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Search Engine Optimization
By Rodney Blackwell
site is up and running, your next important step will be
getting customers to your site.
are many ways to bring quality traffic to your shop. Offline
promotion, word of mouth and advertising are all ways to
increase the exposure of your new or existing online shop.
Not everyone has the budget for buying offline advertising,
and telling your family and friends only goes so far.
than 75% of all internet users rely on search engines to
find the information they're looking for. It only takes
a few minutes to make your site more "search engine
friendly". A few minutes is something that everyone
has to spare to make sure that your potential customers
can find you. With over half of search engine users abandoning
their search after the first 2 pages, it's even more important
that you do it right the first time. It doesn't cost a thing,
and the results are well worth it!
what can you do to compete in the search engine game?
a few simple adjustments to your website, you'll be well
on your way to getting the results you need from the search
engines. Making search engine promotion a part of the priorities
while setting up or working on your shop will be one of
the best things you can do for your shop, and it won't take
a dime out of your budget.
By now, you've probably heard that you should submit your
site to search engines to get listed. You may have even
gotten emails or read websites where you can submit your
site to 1000's of search engines in just a few clicks (some
may even want to charge you for this service). The fact
is, there are only a handful of major search engines and
directories that most web surfers use that can bring significant
traffic to your shop.
we start, we should define the difference between a search
engine and a directory.
search engine (like google.com)
accepts submissions to its database of website listings
via a free submission form. You just give the form your
web address (URL) and once the form is submitted, it sends
out a program (called a robot), to collect information from
your site to decide what should be shown in the search engine
results. The results it collects are sometimes added within
days or more likely, weeks. This same robot often checks
the existing sites that are in the search engines database
for new information and to follow links on those sites to
find new additions to the database.
directory (like dmoz.org)
also accepts submissions for new sites via a submission
free form. Only, this time YOU input information about your
site including the title and description of your site. After
you submit the form, an actual person reviews your site,
which takes time. That person visits your site, verifies
whether it fits the category you submitted it to and then
check the accuracy of the information you submit. Not all
sites that are submitted to a directory get listed, and
ones that do can take weeks and sometimes months as the
editors work to review each site submitted.
is important that you have your shop prepared before you
submit to either service.
Where do you start? Let's try working from the top down.
First, you should find a focus for your site. For the best
results, you will need to choose a theme that most stands
out in your shop. Results show that a focused effort will
bring more qualified surfers to your pages.
example, if your shop sells t-shirts for various dog breeds,
it would be wise to pick the most popular dog breeds to
focus on, or dog shirts in general when making your site
search engine friendly.
TITLE tag of your web pages is probably the most important
(and most underrated) aspect of optimizing your website
for the search engines.
the first instinct will be to put in a company name or shop
name, when optimizing for search engines it is important
to craft a good title to help control the keywords you are
ranked well for.
tags should usually not be longer than 80 characters at
most. Most search engines will truncate the TITLE tag wording
in their results to 50-80 characters.
to work in as many keywords as possible into your TITLE
tags and STILL keep it a coherent, readable sentence. The
TITLE of your website is the first thing that is shown in
the Search Engine Results Pages when a surfer does a search.
A clear, descriptive title that includes the keywords a
person was searching for will entice a surfer to click your
link above the other results.
is something to keep in mind for all pages of any website
example, if the current title of your dog portrait shop
on the keywords you'd like your shop to show up well for,
I would suggestion modifying the TITLE tag some to include
the right keywords to emphasize on a web page can be tricky.
What I do is try to get into the mind of a customer to try
to think of the words they would use to find my shop. You
can also ask "non-techie" people you know what
they would search for if they were trying to find a product
I have a basic start, I head on over the handy Overture
keyword suggestion tool:
is a tool that Overture (the popular pay per click search
engine) uses to allow its advertisers to choose quality
keywords to "bid" on. It shows what are the most
popular searches and keyword combinations used to search
for a particular subject. Over time it has also become a
great tool for web marketers who use the tool to help optimize
if one of your keywords you wanted to use was: dog
putting in dog in the keyword suggestion tool, you find
was searched for 1,098,542 times last month
breeds was searched for 301,426 times last month!
instead of focusing just focusing on dogs, it would be a
good idea to put the keyword dog breeds in the TITLE tag.
popular term would be: t-shirts
the Overture keyword suggestion tool, we see that t-shirts
was searched for 145,212 times.
you'll need to decide which terms you think will define
that particular page better than others. This will often
times go outside of what the keyword suggestion tool suggests
is a highly searched for term.
recommendation for your TITLE tag for your hypothetical
Dog Portrait shop would be:
breed pictures and portraits on t-shirts, coffee cups and
other gift items."
TITLE tag incorporates important keywords like "dog
breeds", "t-shirts", "coffee cups".
You may want to edit it to fit your needs and focus on the
products you want to promote the most in your shop, however
it gives you the general idea. Put the most important focus
of your shop nearer to the front of the TITLE.
the "Shop Name" field to change the TITLE tag
in your shop.
can see the relevancy "hits" that a search engine
pulls from a particular listing by viewing the terms that
are in BOLD type in the search results. Most will show relevancy
hits on the TITLE, and then will look for actual text content
on the page that matches the search term.
YOUR PASSION KEYWORDS
the current search engine landscape, keywords are not as
much of an importance as they used to be, however they do
still factor into how websites are ranked.
meta keywords can contain up to 1000 characters and the
meta description tag should contain no more than 150 characters.
