Search Engine Optimization *Revised* Part 2
by John Buchanan

Part One of this article covered choosing the right keywords for 
your site, focusing the content of each of your pages on specific 
keywords and keyphrases, making the best use of your pages' title 
tag and the truth about META tags.

Now, let's cover a few remaining key elements to your site's
success in the search engines.

5. Links...The Name of the Game

While linking isn't exactly new, its importance cannot be 
stressed enough. Google calls it PageRank, while Inktomi and 
other engines simply call it link popularity. Regardless of 
what you call it, if you don't have it, your site will never 
be found in the search engines.

Unfortunately, getting other sites to link to you can be a long
and tedious process, although the rewards are worth the time 

The easiest way to begin your link campaign is to pick one of
your competitors' websites, then visit a search engine (Google
for instance). Next, run a search to find out what sites link to
your competitor's website (you can generally find out how to do
this on the Advanced Search Page).

The sites returned in the search results are your first targets. 
Examine them carefully. Some may be owned by your competitor 
(fairly common these days) while others will be similar, but 
non-competing, sites that may be willing to link to you as well. 
Approach all of these sites and invite them to trade links. You 
will almost certainly have to set up a links page since it is 
almost impossible to find a site that will link to you without 
expecting a link back. 

Repeat this process for other competing sites in your field. With 
time and patience, you should be able to acquire a high number 
of inbound links.

Aside from contacting sites about exchanging links, you should 
also submit your site to directories. Easily the most important 
is the ODP ( However, there are numerous niche 
directories that you should submit your site to as well. This 
can be a time-consuming undertaking but is necessary in today's 
search engine arena.

6. Link Text - Not all Links are Created Equal

In the previous section I covered the importance of persuading 
other sites to link to you. Equally important is HOW these sites
link to you.

Google, which is arguably the most important search engine, puts 
a great deal of emphasis on the anchor text of the inbound links 
to your site. "Anchor Text" is the text that is associated with 
the hyperlink to your site ( the text people will click on to be 
taken to your site).

Google sees this "anchor text" as a description of the target
page. Thus, if your site is about "widgets" and all of the 
inbound links use "widgets" as the anchor text that is great, 
but if all of the inbound links use "flimflam" as the anchor 
text, then you are only getting a fraction of the benefit that 
you could be getting from your inbound links.

What you need to do is decide on your most important two or 
three keyword phrases and then use the phrase that best 
describes what your site is about.

If your site sells golf equipment, that phrase could be "golf
clubs" or "golf equipment". If your site is travel related, 
that phrase could be "airline tickets" or simply "travel" etc.

Regardless of your market, decide on the phrase you most want to 
target and, when contacting webmasters about exchanging links, be 
sure to tell them exactly what you want for your anchor text. In 
general, most webmasters are receptive to this since most 
understand the importance behind it. If not, simply explain why 
you want that specific anchor text and tell them you would be 
happy to reciprocate for them.

This really is an important adjunct to building link popularity. 
I have seen many sites beat out other sites with a better link 
popularity simply because the site on top ensured the anchor 
text for their inbound links included their target search terms.

7. Keep your Site Design Simple

For those with an artistic flare, this guideline is hard to 
follow, but it is very important.

Avoid using too much Javascript and Flash when designing your
pages. Search engines like simple coding and text. If ranking 
well in the engines is important to you, keep your website 
coding as uncomplicated as possible.

Search Engines don't understand Javascript and are only touching
the surface of understanding Flash. Using elementary HTML coding 
makes it easier for the search engine spiders to index your page 
and offers less chance that some type of error will hinder the 
indexing of your site. If you must use Javascript, place it in 
an external file and call it from your page.

The same goes for tables, frames, etc. Keep your page as simple
as possible. It's a balance you have to find for your particular
site. The more complex the layout and coding of the page, the
less likely the engines are to fully understand what the page is

8. Use CSS to Further Simplify Your Coding

Staying with the same theme of page simplicity, one of the 
easiest things you can do to streamline the coding of your page 
is to replace as many of your font tags as possible by using CSS 
(Cascading Style Sheets). Many of the WYSIWYG HTML editors 
generate a large number of unnecessary font tags which can bloat 
overall web page size considerably. By replacing these tags with 
CSS coding you can shrink the overall size of a page significantly.
You can even go one step further and place the CSS font control 
properties in an external file and thereby shrink page size even 

If you are unfamiliar with CSS, there are a great many tutorials
available on the net that can teach you all you need to know.

By using CSS, you will not only shrink the size of your pages,
causing them to load faster, but you will also give the search 
engines less coding to digest when indexing your site.

John Buchanan is the author of the book "The Insider's Guide to
Dominating The Search Engines", and a search engine optimization
professional. Visit him at for more
information or with any questions.