BACKGROUND INFORMATION Search engine optimisation (SEO) refers to the process of optimising Web sites and Web pages to rank well in search engines. It is called a natural search result when a web page comes up in the main search engine listings. A different way of getting into search engine results is a pay-per-click system. When a user performs a search the results contain sponsored listings, which are related to the keywords used. They are usually above or to the right of the free listings. As the name suggest you have to pay for a pay-per-click system. Search indexes or search engines are the predominant type of search tools. Large search engines use software known as spiders or robots to grab Web pages and read the significant part of the information stored in them. Based on this information they run complex algorithms to index what they found. Search sites known as meta indexes allow you to search through multiple indices. A number of smaller indexes do not user spiders to examine the full content of the page. They rather pull off information from the meta tags or use the information provided by the person who enters the site into the index. Search directories collect the information transmitted by the site owner and categorise the data. In contrary to a search index it does not contain information from web pages, but information about web pages. Search sites let you search through an index or directory, but they might not have their own search system and use external results. Only search systems build an index or directory. Google and the Open Directory Project provide search results to many search sites. PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR YOUR WEBSITE FACTORS TO INFLUENCE Keywords, content, page optimisation, submissions and links. KEYWORDS - Which keywords do people use to search for your products? - Are misspelled keywords important to you? - Synonyms, split/merged words, singulars/plurals, geo-specific terms? - Separate individual words with a hyphen. - Combinations: they will also be optimised for the single terms. - Ambiguous or very broad keywords will not bring the traffic you want. - Specialised search terms are often useful. - Work with a keyword effectiveness index (KEI). - Stick to basic characters if you can (no special symbols). Keep in mind that you should focus on certain keywords instead of trying to find too many terms relevant to your business. It is very difficult to optimise web pages for more than a few keywords. CONTENT - Create large amounts of relevant content. - Plan your content carefully with regard to prominence. - Place keywords frequently throughout your entire site. - Right level of keyword density (overuse might be classed as spamming). - Put keywords into bulleted lists. PAGE OPTIMISATION - Each individual page has to be optimised. - Use one primary and one secondary keyword phrase per page. - Create relevant meta tags (at most one repeat per meta tag). - Create page titles that incorporate keywords (at most one repeat). - Limit stop words (a, as, the) as search engines ignore them. - Use bold and italic for keywords in page content. - Links within site should contain keywords. - Name directories, individual pages and images with the right keywords. - Use hyphens/periods as word-separators for files (no more than two words). - Keep a flat directory structure. - Make sure there are no dangling pages. SUBMISSIONS The Open Directory Project is very important. There are other submissions to consider, but most search engines will find highly optimised websites anyway. LINKS Get as many incoming external links as possible from sites, which relate to your products/services and which are already indexed themselves by search engines. If you can influence the link text make sure the relevant keywords are used. Links within the site should also contain the relevant keywords. FACTORS TO ACKNOWLEDGE TIME One important factor to keep in mind is the time factor. The longer your domain has been registered and the longer your website has been up and running the better with regard to search engines. Google for example puts websites initially into a system called “sandbox”. It may index it, but it might take up to 8 months until it would rank the site well. Other search engines use similar ways of indexing pages. CHANGES SEO is a constant process. The web changes each second. If you are in a highly competitive industry you will find that competing sites will try to take your place on a daily basis. Make sure you won’t let them! Invest in a thorough SEO campaign to stay ahead. You will not regret it! GLOSSARY KEI (keyword effectiveness index): The KEI relates to how many people search for a term in relation to the number of web pages returned by search engines. The higher the KEI the more powerful the term. Prominence: If the keyword appears near the top of the page it is more prominent than one at the bottom, one at the beginning of the title tag is more prominent than one at the end. One at the beginning of the description tag is more prominent than one at the end etc.. Keyword density: The keyword density is the ratio of a search phrase to the total number of words in the page.