If you've just started your very first website, be it a small business, or a simple content site, you have probably encountered the phrase "search engine optimization." Search engine optimization and getting to the top of the search engines presents a dilemma for most new websites. Herein lies some information about the challenge of search engine optimization and some useful tips for webmasters.
Traffic for most websites is feast or famine because most traffic is directed to a website by way of a search engine. If you're on the first two pages of a search engine for your target keyword, you'll likely get tons of traffic. If you're on page 3 or worse, traffic might be sparse. Getting on the first two pages of the search listings can be the difference between receiving hundreds of thousands of hits per day or receiving a couple thousand hits per day. So, how can you optimize your website and increase your ranking?
There are many important factors for getting the best possible position on a search engine, the most rudimentary of which is that your web pages be "optimized." In other words, you need to make sure that your web page contains the keyword that you want to be ranked for. If your website is about frogs, for example, and you want people searching for "frogs" on Google to find your website in the top position, then your website needs to have the word "frogs" appear more than once or twice. If your pages don't have at least some significant content containing the word "frogs", then the search engines will not deem your website relevant for information about frogs, and you won't receive a decent ranking for that particular keyword. To optimize your webpages, you must also have META tags (META tags are tags that you must include in your HTML so that search engine crawlers can get a quick gist of what your website is about before scanning the rest of your page).
But the most important factor for receiving a high search engine ranking, and by far the most challenging, is having a high number of quality, inbound links to your website coming from other websites. This is commonly referred to as a website's "link popularity." The more websites you have linking to you, the more "significant" you become to the search engine, and the higher your ranking will be. For example, Yahoo's website currently has over 30 million inbound links, and Michael Moore has over 500,000 links pointing to his website. This is a tremendous number of links.
So, how can a new website receive this many links? Well, it can't. However, you don't need a million websites linking to you to get listed on the first page of the search engine. For certain keywords, such as "email forms," or "frogs" (I have frogs on my mind today), it may only take 1,500 inbound links to get on the first page. Some of the search results on the first page of the listings for a certain keyword may have 50,000 inbound links, while others might have 1,500. The reason for this is because of the aforementioned criteria already described in the beginning of this article which also play a part in your ranking (keyword relevance, design, etc.). Also, it helps if the links to your website are from websites that have a high ranking for the same keyword that you are trying to target.
If your website is about frogs, and the website that is currently ranked #5 on the first page of Google for the keyword "frogs" has a link to your website on their website, Google considers that a significant link. A single important link, rather than a bunch of irrelevant links, can substantially enhance your ranking. However, getting other websites to link to you is an extremely difficult task.
Extremely well known, popular companies, such as Yahoo, Amazon, and GEICO, already have thousands upon thousands of websites linking to them because they advertise on television. Those companies are household names, and they provide important services, so, naturally, a lot of websites link to them. For the other 99.9% of websites that don't do any real advertising offline, there are several ways to obtain a high number of inbound links.
One way is to exchange links with other websites, one at a time. They'll often link to you if you link to them. This is a very time consuming task, as it would take a long time to get a thousand links working in this manner. Another way is to submit your site to various directories where they'll include a link to your site in their directory without requiring an exchange. This is a much better way to do it.
Also, it might be a good idea to perform a search under the keyword for which you want to receive a high ranking, and then contact the webmasters of those sites that are ranked on the first and second page, and ask to exchange links with those websites (the higher the ranking of the site that links to you, the more significant the link, and the more it will help your ranking). Also, you can write articles and sign up for services that will submit your articles to a huge number of article directories where websites look for content. You can usually include a link to your website in the "author description" portion of the article. If your article is submitted to all of these article directories, and then that article spreads over the internet and is posted on other websites, you can receive a tremendous amount of inbound links this way. Perform a search under the keyword "article submission service" or "submit my article," and you'll find dozens of companies that will submit your articles to these directories for you.
Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing, everyday job. There is no shortcut to success. But, if you work diligently and follow all of the procedures outlined in this article, you're likely to get a good ranking and climb steadily towards the top.