Monday, November 20, 2006

5 Signs Your Site Is NOT Optimized

Search engine optimization is an on-going process, which means there’s always room for improvement. Whether you’re just thinking about optimizing your website or you’ve already taken steps to drive your site to the top of the search engine rankings, here are five signs that your site may not be fully optimized:

1. Your website doesn’t appear in the top three pages of natural/organic results shown by the major search engines for searches conducted by your target audiences.

When you run a search on Google, Yahoo or other search engines using keywords that reflect your products and services, does your website appear in the first three results pages? If it doesn’t, then you definitely want to evaluate what you’re doing to optimize your website. Based on the research data recently published by AOL, the top 10 positions in the search results achieve a combined click-through-rate of nearly 90%. After the third page of results, this number drops to less than 2%. Clearly, ranking highly for a wide variety of keywords is vital for increasing awareness and sales.

2. Your site’s pages don’t have unique title tags, the keyword tag is crammed with a long list of keywords (more than three), or your meta tags don’t even exist.

Check the source code for your website. (From any page on the site, right-click on your mouse and select “view source code”). A well optimized page will have only one or two keywords in the meta keyword tag. Each page should have title, keyword and description tags that are well-written and which include page-specific keywords. Stuffing them with every keyword under the sun is a spam technique that isn’t likely to curry favor with the search engines. Ideally, your meta tags should assist the search engines in properly indexing your site. You also want the tags to be persuasive and clear in order to encourage search engine users to visit your site when it appears in the results pages.

3. Your pages are graphic intensive and lack keyword-focused content.

For the search engines, text content is king. If your pages are based heavily on flash and other graphical presentations, the search engines may not rank your site as highly as you would like. For better results, try adding more keyword-focused content to your pages, including ALT Text for your images.

4. Your site has barely been updated since it first went live.

Stale content isn’t attractive to your human visitors or the search engine spiders. To make sure your site gets the attention it deserves, try updating your pages on a regular basis by posting informative articles or other interesting content. You may also want to add a blog to your website. Blogs appeal to the search engines and are a great tool for communicating with your target audience.

5. Your site doesn’t have much of an online presence and few sites link to it.

Popularity is everything. The search engines take the social nature of the Internet into account when ranking sites. If few people make mention of your website on the World Wide Web and very few sites link to it, your site is going to have a hard time getting to the top of the search engine results pages. You should work to encourage online word-of-mouth about your website by engaging the social media and by making it easier for other sites to link to your own. Most importantly, don’t forget to provide interesting and valuable content on your website – if you can offer Internet surfers something special, they’re sure to come back for more.

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