Seeding the Engines: Part 1

Have you ever outsourced or self-submitted your site to search engines and directories only to find that you didn’t get listed or well positioned in the engines you wanted? Well, with a good overview of the basic search engine optimization (SEO) process, you can easily attain your goals.

By breaking up the process into the following four key tasks, you can make getting listed where you want a whole lot easier.

  • Analyze, develop, or improve the key phrases used to find your Web site.

  • Optimize your content with these key phrases for search engine compatibility.
  • Submit and register your site correctly to ensure the focus is on all your pages, specific to your key-phrase list.
  • Monitor and audit the results.

This article will address the first two bulleted tasks, while Part 2 will detail how to submit your site and monitor the results correctly — all for a better understanding of the entire SEO process.

Analyze Your Key Phrases

A critical step before you start any SEO campaign is to conduct a thorough keyword analysis. Analyzing, developing, and improving the key phrases used to find your Web site can be more of an art than a science. You’ll want to query employees and customers alike and get adequate input from all relevant sources regarding all possible phrases that might be used.

Traffic-analysis tools, such as WebTrends, can analyze your server logs to determine the key phrases people used to find your Web site. This will give you a preliminary list of key phrases you might consider optimizing for, but you’ll need to do some additional research to develop your best list.

Most professional SEO firms will do the research to develop keywords, providing you with the best list of key phrases. There are tools you can use to help yourself in developing additional key phrases. Tools such as Wordtracker, did-it, WordSpot, and GoTo will offer key-phrase popularity comparisons and perhaps trigger your thought process to generate more possibilities. You can then take your new list to friends or family for additional review and recommendations.

Once you have a semifinal list, prioritize it, and then do some searches with these phrases. See how many similar documents are found and which competitors are showing up. Be sure to scrutinize the relevancy of each key phrase on your list, and plan to optimize for only the most relevant key phrases.

Optimize Your Content for Search Engine Compatibility

Write your content for each individual Web page as designed for a specific key phrase. First, take care of the hidden HTML program language issues:

  • Ensure title head tags are properly installed.

  • Ensure keyword and description meta tags are properly created.
  • Ensure image ALT tags are properly created.
  • If a tag is used, insert keywords, descriptions, and content. <li> If using JavaScript links or image map, add text links if possible. <li> Check your search engine compatibility regarding dynamically generated pages (for example, .cgi, .asp, .cf, .php, etc.).</ul> <p>All of the above items should be corrected on your home page, and each of your subpages should be optimized for each key phrase, one phrase per page. None of the above hidden changes will affect the look or functionality of your Web site. All of these changes will make a significant difference in making your site search enginefriendly. <p>After taking care of the HTML issues, review the visible content on each page, optimizing this text for a specific key phrase. The first paragraph or two should include the key phrase with intelligent, comprehensive, and grammatically correct marketing copy describing your offerings. <p>This will help the robot engines like <a href="http://www.altavista.com/">AltaVista</a> and <a href="http://www.hotbot.com/">HotBot</a> and other crawlers to reach deeper into your Web site to rank more pages. 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