Not all Web pages are treated alike. Learn what the search engines look for to move your site onto the first page.
Who doesn't want to be listed first in a search engine list of results? Such prominence usually leads to increased sales and higher visibility in your industry. So how do you get there? It's not easy. It requires some savvy on the methodology of search rankings. These tips and tricks should help to make your website stand out from the other 50 billion Web pages crowding the Internet:
Let them know you're there
"Your first move should be to register your site on DMOZ.org, the Internet directory that search engines use to add new listings to their databases," says Sandra Jimenez, a partner in Santa Monica, Calif.-based Westside Websites, a Web development firm. Essentially, if DMOZ.org doesn't know you're out there, it's likely the search engines won't, either -- unless you contact each one and register individually. Registering on DMOZ.org is free.
Make keywords count
"Purchasing the right keyword ad buy through Google Adwords (and Yahoo) will immediately expose your site to your target audience and help improve your ranking," says Jimenez. "In addition to exposure on Google itself, your founded will also appear on the websites that are carrying Google ads."
That said, be sure to choose your keywords wisely -- and use them liberally. Say you're a mechanic named Rudy who wants to advertise online. Instead of giving your homepage the generic title "Rudy's Repairs," use the more specific "Rudy's Automotive Repairs. " The keyword "automotive" will likely boost your chances of being listed correctly and prominently on a search results page when users type in "automotive repairs," sans Rudy, for example.
Keyword density is also important. Search engines look for a repetition of keywords on a single page or across your site when matching a page to a search request. Therefore, it is important to repeat your keywords frequently in your site's visible content (articles or product tags) and source code, including in image descriptions (ALT tags), meta tags, and comment tags.
Go directly to Google
While DMOZ.org allows the search engines to know about you, they'll have more information when you go direct. Every search engine includes a link that will allow you to add your site's URL and keywords to their index. If you have a multi-page site, add the URL of each page, along with the keywords it contains.
Adding new content to your website on a regular basis will cause search engines to resubmit the site or page to their databases. This frequent re-indexing means that your content will be listed in the search results more quickly and prominently, because frequent changes are an indication that a URL is not a stale or dead link. "One easy way to add content is through a blog or news section. And submitting an RSS feed to a search engine is a sure-fire way to increase ranking attention," Jimenez says.
Since Google and other major search engines give priority to pages that are heavily linked to by other sites, it's important, and worth the effort, to try to get your URL onto as many other major websites as possible. Links containing your specific keywords -- "Rudy's Automotive Repairs" -- will rank higher than links that merely say "click here."
Search engines offer paid advertising that will get your link on more pages, resulting in a higher ranking. The most common method is through pay-per-click ads listed above and to the right of unpaid listings. Companies are charged a fixed amount whenever a user clicks on the ad. Prices vary according to search engine and keyword popularity, but as a rule, the more you spend, the more prominently your site will appear.