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Need SEO advice

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Mistwell:

--- Quote from: Maximum Fu ---My understanding, at least for Google, is that the most important factor is the strength of the sites linking to you.  A link off of a popular site does more than adding the right keywords ever will.
--- End quote ---


Indeed.  However, I have very little control over that.  I'm trying to change the things I can control (in an ethical way).  

I could pay for links on popular irrelevant sites, but I find that distasteful.

cklarock:
This page will help, and so will this one.

Long answer:

Content, content, content.  Don't try to game the system, and write pages that are very clearly about what your site is about.

Try to understand how a search engine parses your site-- it is crawling along and reading text trying to figure out how all the elements relate; it's looking at everythign in your code trying to figure out what is content and what is presentation, what is actual content and what is bullshit.  It has to use your code to determine whether you are a site that sells gowns for church or gowns for weddings.

Using tableless design and structured markup will help robots and spiders read your site.  That means put paragraphs in tags, headers in tags.  If your site (for example) shows emphasis on a tag because it sets the font at 42px and the color as red, all that emphasis is lost on a spider.  Put that content inside an tag instead.  And definately don't use graphics for text-- a .gif file that says "MY SITE KICKS ASS" at 600 x 400px is just another un-followed IMG link to a web crawler.

Read about accessability standards, and meet them where you can-- blind people and search bots parse your site the same way.

At the bare minimum, include ALT tags for all images, and if I were you, I would include text-based descriptions along with the photos of my product, for the search engines' benefit.

You defninately want to put your list of keywords together that you think your customers are searching for and then go search on them yourself.  Note the top ten sites, view source, and take them apart in order to find out how they did it.

Remember that the goal of any search algorythym is to find the sites that are the most *about* the search term.  Your goal is to make your site the most actually about whatever it is your site is about-- going forward the algorythyms will only get better.  Having quality content "futureproofs" your search rankings.

And then, after you've done everything you think you can, resubmit, wait a week or so, check your ranking and start all over.

Short answer:

Buy the top rank, because SEO is a pain in the ass.  :)

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