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Marketing your membership website via search engine optimization

Most new visitors to any site get there as a result of a search engine search. What are the secrets to getting maximum visibility and top ranking?

Getting top billing can do more for your site than all the paid advertising in the world!

Here are some tips to increase your visibility and ranking with the major search engines.

Identify key phrases.
Search engine results are produced when a visitor enters a key word or phrase to find specific information. The search engine uses those words and phrases to find sites that contain matching words.

If you can figure out the key words potential visitors might enter in a search, you can use those same words to improve your search engine positioning.

There are several ways to determine the most likely words that your target market might use. These include:

     

  • Guess what hot button words and phrases your target market will use.
  • Do a search on the most likely words and phrases, then visit the sites with top ranking. Check the key words and phrases used on their main pages. This will tell you additional key words you should be using.
  • Try out the freeware program GoodKeywords, which you can download. GoodKeywords can be helpful in determining the best keywords to describe your site’s contents.

Use the keywords in your meta tags.
Meta tags are HTML code on your web pages that help the search engines begin to define what your site is about. It is your responsibility to include these meta tags on your pages. Failure to do so will cause most search engines to ignore all the pages within your site.

Use the following meta tags:

     

  • Title: 70 characters, usually the same as the headline of the page.
  • Description: 250 characters, coherent sentences describing your site. This will appear when the search engines show the description of your site to visitors.
  • Keywords: 250 characters, include the most relevant, descriptive keywords your prospective visitors would most likely use. Keep in mind that these keywords need to match some of the text on the page.

If you code your pages manually, you’ll have to add these tags yourself. Some content programs will create and manage these tags for you.

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Write intriguing content incorporating the keywords.
The search engine crawlers will read and compare the body text of your pages to the meta tag information at the top of the page. Because search engine ranking depends a lot on how often you use keywords in your body text, it is important that you have well written text using many of the words and phrases found in your meta tags.

For best results, use these words and phrases in the headline of the page and in the first few paragraphs. Search engines rely on visible text more than any other factor when determining how your site will rank, so it is very important, especially on your main page, to use keywords and phrases as often as possible.

Note: These days, search engines tend to ignore your meta tag keywords if those keywords are not repeated in visible text on the page. That’s why it is very important that you use the keywords and phrases within the body of your page.

Use alt text in images and titles in links.
Every time you use keywords within your site, you increase your chances of higher search engine placement. Therefore you should use the “alt” field in images, and the “title” field in links to add keywords and hot button phrases about your site.

Submit to the search engines.
After you have completed all of the above, manually submit your site to the top search engines:

Doing this will take time—perhaps as much as 30 minutes to do all six of the submissions. But it’s the only way to make sure the search engines will eventually crawl your site.

Even after you submit your site, you can expect it to take up to six weeks before your site is cataloged. And even then, if you are in a highly competitive subject area, it is unlikely that you’ll get top billing (as top billing in highly competitive areas is often reserved for paid submissions).

But if your site is unique, targets a specialty niche market or topic, and you have optimized it, you have a decent chance of getting top search engine billing.

And getting that top billing can do more for your site than all the paid advertising in the world!

 

Help for the search engine blues

The rules regarding search engine optimization are complex and ever changing. In order to stay current on all the latest rules and techniques, you might consider subscribing to online advice from a specialist.

We recommend Search Engine U.

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