Tips & Tricks for Search Engine Optimization

By Curtis Dicken

The naming of the page

This one may sound a bit silly but the file name of your page can have an impact on rankings. Believe it or not, many search engines actually parse out the file name of the page and log any discernable keywords they find. So, if your page's URL address is something cryptic like "http://www.mydomain.com/pageset1/subset35/az-0982.html" then search engines are not picking up on anything useful in the URL. If at all possible it is best to create URL paths that make sense to a search engine. An example of a search engine friendly URL would be "http://www.mydomain.com/articles/ search_engine_optimization/tips_and_tricks.html". Obviously this type of naming convention is not always possible depending on how your page is served but it is a good practice when you can make it happen.

I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map

Always make it easy for search engine crawlers to navigate your website. Your best bet is to build a site map page and place a link to the site map on every single page of your website, usually in the footer. This practice will ensure that a crawler can easily navigate your website and catalog every page. If you have never created a site map before it's as simple as compiling a link list for all the pages in your website, organizing them into logical sections and then placing all those organized links on a single page. If there are pages you don't want to be cataloged by search engines such as unmanaged blog entries or administration pages, be sure to exclude them from your link list.

Getting linked

This is without a doubt the hardest optimization to accomplish, getting other websites to link to your website. It's even harder to get websites to link to your site using good anchor naming practices like we discussed in The power of the link.

So, how do you get other websites to link to your site? Well, that is kind of a catch 22 situation. You need good rankings so that your pages can be found and linked by more websites to improve your rankings. You always have the option of using services that contact relevant websites in an effort to get other sites to link to yours but that can often be cost prohibitive and have less than impressive results. You can also use link exchange services where your banner or text links appear on other websites in a random rotating fashion but this method is too hit and miss with no significant results for improving rankings or driving traffic to your website.

Your best bet for getting links of good quality to your website is to first offer a page that offers suggestions on how to link to your website page including the actual HTML script for the anchor link. This will increase your chances that other sites will provide links to your pages that use good anchor link text. Second, you should put a "link to our website" suggestion on every page that you are trying to get linked. Third, improving traffic through advertising or any other method that you can think of will go a long way in getting more links to your site. Lastly and most obvious is to have relevant quality content.

Now, there is one catch to all of this linking business. Just because you have more pages linking to your site doesn't mean that you will always have the best rank. The results generally factor in not just the number of pages that link to yours but also the number of unique domains. That simply means if a competitor website page has 3000 links from 2500 different domains while your website page has 4500 links from 1200 different domains that the competitor website will probably receive a higher rank.

But what about … ?

There are many other topics to optimization that we have not covered here. There are even topics within topics in this article such as XML site maps that we did not have the space to discuss. In a future article we take on some of the more advanced topics in search engine optimization in an effort to cover as many of the good search engine optimization practices as possible.

SEO is not an exact science

Don't expect your improvements to yield the exact same results on all search engines. When optimizing your website you should take more of a blanket approach. Try to improve your results across the board. Once you see the results that you are looking for you can then start making tweaks to improve results even further for your primary target search engine. Since Google currently handles more searches than all other search engines combined I would focus my efforts on Google.

Search engines are also continually redefining how they rank results and will often make changes without making public the changes. This makes it extremely difficult to keep up with trends. I suggest you make it a point to review search engine optimization trends and factors at least twice each year to maintain and possibly improve your rankings. Good luck and happy optimizing!

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