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Search Engine Positioning:
Hints for Getting Better Search Engine Results

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July 17, 2005

You can find hundreds of articles describing all the ways of bringing your web to the top of search engines. I will not pretend to be an expert on the subject, nor do I know or keep up with all the changes that Google goes through to refine their search process, but I do have experience helping small business owners and organizations achieve positions in the top 10 of the major search engines without having to resort to pay-per-click ads and  by focusing on using the right tools and working with the customer to help them determine their true market and target audience.

Here are some coding tips to follow to help each page of your site achieve a higher search result within all of the major search engines:

Make sure that in your html code, the <title> tag lists your most significant keyword. In other words, if you are Happy Gardens, Inc. and you provide landscaping services in Lancaster and Chester Counties in the State of Pennsylvania, your title tag should not be <title>Happy Gardens Inc</title>. Rather use <title>Lancaster County Landscaping - Happy Gardens Inc</title>. As you will want all your pages to be searchable, another page would be <title>Chester County Landscaping - Happy Gardens Inc</title>. Key phrases and variations on those phrases UP FRONT.

Description Tag
<meta name="description" content="a nice description of the service, product, or information on this page">

Keywords Tag
<meta name="keywords" content="all your keywords and key phrases separated by commas">
Note: having lots of phrases and keywords is not always a good thing as it tends to dilute the significant keywords that people will most likely use in a search. Once again, use a few keywords or phrases that describe the service, product, or information on this page.

Abstract Tag
<meta name="abstract" content="Chester county landscaping services"> Most major search engines ignore this, but nice to have for the smaller ones that do

Revisit Tag
<meta name="revisit-after" CONTENT="7 days"> This tells the search engines that you will probably have new content every 7 days. If you do not plan on updating that particular page, do not use. This is a great tool to use to have the search engines crawl your site periodically.

Comments may be used to place keywords. Some search engines ignore, others may use. As in all of the tags, make sure your significant keywords are located in the beginning of the list or description. An example is below.

<!-- Lancaster county landscaping, Chester county landscaping -->

Most other tag types will be ignored. many folks try inventing new meta tag names, but alas, they will probably be ignored.

For an example of the tag use described above, just simply look at the source of this web page using your browser's view source option from the top menu.

In the body of your page...

The <H1> Tag - In the content portion of your page you should ensure that part of that content is a subject title. many search engines like Google place some value on the <H1> tag as it reinforces the subject of the page. For example, the H1 tag for this page is

<h1><font face="Verdana" size="3">Search Engine Positioning: </font><font face="Verdana" size="2"><br>Hints for Getting Better Search Engine Results</font></h1>

Content: CONTENT IS KING! This is the problem with many sites is that unless they are providing a unique or niche product or service, content - and changing content at that - is valued by the search engines. Not every page on your site has to be dynamic though.

One customer, an estate and business lawyer, decided that she needed to constantly provide information via her web for the reasons I stated above, as well as to share with potential customers insights as to why they need legal services like those she provides. Her problem was that she is not web savvy. After I provided her with a web-based news content manager, she can publish right to her website with links and pages crated by the tool. For her this is an easy way to deliver dynamic content to her website without having to deal with the complexities of understanding web design. The tools we provide to our customers are developed and distributed by InteractiveTools.

Page names: Are you page file names simple and unimaginative? Using our landscaping example above, the site may have a page to describe some of it's services. The page should not be given the name services.html (.php, .asp, .whatever). Instead, label the file as chester_county_landscaping_services.html. Google will also search on names like this and will take domain names into consideration as well.

The next item of significance is to get an evaluation tool that goes through your website and evaluates a page's potential rank against the top search engine results for a particular keyword or key phrase. I recommend Web Position by Webtrends. As of this writing, the current version is 3.5. The tool has been of great value to me in looking to maximize my potential of gaining high search engine results. It also provides a tool to submit your site to only the most relevant search engines.

So is that al there is? Well, just say that you achieve a number 1 ranking and your site looks like your neighbors 10 year old created it as part of a cub scout project. Kudos to the Scouts, but is anyone going to take your site seriously? If the site sitting at number 5 search result position looks polished, with easy navigation and clearly formatted content, you will probably get passed over as a search engine fluke. If you are going to spend the time and money to build a web marketing strategy, hire a professional to provide you with a site that is better than the aforementioned "site at result position 5".

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