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Improving Your Search Engine Standings

Optimize your web pages to increase your search engine submission results.

It may seem like trying to find your website on a search engine or directory is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. However, you can influence your ranking within a search engine through a variety of ways, with the most basic aspect being proper set-up of the page being submitted--namely, the title of the page, metatag description, metatag keywords and body text.

Prior to editing the HTML of the page, do some prep work to plan the keywords the page should be associated with. On a worksheet, put together a list of 10 primary keywords that are strategic to your web strategy. Order them by importance. In another row, list derivatives of the primary keywords.

For instance, one of your primary keywords might be cell phone. A derivative would be cellular phone or mobile phone. Keep on forming derivatives until you feel you have a complete list for that keyword.

With keywords established, take the top three or four, and build the title for the page. The title of the page is that portion of a website that appears at the top title bar of a browser. Keep the title to approximately 60 to 70 characters. Anything more, and the title may truncate when indexed by the search engines. The title should be descriptive and focused on key business aspects as reflected in your keywords.

For instance, the title for Entrepreneur.com is "Entrepreneur.com: Start, Grow, and Manage Your Small Business." Within the title for Entrepreneur.com, there are five different keywords represented: entrepreneur, start, grow, manage and small business. These keywords also form combinations: start your small business, grow your small business, and manage your small business. Finally, don't neglect your top-level domain (TLD). If it is strategic and key to your business, as a good TLD should be, then it, too, can be an important keyword reference in the title.

With the title formed, the description is next. The website's description will be placed within what is known as the metatag description, which is positioned in the "HEAD" area of the HTML. The site description should be explanatory, it should be no more than 30 words, and it should include as many of the top 10 keywords that will fit.

Using Entrepreneur.com as an example, here is its metatag description:

"Entrepreneur.com offers entrepreneurs the information, services and expert advice to ensure business success. Includes extensive information on starting a business, growing a business, business opportunities, franchises and homebased businesses."

Once again, you'll see the primary keywords from the title in the description as well as some new keywords such as "expert advice," "business opportunities," "franchises" and "homebased businesses." The description now serves to reinforce the title of the page.

Once the description has been finalized, start on the metatag keywords. Like the metatag description, the metatag keywords are placed in the "HEAD" of the HTML. Place all primary keywords and derivatives in the keyword metatag. Separate each keyword using a comma. This will help establish important keyword phrases.

The final element to optimize on the page is the body text. The body text is very influential in positioning. If your website's navigation can be consistent with its primary keywords, it will reinforce those keywords when indexed by a search engine. Headlines, subheads, text links and normal text will also influence search engines. Try to keep these elements consistent with your primary keywords.

Finally, don't forget "alt text." This is the text area that can be associated with an image. Some sites use images for primary navigation aids. Make sure these images have alt text associated with them. Alt text is a parameter associated with the HTML "img src" command.

Once your page has been optimized, start submitting to the websites. If you formed your page properly, you should see significant improvements in your traffic.

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