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Step 3. Content and Site Preparation. You've done your research: You know which keywords match your message, and your site's HTML code is one big search engine welcome mat. Now it's time to make sure that your site contains those keywords. This is where I most often see folks get confused -- should you rewrite your web content to emphasize keywords? Yes, but with extreme caution. Should you make small, appropriate changes? Yes. Here are my guidelines for content preparation.

  • Don't write for keywords (much). This almost always leads to stilted, hard-to-read prose. Writing keyword-rich content that really works for users is an art form. Be careful.

  • Do a little careful editing. If you use the word 'car' but 'auto' is the keyword you need, chances are you can do a few replacements without marring your carefully crafted copy.

  • Spend time on the titles and description tags. Make sure every page in your site has a unique, relevant TITLE and DESCRIPTION tag.

  • Never use an automatic page generator. Tools like WebPosition Gold offer to generate optimized pages for you. Don't. They tend to hurt your ranking as much as help, and they generate ugly, ugly pages.

  • Write more stuff. More content is almost always better. If your site is just missing a specific keyword or phrase, but you think it's important, then your potential customers probably do too. By adding a few more pages, or a white paper, or some other content focusing on those absent keywords, you'll likely help visitors and improve your keyword ranking at the same time. And, the more text-rich your site is, the better the odds that you'll catch longer, stranger but really important key phrases that you can't anticipate.

Step 4. Link Analysis. Quite a few major search engines (Google, most importantly) weigh your 'link popularity' when ranking your site. A more accurate term, though, is 'link analysis', because these engines don't just count up the number of links to your site. They look for links near and containing relevant text. So a page full of links, one of which happens to be yours, won't help very much. But a link from a related site, near a short paragraph that contains relevant keywords, will probably give you a boost. Having keywords in the link itself is even better. A quick example:

http://www.portentinteractive.com doesn't help much.

For search engine optimization, visit http://www.portentinteractive.com is much better.

For search engine optimization, visit Portent Interactive where 'search engine optimization' is the link to Portent, is the absolute best case.

There are a few ways to build your link popularity:

  • Contact sites that relate to yours and request a link exchange. This works really well, but obviously takes a long time.

  • Syndicate your content. If you can provide an easy way for interested webmasters to link directly to relevant stories on your site, you provide an instant link popularity boost, and get your message out to boot.

  • Start an affiliate program. If you sell a product, consider setting up an affiliate sales program.
     

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