Search Engine Optimization for Newbies
80 percent of web surfers start their journey on a search engine. There are more than eight billion pages indexed by the major search engines. While search engines are not (and should not be) the only way to promote your business online, they are one of the most important.
If you have a small business website, and you want to rank well, there are a few things you need to do. First, don’t think that users will search for your site for your company name. If, for example, you have a website design firm in Dallas, you should try to rank high when somebody searches for “web design dallas”, or “web design company dallas”. These phrases are known as “keywords”, and they are the first thing you must define (even before you start designing your website).
There are several ways to choose the right keywords. When choosing them, remember to make sure that they are terms that search engine users actually use, or you may end up ranking high for search terms that nobody uses. For some starter tips on chosing the right keywords you can check out my article Keyword Optimization.
The next question is, how do search engines know that your page is relevant to your chosen keywords? The answer is twofold:
1) They rely on your page copy: If your keywords, and other related terms, are mentioned frequently on your web page, your relevance for those words will increase (don’t overdo it, though, or the search engines will treat is as spam). For more information on how to optimize your pages for the search engines, you can check out my article “Web Page Optimization“.
2) They rely on links to your page from other web pages (inbound Links): This is understandable, since if search engines relied only on our web page copy, it would be too easy for us to manipulate results. Outside inbound links from quality sites are difficult to get, and therefore carry significant weight.
Regarding inbound links, two things strike as the most important:
a) The page where the link originates has to be a quality resource with a topic somehow related to yours.
b) The words on the text used to link to you (link anchor text) must contain your preferred keywords: if those links say “Dallas Web Design Company”, the search engines will easily conclude that you are a web design company based in Dallas and will give you a boost for that phrase.
In a nutshell, find the right keywords, make your page copy relevant to those keywords, and get a lot of quality inbound links with your keywords in the link text, and you will be on your way to high search engine rankings.