WEEKEND FEATURE

10 Great SEO Tips, Part 2

Search engines have taken on the role of parents doling out rewards as well as punishment to companies building Web sites. The punishment comes from two sources. For one, the search engines are flawed, often unable to work with various types of information.

“At one time, search engines could not make sense of PDF data, but that was one shortcoming that the vendors were able to overcome,” said Andrew Frank, a research vice president at Gartner.

The other set of problems comes from companies bending — and in many cases, knowingly breaking — rules in order to have their results displayed more prominently. “Because of the high stakes involved in search, scams have become rampant in the industry,” George Chaney, president of SEO King, told TechNewsWorld.

Avoiding the Punishment

Part 1 of this two-part series features five tips on how a company can increase the likelihood that its name will pop up quickly and high on search pages.

What follows are five steps that a company can take to avoid being punished by search engines:

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  1. Submit Web pages to search engines judiciously. When the Internet was first booming, search vendors had rudimentary techniques to identify new Web pages. Consequently, they often appreciated it when companies submitted new Web pages to them.

    Much has changed in the past few years. If a company puts a new page up, a search engine will find it. That statement assumes that a corporation has made other groups aware of its site. When it puts up a new site, a firm needs to register itself with a domain name services provider so the page makes its way into the Internet’s global network index.

    If a company is nervous, wants to be on the safe side, and decides to submit its content to a search engine, that step should only be taken once. If it is done repeatedly, the search engines may deem the material as spam and blacklist it, removing the site from all search mentions.

  2. Make sure Web links lead somewhere. Links to other sites help a company gain a higher site rating, so many sites have them. However periodically, search engine suppliers will check to make sure a link is working, so companies have to make sure that their referenced content has not moved or been taken offline.

    Some unscrupulous companies have pushed the idea of embedded links a bit too far. They include bogus Web links on their pages in order to generate higher site ratings. While there is a link, it leads to a blank page in some instances or in other cases will circle back on itself — thereby creating an infinite number of links. Search engine vendors are not particularly fond of such links and blacklist sites known for them.

  3. Minimize use of flash. Flash is a programming tool used to add video-like animation to a Web site. These animations are small programs that can be embedded into HTML pages and provide cool visual effects, often close to video.

    “While flash can be compelling, it is not something that search engines can easily recognize and categorize,” Gartner’s Frank told TechNewsWorld. Consequently, many search engines do not read or catalog any flash content. If a company wants to use flash, it needs to make sure that similar textual content is available so search engines can work with the data.

  4. Do not react to every algorithm change. The search engine vendors are constantly trying to fine tune their algorithms and make them more accurate. “A company can drive itself nuts reacting to each change that the search vendors make,” George Aspland, president of eVision, told TechNewsWorld.

    After they make a change, search engine vendors then examine how well it works. In certain instances, the change hurts rather than helps the company deliver appropriate content to users. As a result, the search engine company will pull the change and go back to its original algorithm. Rather than rush back and forth through such exercises, it is better for companies to wait about three or four weeks after noticing a change before making their own alternations.

  5. Limit use of pop-ups. Pop-ups have become items that help companies gather information quickly and effectively. These items are still associated with spamming sites, so search engines flag sites with excessive numbers of pop-ups as spammers. In designing a Web site, a company should limit the number of pop-ups.

Garnering the attention of the search engine vendors requires a delicate balance. While there are some steps that companies can take to improve their ranking, there are other items that lower the company’s search rankings, and can even result in them being blacklisted in some cases. Consequently, they need to maintain a proper balance.

10 Great SEO Tips, Part 1

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