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Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization & Search Engine Marketing Mix
December 31, 2008

Best practices of search engine optimization starts with your website. Many people are under the false impression that they need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on their websites to make it worthwhile for their visitors. However, in most cases that is simply not true! In essence, you need to have just one thing on your mind when it comes to search engine friendly web design, and that is your least Internet savvy customer. If you design your site for this individual, every other aspect of your web design and more specifically your on-site search engine optimization efforts should fall into place.

Let's start with the basics:

1. Build a template - This is where you take a legal pad and start drawing on how you would like your website to look. You start plotting the navigation, the headings of your navigation buttons, where the content would go, what you would like to display etc.

2. Choose a good hosting company. Preferably one that will provide you with your own dedicated IP address. Be careful, as some unscrupulous hosting companies will do a play on words and say they will give you a static IP address, which is used interchangeably with a dedicated IP address, but they will claim your shared IP does not change, thus "static." Hogwash! You need to have your OWN dedicated IP address, one where you type in a bunch of numbers separated with dots in a browser and your site comes up.

3. Decide if you would like to use a dedicated server hosting solution or a shared hosting solution. A dedicated hosting solution is more expensive and the price can vary greatly from one company to another, but dedicated hosting will offer you more control and usually more stability. A shared hosting solution is quite inexpensive (about $6-30 per month), but others will be hosting their website on the same server your site is hosted on. If your site has a large database that is frequently and concurrently being called, you will probably need a dedicated server solution. If you have a simple website, with only moderate traffic you will probably get by with just a shared hosting solution, but remember to find a shared hosting solution that offers a dedicated IP address.

4. When it comes to designing your site, if you have the necessary skills and time, try to design the site yourself. I personally use and love Dreamweaver, which is a WYSIWYG tool that allows you to design beautiful looking websites without having to know a lot of code (some knowledge of code is strongly recommended). You can use image manipulation tools like Photoshop or Fireworks to edit your images, buttons, logos etc. If designing sites is not your thing, then hire a good web designer. The fees range all over the place. You will need to do your research in hiring the right person or web design company.

5. Make sure your site is custom. If you are a realtor, don't use a template that every other realtor is using as well. Stand out from the crowd and earn more respect from the search engine robots.

6. Write original content. I cannot stand it when I read content that I have read several different places on the Internet. Some people find it easier to have others write content for them. That's great, but please ensure your content writer is not regurgitating other people's content by checking the work on

7. Write good and unique title tags for each page of your site. Write a good meta description.

8. Don't stuff a bunch of keywords in your meta keywords tag, it may do more harm than good if you do.

9. Include unique, short and descriptive alt tags for the images on your page.

10. Include a "traditional" sitemap as well as a sitemap.xml file.

11. Ensure the search engines are no longer indexing any pages of your site that have been deleted. I recommend using a custom 404 page so that you can still keep a large majority of the traffic that lands on that deleted page by directing them to visit your homepage or if you have a new replacement page 301 re-directing them to that new page. The easiest way to accomplish a 301 re-direct is through your htaccess file. Many moons ago, a quick and dirty way of getting robots to stop indexing you was to write the words "Under Construction" on that page. The robots would de-list a page like that as soon as they discovered it. Certain search engines like Google through their webmaster central control panel allow you to advise Google which pages you no longer want listed if you have verified your site with them.

12. Write new copy on your site as often as possible. You don't want your site to go stale. Robots like new copy and so do people. Give people a reason to stay on your site longer and bookmark your site.

These are just some tips when it comes to doing good on-site optimization. Off-site optimization, which is the biggest piece of the puzzle, I am going to save for another article. I need you to come back and check often for any new postings:)

If you don't feel comfortable implementing search engine optimization for your own site, then you will probably need to hire a reputable search engine optimization company. I invite you to shop around, however, I am confident that once you have done your research, you will find can offer excellent and experienced search engine optimization services at an affordable price.

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

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