SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

I have been getting a lot of requests lately to help boost website ranking and increase traffic for existing and new clients. With the economic downturn and shrinking margins due to rising fuel costs, many businesses are looking for ways to market their products and services without breaking the bank. Internet marketing is a cost-effective way to increase visibility and drive sales. While pay-per-click advertising is very popular there is a new buzzword to describe the most sought after online audience: organic traffic. In other words, the free listings section of the search engine results, also known as natural traffic.

One could argue that this kind of traffic results in a higher conversion ratio because the search results presented to the user are unbiased and therefore more trusted, while the sponsored (paid) links are approached with a higher level of caution and skepticism. The good news is that the effects of SEO are long lasting. The bad news, it will cost you some money upfront and it may take a little time to get results.

For a couple of years now I have been writing code that is search engine friendly. At its core it is clean, standards based, and lightweight. At first, this was more about usability than anything else, but it turns out I was laying a nice foundation for providing value-added SEO services to my clients. Writing good code helps to deliver content quickly and consistently across all platforms and browsers while making it easier for search engines to index the content. Still, there is much more that can be done to truly optimize a website to increase page ranking and visibility.

Google still handles a vast majority of the online search market according to Nielsen//NetRatings (at around 60%), followed by Yahoo! and MSN. Fortunately, Google offers a lot of information on their site on how to optimize a website for its web crawlers. Yahoo! also offers guidance and has published numerous articles on the subject of search engine marketing. Both Google and MSN offer free webmaster tools to help analyze and improve page ranking and indexing. The recommended techniques promote rich, dynamic content (and a lot of it), incoming links from reputable sources, relevant keywords that match website content, and other behind-the-scenes processes. Participating in online forums, social networking sites, and blogs can also help.

All good SEO techniques support an honest approach to Internet marketing. Google and other search engines warn against dishonest practices that deceive online users and artificially increase page ranking. In short, just use common sense and plan ahead. SEO is a long-term solution that is ongoing. For short-term results, try a pay-per-click advertising campaign. You can also list your business for free in an online yellow pages like SuperPages.com. If you need help with your SEO (or know someone who does) then please contact me.

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