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© 2003 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

You have built your Web site with carefully planned navigation and text. You worked hard to make the site gorgeous. You kept the site light on graphics so that it will be fast loading in visitor browsers. Now does the site traffic live up to your expectations?

Getting the site into the search engines is not automatic. The search engines do not "know" when a new site goes up. Rather, the search engines must be told how to list the site. In fact, placing a site well in the search engines is the most important part of online Web site marketing. This article outlines a few of the initial steps necessary to get your Web site well ranked in search engines.

How should your Web site be listed in the search engines?

By Name. Visitors should be able to search on your site name and find your listing immediately in every search engine.

By Keyword Phrase. Visitors should be able to search on your most important keywords and find your listing immediately in every search engine.

Start by optimizing your Web site.

Step 1. Before you optimize your site, you decide on your target keywords. Although "book" would be a category for your book site, that would be too general to use as a keyword. If you are selling a book on rodeo roping, then "rodeo roping book" or "book on rodeo roping" would be a far better choice than "book." You want to choose the keywords most likely to be entered in a search by your target market.

Step 2. Your site must be optimized for its most important search words. This is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For starters, if your site name appears only in a graphic, no search engine will be able to "see" that name. Your site name and your best keyword phrases must appear on the site in text.

Why must important keywords be in text?

When we submit a site to a search engine, the search engine sends out software robots called spiders to index all of the text on a Web site. Then the search engines use the information stored in their index databases to determine where to list a site as a result in a search. If you are selling a book on rodeo roping, those keywords must appear several times as text in your Web site. Your careful placement of words in text makes it possible for the search engine spiders to index those words so that the words will be associated with your site.

It’s always a good idea to dedicate at least one page of your site to each of your most important keywords. Then you can use the keyword in the heading for the page, in the page title, and within the paragraphs in the page. You can even use the keyword in the text navigation links to that page.

Don’t overuse your keywords.

Be sure to use your keywords appropriately. That is, you can use a keyword slightly more often than you might otherwise use it within your paragraphs. But don’t decide to just insert the keywords (rodeo roping, rodeo roping, rodeo roping, rodeo roping, rodeo roping, rodeo roping …) where they don’t make sense. The search engines are working to present the best results to every searcher. The search engines will consider a site with unnecessary keyword repetition to be not valuable. The search engine programmers have programmed the search engines to drop such sites from the database.

Choosing your keywords properly and optimizing your site for those keywords are the first step in the journey to a high ranking in the search engines. Read about the second step next month. 

~ Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is a professional Web Designer and Online Marketing Consultant who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at or visit her Web site at



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