According to Verisign’s 2013 Small Business survey, 91% of customers use the internet to search for goods and services. As the internet continues to grow, it can become more difficult to be “found” when a potential customer is looking for your product or service, so it’s important to optimize your website for search engines. Below are some basic tips for search engine optimization (also known as SEO).
Search engines use tools called “spiders” that continuously crawl links around the internet to find web content and bring it back to their giant databases. The first step in optimizing your website is to make sure your website is welcoming these spiders and guiding them deep into your site. Some basic ways of doing this include:
Before you write the content for your website, it’s important to do some research and planning around your keywords. Keywords are the terms searchers enter into a search engine. Search engines are looking for the best match to what the searcher is looking for, so make sure your content contains lots of the keywords people are using. It’s important to speak in the language of your customers, so put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they would search for. As a general rule:
Search engines consider new content to be more relevant. The older your content gets, the less the search engines will favor it and the less it will help you get rankings. Create a schedule for updating content, or adding new content that will be of interest to your customers. The more you update, the more the search engines will visit your site, and the more positive effect it will have on your rankings.
Search engines place a high value on links from other sites to your site, as if that site is “voting” for you. These links are valuable for direct traffic as well. Seek opportunities to get links from legitimate websites. Don’t ever purchase links or fall for someone promising to get you a large number of links in a short period of time, as search engines will consider low-quality links an attempt to trick them.
Lastly, remember that optimizing your website for search is a marathon, not a sprint. SEO should be and ongoing project. Search engines can be fickle and frequently change their algorithms, so don’t get too tied up in following the trends. Instead, focus on building a site that provides a good experience for your customers regardless of search engines. Follow these few simple guidelines, and the rankings should naturally follow.
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