Sunday, 8 March 2009

Effective Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a collection of various techniques that help your site rank higher in SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). It is a long process, which involves keyword selection, HTML source code (Hyperlinks, Meta tags, Alt tags...) configuration, content (all "visible" text of your pages) optimization and restructure of the whole web site.

Search engine optimization is very powerful weapon in internet marketing world. If used correctly, it can be the only marketing tool that you'll ever need. Many businesses have realized that and have employed search engine optimization firms to help their sites rank higher. Top placement in search engines can be very lucrative for any web site owner.

There are hundreds of millions of people all over the world searching for information everyday and this number is growing at exploding rate. As some studies say, 85% of people go to search engines and 80% of them look only at first 3 SERPs when they search for information.

Having this in mind, it's absolutely essential to have a web site at the top of SERPs by selected keywords and keyphrases. High search engine rankings will bring enormous amount of traffic and will boost your company's sales tremendously.

Keyword Research

The first step in proper search engine optimization process is researching keywords and keyphrases that describe your site. Doesn't matter if you already have one or just planning to have, keyword research is a must thing to do. Basically, it means choosing the words and phrases that describe the content of your site.

It is pointless to have a web site about "search engine ranking" and be found by keywords like "web design" or "website hosting". Visitors will click away, because they won't find what they're looking for. Before starting any optimization, define your keywords first. What people type in search engines to find your web site? What would you type in search engines to find your site?

After researching, you should optimize your pages for those selected keywords.

Search engine optimization is not only about gaining high rankings, but also about gaining targeted traffic. Try to attract people who are interested in particular information or services that can be found on your site. Then find the right keywords and optimize your pages properly.

On-Page Search Engine Optimization

After doing a keyword research, you should start creating or optimizing your existing site. On-page search engine optimization, as many call, is a process of optimizing html code, content, internal linking structure of your site. In other words, everything that is inside your web site.

On page search engine optimization includes:

  1. Title Tag - It is one of the most important parts of a page. Page title is seen in bigger font in SERPs. It's crucial to put your most important keywords in title. You should put meaningful sentences there, not only a bunch of keywords. Keep in mind that if a visitor is not convinced of your title, he'll click on your competitor's link. So spend some time on creating good titles for your pages.
  2. Meta Tags - Meta description and keyword tags should be different on all pages. Also, keep in mind that repeating the same Meta keyword tags could harm your rankings. It's called keyword stuffing and is treated as search engine spam.
  3. Headings, Bold and Italic Text - As search engine optimizers claim, SE's give some weight on Heading Tags, bold, italic and underline text. So try to surround your important keywords with these tags.
  4. Internal Linking - When you link from one page to another in your site, put your keywords in the anchor (Text that you see in a hyperlink) text.
Like Your Keywords. Keep in mind that those keywords should be found on a page where the hyperlink leads.
There are more factors determining site’s rankings, but those tips above should help you in your on-page search engine optimization process.

Off-Page Search Engine Optimization

This term describes everything that is outside your web site. That means all other factors used in search engine optimization process that determine your rankings. Very important off-page technique used right now is link popularity, which means all links from other domains pointing to your web pages.

It’s almost impossible to rank high for competitive keywords if you don’t have a decent amount of external links pointing to your site. All search engines have chosen to include link popularity factor in their algorithms when ranking sites. Links are the only way to reach top SERPs for competitive keywords.

Try to gain as much incoming links to your site as possible. It’s tough to gain only incoming links, so start link exchanges, though it’s very time consuming. But don’t try to get links from FFAs (Free for All pages) or link farms (pages containing many links to other unrelated web sites). Get useful links from related and quality web sites, which will benefit your users and search engines.

Remember that links are dominant factor when search engine spiders consider your rankings. On-page search engine optimization is important, but off-page is absolutely must for top positions. Without good inbound (links to your site) links, it’s very hard to get on the top of search engine results pages.

Unethical Search Engine Optimization Techniques

When you begin search engine optimization process, avoid unethical SEO techniques. They worked long time ago, but now are treated as search engine spam. If you use them, your site may be penalized or even dropped from search engine listings for a long time.

