Sep 25, 2009

Get Found by Search Engines

Even google gets mail spam such as this [1]:

I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories...

There are a lot of myths about search engine optimization (SEO) and many companies try to make money with selling bogus products. Engaging in dirty tricks, so-called black-hat techniques, risks damage to the reputation of your site and can lead to search rank rank penalties. In this post I cover the most important issues for getting high ranking with keywords.

This article is about how to get found by search engines. You submitted your site to important search engines such as google, bing, and yahoo and now you want to make sure all your sites get indexed and you want to achieve a good ranking with google and other search engines. The baseline for a good ranking is that if you have good content that is interesting to people you get found, although there are also some technical issues, which I cover here.

Content and Keywords

Search engines read your site differently from humans. If you want to see what your page looks like to a search engine, download a text-browser, such as lynx browser (it's free software). Search engines don't look at your images, they don't execute all your javascripts and flash animations, they only read the text. Therefore, present content as text not multimedia, otherwise search engine will not access it and will not index your site correctly.

So, how to design a google friendly site? Most important to get found is your content. If you have good content that is interesting to people you get found. However, it is also important that you use the right words in your text, because search engine will evaluate your page's relevance to a search term by the frequency of keywords. Therefore, the keywords you put in your text should correspond to search terms people are looking for when they are interested in some topic.

Use relevant keywords in all section of your page that describe your content. High priority sections to enrich with keywords are page title and description, header titles. Search engines might score the relevance of keywords to your content higher if they are within the <h1> or <h2> title tags. All text is important and images should go with keyword text in alt part of the img tag. Use web analytics such as google webmaster central or google analytics to find out what people search who come to your site and target them. Figure out which keywords are most popular and closely match your topic.

Google does not take into accound the keyword META tag, because of past keyword stuffing, where people used to fill their META tags with whole dictionaries. However google might take into account you META description. It could look like this:
<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == "index"'>
<meta content='PhD student investigating the sense of smell posts about topics ranging from life in Barcelona, technology and software, and scientific research. Occasional book reviews. Topics of general interest such as political beliefs, lifestyle, and nutrition. Exploration of blogs, blogging and the technical side of blogging.' name='description'/>

The number of links to your site, inbound links or backlinks, in SEO terminology, is one indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page. Most important for a high ranking in the search engines for some keywords (and for a high pagerank) is a high number of incoming links with an anchor text that corresponds to search terms. Therefore, it is a matter of courtesy to use a meaningful anchor text when you link to some page.

You want to make it easy for people to link to your site. See below how this is solved for

One way to stimulate backlinks is rewarding them by showing on each page, which pages links to it. This can be done using a notification mechanism, called linkback. There are several ways to do this. These are refback, pingback, and trackback. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. For more details, please see the wikipedia article on linkback. In blogger you can show inbound links by activating the option in the post preferences to show links to post, as you may see at the end of this post if you link to it. For a trial, I deleted the rel='nofollow' part of both backlinks and comments to stimulate linking and commenting, which means that search engines will take these links into account when crawling and ranking your site.

For blogger, there is some basic search engine optimization such as changing the title tags for better indexing and to customize the permalinks. Bigger text is given higher priority in indexing, therefore it is advantageous to put post titles in H1.

If people leave your site within few seconds this increases the bounce rate and subsequently referring search engines may lower your site status. Also this means they will not read your articles and not click the ads. Therefore you should try to make people stay on your site longer. First priorities are content and navigational features. More about bounce rate in another article.


  1. My blogs have been indexed by yahoo and google but not yet for bing. Is there something wrong?

  2. @Online Dating Tips: I found Bing was the slowest engine of the three to index this website, although now I have more pages indexed by bing than by yahoo. Quick check: google 314, bing 75, yahoo 16 pages indexed (using the "site:" search operator). Have you tried using pings or their webmaster interface? Please see my article on submitting sitemaps to bing, yahoo, and google.

  3. I came across this article written more than 3 years ago about SEO after starting my own Bay Area SEO company, and it is still great information who wants to know more about SEO. I have many current and potential clients who do not have much accurate information and have been led down the black hat seo path (found a great illustration I'm posting with this comment) and now they are suffering. To rebuild their reputation and branding is possible, but a frustrating process for any small business owner.

    Of course now, we have PPC, a totally different ballgame that people are trying to learn. People ask about PPC vs SEO so I have a post on my site. I believe either one, if done well you can have a great ROI, and in many cases working them together can work very well together.

    Getting back to Google finding you, 'content is king' but good content is king. I have seen clients come with me with significantly more text on their webpages than necessary thinking it will help with their PR and SERP.

    In addition, small business owners or start ups (from home) try to get a get a web designer for the least amount of pennies on a dollar and wonder why the search engines have not found their website; zero on-page SEO optimization done - no tags, titles, etc. The interesting past is I learned about these fundamentals in my first year as a computer science student; the basics go a long way into a great site structure, great web design, and great content, and then conversions (another totally different ballgame that stems from site design)

    The future of SEO, as it continues to evolves (w/ social media), we shouldn't forget the basics and what we learned years ago because it translates right into today's SEO - in order to move into the future, we need to look into the past.

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