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Preparing Your Site for the Search Engines

Jul 23, 2008
Once you have chosen your domain name, registered it, bought a hosting and created your basic web site it is time to make sure your site and each individual page are prepared for search engine "spidering". Spidering is the colloquial name for the act of the search engine programs following links throughout the web looking for and cataloging website pages.

Page Names:

The name of each page should not only describe the content of that page but should have a search term oriented name. If the page on your site had to do with the advantages of living in Houston, Texas you may want to call the page something on the order of "houston-living". This way as the search engine "spiders" search the Internet for website content to display they will know what this page is about.

Site Map (For Visitors):

You should create a separate page linked from every page of your site including your home page. Call it sitemap.htm or sitemap.html. On this page you list, in some logical manner, every page on your site with hyperlinks to each page. The links should contain the search term that is emphasized for that particular page. The site map serves two distinct purposes. One is for the benefit if human site visitors. If a visitor ever gets lost on your site they can always go to your site map to find the page they are looking for. The other benefit is that it ensures that the search engine robots (spiders) will not miss any page of your site.

Site Map (For the Search Engines)

A site map done for the search engines is created in a special format. Instead of the page name ending in .htm or .html this page will end is .xml. When Google, Yahoo and MSN go through the Internet looking at websites finding this kind of page helps them ensure they catalog every page of your site. It's very much to your benefit to have one of these pages on your website and this could be said to be one of the step zeroes of Search Engine Optimization.

Meta Tags:

In the header tag of each page you should provide tags that describe the page. There is some disagreement amongst optimizers as to the value of these tags. Some search engines use the information in these tags and some do not. Since any search engine can provide valuable traffic to your site it is best not to omit this step. A rule of thumb is to use the search term once in the Title Tag, once or twice is the Description Tag, and once or twice in the Keywords Tag.

Several sites offer free meta tag creators. Just search Google or Yahoo for "free meta tag creator" or "free meta tag generator".

Keyword Density:

Use your search term once in a heading. Use it once in the url (what you named your page). Use it once in bold on the page and once in italics. Use the search term toward the top of the page and once at the bottom of the page.

The above is the basic outline of the frequency, placement and formatting of your search term on the page.

Each search engine looks for a different keyword density based on how their algorithm (software program that adjudicates the relative value and placement of web sites) is written. And these are often changed. So it is far better to follow these very basic steps and not pull your hair out trying to write pages specifically for each search engine.

That's about it for a basic outline of on-page optimizing and preparing your pages for the search engines.
About the Author
Meridith Berk is one of the founders of UltimateSitePromotion.com one of the oldest and most respected Search Engine Optimizing and Pay Per Click management firms on the Internet. For more information about Internet marketing you can visit her site at http://ultimatesitepromotion.com
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