What's New in Technology for January 2005

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Web Site Visibility - Improve Your Search Engine Rankings
You may have a great looking, user-friendly site, but unless it pops up on the first pages from a search engine, chances are that interested customer will be looking elsewhere. Good search engine placement - the higher the better - is key to keeping your website visible and accessible to possible customers.

Here are some tips to help you improve your showing or search engine optimization - as web gurus call it.
  • Include enough key words on each page. Every individual page of your website needs at least 200 words of relevant text (containing lots of key words). Search engines rely on words used on the page to figure out whether your site is the right one for its user. When you determine what your key words are, be sure to think of every possible phrase that a prospective buyer might use. For example, if you have a pet boarding service and you use "cat boarding" and "dog boarding," the search engine will pick up that your business involves "boarding" - but, if you also offer pet grooming, prescription diets, obedience training and other services, a customer for these services won’t find you - unless you include these key phrases, too.

  • Don’t allow design elements to hinder the search engine process. Avoid "framing" your website pages. Web designers sometimes "frame" each page of text with a fixed border to add a consistent graphic element throughout the entire site. The "frame" might have your logo, business name and contact information at the top, and the border on the left may have links to various pages on your site. The frame content is the same on every page, and the individual page content is in the middle. This design approach may look very slick and professional, but it can prevent the search engine from getting to the actual content in the middle. In others instances, the search engine "finds" the actual page content but doesn’t include the frame where the company’s name and contact information is logged. Either way, interested customers won’t get access to the information they need to place an order.

  • Include key words in text links to pages on your website. Search engines can’t read text included in graphics. They can locate plain text only. This means you should duplicate the key words you have in graphics (which includes key words on the site’s navigation buttons) with plain text links somewhere on the same page.

  • Supplement dynamic web pages with static pages containing key words. Search engines don’t do a good job of locating key words in dynamic web pages (pages showcasing a large range of products constructed from a database and updated frequently). To address this problem, make sure you have a static page - a summary page with text that summarizes your business and the products/services you offer. This static page should contain all important key words and phrases, and contain links to the various dynamic pages that show your product range.
Also, remember that web sites with links to quality sites improve their rankings with most major search engines. It would be worth your while to determine which sites - ones that complement but don’t directly compete - would be a good addition to your site. It is important to negotiate reciprocal links with the sites you select. A site with no incoming links from quality web sites runs the risk of being overlooked completely by the larger search engines.

If these tips fail to improve your web site’s visibility, or if you still feel your site is under-performing, you may wish to consult with an e-commerce firm. They can help you find more ways to improve your search engine ranking.


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