Impress Both Website Visitors & Search Engines

by : Barry Fenning

If you are professional with your search engine optimization efforts and keep your customer in mind before you start considering "what the search engines will think" you will reap a lot more than what you sow. Chances are, if your visitors like your website, there is a very good likelihood that the search engines will like it too.

With this in mind the following 10 tips focus on how to develop your website with your visitors in mind whilst also conducting effective search engine optimization activities.

1. Pick appropriate keyword phrases

This is the single most important thing to do when it comes to optimizing your website for search engines. The words and phrases that your potential customers type into the major search engines are the keywords your site should be using within the specific areas of your webpage (see below; Optimizing your Page Titles and Optimizing your Content). There are a number of useful keyword research tools available on the web such as Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery (both offer trial versions).

However, if you want to find out accurate figures of how many people are searching for your targeted keywords per week/month/year run a Google Adwords and/or Overture campaign and you will get extremely accurate figures of search engine traffic whilst (hopefully) generating income that will pay for your research.

2. Optimize every page on your website

Optimizing each webpage is overlooked by so many websites and can be the difference between competing for a highly competitive keyword phrase such as "Irish Hotels" on your home page and competing for a much less competitive keyword phrase such as "Hotels in County Galway" on another relevant landing page. After that they can check out the rest of your website that is all about "Irish Hotels".

3. Optimizing your Page Titles

All of the major search engines have 100's of different algorithms that compute where your webpage should be listed for different keyword searches. Putting your keywords within the title description tag of your pages is one of the most important SEO techniques and will help your website climb through the rankings and allow your visitors to remember exactly what your page is all about when they save it to their "favorites".

4. Optimizing your Page Content

It is sometimes very difficult to write content for your website. Not only do you need to put the information you want the visitor to see in front of them in an easy-to-read style, you also have to keep in mind the keywords your page is targeting so that you can rank better within search engines.

One of the best pieces of advice I have come across is to write for your visitors and include the keywords as much as makes sense. Read what you have written out loud to yourself and a few others. If it sounds stupid... lather, rinse, and repeat.

5. Create an inbound linking strategy

Submitting your site to website and article directories is a very beneficial way to drive targeted traffic to your website.

Links within these sites not only brings visitors to your website, but search engine "spiders" are easily able find your website and index your pages within their results. If your site doesn't have a link pointing to it on the World Wide Web the search engines will never find it and you will never see any traffic from Google or the other big ones.

6. Descriptively labeling your links and images (aka the anchor text)

This technique is both common sense and good practice. Telling your visitors what the link that they are going to click on allows them to know exactly what they are going to be directed to. Saying "click here" is not enough to help them understand what they're going to find once they click through. Be as descriptive as possible with every text and graphical link on your site. When writing your anchor text and alt attributes you can almost always describe the page you're pointing to by using its main keyword phrase which is a major factor that search engines take into account when it comes to ranking your web pages.

7. Make sure your site is spider-friendly

Your website may look fantastic. You and your web designer may be talented graphic designers who can make Flash and JavaScript dazzle your visitors with a show that would put Michael Flatley and his River Dance to shame. However, if your website contains Flash and Javascript it's important to know that search engine spiders have difficulty reading this code (or appreciate the effort you put into the design). The way around this is to provide navigation alternatives such as static links and a site map to allow the spiders crawl deep within your website and index the web pages within their results. Overuse of Flash, JavaScript, and images can also lead to your web pages being very slow to download. If these file types are used sparingly your visitors and search engines will appreciate your efforts a lot more.

8. Create Fresh Content

When you are optimizing your website properly you will see a trend. If you are doing something that benefits your websites visitors then the search engines will reward you for it.

Blogs and forums are effective and easy ways of adding new information to your site on a regular basis. However, if your only purpose of setting up a blog or a forum is for better search engine rankings then there really is no point in doing it. Only add a forum if it contributes something beneficial to your website and if you have the traffic to make it interactive enough for visitors to return to it. And, only add a blog if you have something of interest to say on a regular basis. Once you have your blog and/or forum up-and-running you should optimize them with the same professionalism you do with any other page on your website.

9. Do not think that you can trick Search Engines

As noted before, "If you are doing something that benefits your websites visitors then the search engines will reward you for it".

If you try to trick the search engines by hiding keyword phrases, joining link farms, or any other sneaky practice your sites will be removed from the search engines and it will take you a long time to get back in (and you will also have to spend more time cleaning up your website before they will accept you).

10. Offer something unique

If your website offers something that is unique and interesting to your target market and it is properly optimized (by applying all of the techniques listed above) you will not only rank well within the major search engines, you will also get the added benefit of people linking to your website in forums, blogs, and through other websites which will send your site more visitors and create more inbound links which will help it rank higher.

Remember it's human visitors that you are trying to impress, not search engine robots.