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Customizing your website for better ranking: SEO

Customizing your websiteWhen you have a commercial website online, it's natural to want to expose it to as many potential clients as possible. And the same logic can be applied to any website, for any purpose. If we didn't want to receive exposure across the web, we wouldn't be using the Internet.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO - is the method of maximizing potential search listings when a user enters a keyword in to a search engine. It's actually a sub-section of the more expansive Search Engine Marketing (SEM) definition. The concept is applied in several different ways, and depending on the business approach, the ultimate goal may differ considerably.

There's two important points to understand here. SEO can be used to maximize the quantity of SERP (Search Engine Result Page) links. Or it can be used to distinguish the relevance. Why does it matter? Surely the age old expression of any publicity being good publicity is true? Not necessarily.

Consider the analogy of a packed shopping mall, with every last shop front vying for your attention. As you walk through the mall, you don't have the eyes to see inside and view every last product in the shop. Nor would you have any idea what the store actually specializes in. The store front is used to draw your attention and demonstrate what the customer can expect if they decide to enter inside.

You could take one approach and fill your shop window with just about every attention grabber under the sun. You could pretend to sell DVDs, books, videos, clothes, sports gear and maybe even mortgages. Such a shop window would attract a lot of visitors; but how many of them will stick around when they enter your store and find that, well, actually you only trade children's toys?

On the other hand, you could fill your shop window with relevant information on the real content of your shop, providing more precise information including what to expect inside. While you might find a lot more visitors go passing by, the chances are that they weren't potential clients in the first place. This method is much more likely to generate sales, and is what's known as a conversion action.

The same concept applies to Meta keywords and Meta descriptions. These are the holy grail of SEO, and the reason why some websites will draw in potential customers, while poorly prepared sites will go unnoticed regardless of the standard of the service, or the actual content.

A Meta description is essentially a brief summary of the current page, and one which search bots and spiders will cache. You won't see it by browsing normally. To read the Meta description, you'll have to go to the actual source of the page. That's irrelevant in the long run however, since you don't want your users to be viewing Meta information.

Meta keywords are short phrases and terms which you can use to appeal to certain SERPs. For example, if you pack your content with relevant terms which a user would search for on Google, you have a higher chance of being picked out on SERPs.

There are two sub-sets of SEO, and opinion is divided on what constitutes belonging to a certain set. These are called White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO.

White Hat SEO is the traditionally fair way of increasing the number and quality of search listings via natural means. Black Hat SEO, as you can probably imagine, is the opposite.

Black Hat applies to those who try to use methods of misleading search engines in to getting a better ranking than the content deserves. These methods include - but certainly aren't limited to spamdexing, cloaking and general abuse of the various search engine algorithms.

For the purpose of being fair, and not getting your website blacklisted, we're going to concentrate on ways that you can use SEO the lawful way to get a better ranking. Be warned that while Black Hat might bring you a short burst of activity, it will also get you banned from indexing altogether when the engine catches on.

First things first, what do we gain by using the White Hat method? The answer is desirable traffic and increased sales leads. These benefits weight far more heavily than a surge of useless clicks from users you'll never see again.

You can optimize your website right from the very top of the page. No, we're not talking about the header image or the first line of content. We're talking about the actual title which displays in the browser toolbar.

You should always use a unique and relevant title; especially on the pages which matter most to your website. God forbid using a bland title like "My Sales Page". Make your title meaningful and consider the impetus it would give a potential client to want to see what's on the rest of the page.

While a relevant title is crucial, it pales in significance to the importance of using specific terminology throughout your content. Don't throw vague definitions across your website. Match specific useful keywords and phrases which a potential client would enter in to a search engine. These are vital for drawing in the right kind of web traffic.

Many websites face problems when they decide to implement a log-in or member area to their site. Remember that the spider techniques employed by search engines only have the capability to access pages which don't require any input.

Requiring a user to register before viewing a certain page will rule out the opportunity of a search bot indexing the protected content. There's no real way to get around this, other than to make as much of your website accessible to bots as possible.

There are also several scripts which detect spider visitors and apply certain permission levels to access all of the content. You can find these on many varieties of forum software across the web, but it opens up an entirely different debate over security and unwanted access to files.

The inclusion of a robots.txt file in your main directory will be read by search engine spiders. This file is your opportunity to exclude certain directories from being indexed. As you can imagine, this is a tremendously valuable tool and a commonly implemented one in web development.

Above all else, remember that a search bot will only find a page if it finds a genuine HTML link. Flash and JavaScript links will NOT be followed by the spider programs and if that's the only route to the page, it won't be indexed. 

By following those simple golden rules, you should find that SEO can play a large role in generating more leads for your website. It might not happen overnight, and it might not happen at all, but search engine optimization is a key method of presenting your site to the correct audience. Master it and you'll be one step closer to conquering the SEM minefield.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------If you are a business owner get listed at Best Technology Site, part of Localwin Network.
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