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What do search engines look for?

You want your site to be a success. How do you do this? Ask anyone who specializes in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and they will tell you to fill your site with articles containing useful information. For those of you just starting out, search engines do not rank sites. They rank pages. That means your site should be divided into individual articles. Each article should contain the key words most likely to be used when potential customers make their searches.

You do not have to fill up your articles with key words, or place a given number of key words in each paragraph. Think about the effect you are aiming for. You want visitors to bookmark your pages. Good content attracts and keeps your visitors coming back. A page randomly sprinkled with key words is a big disappointment to readers. They will not come back unless you have a spectacular product or service at an unbeatable price.

You want to sell your goods or services, or generate advertising revenue from your site. If your customers trust what you write, they are more likely to buy from you and, more importantly, keep coming back. The more customers like your site, the better your SEO ranking will become. The better your ranking, the more customers will come. It is a self-reinforcing process.

What else can you do to get a better ranking?

Structuring your site with internal links improves your ranking. Look at Wikipedia. Every page has internal links to other pages to define words and relevant ideas. Search engines rank a site by its potential use to visitors. Suppose you have one or two pages and those pages only give a little information. Ask yourself whether visitors will be able to find all the information they need on your site. But if you have many pages full of relevant information, all linked together (not using the navigation bar, but internally linked), your site is like a honey pot. People will prefer your site because everything is so conveniently packaged. The search engine bots are the same as your potential customers. They also prefer relevant information all collected in one place and linked together.

Now look at inbound links to your website. If one hundred and more websites link to your website, this sends out a message that your site has valuable content. Now make that thousands of links and the search engines will rank your site as "trusted". But to get an optimized result, you need the majority of the inbound links to be from "relevant" sites. Anyone can make a link just for the sake of it. The test of trustworthiness is satisfied when your peers judge you as an "expert". So, if you are running a site specializing in soft furnishings, multiple links from other furniture and household goods sites are good, but links from sites selling life insurance, pet grooming services, business consultancy, etc. are less impressive.

What are article exchange schemes?

In an Article Exchange scheme, one site hosts articles rich in information and groups those articles by their content. People wanting content can copy any articles with key words relevant to their sites. That way, everyone with complementary content can exchange relevant articles and build up the quality of their own sites. But, in doing so, every site that takes one of your articles must link back to your site and vice versa. This gives you two advantages:

the search engines will discover the inbound links; and
people reading your content on other sites can click on the link and come to your site to read more written by you.
Up to now, there have been a number of free exchange schemes but many rely on each content provider actively promoting the content in exchange for the links. The selling point is that the sites that work together improve their search engine ranking together. This is vastly superior to the schemes that simply exchange links. Links between sites have little value because search engines do not rank sites. The key factor is links between individual articles.

What should you do to "sell" your content to other sites?

First, make sure that all your own content is well-written, focussed on a specific set of key words and rich in information. When readers get to the end of one of your articles, they should start looking for more written by you. Other site owners are not going to take your content if it is just a list of repeated key words. No matter what you write about, your work has to add value to any site.

Next, make sure your work is divided into easily digestible lumps. No matter how much you may care about your own subject, it is always better to write shorter rather than longer pieces. It helps to keep the reader’s attention if a page is no more than about 500-600 words long.

If you are a real expert, write for your audience. Will most of your readers have your expertise? Will they understand technical language? The best writers always use simple words and explain anything difficult.



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