A 10 Minute Search Engine Optimization
by Ross Dunn, CEO
April 16th, 2003
Many small businesses simply do not have the resources to hire a search
engine optimization (SEO) company to promote their web site. There are countless
resources online for do-it-yourself (DIY) optimizers where professional
SEO’s offer general recommendations and advice. This article is my
opportunity to offer more of my SEO experience in the form of a 10-minute
This process will be effective for any page designed in HTML with at least
1 paragraph of html text but for the purposes of this article, I will concentrate
on the all-important home page.
Setting the Stage
Before I begin, there are a few things that you must know before proceeding
and you should spend more than 10 minutes considering:
Determine Your Target/s
99% of you know who your target market is, now you need to choose the keywords
that you believe they will search for. There is no use obtaining top search
engine placements under terms that are not being searched. This step, alone,
requires extensive explanation but there are a few simple tips to keep
in mind. For one, you will want to check your current traffic statistics
and note what traffic you are already receiving and under what keywords.
Now, visit the site of a competitor who you know is doing well online (either
through conversation or news articles). Look at their titles on individual
pages and try to determine a pattern in the keywords that they have chosen.
Also look at the source of their pages (Internet Explorer: click “View” then “Source”)
and copy their META tags into a notepad on your computer. Between the titles
and the META tags you should be able to determine with reasonable accuracy
which keywords are most important for rankings.
It is important to note that professional SEO’s have many more resources
at hand to determine such information with higher accuracy.
Design – Is Your Page Marketable?
This topic can be touchy to bring up but the simple fact is that traffic
will have less impact if your web page is unmarketable. Now this covers
a lot of different aspects of design, however, a few basic rules should
1/ Avoid using strange color combinations that make
it hard for a viewer to read your sales copy (red text on a blue
background is a perfect example of a painful design). In the same
respect it is important not to use text that is too small; try to
keep your font size to a minimum of size 10 or 12 (2 or 3 in Dreamweaver).
2/ Unrelated advertisements on your web site provide
distractions to your viewers. If you are selling BMW’s then
it is generally not a good idea to show an advertisement for herbal
Every single graphical element of your home page has the potential to add
or deny credibility. Using this space wisely will ultimately create happier
visitors and generate more profit.
The Ten Minute Process
Spot Check for Spam
Before optimization begins it is crucial that your page is devoid of any ‘tricks’ that
a search engine may construe as spam. You may not even know they are there!
Some web designers with out-of-date information add hidden text because
they think it will help your rankings. This is entirely untrue and can
cause extreme problems for your search engine visibility. To check for
hidden text just hold down the left button on your mouse at the very top
of your page and drag it down to the bottom. If there is any hidden text
(normally text that matches the color of your page background) it will
appear as it is highlighted. Second, you will want to search for unnecessary
repetition of keywords on your page. Do you see instances of 5 or 6 keywords
being repeated in a row anywhere on the page? If so, remove this.
There are other forms of spam that you should be aware of that are not
covered within this article. For more information see our resource article: "Inspecting
Your Web Site for Spam".
Spot Check for Relevancy
It is very important for your site to be focused. For example, if your
web site is supposed to be devoted to ‘BMW car sales’ then
a link or information on real estate sales is entirely unnecessary. Keep
in mind that most of the top search engines will rank your site depending
upon the topic they determine you are offering. This determination is
largely made based upon the text within your web site. Don’t give
them any reason to get ‘confused’.
Polish & Optimize Text
The text on your home page is crucial to maintaining the attention of fresh
viewers. In fact, copy is so important that many companies prefer to
have a professional copy writer create the content. Since this is not
an option, you have to keep your text engaging as well as smartly optimized
to present an obvious topic to the visiting search engine spiders or
visitors. To do this, keep your mind focused on the keyword(s) that you
have chosen to target on the search engines while you write the content
for the page. Implement the keywords within the text without sacrificing
the true intent of the information – to engage and retain your
Important Note: Often the first 25-30 words of your home page are what
the each search engine will use for the description of your web site. Try
to utilize your target keyword/s within this area but be certain the resulting
sentence is legible and descriptive.
Optimize the Title
The title of the home page can be optimized quite simply by placing the
keyword or keyword phrase that you have chosen to target first and then
finish with the name of your company or web site. For example:
” BMW Car Sales – MyBMW.com”
The search engines place a great deal of weight in the title of your home
page and the keywords within your title will likely be chosen as the title
of your listing on the search engines. The title also plays a huge role
in the relevance of your site. The topic denoted within your title will
be compared to the content within the body of the page, if the topic and
content match, you will have a much better chance of obtaining higher targeted
The META tags located within the invisible source of your web page. They
were originally designed to provide the details of your web site to visiting
search engine spiders and they still do, to a degree. Since this part
of your web page is invisible, META tags were increasingly used to misinform
the search engines of the content of a web site – spamming. As
a result, META tags play a lesser role but they should still be properly
optimized so that they contribute to the topical relevance of your web
META tags are basically composed of the Description and Keyword tags. The
description tag should provide the same or similar 25-30 word description
of your web site that you created earlier for the first text within your
visible page. The description is occasionally used as your description
within the search engines but it is unpredictable. The Keyword tag should
include the keywords/phrases that you are targeting in order of importance.
Start with the most important and then proceed to less important but still
relevant keywords. It is extremely important that you do not repeat any
word more than 3 times within the Keyword tag. This includes words within
target sentences. Also do not place repeated keywords close together.
Navigation… Provide Clear Paths
Is the navigation within your site entirely graphical or programming oriented?
In this case I recommend that you create a textual link menu at the bottom
of your page. For added punch (and this is a big hit) you should make
each link count by using the keyword/phrase that best describes the target
page. For example:
BMW Accessories | Used
BMW for Sale | More About MyBMW.com
versus these less powerful links:
Accessories | Used Cars | About
Test and Spell-Check
Preview the page and spell check it then once you are certain everything
is properly balanced, upload it to your server.
Hurry Up and Wait
What happens now is entirely up to the history of your web site and your marketing
budget. There are many search engines that offer paid submission for the
regular or prompt indexing of your new page/web site. If you have paid for
prompt indexing then you may see the fruits of your labor within a couple
of days depending on the search engine.
In this case I am going to assume that you have a non-existent search engine
budget. If your site has already been submitted to the search engines then
you can simply wait until a spider returns to check for new content, at
which time your new site/page will be found and processed accordingly. If
you wish this process to proceed post-haste or your site has not yet been
submitted, then you may submit your newly revised page to the search engines
for what may be a faster response time. Be sure to read the rules that each
search engine carefully defines before submitting or resubmitting your web
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