Engine Optimization: it's the little things that count
Donald Nelson, copyright 2003
Building a search engine
friendly site can seem like a daunting task, but there are
some parts of search engine optimization process that are
quite simple and quickly done. These seemingly simple tasks
can make a big difference in the results you get in your
efforts to attain top search engine positions.
If you are in the process of building a new site take a
look at the easily done optimization points explained below,
and if you already have a site, you can use this list as a way
to check your site
1. Name your files properly.
Just as it is important to put keywords in your metatags and
in the copy of your site, it is also very helpful to have
keywords in the names of the files. If have a website for the
Electronic Widgets Company, your “About Us” page could
have the file name “aboutus.html” but then you would not
have any keywords in it. It would be better to have
“electronic-widgets-aboutus.html” or “about-electronic-widgets.html”.
If you make a sub-directory also make sure that its name
incorporates an important keyword. Never make a file such as
“page1.hml” or “page2.html”, you are throwing away an
opportunity to place your keyword.
Some people carry this point to
the nth degree
and choose a long domain name with many keywords put together.
I don’t think you need to do this, as these kinds of domain
names are difficult to remember. However if you are building a
secondary domain, one that is content-rich and designed to get
traffic which is then directed to another site, you can opt
for a keyword-rich domain name.
2. Put your keywords in
hyperlinks. Another important place for keywords is in the
hyperlinks which lead to other pages on your website. If you
have a navigation bar at the top or the left that is made of
gif or jpeg
images, you can add a text navigation bar at the bottom of the
page and make sure that your keywords are in these text links.
So, instead of having a text link that says “resources”
it could better be written as “electronic widget
resources”. Similarly whenever you find a place within the
written text of the page where you can highlight a keyword and
link it to another part of the site, take this opportunity.
You can even make a hyperlink that jumps to a bookmark on the
3. Make sure you have your
own domain name. It is more difficult to promote an
interior portion of a site, than the main domain name. It only
costs from $8.00-15.00 to
get a domain name, and your own webspace can be obtained for
as little as $100 per year.
So, if you already have a site, but want to start a
completely different product line, start a new site with a new
domain name rather than set up a subdirectory of an existing
site, or , worse, use a free site.
4. Check to see that your
are emphasizing the right keywords. While keyword research
is a large task, and maybe doesn't qualify as a little thing,
it will not take you very long to visit this url (http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion
) and see if people are really searching for what
you are talking about. Take a look, and modify your web copy
to reflect the actual searches that people make for your
5. Use the alt tag
for images. Here
is another opportunity to place your keywords. Search engines
cannot “see pictures” or graphic files. Whenever you have
a graphic image you have the option of adding alt text. This
alt text will be visible when surfers put their mouse over the
images, but more importantly it will be visible to search
engines. So instead of just having a photo of a widget, you
can put a description with your important keywords. If you
have a navigation bar with images, you can put descriptive
text for each navigation item.
6. Make sure that you have a
title tag for each page. This may seem like an obvious
point, but have you ever reached a web page which had a
title, visible in the blue strip at the top of the browser,
that said "new page" or "untitled page"?
In this case the person building the site forgot to put in the
title tag. These kinds of pages are usually found on the inner
pages of a web site, a place where many people, mistakenly,
pay less attention. So check all of your pages, make sure that
there is a title tag, and make sure that your keywords are in
the title tag.
Taking advantage of these
search engine optimization opportunities will not take you
much time or cost you much money, but your gain in a better
position in search engine results will be well worth your
Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. He has
been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the
director of A1-Optimization (http://www.a1-optimization.com),
a firm providing low cost search engine optimization,
submission and web promotion services.