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Website Optimization

If your site is to ever make you any money, you must establish an internet presence first. And no, it's not just a matter of throwing up a website and waiting for the traffic to start pouring in. There are two things you need: a product to sell and traffic. In this section, I will concentrate on the latter.

There are countless ways of driving traffic to your site, some of which require a budget and some that don't. Search engines can send a lot of traffic your way, depending on the price you're willing to pay. Most engines give you the option of bidding for certain keywords and then list your site when the keyword is searched for; you're charged a given amount when users click on your listing. This is a very effective marketing method, but can become quite pricey. If you don't have the budget, you can aim at getting free search engine traffic by ranking well in the results pages.

So, how do you get those rankings? Well, while nobody can give you a formula that will guarantee top placement in the search engines, there are a few techniques that will help you get there - it's called website optimization. While the items listed below are quite straightforward, you'd be surprised at the number of webmasters that don't take them under consideration.

KEYWORDS
The start to successful website optimization lies in your keyword selection. Be careful with the keywords you choose to go for; you may not want to waste your time and energy on keywords that will be impossible to get rankings for. Basing your site on a high number of less popular keywords might bring in more traffic than you may think. You can use Wordtracker or the Overture keyword tool to find out what the various search terms are in your area of interest.

TAGS
This is something that every webmaster should pay attention to, not only because they help with search engine positioning but also because they provide helpful information to surfers about your website. Search engines use the following tags to identify the content of your website as well as list it in the result pages.

  • Title Tag - The information contained in the title tag is used as anchor text in the search engine results pages and thus, it is also the first thing that users see when your listing comes up. Website optimization isn't only about making it search engine friendly; it also involves pleasing the customer. So, be sure to make your title tag stand out and catch the readers' attention.

  • Keywords META Tag - Contained here are the keywords that you are trying to rank for. Keep in mind that your website doesn't have to consist of one page. Only include keywords that you are targeting on that particular page as opposed to your entire site. Too many keywords in the meta tag can raise a red flag and cause your site to be marked as spam.

  • Description META Tag - In a sentence or two, explain to readers what the particular page is about and what it may help them accomplish. Again, don't describe the purpose of your entire site - ony the index page should have such a description.

  • Header Tags - Be sure to include your keywords in header tags. Search engines consider words that appear in page headlines to be more important to the page and as such, an indication of your site's content.

Search Engine friendly Navigation
In order for all of your pages to be indexed, the spiders have to be able to follow your links. Avoid Flash and JavaScript links whenever possible, as some spiders aren't able to follow them, causing some of your pages to be missed. Provide a site map if you can't get around this issue. Create a clean and simple navigation so that both - spiders and surfers - can find the rest of your site easily.

URL Submission
Once you have completed your website, submitting it to the search engines is the next most important step. Why? Well, if you don't let them know that you exist, how do you expect them to find you? Oh yes, Google is one of the exceptions. As long as an already indexed page links to yours, they'll find you.

Reciprocal Linking
As mentioned earlier, linking is particularly important to Google and of course, it being the most popular search engine around, it's crucial to optimized your site according to their standards. Having other sites link to yours gives your site more relevance in Google's eyes and the relevance is displayed in the form of Page Rank. Read more about PR here.