Does it really matter how great your website looks if nobody sees it?

Planning and implementing a search engine optimization strategy is a key part of the design, development and maintenance of your website. It may seem confusing, but it really just means designing, writing, and html coding your website so that it’s more likely to appear at the top of search results when potential customers type in keywords and phrases that relate to your business when they conduct online searches. This can be accomplished by considering the search engines and directories that offer the greatest amount of potential traffic, like Google and Yahoo, and creating the proper setting and meeting the right conditions to get their attention.

1. Keys to Success
Search engines and directories identify and index your website’s content by comparing and matching keywords frequently used in your site to those entered by an individual doing an online search.
However, a mishmash of keywords at the expense of a good, clear sales message isn’t going to help. You need good marketing copy that sounds great, emphasizes benefits and uses keyword phrases. Proper online copywriting and site structure is an art form unto itself, so be sure to get professional support.

2. The Right Tags
If you want to promote sales of your product or service, it’s safe to say your competitors want to also – and they’ll probably use a lot of the same words and phrases as you. So, how will a search engine or directory choose which site to list above the others?

They’ll look beyond your keywords to each of the html tags on your site, things like alternate text placed on images and the text within your website. These “tags” are markers that contain keywords in the actual source code of your website that search engines crawl (read) through to support prominent ranking on search engines and directories.

3. The First Impression
Directories such as Yahoo categorize websites. When your website is submitted to the various search engines and directories it is vital that the site description clearly identifies a type or classification that best represents your business so prospects will look for it in their online search. So, the site description for your men’s clothing store might read, “quality men’s clothing, shirts, pants and high quality suits, retail, Toronto, New York and Montreal”.

4. Directing Traffic
Creating an XML or HTML Sitemap will ensure that every page on your website can be found and indexed, particularly those that are located deeper down in the website as these are not as easily reachable by direct linking or navigation. Today’s new web tools enable SEO specialists to organize and prioritize site content, insert appropriate title tags, and recode web pages to make them increasingly search engine friendly.

5. It’s Who You Know
When someone is famous, a lot of people know about them, when a website is important, more pages on the web will link to it. Reciprocal web page linking between websites is a very important part of the search engine optimization process. Google, for example, uses various link popularity algorithms to rank website relevance. It’s important to build as many quality links to your site as you can, through link exchange directories or by exchanging links privately.

6. Reaching Out
Reaching out to prospects and customers is a must, no matter how well executed your search engine optimization campaign is. Online marketing tactics like newsletters, press releases, articles, blog posts and taking advantage of social media sites will aid with seo because they contain a wide variety of keywords to be picked up by search engines and directories, each of which can and should link back to your website. They may also be passed on and forwarded to other people easily, exposing your business and your website to numerous new prospects with whom you otherwise would not have connected with.

In addition, frequent changes and updates to websites (such as the posting of a new blog post or press release) create greater visibility as search engines continually seek out new information.

As important as it is, a web optimization is simply another means of helping potential customers find your web site. It isn’t a substitute for solid content, the right messages, great design and a well planned online and offline marketing strategy. The most important thing is to ensure your website has the basics:

Simple, cleanly coded design that loads quickly and is organized well User-friendly, intuitive navigation Unique Titles and Meta tags to help search engines identify relevant keyword phrases, and Internal and external links that accurately describe what can be found in the site With all of these elements in place, your site has the chance for high rankings for a variety of keyword phrases in major search engines and directories. Because search engines and directories look for the same things you do when you search online: easy-to-access information in a clear and concise language.

The process of ranking highly in the engines can take a significant investment of your time, and, because your competitors are striving for the same positioning that you are, your search engine strategy will require constant adjustment in order to maintain and improve rankings.

Are you trying to get more out of your website? Achieve your online goals today, to help you get the most out of your business!