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4 Simple Steps To Search Engine Optimization

What is search engine optimization? Well, just what it sounds like, it's the process of optimizing your website for search engines. There are thousands of companies out there that "specialize" in SEO. For a fee (usually a LOT) they will optimize your website for you. If you're paying one of these companies, you're throwing away money! Don't believe me? Go to your favorite search engine and search for "firefighter". Why firefighter? Because that is the one keyword that we feel is most important to this website, Go ahead, search. Here, we'll make it easy for you:

Click here to search Google for "firefighter".
Click here to search Yahoo for "firefighter".
Click here to search MSN for "firefighter".
Click here to search Lycos for "firefighter".
Click here to search HotBot for "firefighter".

(we'd link to Overture, but you'd have to scroll through 30 something "sponsored listings" before you get anywhere!)

What do you think of our search rankings? We think they're pretty good. How much did we pay to get these listings? NOTHING! Wondering how we do it? The SEO companies don't want you to know, but it's SO SIMPLE we just have to tell you!

STEP 1: CHOOSE your keyword(s)

Seems obvious, but a lot of people seem to overlook this. Choose keywords that are most relevant to your website. If your website is a content site, target keywords that relate to your targeted audience. This website targets firefighters, so firefighter was a logical keyword to target. If your target visitors are bus drivers, then bus driver would be a good keyword? Get it? If your site is commercial in nature, then your keywords should match what you are selling. If you sell toothpaste, toothpaste would be a good keyword. You don't need an SEO company to tell you this.

STEP 2: USE your keyword(s)

Our keyword is firefighter, and the word firefighter is used many times on virtually every page of this website (even this one!). If your keywords are bus drivers, and bus drivers is nowhere to be seen on your website, something is wrong. If you sell toothpaste and the word toothpaste doesn't appear on your website, someting is wrong. Again, you don't need an SEO company to tell you this.

STEP 3: Get Linked

This part is different depending on if you have a content site or a commercial site. For content sites you want to find similar websites. Websites that target the same people that you do. Don't think of them as competition, think of them as partners. Arrange link exchanges with these websites. Place a link to them, and in return ask them to place a link to your site. Most search engines use spiders to crawl the web, so the more similar sites they find that link to yours, the better.

For commercial websites link exchanges aren't always the best idea. Any other websites targeting the same visitors, ARE your competition. You don't really want to send your visitors to your competition. One idea is to arrange link exchanges with content sites. We have links to many commercial websites on that we have posted in exchange for those sites placing links to our site. The second option is to advertise. Find large scale content websites to advertise with. This part can be a little tricky. Many content websites are so saturated with advertisements, and their prices are so high it hardly seems worth it. If you can't find a good content site to advertise on, we recommend Google AdWords: Not only will your ad be shown on the biggest and best search engine on the web, but you can also have your ad shown on thousands of AdSense publisher websites, content websites that show contextual text ads served up by Google.

STEP 4: Don't Cheat!

Using doorway pages, hidden links, dynamically generated pages full of garbage, or any other sneaky tactic won't help, in fact it will usually hurt your websites success. Many search engines will ban your website if they find such tactics, and when a visitor sees such tactics, they will lose all faith in your website. A website with no visitors isn't much of a website.

Believe it or not, that's it! We have followed these four steps and have great search engine rankings on nearly every major search engine...and we didn't pay thousands of dollars to get there!

About the Author
Lee Weaver is a volunteer firefighter/emt and builds firefighter interest websites in his spare time.