Search Engine Optimisation Tips ~
How You Can Achieve Better Search Engine Rankings

With over 80% of people using search engines to find what they need on the internet, it is now an essential business requirement that your web site can be easily found in the popular search engines.

However, when business owners hear the words “search engines” many resign to the thought “that’s not a business issue, why do I need to know about search engines”. Yet the most frequent question that I get asked is “how can I get more people to my web site” and with Australian internet revenues set to total billion this year why wouldn’t this be a business issue?

Knowing how you can cost effectively attract more potential customers to your business is one of the most important business issues that you will ever face.
This article outlines the top five essentials that you, as a business owner, need to know about your web site and search engines. This information will give you the information you need to improve your search engine rankings yourself or will give you a better understanding so that you can instruct your web designer.

Some of you may already be thinking, this doesn’t apply to me because “my web designer takes care of all that search engine stuff” or “I’ve already submitted my web site to the top 10,000 search engines”.

You cannot safely assume that all web designers know “search engine stuff” and have performed that “search engine stuff” for you. Knowing this together with understanding that it’s not enough to simply submit to search engines goes a long way to getting you on the right path.

How do people find a web site?

People are currently using a range of different search words when trying to find your products and services through search engines.

There could be fifty or more search terms that people could use to describe your product or service in a search. For example, if you had a car hire business, people may use these words “car hire”, “car rental”, “car rentals”, “cheap car rental”, “car hire UK” or many other search terms to search for your service.

Although two search terms may have the same meaning, for example car hire and car rental, that does not mean that a search engine will produce the same web page results for both search terms.

Next time you are using the internet, try searching on the words “car hire” and then “car rental” in the Google search engine (www.google.com). You will find that each phrase produces a different list of web pages in the search results. You will also see that some of the web pages listed for one search term do not appear at all for the other, even though both phrases have the same meaning.

Of greater importance is the number of people searching with the different search terms. For our car hire and car rental example, this varies significantly with car rental being searched on 20 times more often than the phrase car hire.

Why does this matter to you? It means that if you do not know which words people use to find your product or service you are missing out on thousands of potential customers. If your car hire business only focused your web site towards the “car hire” you would only be attracting one out of every 21 people looking for your service.

What to do? You need to look at your web site to determine what products or services you are trying to sell. You then need to research what are the most popular search terms people use to find your products or services. There are various internet tools that will help you to perform this research.

How to use the keywords

Once you know what words people use to find your products and services you need to include those words in your web site. This is sometimes referred to as “optimising your web site” or “search engine optimisation”.

You need to look at the existing pages on your web site and make them “search engine friendly”. This means, you need to structure your web site pages so that the search engines can find the information that they need to rank your web page highly.
The search terms can be used on your home page and in other relevant pages on your web site. For example, you may have a specific car hire page for car hire in England. You may target that page for “car hire UK” and have another page targeting “car rental”.

There are a series of places that you need to include your search terms in your web page. These places include the title tag, page headings, in the url if possible, in the alternative image text (alt tags) of your web site images and most importantly in the web site content.

If your research generated twenty good search terms you need to include those words in your web site. This does not mean that you only need to use the most popular search terms in your web site, or include all of the terms in your home page.
It is best to focus each web page for one search term. Depending on the structure of your web site, you may need to add new pages to target some of the new search terms.

Links to your web site

Each search engine has different criteria for ranking web sites. Most of the popular search engines now place great importance on the number of other web sites that provide a link to your web site. This is called “link popularity”.

What to do? : You should try to get as many links to your web site from other web sites as possible. To do this send a friendly e-mail to complimentary businesses in your industry asking them to provide a link to your web site and in exchange you will offer a link to their web site.

Inclusion in directories
It is very important that your web site is listed in the world’s major search directories, Yahoo!, Looksmart and Open Directory. Many of the popular search engines place a great deal of significance when determining search engine rankings based on your web site being included in those directories.

Submit to search engines
Finally, you need to ensure that the search engines know about your web site. You need to submit your web site to the major search engines. You do not need to submit to 10,000 engines. The most important search engines to submit to are Google (www.google.com) and MSN (www.msn.com).

The majority of Australian search engines are now powered by American search engine results. Australian search engines mainly determine an Australian web site simply based on the domain name, so if you do not have a .com.au domain name, it is highly probable that you will not appear in Australian search results.

 

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Sharon Wild writes ecommerce articles for Qld Business Review, she is also Strategy & Marketing Director of e-JAZ.com.au

Sharon Wild
Strategy & Marketing Director of e-JAZ, Sharon has been involved in the e-commerce community for several years. She successfully manages Australia's largest online jewellery store, Gillett's Jewellers.

Sharon can be contacted via email on sharon@e-jaz.com.au