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I hope that each of you is having a great summer.  It's mid-July and HotLanta is definitely living up to its nickname.  Thankfully, we are getting a more normal summertime weather pattern this year, with numerous afternoon and evening showers to cool us off and to help alleviate the drought. 
 
Even if you agree that Search Engine Optimization is NOT the most effective way to market your services, you will want to make sure that the search engine spiders at least find your web pages.  Yes, search engines rank web pages, not web sites, so it is important to focus on each web page individually to ensure that every page is as appealing to the search engine as your Home page. This month's roadmap will discuss the best practices you should follow to ensure that the web crawlers find your web pages.
 
On a personal note, I want to say Happy 33rd Birthday to my oldest daughter, Jenni.  She and her husband, Jon, just announced that we will be grandparents in early February 2009!! This is our first grandchild.  My husband, Mike, and I are very excited!!
Effective Search Engine Optimization RoadMap
Roadmap
Content is King
First and foremost, you must ensure that each of your web pages has rich content. Search engines want to make sure that users are sent to web pages that give them the relevant information they want and need.  If content is lacking, your web page will not only be less appealing to the search engines, but will also cause users who do come to your site to go back to the search engine to find a web page with more complete information. 
 
Keep your website fresh and interesting. Update the content of your web site regularly to get visitors and search engine spiders to return often. Use blogs to allow visitors to create new content for your web page. When visitors comment about your blog post, the search engine spider sees this as new content. When the visitor links back to his own website, the additional link will help enhance the ranking of your web page with the search engine. 

Don't Rely on Graphics
Web crawlers read words.  They cannot read graphics.  Your site may be visually appealing and contain both flash and static graphics, but it won't count with the search engines unless you make sure that every graphic on your site uses an alt tag that explains what the graphic represents. Also, glitz and flash do not keep the attention of your site visitors for very long and do not keep them coming back.  Animations and sounds that constantly repeat are annoying to a serious website visitor.
 
Use Meta Tags - Thoughtfully  
Meta tags are the first things a web crawler sees when it comes to your web page.  Don't try to use every possible Meta tag.  If you do an effective job of creating title, description and keyword tags you will successfully attract web spiders.   
  • Title tag - Give every web page a descriptive title that is unique and tells users what they can expect to find if they come to the page.
  • Description tag - Use this tag to expand the title, using different words, but with more detail.
  • Keywords tag - Web designers often use this tag to try to 'fool' the search engines.  Don't. At best, you will do a lot of work for nothing.  At worst, the search engine might ban your web page from their listing altogether. 

    Because keyword trickery is used so frequently, search engines are constantly changing how they use keywords in web page ranking.  Your best bet is to use the keyword tag as it was meant to be used.  Do not flood this tag with every word that could possibly be used to describe your content.  Carefully choose keywords that you would expect people to use if they were looking for the information that is on your web page. Make sure that the most important words in your content are used as keywords.

Rules for Web Pages

The Meta tags and the web page content must work together. Use some of the exact words that you use in the Meta tags in the first few sentences on the web page. It is very important that your keywords are used within the content of the web page. Don't try to hide keywords on the page by coding them in the same color as the background.  That tactic will definitely get your page banned by the search engine.

Connect your web pages together. Make sure that it is easy for the web crawler to get from one of your web pages to another by using effective linking.  Make sure that you use text links on your web pages.  Fancy graphical links look nice and add visual interest to the site, but they cannot be read by the web crawler.  If you do not have text links somewhere on your web page (preferably at the top or along the left margin), the web crawler sees only a stand-alone page.  While you are at it, make sure that your web site is easy to navigate.  If it is easy for a human to navigate the web site, a search engine spider will have a much easier time finding its way around your site.
 
Get other web sites to link to your web site. The search engine wants to list the most popular web pages and uses the number of web pages that link to your web page as a gauge of your popularity. Go for quality, not quantity. Review your web pages often to ensure that there are no broken internal or external links.

Use headings when constructing your web page.  Search engines consider headings important and give greater weight to keywords contained in headings than keywords in simple text.
 
Create a Site Map which contains the complete list of all of the pages of your web site.  This helps both the search engines and your site visitors to find what they are looking for.
 
Become an expert. Write articles focusing on the topics covered by your web site and submit them to article submission sites like EzineArticles and Buzzle. Make sure to include your web address in the resource section-which is another link back to your web site.  When someone else publishes your article, you will get additional links to your web site.
SmartSite Technology is the virtual IT Department for small and medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations.  We provide all of the information technology services that a business needs to compete in today's marketplace.
 
Our goal at SmartSite Technology is to help each of our clients to be a success!! We know that technology is not a core competency for many small business owners and non-profit professionals. We believe that every organization benefits when they automate their business processes. We work closely with all of our clients, even those who are uncomfortable with computers and technology, to help them introduce automated processes into their operations. 
 
Contact us today to discuss your technology needs.
Sincerely,
 
Dixie Groutt
SmartSite Technology 
July 2008
In This Issue
Effective Search Engine Optimization RoadMap
Your Tech Tutor Says...
 
How do I alphabetize my favorites in Internet Explorer?
tutor pic number 1
 
I can't tell you how long I have wanted to know how to solve this problem.  It has been such a pain to find anything in my list of IE favorites.  Even though I occasionally tried to figure it out on my own, the pain was never bad enough to motivate me to stop what I was doing to find the answer.
 
A number of my clients have also asked me this question.  In the midst of working on important projects, this was a small matter and it did not seem important enough to stop our project to answer the question.  And so, we continued to muddle through and take twice as long as necessary to find a link in the list of favorites.
 
I knew that the solution would be simple. Sure enough, when I took advantage of 5 minutes of downtime today, I found the answer!! 
 
In case you are also wondering about how to get your favorites in alphabetical order, and you don't have time to check the Microsoft site to find the answer, here are the 4 very simple steps that will greatly simplify your life!!
  • Open your list of favorites
  • Right click on any one of the favorites
  • Select 'Sort by name' from the drop down list
  • Magically, your favorites will be in alphabetical order!!
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