"Search Engine Update and Crash Course..."


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        February 26, 2004                         Today's circulation: 150,055

"Search Engine Update / Crash Course"

Yahoo, Google, Inktomi, oh my! What's a webmaster do to?

There must be a reliable, responsible way to get a website ranked well in all these rapidly changing search engines.

Yes, there is.

Discover it in today's gazette...
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More than likely you've heard the news that Yahoo has recently shifted it's search results. Instead of the results coming from Google's database, they are now being served from their newly owned Inktomi database.

Ahh... search engines. One minute your site is at the top, the next minute you can't find it. Just when webmasters think they're getting a handle on their site ranking, one major search engine buys out another, changes their search algorithm or database provider and everyone gets to start all over again.

Is it really worth trying to get a site ranked well in the search engines?

I believe it is. But there are positive and negative factors you need to be aware of.

On the positive side of things, search engine traffic is top quality. The conversion rate is usually excellent and since the traffic flows virtually without cost, search engine traffic may be the best traffic there is. Specifically, traffic from the web's largest search engines -- google.com, yahoo.com and search.msn.com can impact a website's traffic substantially.

But on the negative side, getting a website ranked near the top is almost impossible for most webmasters, especially if they have lots of competition in their particular niche. And too many webmasters end up becoming obsessed with search engine ranking and fail to promote their websites via other proven strategies. Relying on one traffic source can be detrimental to your website's bottom line.

So what's a web business owner to do?

Perhaps the best policy is the one I've used with great success...

Look at your search engine marketing as a LONG TERM strategy. Make sure you have the basics covered, but don't get obsessed with the ever-changing results. If you concentrate on a long-term strategy, more than likely you'll see improving results and continued success.

So what are these basics?


1. Basic web page optimization
2. Quality content
3. Growing links
4. Submissions

Let's expand a bit on each topic:

1. Basic web page optimization

Basic optimization means setting up your web pages so they are search engine friendly. You should primarily be concerned with your main page, though it is good practice to apply search engine friendly techniques to all your web pages.

A search engine friendly web page contains a keyword-rich title.

(Your title is the text between <title> and </title> in your html code. And in case you are not familiar with the term "keywords", they are simply words or phrases that your customers would be using at search engines to find the information or help your site offers.)

The basics of a good title are...

a. Contains your best keywords (especially the first few words of your title)
b. Describes what your site is about
c. Is less than 80 characters

The other important aspect of basic search engine optimization is the BODY of your web page. The body text should also contain your best keywords, though make sure they are not overused. (This is called keyword stuffing and many search engines penalize for that.) You best keywords should occur naturally throughout your text and should not appear more than a few times for every 100 words on your page.

That's really all basic optimization consists of, and as you can see, it is rather simple. Now let's talk about the the overall content of your entire site.

2. Quality content

A quality website with solid, reliable and substantial content will always do better than sites trying to "trick" their way to good ranking. Think about it for a moment. Why do the top search sites have such a huge market share? Simple. They provide quality search results. That's how they got more people use them to find what they were looking for.

Therefore, websites offering lots of quality CONTENT are usually the first sites presented in their search results.

There is no secret to this. And providing quality content takes work. I do it by writing articles like the one you are reading now. And you can do it by writing articles for YOUR niche market and posting them at your site.

For example... If your site focuses on collectibles, don't just post up your items and hope they sell. Instead, write an article about a specific collectible every week. Tell it's history and why it is worth so much. Write about how to tell an original from a counterfeit. You get the idea.

In a year you will have 52 keyword-rich web pages (or more) that will help grow traffic to your website. In two years you'll have 100+. And this content is the cornerstone of your website.

[Tech note: As you post each article at your website, make sure the new web page links back to your main page. Also make sure your main page has a link to either a site map or an article listing. That will help search engines find all that great content when they spider your site.]

I've been writing about the content aspect of web marketing for seven years now. And I can remember a few years back when many experts were writing, "Don't waste your time on content, just put up a single page sales letter." But what would the web be like if it were just a network of single page sales letters?

