want to include articles and/or links to tips on safe driving. Maintaining a services area on your Web site will also result in links from other sites. But most importantly, it will keep your content fresh and keep visitors coming back.
Creating message boards and chat sites
Many Web hosts now offer easy-to-use message boards that you can customize for your site to match topics relevant to your Web site. This is a good way to get your Web site visitors involved in the topic areas of interest on your site. You can also find free message board software on the Internet, but configuring them can be a little tricky and usually requires a little knowledge of the back-end processes of your Web host. For example, if you’re using a Web host that uses a Linux environment, you’ll probably want to find free software that uses PHP as its logic engine. Similarly, if you’re on a Microsoft-based environment, you’ll want either an ASP-based message software solution or a .NET solution.Many host providers also provide chat solutions, which is another way to get your visitors engaged with your site.
The Don’ts of Web Site Promotion
There are a number of things you most certainly should not do to promote your site, because they’re either unethical or possibly even illegal.
Hopefully, you don’t need anyone to tell you what spam is or why you shouldn’t be someone who engages in its use. Even though sending such bulk mailings costs the sender virtually nothing, its toll on the rest of us is substantial. And no matter what the promoters of bulk e-mail tell you, your message will not only be ignored and deleted, but your name will be tarnished if you’re associated with bulk e-mail. Spamming with unsolicited e-mail typically results in e-mail servers (both the sending and receiving servers) going down under the load of a massive e-mailing, filled e-mail boxes, and wasted bandwidth.
Redundant URL submissions
As you’ll see in the sections that follow, most Web site indexing services, such as Yahoo and Alta Vista, provide an online form where you can submit the address (URL) of your site to be included in their index. It’s possible to submit a single site more than once, but doing so will also blacklist you with the search engines. So avoid the temptation and play by the rules to achieve the best results.
Usenet newsgroup flooding
Another form of inappropriate promotion is the spamming of newsgroups. This is similar to e-mail spamming. Most newsgroups have strict policies against spamming and will aggressively report spammers to their ISPs and/or host providers. Even groups that might once have been advertisement-friendly may now have policies against bulk e-mail advertising because spamming has become such a problem. Check with your newsgroup’s FAQ to find out its policies regarding advertising.
Chat room or forum flooding
Some “marketers” have begun to use programs to flood chat rooms (particularly on AOL or IRC) with messages, or spam every user connected to that service. The message here is the same as in any other spam situation: All you’ll do is annoy people and give yourself a bad name.
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