Don't Fear The Search Engines!
by Dan Thies

Not everything that you have been told about search engines is
true... If you would like to increase the amount of traffic
flowing to your website, without spending a dime, I urge you to
read this article with an open mind.

Many do-it-yourself webmasters and online entrepreneurs have
been led to believe that search engine optimization is a black
art, and that no mere amateur can hope to compete with the
"experts." If you are among them, you're missing out on a great
opportunity to drive free, targeted traffic to your website.

There are only three steps you need to take, if you want to
quickly increase your site's visibility in the search engines.
The three steps are: positioning, optimization, and link
building. In this short tutorial, I'll explain what's involved
in each one, and show you just how easy it can be. 

Step 1: Positioning (a.k.a. search term selection)

Let's start with a quick definition:
"Search terms" are the words and phrases that people type into
search engines. For example, if I go to and type in
"pokemon cards," that's a search term.

To get traffic from search engines, you need to know what
people are searching for, and who you're competing against. This
sounds very basic, but it's important. Search term selection
really boils down to finding a balance between popularity,
targeting, and competition.

Realtors, for example, might be tempted when they discover how
many people search for "real estate," to believe that this is a
perfect set of keywords... but they would be mistaken. That's a
very popular search term, but unless you sell real estate all
over the world, it's not specific enough to reach your target

Some folks can come up with good, targeted search terms with
nothing more than common sense, but I prefer to do my homework.
The best way to do this on your own is with the Wordtracker
service (, which allows you to find
popular search terms, and investigate the competition.

If you aren't interested in doing it yourself, you can hire
someone to do the research for you, and get a report back that
tells you which search terms are the most popular, and which
will be the easiest to compete for. I offer keyword reports
through one of my websites (, and
you can find any number of competing services by looking up
"keyword research" on your favorite search engine.

Step 2: Optimization

"Optimizing" simply means putting the keywords you've selected
onto your web pages in the right places, with the right
formatting. That's all it means. There's a great deal of
misinformation about this subject, so let me set the record
straight: optimizing is the easiest part of this process.

How easy is it? Well, I can tell you 90% of what you need to
know in just a few lines, and there's a good chance that you'll
never need to learn the rest. Once you see what you can
accomplish, though, you'll probably want to learn more.

The first thing to understand is that you should only use 1-2
search terms to optimize each page. Once you've selected a page
to optimize, and the search terms you're going to use, all you
have to do is put those words in the right places, and you're

Where the search terms go:
1. Your page's <TITLE>
2. Your "keywords" and "description" META tags
3. In a heading tag (H1, H2, or H3) near the top of the page
4. In the first paragraph of body text, and repeated 1-2 more
   times on the page
5. In the text of any links that point to the page

That's 90% of optimization right there. The most important of
these are #1, #3, and #4. Just try it, it works. I've got an
entire website ( that uses no META
tags at all, and it gets traffic for hundreds of search terms.

Step 3: Link Building

"Link building" simply means getting other websites to link to
yours. If you aren't already working on this, you need to start.
Even if you don't care about search engines, those links will
bring in traffic on their own, and help you establish a credible
reputation for your website.

Link building is important because search engines look at these
links as a "vote" for your website, and they will boost your
rankings accordingly when other sites link to you.

There are three simple ways to improve your site's "link
popularity," and drive traffic at the same time:

1. Submit your site to the major directories. Yahoo charges
$299 a year for commercial sites, but there are several popular
directories, including,, and,
that will list your site for free.

2. Trade links with related websites. You can help each other,
and your visitors, by linking to other good websites.

3. Look for other sites that have resource directories, and ask
them to link to you. I like to look in the Open Directory
( to find related sites.

If you'd like to learn more about link building, check out and

That's it! If you do these three simple things, your search
engine rankings are sure to improve. Just remember that there
are no shortcuts, and it's never a good idea to try to "trick"
the search engines. The honest approach is easier, and much
better for you and your visitors.

I wish you success...

Dan Thies is the author of "Search Engine Optimization Fast
Start," a concise, step-by-step guide to search engine
positioning for beginners. Info:
For more tutorials, visit