by Arun Sinha

The secret of being found on the web lies in one word: focus.

Focus your website on one subject. Focus each web page on one topic. Focusing helps on many levels, as you will see later.

To be found on the web, your site needs to show up among the first few results of a query on search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. In November 2011, about 65% of all searches were conducted on Google (source: Experian Hitwise). The higher you rank in Google's results, the more likely it is that web users will find you.

Building your website so it appears near the top of search results is called search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO professionals spend most of their energy optimizing websites for high Google rankings.

You can't fully control how your site ranks in Google, but you can tweak it in ways that help improve its position. Here are 5 such tweaks.

1. Write Keyword-Rich Copy.

Keywords (or keyphrases) are the terms that users enter in search boxes to hunt for information on a topic. If a user enters a term that Google finds frequently on your website, Google concludes that your site contains information relevant to the searcher. And it rewards you by raising your rank on its search results page.

To find out what keywords your customers are using, you can:

  • Brainstorm
  • Ask customers what words they use to search for companies like yours
  • Ask customers who found you via Google what query terms they were using
  • Use online keyword resources like Wordtracker or Google's Keyword Tool

Select two or three keywords for each page of your site. Weave these keywords into your copy as often as you can. Don't overdo it, or your copy will sound repetitive and unnatural. Write copy that humans will find appealing and persuasive.

Remember what I said about focus? If your web page is focused on one topic, you'll easily home in on the right keywords.

2. Write Keywords in Your Page Title, Description and Heading.

The page title appears in large blue font as the heading of each item on the Google results page (see below). Google pays a lot of attention to the page title, as it believes the title to be one of the best indicators of what the web page is about. A good page title goes a long way toward helping you be found on the web.

The page description is the two lines of text that appear immediately beneath the title. It gives the visitor a summary of the page, and should contain at least one of the keywords used in the title. Make the description about 155 characters long.

Your page heading is simply the headline on the web page. Google does not include it in search results, but the headline gives Google a clue about what information may be found on the web page.

3. Build Incoming Links.

An incoming link is a link from another website to a page on yours. Google loves incoming links, because it sees them as confirmation from other website owners that your content is useful and relevant. Websites with large numbers of inbound links tend to move up in Google's rankings.

All links, however, are not equal. Google values links from complementary sites more highly than those from other sites.

For example, if your site is about airplanes, a link from an airplane review site or an airplane parts maker carries more weight than a link from a restaurant.

To build links, find other websites in businesses related to but not competing with yours. Ask them if they will link to you in return for a reciprocal link. Submit your website to search engines and directories in your industry.

Writing a focused website with informative content will attract links from other sites, which will help you be found on the web.

4. Create Fresh Content.

Google likes to see a steady stream of fresh, relevant content — as do your visitors. Produce fresh content by writing articles, blog posts, white papers and similar pieces. Include the keywords you chose in step 1.

5. Use Appropriate Software Code.

Google cannot read JavaScript, and has a limited ability to read Flash. If your site is built entirely in Flash, it will not rank well on Google. In fact, it might not rank at all.

Used appropriately, Flash can make a website more engaging and informative. But the text on your site should not be rendered in Flash. Nor in JavaScript, for similar reasons.

Something else Google cannot read is images. But it can read "alt text," so make sure the text is included with your images. If your website's header is an image, write the words from the header in the alt text.

Search engine optimization is an ongoing process. Following the 5 tips above will start you off on the right foot to achieve your goal of being found on the web.

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