If you've never heard of the term search engine optimization or SEO, then your website probably isn't optimized for search engines and it's hindering your site's ability to get all of the traffic that it should. Read on for an explanation of what this entails and how it can help your website.
To understand how to have your site rank better – everyone wants to show up on the first page of Google's search results – you need to first understand how Google and the other search engines work. For the purposes of this article I'm going to talk just about Google but all of the engines work pretty much the same way.
First, what does Google do? Well, they need to show you the best information they can find on the internet when you type in a search phrase. So to do that they must first collect the information. They do that by going to every website on the internet and "spidering" the site to read all of the text it can find. It then stores this information in its database. So when you type in a search phrase, or keyword phrase, then Google can bring up the pages, in order of importance or relevance, that contain that phrase.
This is a simplified description but it is basically what happens. Your challenge as a website owner is to present your site in the best possible light to Google. What you're really trying to do is tell Google as clearly as possible exactly what's on your pages and what your site is all about. The better you do this then the better your chance to rank highly in the search results. If Google isn't sure what your site is all about then it doesn't know how to rank you and you'll end up on page 100 of the search results pages.
So how do you tell Google what your site is all about? The URL of your site is the first thing that Google sees. So if you have an Italian restaurant in Bangkok then the best URL to use for search purposes would actually be www.italianrestaurantbangkok.com and not the name of your restaurant. Google places a lot of weight (most people think) on the URL because if your site is named as I've mentioned above then Google figures it's probably a real authority site for Italian restaurants in Bangkok, more so than just an individual Italian restaurant.
Next on the list is the title of your site. I'm going to use one of my own websites as an example for the next few elements that you need to consider so if you go to www.seosoutheastasia.com you'll see the title of my site at the top of your browser and it says: SEO Southeast Asia – SEO course with Online SEO training and internet marketing training. How did I come up with these words? I'll tell you in a minute.
Next is the site's description. If you click on the word PAGE in the upper right corner of Internet Explorer or VIEW in the upper left of Firefox you'll get dropdown menus that each have as one of the selections "View Source." If you click on this it will pull up a separate browser window that will show you all of the programming code that went into creating the page. You can do this with any page on the internet.
On my home page you need to scroll down past all of the gobbled-gook you see at the top until you see this: <title>Home | SEO South East Asia - SEO course with Online SEO training and internet marketing training</title>. This is my title as I showed you above. Next you 'll see this: <meta name="description" content="SEO Southeast Asia provides online seo training in a video format along with internet marketing training and online marketing training in a complete SEO course." />. This is my description of my site.
Finally you'll see this: <meta name="keywords" content="online seo training, seo course, seo courses, search engine optimization training, search engine optimization, search engine optimisation, internet marketing course, internet marketing training, online marketing training, marketing training online, internet marketing courses " />. These are my site's keyword phrases, the phrases that I think – based on my research – that people will use when looking for products like mine, and this is where my title and description come from. If you look at my title and description you will see that I used some of my keyword phrases in both of them. I'm telling Google exactly what my site is all about by doing this.
Some people say that putting your keywords phrases in the source code like this is unnecessary now but I do it anyway because there is one thing to remember: no one knows EXACTLY what Google is up to and they're not talking. Everybody has their own theories about how to rank well with Google and there are many accepted practices that successful SEO people follow but no one knows for sure what is 100% right.
Except, however, in the case of the information I have just shown you. This is exactly the right way to optimize your site for Google, along with a number of other simple things you can do. How do I know this? Because it's all in a tutorial that Google first published two years ago. That's how I learned it and you can read it for yourself if you go to Google's Webmaster Tools site. It's a downloadable PDF file and you can easily follow it and optimize your own website.
Or you can pay a company to optimize your site for you and it will cost you thousands of baht. Since it's pretty easy to do, though, like most SEO techniques, you might want to give it a shot on your own. This is the first step to getting more traffic to your site and making more money from it. Because, after all, your site should be doing just that – making money for you.
Tom Aikins is an SEO consultant and online marketing expert based in Bangkok who presents seminars on these subjects and also offers a complete online marketing training course on his website, http://www.seonorthamerica.com. You can ask questions of him by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.