Ranking well under the free listings in the major search engines basically mean one thing – Lots of free, recurring, and targeted traffic. Major search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN can be very powerful weapons in your internet marketing, if you know how to optimize your website to rank highly for your keywords. This article will focus on how you can optimize your website to rank on the top positions in search engines.
Getting listed on search engines is one thing, optimizing for top rankings is a totally different thing altogether. If you type in any keyword, the results shown may run into the millions of pages. Visitors would normally focus their attention on the first page of their search results, and few would browse to more than the first three pages. It is because critical to rank your website on the first page for your target keywords, or visitors would not find your site at all.
The three major search engines you should focus on are Google, Yahoo and MSN. Together, these search engines institute more than 90% of the searches done online. With an audience reach of more than 50% of the internet community, Google is, by far, the most powerful search engine for free listings. Because its results are completely determined by algorithms, its listings are completely unbiased and 'pure'. Other search engines may contain sponsored listings as well as free listings. Thus, visitors are likely to go straight to Google when looking for 'pure' search results, and this is the search engine you should focus on for optimization.
Note that since Google changes its algorithm very frequently, you have to continuously keep updated on the latest changes to the search engine industry to keep your site on the top of search engines.
Search engine optimization (especially for Google) basically enterprises of two factors: on-page optimization and off-page optimization. On-page optimization involves the manipulation of page components like titles, content and text links, to rank well for Google. Off-page optimization involves getting more links from other websites directed to your website.
On-page optimization. There are several on-page ranking factors for your website:
1) Title tag. When giving your website your title, you should include only your main keywords. The title must also be as concise and short as possible, and not include many redundant words. Do not include words like 'and', you can instead use symbols like a 'dash' to separate your title words. Fewer unnecessary words would give each of the other title keywords greater weight, and then a higher ranking for your site.
2) Good content. All search engines base their search results on the content you have on your webpages, and how well they relate to the keywords you want to optimize your website for. It is best if you write your website content on your own to prevent copyright violations, and to be able to control exactly the content you want to place on your website. Search engine spiders like Googlebot also determine your ranking based on the keyword density on your website. Keyword density is the ratio of the number of times that your keywords appear through your content to the total number of words. When writing the content, you should place your keywords evenly through your content. Use your keyword once in every one to two paragraphs, and also once in the first and last paragraphs.
3) Header tags. The Header 1 tags of your website should include your main keywords, and the Header 2 tags should include your secondary keywords.
4) Bolding and Italicizing. Whenever possible, you can bold or italicize your keywords through your content, as search engines to place greater weight on bold or italic words.
Off-page optimization. Off-page ranking factors are really what make a HUGE difference to your rankings, and search engines like Google may place up to 90% of their emphasis on off-page factors. They can mean a difference between ranked in the thousands, or on the first page. From this you can see the great importance of focusing on off-page optimization. The off-page factors are:
1) The number of websites linking to your website. Commonly known as 'link popularity', this is one of the prime factors that determine your ranking on search engines. Link popularity is the measure of the number of websites linking to your website, and search engines like Google place strong emphasis on it, because more backlinks to your website generally mean that your website is a better or more important resource for people. Thus, as far as possible, try to secure as many links from as many websites as possible. The most common method is to write personal emails to webmasters to ask for their link to your website, and provide a reciprocal link back to their website if they require it. This is where your website content plays an important role as well. If your website is full of informative content and resources, then webmasters would be more than happy to link to your website, as their visitors would also benefit from your useful content.
You can also join link exchange communities like http://www.linkmetro.com . Such communities list many websites willing to exchange links with others. This free services only require you to provide a reciprocal link back to the website you are exchanging links with, in return.
2) The relevancy of the websites linking to your website. Search engines rank highly those websites with many relevant websites linking to them. The higher the number of relevant websites linking to your website, the higher your search engine rankings will be. It would not help your search engine rankings much if you have hundreds of unrelated websites linking to yours, but they may still boost your rankings a little because these are still considered valid links from many different websites. However, as far as possible, try to solicit links from relevant websites instead of non-relevant ones.
3) The importance of the websites linking to your website. Google measures the importance of websites with their PageRank (PR) system. It is a scale ranging from 1 to 10. Pages with very high importance are given a very high PR, and vice versa. The scale is exponential, which means that it gets increasingly harder to increase your PR. If a website with very high PR links to your website, that shows that their webmaster places a high value on your website, and your site has content worthy to be shown to their visitors. This will, in turn, give your webpage a higher PR. For example, if a website of PR 6 links to you, then your PR may rise from 1 to maybe 2 or 3. Thus, in addition to a higher PR, higher search engine results are also attained if many websites with high PR link to yours.
If you have a new website that has not been indexed in Google yet, then you should try to get links from high PR websites. Some experts claim that if you have many high PR websites linking to yours, your website would be indexed in Google automatically, even without using the Search Engine Submission Form.
4) The anchor text of the link pointing to your website. Links pointing to your website should have your main keywords in the link. For example, if you want to rank well for 'search engine optimization', then the link pointing to your website should read 'search engine optimization', and not other unrelated words.
5) The IP addresses of the websites linking to your website. Whenever possible, you should get links from many different websites, instead of links on many pages from the same website. Same websites would show the same IP address, and Google prefers many links located on different IP addresses.
Although this article focuses primarily on Google, the optimization techniques also apply well for Yahoo and MSN. That is why you find that websites of high popularity can be found among the first pages of most major search engines. Remember to place more emphasis on off-page optimization than on-page optimization. Your website would be well optimized for most search engines if you follow the guides on this article.
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