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search engine optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is where you change your website to get it to appear higher in search engine listings for keywords that you care about.

The aim is to be the first website that Google and the other search engines list when someone searches on a particular word. The closer your site is to the top, the more visitors you will get.

Some ways to get higher in the listings:

  1. Choose keywords. What words do you expect people to put in a search engine to find your website?
  2. Put the keywords in the HTML title of the page. For a blog posting this is the same as the posting’s title. This is the single most important thing you can do. Search engines see your title as a short description of what your web page is about. It is the name they give your page in their listings. In titles plainness counts more than wit.
  3. The first two sentences should be a description of the page: that is how search engines will use it. You can put other keywords here.
  4. Put the keywords in headings, in bold, in links. Only words in titles and near the top count for more.
  5. Do not shamelessly repeat keywords.
  6. Have at least a hundred pages of good, solid content on your website for your keywords.
  7. A web page should:
    • Be about 15 kilobytes in size – words, images, everything. The smaller the better.
    • Have 200 to 500 words.
    • Have an image if possible: about 10 kilobytes in size. Users can click on it to get a larger image if necessary.
    • Link to two other good websites on the same subject. Linking to bad websites or to websites about completely different subjects will hurt you.
    • Cross link: each page should link to at least two other pages on your own site and have two other pages linking back to it.
    • Be no more than two clicks away from your home page.
    • Use simple HTML (no higher than HTML 3.2).
    • Avoid Java, JavaScript and Flash as much as possible.
  8. Write down ideas for content
  9. Check spelling.
  10. Put up a new page regularly: once a day is best, but at least once a week.
  11. Use a blog for at least part of your site.
  12. Look at your server logs or website numbers. You are looking for two things in particular:
    • Bad balance: Look for pages which get far more hits than the others. This is bad, as it turns out. It is better to have 50 pages which get one hit a day than one page that gets 50 hits a day. If you find a page that is getting far more hits than the others, cross-link it to more pages on your site.
    • Search words: Find out what search words people use to get to your site. This will give you ideas for new keywords: go to Step 2 and repeat…

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