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27 quick tips to top search engine rankings

Last Update: Friday, October 31, 2003.

In this article I show you how to improve your search engine rankings using 27 quick search engine optimization tips.

1. Increase your site's link popularity by increasing your internal and incoming links.

  • Internal links - Cross link all your sites and important pages within each site. This will maximize the PageRank of all your pages within each web site.

  • Incoming links that you control - Create several small web sites related to your main site. Each site should only consist of a few pages. Then cross link them all together using the most important keywords. Don't forget to include links back to the main site.

  • Incoming links that you don't control:

    Ask sites that link to your competitors to link to your site. To find out which sites are linking to your competitors, visit a search engine and enter, "link:" followed by the competitors' domain name.

    For example:

    link:www.yourcompetitor.com

  • Exchange links with sites listed in the same category as yours in the major web directories, such as the Yahoo! Directory and the Open Directory.

  • Find sites that accept site submissions. Visit your favorite search engine and search for:

    "add url" "your keywords"

    Also try searching for the actual submission page using its page name.

    For example:

    addurl.html, addsite.html, addlink.html, etc.

2. Include a TITLE tag as the first META tag, directly after the HEAD tag.

For example:

<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE>Mike's Marketing Software Tools Reviews</TITLE>
...

3. Try to avoid stop words in your TITLE tag. Stop words (a, an, and, but, he, her, his, i, in, it, of, on, or, she, the, etc.) are common words and characters ignored by some search engines to enhance the speed and relevancy of their search results.

You'll find a list of 297 commonly-used stop words ignored by most search engines in my search engine optimization guide; Search Engine Optimization Strategies: Top 30 Search Engine Optimization & Ranking Strategies For Dummies.

4. Include a META DESCRIPTION tag, directly after the TITLE tag. Include the most important keyword phrase for the web page as close to the beginning of the description as possible.

For example:

<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE>Mike's Marketing Software Tools Reviews</TITLE>
<META NAME="description" CONTENT="Mike's Marketing Tools is the leading review site for the very best internet marketing tools for web marketers and webmasters.">
...

5. If you use a META REFRESH tag, make sure it is set to refresh after 30 seconds.

<META HTTP-EQUIV="refresh" CONTENT="30; URL=http://www.mikes-marketing-tools.com">

Some search engines consider pages that refreshes under 30 seconds as spam. I recommend using a JavaScript redirect tag, if you require a quicker page refresh.

For example:

Step 1 - Paste this code into the HEAD section of your HTML document. Change the 3000 to whatever number you like. 1000 represents 1 (one) second.

<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript"><!--
function redirect () {setTimeout("change()",3000);}
function change () {window.location.href="http://www.mikes-marketing-tools.com";}
//--></SCRIPT>

Step 2 - Insert the onLoad event handler into your BODY tag, so that the JavaScript code is executed when the page loads.

<BODY onLoad="redirect()">

6. Remove all other meta tags (author, date, etc.), unless you're sure they are absolutely necessary. The only meta tags I ever use are the META DESCRIPTION and occasionally the META REFRESH tag.

7. Include a site map with links to all your pages. This will help search engines find and index all your pages.

  • Limit the number of links on a web page to 50.

  • If you have more than 50 links, limit your links to your most important pages.

  • Include text on the page as some search engines, such as AltaVista, have been known to kick out links only pages.

8. Use one or more header tags in your main page body and include your most important keyword phrase/s.

  • Use large header tags, such as <H1> and <H2>.

  • Use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to alter the appearance of the header tags to fit the look and feel of your site. For more information read this CSS tutorial.

9. Check the first couple of lines of the first paragraph to see if it's appropriate to be used as a description of your page. Many search engines utilize the first couple of sentences of the body text as the search results description, instead of the contents of the META DESCRIPTION tag.

10. Try to achieve an overall keyword density of 1-2%. For more information on keyword density read my article, "How Keyword Density, Frequency, Prominence And Proximity Affects Search Engine Rankings."

11. Try to achieve a minimum word count of 300 and a maximum of 750 words on each page.

12. Register a domain name with the exact keyword phrase you wish to target, using hyphens to separate the keywords.

For example, if the keyword phrase is "search engine rankings," then register:

search-engine-rankings.com

If the domain you want is unavailable, either try a different extension, such as .NET, .INFO, or .US, or add a keyword to the end (preferential) or beginning of the domain.

