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Website Promotion for Beginners Part 1

By Ben Z James

The vast majority of website traffic is driven by the major commercial search engines, Yahoo, MSN and Google (although AOL gets nearly 10% of searches, their engine is powered by Google’s results). If your site cannot be found by these search engines or your content cannot be put into their databases, you will miss out on the incredible opportunities available to websites provided via search – you get people who want what you have visiting your site – for free. Whether your site provides content, services, products, or information, search engines are the gateway to the web for most internet users. With the amount of free traffic available it is obvious that the top places on any of the major search engines are very lucrative pieces of internet real-estate.

So what do I need to get started?

The days of throwing a few pages onto a website and immediately driving traffic to it by doubtful means are over, the search engines are now much cleverer than they used to be, and their techniques for finding bogus sites are improving all the time. In this article I assume you are not looking for a “quick buck” return on your website, but are looking to build a business that will provide a regular income for years to come. First let’s look at some internet history.

A brief history of website promotion

In the early years – pre 1999 what was on the pages of your website pretty much determined where you ranked on the then dominant search engines Yahoo , AltaVista, Lycos and MSN. By placing your keywords – those words for which you wished to be found – in certain places within your web page you could persuade the search engines to place you at the top of their listings. As the content of your own web page is totally under your control, this was obviously open to widespread abuse, and abused it was. At one time just by repeating your keywords multiple times on a single page you could get to the top of the listings by giving the search engines what they were looking for – a high keyword density.

Then in 1998 Google was formed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two PhD students from Stanford University in California. The nature of the internet is links, and Google’s new idea was to use what other websites said about your website in their text links, to decide what your site was about. In addition, in Google’s view, the more websites that had links pointing to you, the more important you must be, and therefore the more worthy you were of a top place in their listing. You gained your top place by the number of “votes” you were given from other websites.

So the introduction of Google began a new direction for the way search engines awarded their top places, and – with a few variations, all of the major search engines now use a similar method to determine their order of merit for listed sites.

Incidentally this is probably a good time to make a statement: There is no “natural” measure of the merit of a website. Each search engine marks a website up or down by it’s own set of rules, but those rules are an artificial creation of the search engine’s algorithm. Evidence for the preceding statement has come from research by Netrazer.com, where we found that 6 out of 10 results produced by each of the major search engines do not overlap with any other search engine. To put it another way 6 out of 10 answers to any question are different depending on which search engine you ask! What do the other 4 out of 10 have in common that makes them rank so well in more than one engine? More of that later.

The history of ink building

So the stage is set for the great link building race from about spring 2000. As with keyword “stuffing” before, website promoters soon found that the more links they had, the better they did in the search engine results. More was better and much more was even better. Websites were created with the sole intention of using them as sources for links, and until about 2004 this was a strategy that worked well.

However Google is not loaded with PhD’s in information theory for nothing, and from the spring of that year several changes to Google’s algorithm took place to weed out the more obvious “link farms”, as they are called, that had led , in Google’s view, to a degradation of its search results. Increasingly the only links that counted were those that looked “natural” and “organic”. That is to say a link between websites whose main purpose is to inform or educate rather than one which had been placed solely with the purpose of increasing the link count to boost search engine rankings. Life was getting more difficult for those wanting to make a living from the ‘net. One thing is certain though, good quality incoming links to your website will be important for the foreseeable future in getting and maintaining top search engine rankings.

So how do I promote my website now?

From our research we have found a few things that will promote your website in the search engines for the longer term. Theses are not fads, but basic rules that should keep the free search engine traffic coming to your site for years to come.

Create good content. You will need at least five or six good pages of original content to start with. Add pages over time, but always ask yourself “would an ordinary person interested in the subject of my website be genuinely interested in what I’ve written?” If the answer is no then the search engines either now or in the future will also be similarly disinterested. Apart from that put your keywords in the title and once or twice near the top of the page, but no more!

Create good “organic links” from a large number of external sites by offering link swaps to other webmasters.

Offer a three or four way swap between two or three websites rather than just a reciprocal link as search engines apply a discount to those now. Use a semi-automated system like Netrazer to take out most of the hard work, but avoid “one size fits all” e-mails.

Vary the landing page of your links. Point some of the links you swap to pages in your site other than your index page. Sites with links only to their index page look very artificial.

Don’t use artificial tricks such as “cloaking” or “re-direction”. If you are asking yourself if you should use a technique or not, pretend that Google has phoned you up asking for an explanation. Could you give them a straight answer? If not don’t do it.

In the next article we will cover link building and how to get the most for your money and effort.

Ben James
Senior Analyst
Netrazer.com

Ben James is a senior analyst with Netrazer.com
ben.james@netrazer.com
http://www.netrazer.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Ben_Z_James

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