Get found on Search Engines

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Foreword.

Search engine optimisation is the act of configuring web pages for search engines, to achieve high rankings. This means that when someone conducts a search for your product or service, your website is returned by the search engine in the top of the pile.

What's the big deal ?

Imagine 'Ivan Urge' desperately needs to buy a 'thingamy'. You happen to sell 'thingamys' by the case load. You also have a website. Ivan does a search on his favourite search engine for 'thingamys' and the first bunch of websites are all selling thingamys. Where is your website? is it up there with all the leaders or sleeping down at 3,245,657 ? If you are at the top of the pile, you are in with a chance of a sale. Rarely do people ever look below the third page of listings. In fact the drop off of viewers between the first page and the second page is phenomenal. To get found in search engines ultimately requires a position in the top 20 results, ideally the top 10.  

What if my customers know my website already ?

That is great, seriously, that is excellent news. Consider this, approximately 80% of all visitors to your site can come from search engines. The guys in marketing call these visitors "hot prospects" because they are actively searching for your goods.

How is a web site optimised ?

There are a myriad of different ways to optimise pages for search engines. Each search engine has its own idea of what a 'good relevant' page is. Some like long pages with loads of relevant text, some like short pages with few graphics, some hate Java, log-in and plug-in pages, some hate the wrong domain extension (for example thingamys.co.uk will have trouble getting listed on a lot of Aussie search engines ). A web site is optimised page by page. This is best done before the website is actually built. However, existing pages can be very effectively optimised.

Can't I just do it myself ?

Yes, of course you can. There are plenty of tips and guides on the internet that will help with all aspects of search engine optimisation and positioning. There is a lot to learn, but if time is not an issue, it can be very rewarding.

Techniques

What are stealth and cloaking ?

very effective although inadvisable. To sum up the effects of these methods, it is a way of feeding the search engines with one page, but feeding a visitor another. The idea being that the search engine reads a fully optimised and very dull page, but a visitor gets to see the proper website. Why don't we use these techniques ? We believe the biggest war search engines have is foiling these tricks. They are open to abuse, consider the following effects. A minor searches for his favourite car, a Ferrari Dino. The page fed to the search engine was a page that was plastered with the words 'Ferrari' and 'Dino'. The same minor clicks on the first listing in his search results and what he is delivered is a xxx porn website. Sooner or later someone will file a lawsuit and the search engines know it. In fact some search engines threaten to ban any domain found to be using these techniques. For now however they  still remain a very effective way to get good rankings.

What is Bait and Switch ?

Bait and switch is another technique for fooling search engines. This happens by accident for the most part but it is not unknown for search engine optimisers to use the technique on 'lazy' search engines. Bait and switch is where the search engine is fed a page and the search engine optimiser waits for the search engine to crawl the page for indexing, then switching back to the proper pages again. The lazy search engines only carry out their indexing once in a while and can often be predicted to return at a certain date. This is another trick best avoided as no guarantees come with the indexing habits of the search engines. Moreover we have yet to find a website that cannot be successfully optimised.

What are doorway, gateway and corridor pages ?

 Doorway or Gateway pages are additional pages created specifically for high ranking in particular search terms. For instance, if a high ranking was required for the term 'thingamys' then a doorway page would contain all the necessary optimisation to attain a high ranking. The page would simply have a 'next' or 'click here' hyperlink into the actual website. A corridor page is a page that contains links to all the doorway pages and frequently to all the proper pages within the website. This technique is frowned upon by many of the search engines and so additional domains are set up to facilitate these pages, thus disassociating from the main domain pages.

Will Optimising my website alter the look ?

No. In most cases a website can be optimised for search engines by behind the scenes work that is not necessarily visible to the viewer. If however, your website is simply one large image or Flash movie. Then you may have to consider additional HTML pages to support not just the search engines but the the hundreds of thousands of people that surf without plug-ins, images and scripting switched off and non graphic browsers like Braille readers and Aural browsers.

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This is one of a series of diverse articles written by the team at Makrobicz.com, specialists in business web design and online marketing.

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