13. Name directories after your keyword phrases, using hyphens or underscores to separate the keywords.

For example, if an important keyword phrases is, "search engine rankings," name your directory:

www.yoursite.com/search-engine-rankings/ or...
www.yoursite.com/search_engine_rankings/

14. Name web pages after your most important keyword phrase. Separate the keywords using hyphens or underscores.

For example, if the keyword phrase is "search engine rankings," then name the page:

search-engine-rankings.html or...
search_engine_rankings.html

15. Name your graphic files after keyword phrases. Again, separate the keywords using hyphens or underscores.

For example:

<IMG SRC="search-engines-rankings.gif">

16. Include an ALT (alternative text) atrribute in image tags. Include the most important keyword phrases.

For example:

<IMG SRC="search-engines-rankings.gif" ALT="search engine rankings.">

17. If you use an image map, include HTML links, as some search engines do not follow image map links. Plus image maps do not offer search engines any link text to index. So, try to avoid the use of image maps as they do not help with your search engine optimization efforts.

18. Use the longer or plural version of a keyword, where possible. Word stemming is a concept used by some search engines to return search results that include keywords that extend beyond what you searched for.

For example, a search with the keyword "engine" might return results for, "engines," "engineers," and "engineering." If someone searches for the longer version of a word and your page only uses the short version, then your page will be excluded from the list of possible results.

19. Sprinkle a few uncommon keywords and synonyms in your main body text. Less popular keywords have less competition in the search engines. So your web page is has a greater chance of being listed amongst the top results.

20. Do not repeat keywords or keyword phrases over and over again on a web page, as this would be considered as spam by search engines.

21. Keep your pages as close to the root domain as possible. Do not set up more than 3 directory levels.

For example:

www.yoursite.com/index.html (1st level - excellent)
www.yoursite.com/html/index.html (2nd level - Good)
www.yoursite.com/html/marketing/index.html (3rd level - OK)
www.yoursite.com/html/marketing/search/index.html (Too many levels down - search engines will find it difficult to find and index pages this far down)

22. If you have a persistent (on most or all of your pages) navigation bar at the side of each page, your table is almost certainly set up in such a way that it pushes your page's body text down the HTML document. Search engines give prominence to keywords nearer the beginning of a HTML document. So, design your HTML table so that the navigation bar is placed after your main body text.

If you're unsure how to do this, check out my Search Engine Optimization Strategies ebook. You'll discover exactly how to design such a table in my book.

23. Move Javascript code to a separate file, or the end of the HTML document after your closing BODY or HTML tag. Yes, this technique actually works!

Follow these instructions to move the JavaScript code to a separate file and link to the file from the HTML document. Then place the following code in between the HEAD section:

<HEAD>
<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript" SRC="file-name.js"></SCRIPT>
</HEAD>

This procedure also reduces your file size, and therefore your download time. In addition, it allows you to reuse the code on other pages by simply link to the JavaScript file. Both of these techniques will move your important body text nearer to the top of the HTML document.

24. Although not always practical, you may like to try naming your cascading style sheet tags after keywords.

For example:

.search {
color: #ff0000;
}

25. Use Robots.txt files instead of Robots meta tags, as some search engine robots do not recognize the tag. Visit The Web Robots Pages for more information.

26. Do not use font size one (1) text as the default text size. Many search engines consider tiny text to be spam. It's OK to use some font size one text.

27. Do not participate in link farms or link exchange programs. Search engines consider link farms and link exchange programs as spam, as they have only one purpose - to artificially inflate a site's link popularity, by exchanging links with other participants.

Do not confuse link farms and link exchange programs with reciprocal linking. Reciprocal linking is the exchange of links with individual sites, and is certainly an accepted technique for improving your site's link popularity.

There you have it. My 27 quick search engine optimization tips to improving your search engine rankings. I hope you found this report usful. For more indepth tips, you may like to read my search engine optimization guide.

Internet marketing expert.About The Author: Michael Wong is a respected internet marketing expert, and the author of a leading search engine optimization guide, numerous marketing tips, and reviews of marketing tools and ecommerce software.
Publishing Rights: You may republish this article in your web site, newsletter, or ebook, on the condition that you agree to leave the article, author's signature and photograph, and all links completely intact. Full instructions on how to copy and upload my photo to your server.

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