Grow Online Organically: Improve Your Ranking Without Spending a Cent

For those of you expecting a post on organic gardening, I apologize. This post is about how to improve where search engines rank your website, all by yourself, for free. Before you hand over a bunch of cash to a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firm, try these easy ways to improve your ranking. You may find you don’t need that expensive firm’s help after all.

First, let’s get a handle on how search engines work. Personally, I think it’s magic, but our programmers assure me that logic and mathematics are involved. Search engines send out web crawlers to search the Web and use the information they gather to develop rankings. This is called organic search. The better your site does in these searches, the better it ranks with the search engines.

Search engines look for three things when ranking websites: content, links, and activity.

Content — Every day, web crawlers comb the millions of pages on the Internet looking for specific words and phrases. The more of these you use in your text, the higher your ranking.

Let’s say you want to be ranked highly for serving delectable sushi.  If you sprinkle your text liberally with the word sushi as well as related words such as Japanese food, sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, or Japanese restaurants, the web crawlers will note it and rank you higher as a result. While you’re at it, you might want to avoid words like raw fish or bait.

Caution: Crawlers are smart.  That is, smart people program them. If you place a banner on every page that says sushi sushi sushi sushi sushi sushi, it’s considered cheating, and crawlers are programmed to detect it.  Attempt it, and you’ll soon end up in the trash with the heads and tails.

Links — Search engines notice when visitors reach you through links on other sites. Look for legitimate links that enhance your reputation, and avoid those that have more advertising than content.  But use the tactic legitimately.  Crawlers can spot wanton use of “you link to me and I’ll link to you,” and punish you for it.

Activity — The more you update your site, the more the crawlers will notice it.  An easy way to keep your site active is to have and regularly post to a “News” section, a blog or both.

There’s much more to SEO than can be covered in a single post, so in the near future I’ll be delving more into subjects such as content, key words, meta tags, photos and videos, and mutual links to make your online presence bloom. Stay tuned!

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