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Optimizing before Building Your Site

A fully optimized site is not built from the outside in — in other words, as a visitor conceives it. Instead, you build an optimized site from key concepts and keywords, and its pages never stray from a tight connection to those concepts and their related keywords. Furthermore, business-oriented Web designers are always focused on their target audience — the people who search for the key concepts and keywords embedded in the Web page. This circular thinking — the relentless integration of design with result, of keyword with content — distinguishes a finely optimized site.

In theory, you would construct a perfectly optimized site in roughly this order:

1. Conceive the site.

Conception means determining the site's purpose in specific terms. An optimized site can have more than one purpose (information publishing and Amazon affiliation, for example), but those purposes should be tightly related. Conception means also identifying your target audience.

2. Identify keywords.

Boiling down the site's mission to key concepts and keywords is essential. Keywords can be single words or phrases, but keep phrases short for now — three words at most. For example, using the fictional The Coin Trader site, the keywords and phrases might be coins, coin trader, coin trading, trading, collecting, coin collecting, and so on.

Eventually, you need keywords for every page of your site, and they might differ from the core words used to distill the subject matter of your entire site. During the entire keyword process, think about your target audience — not only as a topical demographic, but as searchers going into Google with certain keywords. When you identify keywords, you identify your customers.

3. Register a domain.

Choose a domain name that incorporates core keywords.

4. Design the site.

Use spider-friendly principles, such as placing only relevant outgoing links on your pages.

5. Write and acquire content.

Content development is an ongoing process that starts while you design the site.

6. Optimize content by keyword.

Embedding keywords in your page's text helps visitors and Google understand the content quickly.

7. Tag the site.

Tagging means embedding keywords into important HTML tags that Google's spider observes.

You may be thinking, so much for theory. Few Webmasters deal with optimization issues from the very start. Most people optimize after the fact, which is why SEO professionals stay in business: It's harder to fix problems than avoid them. But no matter how you approach the prospects, improving your optimization isn't hard at all. And the knowledge it provides about sound page design, content development, concise communication, and smart tagging translates to invaluable online marketing technique.

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