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Free advice on how to optimize your web site to achieve high placement in search engine queries by Edward Tsai. Optimized search engine ranking help.

Search Engine Optimization Explained
Search engine optimization involves many aspects of your web page content, architecture, and the interlinking different of web sites. Search engines take into consideration different factors to determine the positioning of web sites in search queries. Google takes over 100 factors in their search engine ranking algorithm when determining the ranking of web sites when someone types in "running shoes". All search engines have different variables, but there are major overlaps to determine who gets a higher listing. In order to rank high in search engine queries, one must optimize one's web site content and be linked by related web sites to allow search engine crawlers to discover your pages and to consider your pages relevant to search queries.

There are many search engine placement specialists and consultants that may offer "tricks" like gateway pages, hidden text link farms or even "guaranteed" ranking - I say avoid those agencies like the plague! A reputable search engine optimization firm will only utilize legitimate search engine services. This site gives an executive summary of search engine optimization - free advice for web designers, web marketing analysts, and web portal owners in how to improve search engine ranking for their web site.

Effective search engine optimization
Effective search engine optimization involves primarily five things - some which can be helped by tools listed later in this document:

1. Keyword Research - Finding the appropriate keywords for your site is key to high rankings in Google. Finding the difference beteween how often "Java development" versus "Java Programming" is used in search engine queries can make a huge difference increasing your site visibility. Sites that lack high traffic keywords and use uncommon buzz words (think "portables" instead of "laptops") can lose out on potentially high rankings. Think also about locale - such as "San Diego", "SD", or "Bay Area."

2. Search Engine Optimized Content Revision - Make sure you have your keywords in your titles, meta-tags and copy. One major client site who is a Christian missionary agency involved in work in Asia did not have any of the following words in its visible content - agency, organization, Christian, China, India. Another site had the all-too-typical large first page image map and sentence of copyright and contact the webmaster. Optimizing the copy such as making sure pages have at least 250 visible words, putting the most important information at the top (much like how newspapers have the "main topic" in the first paragraph), and that text is visible - different color from the background and at least size=2.

3. Search Engine Friendly Site Architecture - Many fancy sites which utilize flash, image maps, or JavaScript may look pretty but they are terrible for search engine placement. The reason is because search engines like text the best to navigate. Many times, many sites don't have any "alt" tags in their image links or use graphic files with text instead of pure text.

Frames are also a bad thing for search engines because the "master" frame often has no information in it, only the HTML code to link to the otehr pages. One must put content in the NOFRAMES tag for search engines to discover content. A no frame architecture is the best. Also, the "?" in many CGI or ASP queries (check out Barnes and Nobles queries versus Amazon queries). Notice that BN has that "?" in their URLs while Amazon has some technology that allows it to use slashes.

4. Great Link Visiblity - Having popular and authoritative sites in your topic area is key to high rankings in Google. Google also takes in to consideration which keyword phrases are used when someone links to you and from which page (front page or a deep 4th level page) you are linked from. A good search engine positioning specialist will help you develop an effective campaign to build relevant reciprocal links.

5. Listing in Top Directories
Many sites are not listed in the major directories - Yahoo.com, dmoz.org (feeds into Google), and Inktomi (feeds into MSN). If sites are in those directories, many times the listings suffer from poor descriptions. Human powered directories like Yahoo heavily consider the description text, title text, and directory you choose to submit with and too. Poor descriptions, title, or a poor choice of directory makes a web site lose potential visitors. Everyone has seen this type of description:

"Come to the Famous Shoe web site to see our brand name product listings, customer support, and help."

when instead the description should be

"Running shoes, jogging shoes, tennis and basketball equipment at Famous Shoe store - cross training and golf shoes shopping online!"

Picking the right description and title for your web site in directories is an often overlooked task.

Search Engine Optimization Tools
Note that many SEO firms won't point you to specific tools - maybe they are concerned you can do the work yourself... well, here are the most important tools out there:
WordTracker - great tool to find keywords that people use and related terms. $212/year.
Overture Term Suggestion Tool - another great tool to use to find keywords.
Web Position Pro - a tool that lets you compare the keyword density of your page compared to the top ten listings in a selected search engine for that same term. It tells you how often and how prominent keyword phrases are in your page and helps you pinpoint areas where you are too dense or sparse. It also helps you keep track of your web site ranking.

