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Are You Losing The Search Engine Game?
By: Developer Shed
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    Are You Losing The Search Engine Game?
    by Bob McElwain

    Many wannabe and newbie webmasters tend to view search
    engines as their salvation. While certainly important, they can
    not generate the traffic some hope for. Other marketing methods
    must be employed as well.

    One problem that wasn't as much a factor a year or two ago
    lies in the move of offline businesses to the Web. Many come
    aboard with ample resources. They are prepared to spend dollars
    in significant chunks. Many hire professionals to obtain good
    search engine rankings.

    Can You Beat The Pros?

    Face it. You are maintaining a site and growing a business.
    You need to devote ninety percent of your day to marketing. This
    doesn't leave much time for mastering the intricacies of search
    engine positioning. It's likely the pros are going to beat you
    every time.

    With each passing day it is more difficult to obtain top
    positions with a given keyword. Competition continues to
    increase for any phrase selected. And more and more
    professionals continue to climb on board with no end in sight.

    That Elusive #1 Position

    The dream of being #1 is only that: A dream.

    Suppose you do get a page to #1 with a given keyword on a
    particular search engine. How long will it remain there? Not
    long, if the keyword is of interest to others.

    Why? Because lots of people are looking for the top spot,
    including the pros. Your page will be analyzed in detail until
    a way is found to beat it. At some point, other submissions
    will out rank yours, and you will begin to lose ground.

    Forget it. There are far more important things to do than
    worry about getting or maintaining a #1 position.

    So I Should Forget Search Engines?

    No. Just forget about being #1, or even in the top ten.
    There are not enough hours in the day to make search engine
    positioning a high priority. The better plan is to devote what
    time is available to building pages designed to rank well.
    Submit them. Then move on to more important things.

    To put this another way, be content with any page that ranks
    in the top 20 on a couple of search engines. And realize that no
    page will rank as well on all of them. Further, accept the fact
    that many pages will not rank anywhere near the top.

    You can win the search engine game, but only if you accept
    the above or a similar view as victory.

    So How Do I Do That?

    First, write your pages for your visitors, not the search
    engines. Only when content is ready for your visitors, should
    you even consider search engines.

    Then consider each relative to your keyword list. You may
    find a couple that will rank pretty well with a given keyword
    just as written. Fine. Edit the title, description and keyword
    tags to emphasize this keyword. Maybe try to work it into the
    copy a couple more times. But do nothing that disturbs the flow
    of the message to your visitor.

    What If That's Not Enough?

    Build entry pages, often called gateway or doorway pages.
    While there are many approaches to this task, I prefer the
    following because it leads to pages that can be freely submitted
    without risk of them being labeled spam. It goes like this.

    Look at your keyword list and select one you can use
    repeatedly while covering a topic of interest to your visitors.
    The idea is to build great content, so repeated use of the word
    must not detract. Be guided (but not driven) by the following.

    > The content of the Title tag is likely to be the title used
    in a search engine listing. Thus it is mandatory that it be a
    headline that draws readers into your description. While holding
    firmly to this objective, use the keyword as close to the
    beginning of the title as possible.

    > The content of the Description tag is likely to be what the
    search engines will use in the listing. Here the objective is to
    assure the searcher clicks to your site. This is pure
    advertising copy: it must compel the searcher to click the link.
    Again, while holding firmly to the goal, use the keyword as close
    to the beginning of the statement as possible. Use it a second
    time only if it makes sense to do so.

    > Include the keyword and variations in the Keyword tag as
    a suggestion to the spiders of what to expect on the page.

    > In the body of the page, use the keyword in an H1 tag at
    the top of the page, and in subheadings as possible. Again,
    position the keyword as close as possible to the beginning of
    each statement. But remember your visitors will read this
    content. Avoid awkward statements created in hopes of making
    spiders happy.

    > Within the content, use the keyword as often as you can
    without detracting from readability. Again, as close to the
    beginning of paragraphs as possible. And in the last line on
    the page. Recommendations vary, but I get good results when
    the keyword is 2% to 3% of the copy. Some recommend as high
    as 10%, but I find that at this density, the value to visitors
    is lost.

    So Now What?

    Submit the page and get on with business. If it places well,
    great. If it does not, and you can spare the time, create
    another page.

    At some point, however, let it be. Get on with other
    marketing efforts. In the end, tools such as advertising will
    provide far more targeted traffic than the search engines can

    Bob McElwain
    Web marketing and consulting since 1993
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    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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