Optimizing Business Website Pages - dummies

By Jan Zimmerman

Unless you’re part of a huge company, optimize your business website only for the search engine your audience is most likely to use. If you already have a site, check your traffic statistics to see which engine generates the most traffic.

Search engines usually specify their preferences on advice pages for webmasters. Follow these tips for keyword placement to prime your pages:

  • Use keywords in your page URLs. For example, use www.dummies.com/web-marketing rather than dummies.com/123456.

  • Use keywords as terms in the navigation. This advice doesn’t help if your navigation consists of graphical elements.

  • Include the same four primary keywords you selected for optimization in the first paragraph of text for that page. It’s the only paragraph that most search engines scan.

  • Use the same four keywords in the ALT tags. These tags appear in the form of a small text box whenever a user hovers the mouse pointer over a graphic or photo. Descriptive ALT tags make websites accessible for the visually impaired, but you can usually work in one or more of your terms.

  • Use keywords as part of the link text rather than the phrase Click here. Doing so not only improves search ranking but also makes the text more readable.

  • Some search engines use cues from the HTML code to distinguish text that appears in headlines or subheads; they’re usually a different size or color, or both. If keywords appear in HTML headings at the H1 (main) or H2 (subhead) level, you might get “extra credit” in some engines.

  • Have your developer put meta tags at the top of the source code. Make it easy for search engines to find what they’re looking for.

  • Text should be the first page content that search engines see. If a photograph appears to the left or right or above the first paragraph of text on the screen, have your developer rearrange the source code so that the text appears first in the code.

Don’t sacrifice human readability and comprehension when trying to use search terms. People buy — search engines don’t. Because you’re probably the person responsible for reviewing, if not writing, the copy, you’re responsible for assessing keyword use. Your developer usually doesn’t get involved, though an SEO company certainly will.

You might read about keyword density or keyword ratio. These terms refer to the percentage of keywords versus the total text on the page. As long as you avoid nasty techniques such as keyword stuffing (the excessive use of keywords on a page), you should be okay

If the keyword ratio approaches 20 to 25 percent, most search engines become suspicious. You don’t have to measure! It’s next to impossible to write text densely stuffed with keywords that also makes sense to a human being. If you write good copy, you’re fine.

Avoid using black hat techniques, such as magic pixels (links, measuring 1 x 1 pixels, that aren’t visible onscreen) or invisible text (consisting of keywords written in the same color as the background). These techniques will get you dropped from search engines. If you write an informative website that’s useful to people, you don’t need black magic for SEO. You’ll have all the magic you need.

Bing uses its own technology to index the web. In the past, its algorithm didn’t seem as accurate or as fast as other search engines and tended to reward home pages in the results. Recently, Bing claims to have made changes to improve its indexing speed and to produce more relevant results for users.