Common Mistakes People Make in Trying to Increase Ranking
Sometimes people think they can just setup a submit-to all engines account or use keyword stuffing to increase ranking. These techniques don't work as well anymore and many engines now consider white text on white background and gateway/doorway pages spam.

1. Using doorway pages - "doorway" or "gateway" pages are tricks that some consultants use to try to trick search engine spiders to view a page optimized for that particular engine instead of the page that humans see. This is a limited term and dangerous trick. Some search engines, will ban your site if they find out - Senior VP of Engineering for Northern Light Marc Krellenstein said, "If we find out your page is cloaked we will ban your URL and sites for life. So avoid all search engine ranking consultants that offer you gateway or banned pages.
2. Link farms - link farms are artificial web communities which generate reciprocal links between web pages that have no relation. Artificial link farms, as opposed to links from authoritative sites, are becoming less effective and may have the same "spam" ban consqeuences as doorway pages.
3. Hidden text - If you see a site ranking high but don't see any text on the page, try clicking on the page and hitting "CTRL-A" You may find "hidden" text - text that is purposely the same or similar in color to the background. This is also a spam technique that search engines hate and that competitor sites can report to get you banned.
4. Submit to 300,000 search engine tools - There is no quick fix all way to get high listings, including the typical $99 submit to 300,000 search engine plan. There are only a few search engines that count the most (Yahoo, Dmoz, Inktomi) and you should hand-submit to those sites instead. Really... search engines are smart. You won't automatically rank high just because you are diligent in re-submitting your page to them. You might "get" into a search engine through submission, but getting in and ranking high are two entirely different things!
5. Meta-tag keyword stuffing - it used to be that if you stuffed your meta-tags with keywords that your site would rank high. This is no longer the case. Meta-tags are a much smaller part of search engine ranking algorithms since they can be easily crafted.

I specialize in helping major international sites with advanced search engine placement techniques. If your site is already well linked with good content and you follow most of the basic search engine techniques, you can probably achieve a decent top-30 listing in Google for two or three keyword phrases. In order to achieve a higher, top 10, top 15 search engine listing, you will probably need the help of a professional optimizer.

If you would prefer a quicker way of learning how to increase your search engine rankings such as in a report or phone consultation, or want to have your site professionally optimized, please contact me at edward@edwardtsai.com.

Many times, unless you are both the owner and webmaster (e.g. small business owner), getting the buy-in of other groups (marketing, webmaster, sales, management) can be hard if you go at optimizing yourself. People may not know why you are adding text at the end of your existing site's beautiful Flash-heavy splash page. Hiring a search engine positioning consultant can bring credibility and buy-in.

I have formal training from the full program at Search Engine Strategies Conference and have experience in making SEO presentations to management, engineering, and the content teams.

I have hands-on experience in optimizing pages and preparing SEO research reports for companies.

My Web Site Perfomance Primer may also be of interest to you.

If you have found this site to be helpful, please link to my site like this:
Higher Search Engine Rankings by Edward Tsai

Copyright September 2002 - Edward S. Tsai - All rights reserved.


Edward Tsai has provided services for companies such as

Cisco Systems
Hewlett Packard
Extricity Software
Array Networks
Altigen Communications


Search Engine Optimization
Corporate Training
Sales and Marketing Tools
Graphical User Interface
Web Development
Web Performance
New Product Functionality Strategy

I can help your web site become an effective sales and marketing tool that will generate leads, create brand recognition, and sell the customer on your products.


Contact me today about how I can help you increase your rankings - edward@edwardtsai.com

Copyright September 2002 - Edward S. Tsai - All rights reserved.
Los Angeles, CA 90034 (Los Angeles Search Engine Optimization, Torrance, Westwood, Santa Monica)

Edward S. Tsai makes no claims about and is not responsible for the accuracy, appropriateness, or effectiveness of the advice given and products and services listed in this site. All information on this site is provided as-is with no guarantees. All trademarks are property of their respective companies.

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