You’ve put a lot of effort into designing a website, either for yourself or for your business. You even put one of those counters at the bottom. But sadly, that counter is not moving very much, if at all. How do you get more people to look at your hard work?
There’s a technical term for that question: search engine optimization. When you type a term into the search box on your favorite search engine, there is a ranking system that determines which websites are at the top of the list. The higher up a website is in a search list, the more likely it is a searcher will choose to visit that website.
The trick is how to get your website higher up in those rankings, or search engine optimization (SEO). It’s a popular question, after all, who doesn’t want more visitors to their website? There are many books, articles and websites devoted to SEO techniques. Here is just a sampling of some of them.
SEO involves researching search engine’s coding, structure and presentation to determine how websites are ranked. When you consider that no search engine indexes more than 16% of the web, you can see where it is very important to figure out how each of those search engines work.
That research, which should be done by someone with internet expertise, can find a problem that is keeping a search engine’s web crawler from fully exploring your site. There are consultants who specialize in finding and fixing these problems. It is important to remember that while search engines do offer SEO guidelines, they don’t list all of the factors they consider in their rankings. Google alone said it uses more than 200 different factors.
If an SEO consultant or company has determined there is not a technical problem keeping your site from ranking higher, you can improve a site’s ranking by making sure it has unique content so it can be easily indexed by those search engines. Try to make your web content truly unique. For example, you can add information specific to your region. Or, you can add additional information that cannot be easily found on other sites, such as your company’s product information.
Those are some of the right ways to optimize search engine use. Of course, there are also wrong ways as well. For instance, there is “spamdexing” which involves repeating unrelated keywords to trick a search engine’s web crawler into ranking a site more highly. A site that unnecessarily repeats a term, such as “SEO” could end up ranking more highly that a site that mentions the term less often but offers more actual information.
Another SEO technique to avoid is using a link farm. Search engines sometimes rank sites by the number of hyperlinks in the text. Link farms are a group of web sites that hyperlink to each of the other sites in the group.
These and similar techniques are frowned upon by search engine administrators and by web users. Search engines that discover such deceptive techniques may not only reduce the ranking of sites that use them, they can even remove the website completely from the search engine’s database. This has happened and not just to fly-by-night, snake-oil-salesmen types. It has even happened with prominent, international companies.
Probably the best and easiest way to optimize search engine rankings is to take the extra time and effort to meet each search engine’s guidelines. Keep in mind what a typical search engine user is looking for when trying to find a site like yours. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” can definitely result in higher rankings in various search engines.
If your website is intended to generate business, it is definitely worth additional time and money for SEO. However, remember the internet is changing rapidly. Even the best SEO research will not necessarily generate higher search engine rankings.
While search engines are an important way to get attention to your site, it should not be the only method you use. Studies have shown that it is more beneficial to get links to your site from other websites. However, by investing in SEO, you can generate more legitimacy to your website.