A couple of spammy SEO techniques are below:

  1. Mirror Websites - These are sites with identical content but different URL's.
  2. Doorway or Gateway Pages - Doorway pages usually contain little real value to the visitors and are optimized to rank highly within the search engines only.
  3. Keyword Stuffing - Keyword stuffing means using the same keywords in Your META tags or elsewhere in the content over and over again.
  4. Link Farms - These were mentioned earlier. A link farm is usually one page that consists of 50 to 100 or more links to websites that have nothing in common with the content of your site.
When a search engine catches you using illegal search engine optimization techniques, it blacklists your website and blocks your domain name or IP (Internet Protocol) address. You will have many problems while getting on board again. If you don’t want to be blacklisted by major search engines, try to avoid those techniques mentioned above.

Summing Up

Search engine optimization is a never ending game. Webmasters are trying to trick SEs and get higher positions. Search engines are trying to get rid of optimizers and provide the most accurate results for the searchers by complicating their ranking algorithms. If you want to win this game, you must learn as much as possible, test as much as you can and be up-to-date with the newest search engine optimization techniques all the time.

Ten Unique Search Engine Optimization Techniques

In this article I discuss ten controversial search engine optimization techniques that should be used with caution, or even avoided altogether.

1. Duplicate Pages

In general, search engines ignore duplicate pages. In extreme cases, they may ban a site.

2. Invisible Text

Search engines consider the use of text that is the same color as the background color as spam. So stay clear of using invisible text.

3. Keywords In Comment Tags

Hardly any, if any, of the major search engines index comment tags, so don't waste time adding them for optimization purposes.

4. Keywords In Hidden Value Tags

Keywords in hidden value tags are considered spam by all of the major search engines, so don't waste time with this practice.

5. Keywords In Style Tags

Very few search engines index the content of

6. Link Farms And Link Exchange Programs

Search engines consider link farms and link exchange programs as spam, as they have only one purpose - to artificially inflate a site's link popularity, by exchanging links with other participants.

Do not confuse link farms and link exchange programs with reciprocal linking. Reciprocal linking is the exchange of links with individual sites, and certainly an accepted technique for improving your site's link popularity.

7. Links Only Pages

I recommend adding text descriptions to link pages and site maps. Some search engines, such as AltaVista, have been known to kick out links only pages.

8. Meta Refresh Tags

In general, meta refresh tags set for under 30 seconds are considered as spam by search engines. As such, most search engine optimizers use JavaScript redirects.

Having said that, I recently read an article that said the Fast and Inktomi search engines recommend using meta refresh tags, instead of JavaScript redirects.

Are you confused? I certainly am!

So to be on the safe side, I suggest sticking with JavaScript redirects, until there is conclusive proof that search engines accept meta refresh tags.

9. Tiny Text

Many of the major search engines consider tiny text (i.e. font size 1) as spam. Some use of tiny text is fine. Search engines don't like web pages that use a lot of tiny text. The reason is because some webmasters have used it to fool search engines by "hiding" dozens of keywords in a web page.

10. Cloaking

Cloaking is the practice of serving search engine optimized pages to search engine spiders, while at the same time serving un-optimized pages to site visitors.

Cloaking is one of the most controversial strategies in search engine optimization. Major search engines publicly state that they consider all cloaking to be spam. However, many professional search engine optimizers have been using cloaking for years, with much success.

Until there is conclusive proof that search engines do indeed ban sites that use cloaking, I suggest you take care if you decide to use cloaking.

If you want more in-depth information on these and other search engine optimization strategies, read my Search Engine Optimization Guide.


There are many controversial search engine optimization techniques. There are people who despise the use of certain techniques, such as cloaking. But the fact of the matter is that there are no right or wrong ways to optimize a web page.

What might be considered as spam by one search engine may be accepted by another. What works today may be banned tomorrow.

The art and science of marketing is about testing to see what works and what doesn't. I recommend taking the same approach with search engine optimization. After all, it is just another form of marketing.