The Basics of Optimization

Many online sellers get frustrated with search engines regularly changing algorithms. But there are basic principles that haven’t changed through the years. Apply these tips to increase your rankings:

Tip 1—Don’t be too quick to change domain names. Google has an aging delay for any new domain—it can take up to a year for your keywords to start showing in the searches.

Tip 2—Optimize your site for your target audience, not the search engines. Always think about what impression your site gives your users—you’ll create a better site the engines will like.

Tip 3—Do KEYWORD RESEARCH extensively. Everything else revolves around the keyword phrases you choose, so it’s critical you choose the best ones. and are two information databases that show you what words people are searching for and suggest words you can use.

Tip 4—Design and categorize your site architecture and navigation based on your keyword research. Jill Whalen, founder of, says, “Your homepage should be optimized for the more general phrases…Your inner pages should be optimized for the more specific [ones].” If possible, use keyword phrases as your navigation words.

Tip 5—Program your site to be “crawler” friendly. Search engines send out “crawlers” to gather information from your site so they understand how to rank it.

• Create your links using HTML, not javascript. Crawlers can’t follow javascript and won’t be able to read your information.

• Don’t design your site in Flash—there’s nothing for the crawlers to read. If they can’t interpret the information, they can’t classify your site.

• Make sure your copy is HTML, not a graphic of a text. It may look like copy. But if you have a text graphic, all the crawlers will see is a blank page.

Tip 6—Label your internal text links and clickable image ALT attributes as descriptively as possible. Within the text links in your site, use the phrase that describes the page you’re clicking to. For image links, make sure those phrases are contained in the image’s code.

Tip 7—Write compelling copy for key pages of your site based on your chosen keyword phrases. Choose a few keyword phrases that apply to the particular page you’re writing and work those phrases into the copy.

Tip 8—Incorporate your keyword phrases into each page’s unique title tag. Title tags are given significant weight with search engines. The title tag is the information that shows up in the search engine results so it’s crucial that it be enticing, not just crammed with keywords.

Tip 9—Make sure your site is link-worthy. Search engines judge a site’s popularity by the number of links pointing to it. To make sure people will want to link to your site, you have to offer something worth linking to. Beyond your product or service, you need something that puts you over the top: an information service, a superior presentation, or great variety.

Tip 10—Don’t be married to any one keyword or phrase. Optimize for all the relevant phrases. Says Whalen, “If you can rank highly for a good portion of them, they’re going to add up to a lot more than just that one keyword phrase that you think is the good big money one.”

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