More on Search Engine Success

Search Engines, as we all know, are one of the major sources of visitors to a website. Until this month, Google is the most visited search engine in the world, as well as being the only key search engine that offers free listings. So much of the search engine optimization work we do at Datahost is geared toward Google. However, it is important to point out that Yahoo has made some significant changes in the beginning of March 2004, that should make them a much more compelling search tool as well as offering a free component that you can take advantage of.

Initial Optimization
If you haven't already done so, you'll want to have your site's pages optimized so they will be viewed favorably by the Search Engines. Although there are several technique for creating well-optimized web pages, the most basic approach is this:

1. Make a list of phrases that that you would like your site to be found under. These phrases should be specific and should be the exact words that a user would type in. If you are selling baby clothes, it would be unlikely that you could get listed on the first page for the word "baby" nor is it highly probable that a person searching for "baby" is actually looking for "baby clothes". Better phrases would be "winter baby outfits", "cotton baby clothes" or some other 2-3 word phrase that a person would likely type into a search engine. Go to Google and type some of these phrases in yourself and see what kind of results you get. Although less people might type these specific phrases than would type a more general phrase it is likely that the competition is less stiff and if someone does type a phrase that is specific, there is a good chance that they are a real shopper.

2. In each page, select 1 or 2 of those phrases and make sure they appear in the title of your page as well as at least one location in the body of the page. Datahost has set up your Site Manager to make this process quite painless. Each product and category has a slot for keywords. It you enter your keywords and Save your changes, the keywords should show up automatically on your pages. A good list of phrases would look something like this:

winter baby clothes - outdoor cotton baby clothing - baby longjohns

By just taking those two simple steps, you can probably gain some level of success in Google and the other indexes.

Adding Pages Over Time
Some search engines - including Google - look favorably on sites that are broad and comprehensive. In other words, the bigger your site, the better. Over time, you will want to continually add "content-rich" pages that focus on specific keywords. If you are using Datahost's MightyMerchant Site Manager, you can easily add pages to your site.

Ongoing Searchword Optimization
We recommend logging into your site statistics on a regular basis and assessing the incoming traffic referrals. You can make adjustments to the searchwords used on your site based on what you learn in your statistics.

There are also commercial tools available to help you glean information about what phrases consumers tend to use. One such tool can be found at wordtracker.com. Wordtracker does analysis based on a range of data and gives some statistics about what users will type into search engines. It can be a good starting point for developing your list of keywords.

Cross-linking
Another vital aspect to Search Engine success is the quantity of links you have coming into your site and the "quality" of the sites they are coming from. Google has a Page Ranking system in which they rank the value of websites on a scale of 1 to 10. If you have a one link from a Page Rank 7 or 8 site, your own listings will be helped immensely. Or, if you have a large number of incoming links from sites of Page Rank 4 or 5, you will also be in good shape.

There is no question that time spent requesting links from owners of other sites, exchanging links, and possibly paying for links on subject-specific directory sites, can be excellent investments.

You do want to be careful about offers you receive in your email from people offering to link to your site. Some of these sites are so-called link farms and can actually cause your site to get penalized if you have an incoming link coming from them. If you are in doubt about a particular service, please let us know and we will offer our opinion.