Search Engine Optimization
A 10 Step Program

Proper search engine optimization is a process involving several distinct steps. We'll walk you through the steps a professional search engine optimizer (SEO) follows when reviewing a site before starting an optimization campaign.

1. Visual Review of Page.

Make sure the page looks professional, has usable navigation and is complete. Search engine spiders may grade your site, but you need to appeal to directory editors and human visitors too!

Include good quality content on the page. It increases the value of your site to both humans and search engine spiders. Good content will place your site in the top of the rankings.

2. Look For Spider Traps.

A spider trap is anything that would prevent a spider from crawling your page or site. If a spider can't crawl through your site, the site won't get indexed. Part of the SEO's job is to look over a site and identify anything that could potentially hurt the site in the search engines.

Also check your page for anything that might be considered spam by a search engine. Most spam is accidental, but it will get you banned just as quickly as intentional spam.

3. Review Your Keyword Selection.

Keyword selection is the most important step in optimizing a page for the search engines - and where most people (even professionals) make mistakes. You can get all the top ten rankings in the world with unusual keywords, but you won't see any traffic unless people actually type them in as search terms.

Use a good keyword popularity tool to find out how popular your keywords are. Compare different keywords and see how they rate in popularity before you select the ones for your site.

Make sure your keywords are appropriate for your site and limit the number of keywords per page. Too many dilute your relevancy score.

For more about keywords, see our newsletter story on keyword selection.

4. Get a baseline on where your
site is currently ranked.

Enter your keyword into a search engine. Does your site come up? Where does it rank? This can be a tedious task if you're checking multiple engines.

Need to improve your ranking? Steps five and six will get you started.

5. View the HTML source code.

It's back to the basics. If you don't do the fundamentals correctly, advanced tricks won't help you much. Look at the keywords you've selected and make sure they're in the strategic places where search engines look. At a minimum, keywords should be in:

Optimize every important page in your site! Visitors may enter from any page indexed by a search engine spider, not just the home page.

6. Check the link popularity.

Link popularity is important because every major search engine uses it to rank sites. Read and emplement our Link Popularity Tips to increase your site's link popularity score.

In many engines you can type: link: or "" (putting name in quotes) and you can get a link count for that particular engine.

7. Submission to search engines.

If you have prepared your site and followed the steps above, you're ready to either submit for the first time or resubmit your optimized site.

Using an automated submission tool will save you a lot of time and headaches, allowing you to submit any page in your Web site to your choice of 100 search engines. If submitting by hand, have a text file of your description, keywords, page title, URL, etc. This will cut the time required to key in the text for each submission by copying and pasting.

Most people think they can submit one day and the spider will come the next day. There may be a considerable a lag time from when you submit your site to when the spider actually visits. This can be anywhere from a week to a few months depending on the search engine.

8. Hand submission to directories.

Always hand submit to directories! Avoid automated submission tools that claim to submit to directories: they rarely submit to the proper category, so directory editors will just ignore your site. Read our automated versus hand submission artical for complete directory submission instructions.

9. Maintenance Stage.

Search engine optimization is definitely not a "do it once and forget" activity. You must continually track and adjust your pages. The rules change constantly, so techniques that worked great last year could get you banned this month.

Search Engine Tracker automates the tracking process and give you quick feedback about changes your make to your site. In a highly competitive market, you have to continually work at optimization.

Page Primer evaluates your page for optimization. It scans your page checking all the important sections to make sure you haven't made any critical blunders.

10. Track traffic to your site.

People assume a top ranking automatically means high traffic. But high rankings only bring traffic if the rankings are for good keywords. If you've done all your optimization around "yummy orange cakes" and nobody enters that in a search you won't get any traffic.

Increased traffic is the real result of a successful optimization process, not a top ten ranking. If you're not seeing a jump in your traffic, you need to re-evaluate your keywords and cycle back through the optimization cycle.

Use a good log file analysis program to determine which search engines and search terms are bringing you the most visitors.

Search engine optimization is a multi-step continual process. It's not cheating; it's helping search engines do their job more efficiently. Optimization takes a lot of time and patience. Don't get discouraged: search engine optimization pays for itself in increased revenue. It is worth the time and trouble.

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