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Google Wisdom—VTweb's Favorite Search Engine Optimization Tips
September, 2009
Julie Niles

Have you heard that Google is the only search engine that matters? Well—it's pretty darn close. This list shows the top 4 leading search engines in 2009 based on US Internet usage.

google.com66.1 %
yahoo.com16.2 %
Bing8.8 %
AOL3.0 %
Source: The Nielsen Company, August 2009

So how do you get the Google Gods to notice your website and rank it so your potential customers can find you? It can take time, effort and patience, but it can be done! Follow these Search Engine Optimization tips that will help improve your website's rankings in Google and other major search engines.

TIP #1—Content is King
When writing content or text for your website carefully choose important & specific search terms/phrases that are relevant to your business. For example: It would be important that a local real estate company include terms such as 'dorset vermont real estate', 'land for sale in southern vermont', 'homes for sale dorset vermont', etc. Think of terms your potential customers may type into Google to find your business. Optimizing your website for broad terms, such as 'real estate' will make your site much less likely to be seen and will be less likely to turn your site visitors into customers.

When your search terms have been selected include them within your website's body text, navigation links, ALT text, Title and Description tags. Google and most other search engines no longer use the meta Keyword tag. These terms should be present on ALL of your web pages. Leave No stone unturned. Create headings for each page in larger, search term heavy text.

TIP #2—Find out current your rankings
If you have an established site that's been out there for a while, find out where your site currently ranks for your chosen terms. This will tell you for what terms your site needs ranking improvements.

TIP #3—Be careful of Flash images and fancy home pages
By all means feel free to use flash intros and fancy graphics on your home page (as long as it doesn't cause extremely slow loading) but keep in mind that a search engine can't read or see these images. Relevant, keyword rich text must also be included on your home page to achieve the best natural search engine rankings.

TIP #4—Use simple, easy to follow navigation
Google loves simplicity. The easier your site is to navigate, the more likely Google is to index and rank your web pages. Display simple text links for all of your major web pages on every page. Use relevant search terms when able within the link. For example, instead of displaying this link: 'Area Links', use something like: 'Dorset Vermont Links'.

TIP #5—Create a sitemap
A sitemap is ideal for larger sites, especially if Google is having trouble indexing the inner web pages. If it takes 3, 4 or more clicks to get to one of your web pages, Google is much less likely to index it. By creating a site map, webcrawlers (and users) can access any page on the site with only two clicks. For example of such a sitemap can be seen here: http://www.deerhillinn.com/sitemap.htm

TIP #6—Inbound Links
In the recent past getting tons of sites linked to yours was a great way to improve search engine rankings. Now the trend is shifting and Google doesn't necessarily look at the number of inbound links to your site, but the quality of these links. In other words a website that has 500 random inbound links could have a lower ranking than a site that has 100 high-quality inbound links. When pursuing inbound links remember to look for high quality sites that share your subject matter and content. Stay away from link farms.

Google Analytics

TIP #7—Google Sitemap
Uploading a Google XML Sitemap is most effective for brand new sites, larger sites which are several layers deep, or sites that may be releasing many new web pages. A Google sitemap can shorten the length of time it takes Google to find, index and rank a web page.

TIP #8—Google Analytics
After putting in your valuable time and money you should ALWAYS be sure your efforts are producing results. Be sure to monitor your website traffic stats using Google Analytics or a similar tool.