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Is Your Website Optimized For The Search Engines?

by M. H. "Mac" McIntosh -- Copyright 2005.

Is your website being found when prospects are searching on the Internet for companies, products or services like yours? Here's a checklist of questions to ask yourself.

When people are searching on the Internet for companies, products or services such as yours, the vast majority start their searches with one of the leading search engines.

Is your company's website found near the top of the list of the search results when these prospective customers are using the search engines? Here's a checklist of questions to ask yourself:

Does your website include relevant keywords and phrases that people actually use when searching?

If the search engines can't find and index on your website the words that people use when searching, your site will never reach the top of the organic (natural) search results. With that in mind, consider these questions:

• Have you asked your customers and prospects which words or phrases they would use to search for companies, products and services such as yours?

• Did you research which of those words and phrases are actually used most often when people are searching?

• Did you include the more popular keywords and phrases in your

  • URLs?
  • Page titles?
  • Headlines?
  • Body copy?
  • Text links?

Have you designed your company's website with search engines in mind?

Did you consider that today's search engines probably can't read and index the text in your graphics, Flash® animations, PDFs or dynamically built pages? Consider that as you ask yourself:

• Are you loading your text before your graphics and Flash animations in the source code of your various web pages?

• Are you giving your graphics file names that include relevant keywords?

• Are you including keywords and phrases in tags for each of your graphics?

• Are you including indexable text in the source code of your dynamically built pages?

• Are you using the latest version of Adobe Acrobat to make your PDF files indexable for the search engines?

• Have you taken steps to ensure that the search engines can find all the important pages of your website?

• Have you included a site map on your home page, pointing to all of your site's individual pages?

• Does your site map include lots of keywords and phrases in the page links and descriptive copy for each page of your website?

• Have you considered the positive impact of having links to your web pages from other websites?

Some of the leading search engines consider your web pages to be more important if other websites include links to yours. With that in mind, ask yourself:

• Have you included a link to your website in every appropriate online directory you can find?

• Have you included information or content on your site that other websites will want to link to? For example:

  • Industry calendars of events
  • Reference tools (checklists, calculators, etc.)
  • How-to guides
  • White papers
  • Glossaries of industry terms

Have you offered to trade links with:

  • Your industry partners?
  • Your suppliers?
  • Your customers?
  • Other relevant and important websites?
  • Do you keep the content on your website's pages fresh and up-to-date?

If nothing has changed on your web pages, the search engines will skip right on by. However, if the search engines see that your pages have changed, they have a reason to re-index them, and you get a new chance to move your web pages to the top of the search engine results. With that in mind, are you

• Tweaking your various web pages regularly, making minor changes and updates where needed?

• Adding new pages to your site that include in-depth content related to the most popular relevant keywords and phrases?

Are you avoiding the dirty tricks of search engine optimization?

The search engines want their users to find relevant results when searching. So they frown on—and usually figure out—the sneaky tricks some companies are using to try to get their web pages to appear at the top of the search results.

When the search engines do figure out the tricks being used, and they will, they will change their search results criteria or remove the offending websites from their directories altogether.

So my advice is to play it straight, focusing on including relevant and popular keywords and phrases on your website, getting links from other relevant and popular sites, and refreshing your content frequently.

Have you considered buying your way to the top of the search results?

If by using the techniques mentioned earlier in this article you still can't move to the top of the search results, consider using pay-per-click or sponsored results to buy your way to the top.

But be careful, as this approach to being found on the search engines costs you money every time someone clicks on your pay-per-click ad.

Keeping that in mind,

• Consider using pay-per-click ads as a temporary solution while you work to optimize your website for organic searching.

• Select your pay-per-click keywords or phrases with care. If you use broad terms, for example, buying "software" instead of "small-business accounting software," you may spend a lot for clicks that are not from relevant prospects.

 

M. H. "Mac" McIntosh is described by many as one of America's leading business-to-business sales and marketing consultants and an expert on the subject of sales leads. He is president of Mac McIntosh Incorporated, a sales and marketing consulting firm specializing in helping companies get more high-quality sales leads and turn them into sales. For more information, or to request a free subscription to his newsletter, Sales Lead Report, please visit www.salesleadexperts.com