The web is all about information.

Let's face it, nearly ALL people online are here to get information. You can find in-depth information on any subject imaginable. Sure, you sometimes have to pay for the best quality information, but if you surf long enough you can get to the truth of any subject using the World Wide Web.

If you are a website owner, all of this translates into a simple strategy. Create content for your niche market and the search engines will make it available to the public. Grow a website that is information rich and the visitors will come. It may take time but they will come.

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The next basic search engine marketing strategy is...

3. Growing links

Getting lots of links coming to your site is important. Not only will traffic arrive via those links, but a site with lots of incoming links does better in search engines than sites with few links.

But getting sites to link to yours is not easy. One of the best ways to get links goes right back to your content from item one above...

As you create your own tips and articles for your website or email newsletters, share the content with other webmasters. You can do this "on-the-fly" by including a short footer after your content that tells webmasters they have permission to reprint your article at their website or in their newsletter. Be sure to let them know that they need to include a live link to your site. You may even want to tell them exactly how to link to your site. (Preferably with a short description of your site and a hyper linked keyword or two. This will help search engines determine that the sites are related and give the link more relevance.)

There are lots of websites in need of decent content. Supply it and you can benefit greatly - your links will grow continually with no effort on your part.

And the beauty of this strategy, is that only sites in your niche will use your content. This means your links will be high quality links from sites in the right 'neighborhood.' This goes a long way with the search engines.

If you would like to see this content-sharing link growing strategy in action, visit my Internet marketing articles archive.

There are lots of other ways to get links into your site, and you need to use your imagination. One way is to let visitors to your site know that if they have a site in the same niche as yours, you'll consider trading links with them.

You can even automate your link swaps and save lots of time. See my "Internet Marketing Directory" for how I've done that. In return for linking to my site, webmasters get a directory listing for their best Internet Marketing Resource, and a free ebook on permission email marketing.

The tool that automates that link building strategy for me is called LinksManager. While there are many automated solutions available, be careful when selecting yours. Many are not search engine friendly and using a link network or link farm designed to trick search engines, can be detrimental to your link campaign! The one I use is simply a time saving tool. It sends emails to new submissions, checks their site for a live link to mine, and gives away my ebook when the link is verified. When visitors link to my site, their links are set up directly to my site, so it is search engine friendly. I've been using it for a few years now with great success. And no, I'm not an affiliate. ;-)

Now that you have a few ideas on how to optimize your site and get links, you should be aware of where to submit your site...

4. Submissions

A huge percentage of search engine traffic flows through a small number major search engines and directories, specifically Google, Yahoo, MSN, About, and a few others. So a wise webmaster will make sure their sites are in those engines.

Getting into Google is as simple as submitting your site at: http://www.google.com/addurl.html

It also helps to add your site to the Open Directory Project at: http://www.dmoz.com/add.html

Next head over to AltaVista and submit your site: http://addurl.altavista.com/addurl/new

Finally, hop over to MSN and submit your site: http://submitit.bcentral.com/msnsubmit.htm

All four of those submissions are complimentary, though you'll have to be patient, as getting listed can take weeks and even months.

If you want to get into Yahoo's search results, you'll have to pay - and pay dearly - with the new Overture Site Match Program.

For $49 you can submit your URL to be included in Yahoo search results as well as the results at other major portals including About and Hotbot to name a couple. Beware though, not only will you pay the $49 inclusion fee, you'll have to pay a per click charge in addition! I think you'll be seeing an uproar from webmasters over that. ;-)

You now have all the basic information you need to grow your search engine traffic. Implement this info right away and you'll see continually improving results. And remember, the more content you add and the more links you get, the better those results will be!

To your success,
Jim Daniels
Make A Living Online

P.S. Did you find this tip helpful? Want more insider tips like this? Come to my just-renovated Guide to Making a Living Online. You'll discover some of my deepest, darkest secrets about online business..

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