Search Engine Optimization

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Asa Computers
Design, back-end, content management System, banner, newsletters management system, shipping by zone.


Search Engine Optimization and web site promotion

Putting it all together

Combining steps 1-5, we get some HTML that looks like this

        {TITLE}Real Estate in Wilmington, North Carolina - New Hanover County - Buying Selling Renting Houses Homes Apartments Commercial Property Office{/TITLE}
        {META name=description content="Real Estate in Wilmington, North Carolina - Buying, Selling & Renting of Houses, Homes, Apartments and Commercial Property"}
        {META name=keywords content="real estate in wilmington north carolina, buying real estate in wilmington north carolina,selling real estate in wilmington north carolina,renting real estate in wilmington north carolina,real estate broker in wilmington north carolina,new hanover county,south-east north carolina,house broker,apartment broker,home sales,apartment rental"}
        {H2}Are you interested in buying, selling or renting real estate in Wilmington, North Carolina?{/H2}
        If so, you've come to the right place. My name is Bill Phillips, and for the
        last 10 years, I've specialized in helping my clients find the perfect home,
        apartment or commercial space in beautiful New Hanover County. Please allow
        me to be your guide.
        ... rest of your html

Extra Credit!

Now you've got a decent webpage, with good content and meta tags. You're ready to submit to the search engines. Or are you?

What you've done so far are the basics. There's a lot more you can do, time and money permitting, to improve your odds of ranking highly. Here are some tips on what to do (and not to do), to get "extra credit" from the search engines.

Get your own domain name

This is the best investment you'll ever make. A domain name costs $20-30 a year, it's dirt cheap.

There are three big reasons for getting your own domain name:

  • Some search engines won't list you unless you do
  • People are more likely to buy if you have your own domain name. What looks better to you, "" or ""?
  • You can change your webhosting service without messing up all of your search engine listings. I get emails every week from people saying "I'm moving from aol to msn, what will happen to my rankings?" If they had their own domain name, nothing, it's not a problem.

This is an absolute no-brainer. Get your own domain name!

Don't get hyped about long domain names

I've been getting a lot of questions about the new, longer domain names that are available. There is a lot of misinformation being passed around about them. The big lie is that if you have a domain name with lots of keywords in it (eg: you will get a higher ranking in the search engines.

This is flat out not true. NONE of the major search engines will significantly boost your rankings based on keywords in your url. Not one. This is what they said when Danny Sullivan, editor of the highly recommended Search Engine Watch Newsletter asked them, and I've confirmed it by experiment. If the search engines look at them at all, they simply add the url text to the rest of the page, so the added benefit of keywords in the URL is totally insignificant. Don't waste your money.

My advice is to try and go for a short, memorable domain name, either 1 word or 2 words combined, or with an i, e, i- or e- prefix. Make it easy to type, and easy to remember.

If you insist on trying the keywords in URL, do it either using subdirectories (eg: or subdomains (eg: You'll still be wasting your time, but at least you won't be wasting money!

Avoid Search Engine Tricks

Some "experts" advise trying to trick search engines by putting keyphrases in comments, putting them in text that is the same color as your background, and so on. I strongly advise that you not try these tricks. Bluntly, most of them don't work -- and the ones that do may stop working at any minute, as the search engines are constantly trying to detect and defeat them.

My philosophy is that you should try and help the search engines by making it as easy as possible to get a good idea of what your page is about. That way, as search engines get better and better at rating the contents of sites, your rankings will get better over time, with no effort from you.

I know this is sort of repeating what I just said a couple of screens higher on this page, but it bears repeating. If you try and fool the search engines, in the long run, you'll be the fool.

Got Links?

Once you have your pages up and running, and chock full of useful content, it's a very good idea to try and get other people to link to them. It's not enough to just get them in the search engines. There are three very good reasons for doing this: First, many search engines are now using link popularity (how many other pages link to your page) as a ranking criteria -- they figure that if other sites link to your page, it might be useful. Second, it's recently been revealed that Inktomi applies a ranking penalty to any url submitted through their free "Add URL" system, but removes it if their spider also finds the page by following a link from another site (they do this in an attempt to find and penalize "doorway" pages). And third, you'll get traffic from the websites that link to you

Getting links isn't that hard. When you find a website that has content similar to yours, email the webmaster and ask for a link, pointing out why it would be appropriate. If he has content on his site useful to your visitors, link to him without even offering to trade links. Link to him, then email him and ask for a link back. A good site for learning the basics of getting links is Linking 101.

The biggest search engine to use link popularity is Google (who came up with the idea), and the two sites that generate the most link "value" on Google are Yahoo and Open Directory. For many people, the true value of the $299 a year cost of a Yahoo listing isn't the clicks from Yahoo, but the boost in their rankings on Google. Open Directory doesn't cost anything, but getting in can be time consuming.

A note about Framed sites

Many "experts" also say that using frames to construct your website can hurt their rankings. My experience is that this is not so, as long as you construct your frames properly. The trick is this: make sure that your {frameset} page has a proper title tag and meta tags. Similarly, your subframe pages should have the same ingredients (perhaps with modified contents), as well as a little bit of javascript that "pops" the user to the proper framed presentation if they surf into the subframe page. There is some simple javascript that works with just about every browser.

What this does is, when the page is loaded, if it finds that it is not in a frame, it redirects the browser to the proper frameset url, whatever that might be.

Once you've got your pages configured, simply promote them all (the frameset page and the subframe pages) to the search engines. The MultiSubmitter tool, which you get access to by forking over $10 or more, makes this easy!

Checking your HTML

Almost all websites have HTML errors, even those that appear to display nicely on your browser. Browsers do a pretty good job of being tolerant of errors, but even so, it's a good idea to make sure your HTML is as perfect as possible, as this increases the chance that your website will display the way you want it to on as many browsers as possible (both past, present and future).

I strongly recommend that you use a HTML Validator to check your pages, and my favorite is the HTML Validator. While it is a little hard to use and unbelievably picky (good!), it's by far the best I've found -- and given that it's written by the folks that define what HTML is, it does the job right. One thing to be aware of with this tool is that a single error can cause a cascade of error messages, so I typically fix the first error reported, then revalidate.

What about a "robots.txt" file?

The robots.txt file is a special file you can place on your webserver to restrict access by some or all webcrawling robots to some or all of your site. You only need one if you want to place some areas of your website "off-limits" to robots. If your whole website is open to them, you don't need one.

You can only have a robots.txt file if you own your own domain, because they are always located in the same place (so the robot can find them!). Thus, my robots.txt file is located at

If you feel you need a robots.txt file, then the complete specification how to create one can be found here:

One caution: some robots interpret a blank robots.txt file as meaning "don't crawl any pages on this website." So if you don't need a robots.txt file, don't have one (even a blank one!) on your server.

Meta Tag Software

While I have not personally used it, if you are looking for a Macintosh-based tool to manage the meta tags of many pages, you might want to check out Meta Tag Manager. Windows-based users who have found a good tool, please email me and let me know which ones you like.

Making your site "people-friendly"

OK, you've got all your keywords set up. You've made life easy for the search engines. Hopefully, you'll get a lot of traffic. Make sure you don't waste that traffic by making sure your site effectively sells your products.

The article below has been reprinted with permission from