If possible, keep each META tag on a single line of your
HTML code, without line breaks.
NAME="description" Content="Your Page description
<META NAME="keywords" Content="comma delimited
string of keywords here">
META keywords and description should be used on all pages
of your site or shop. With custom keywords being chosen
for the actual content that is on those pages. Depending
on the content of your page (how much text is on the page,
is it a flash based or highly graphical page, etc.), some
search engines will show the description text you write,
right after the title of your website. A well written description
META tag can grab a lot more users.
optimal rankings, you will want to match your KEYWORD meta
tag, to your DESCRIPTION meta tag, to your TITLE tag, to
the content of the web page. That is to say, each should
contain the same words as the other and should reflect the
wording that can be found in the actual content of the web
our earlier dog breed portrait shop, a possible TITLE, KEYWORD,
DESCRIPTION, content combination would be:
Dog breed pictures and portraits on t-shirts, coffee cups
and other gift items.
DESCRIPTION: Sells dog breed pictures and portraits on t-shirts,
coffee cups, and various other unique custom gift items
KEYWORDS: dog breed, pictures, portraits, t-shirts, coffee
cups, gifts, custom, unique, tiles, sweatshirts, baby dolls
could also add some of the various dog breeds to your keywords
to help fill out the space. Again, you'll want to keep the
most important keywords to the front of your list and for
best results, you use the plural version of the keyword.
A keyword of "dogs", will count towards searches
for "dog" or "dogs".
ABOUT YOUR PASSION
down to its most basic element, many would say the web is
about information. People are looking for information online.
they find your product, one thing that helps sell your product
is the information you can give about it. Writing descriptive
text about your shop and your products will not online help
shoppers have the information they need to make a buying
decision, it will also help search engines decide where
to rank your site.
putting relevant text content on your site as well as in
your product descriptions can help shoppers and search engines
make better decisions about your products.
our dog portraits shop example, a descriptive shop intro
text might be:
dog breed portraits can be customized to show your pet on
any of our unique products. Choose from t-shirts, sweatshirts,
tiles, coffee cups, framed portraits, posters and more from
our gift shop and we will put your pet's picture on your
offer full color illustrations, black and white sketches,
and cute cartoon caricatures personalized from your pet
photo. Whether you have a Lab, an Akita, a German Shepard
or a lovable mixed breed puppy, we've got the design for
you. Get started today be choosing a product below..."
the use of the various keywords embedded into complete descriptive
sentences. Your shop and products are unique! Be sure to
give them the supporting text they deserve so that your
customers will know what they're getting and so the search
engines have a better idea of the content on your pages.
search engines are relying on webmasters to define the IMG
ALT tag. Not only to make the site accessible for web surfers
with disabilities, but to help identify what the content
of highly graphical pages is supposed to be.
of the most important uses of the ALT tag is to define the
"description" of a linked image.
tags are also considered as "content" for pages.
So if a page has "dogs" in the TITLE tag, and
"dogs" in the META tags and then follows that
up with "dogs" in the ALT tags of the images used
on its pages, it is going to fare better (for the most part)
than sites that have not done their optimization homework.
TO YOUR PASSION
but definitely not least, we have the links. Linking is
how the web grew and linking is how your website will rank
well. Even though this is near the bottom, this IS one of
the most important variables that you can control to determine
which words your pages rank well for.
ANCHOR text, I mean the text that is used to define a link.
There are probably 1000's of User Agreement's on the web
(Google says over 3,000,000 matches for that keyword phrase).
link to our hypothetical dog portrait shop could go from
"Visit Our Shop" to "Shop for Dog Breed Portraits".
Stacey would then want to ask her friends and business associates
to link to her shop using the same text. This not only helps
search engines define what they will find at the end of
the link, it will also help shoppers decide which links
to click on any given site. The more descriptive, the better!
more links to your site on other people's sites, the better.
Try to keep them relevant. While a link to your dog portrait
site on a site selling ice cream is nice, a link from a
pet groomer's site will mean that much more!
creative when asking for links from other sites. It is best
to make direct contact with a site owner either by email
or phone. No "form" letters here. Only after you
have visited a website and feel that a link maybe of benefit
should you try to find a specific person to contact.
a little good will and add a link to their site first to
let them know you appreciate their website resource. Later,
ask them to review your site to see if they will do the
same. If possible, make it as easy as possible for them
to link to you by giving them the HTML code they need to
link to your site (with the anchor text you decided on of
find that the more quality and informative content you have
on your site, the more likely people are to link to your
site as a resource for information on that particular topic.
Quality sites get links!
posting here you will be able to find other shopkeepers
that have similar interests that you can exchange links
IT ALL TOGETHER
now have the same tools of some of the most successful sites
in the search engines. It's up to you now to implement them
into your online shop.
Remember to be descriptive in your Title, Keywords, and
After you have made your site "search engine friendly",
you are NOW ready to submit your shop to the various search
engines. Be wary of services wanting to charge you for search
engine submission services to 1000's of search engines.
You can promote your shop better than anyone. Once you hit
the top 10 major search engines, you will find that covers
most of the searches people do online.
patience. While it may only take a few minutes to get your
site ready for the search engines and to submit it, it may
take weeks and sometimes months for these changes to take
effect in the searches. Some search engines update every
4 weeks, others do it less often. The good news is, once
you're in, you usually stay in. Any work you do from then
on out only works to improve your existing listing.
keep at it...you can always make changes to your title,
keywords and site text. Tweak the information until you
get the results you desire.
informed by reading trusted search engine related websites