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Introduction

Many clients come to us for website hosting at AeroHOST Web Systems expecting to do business on the Internet by simply putting up a home page on one of our hosting servers, with the expectation that a simple strategy of 'Internet presence' is all that is required to start making money on the 'net.

It is true that the Internet is probably the most inexpensive and powerful marketing system available. We call it the 'great equalizer' because, with a very small investment, your own site can look just as professional as any large corporation. Just think of it as your own private TV broadcasting channel.

However, we often have to explain that site construction is really only the beginning of successful marketing on the Internet. Once you have a website, the very real job of attracting visitors to your site begins. Unless you have a top ranking position in the major search engines, your site will be doomed to obscurity amongst the millions of other sites out there. If someone searches for 'chrome widgets' and your site is listed in the 84th position, it's unlikely that this potential visitor will ever see your home page.

There are two key considerations to designing a site:

-What the visitor sees when they access your site
-What the search engine sees when it 'spiders' your site.
 

Spiders are software robot 'agents' that automatically examine your website for relevant content. There are several different types of spiders (such as crawlers, wanderers and ants), depending on the various different search engines, but they all do essentially the same thing: examine the content and structure of your site in order to determine how it is going to be indexed in the search engine - the 'ranking relevancy'.

This article will deal with some important points about content with regards to search engine ranking; we'll leave the visual design component up to you.

If you feel you need professional hosting for your site, please contact us and inquire about our hosting services. If you are just starting out on the 'net and need to register a domain, check out our easy domain name registration system.

You should choose your hosting service carefully, looking for high performance and server stability (nobody will find your site if your server is down).

DO NOT use a free 'tag-on' (e.g. http://someserver.com/users/yoursite) website service. Get your own domain name (e.g. http://yourname.com) right from the start as it will be very difficult to undo your tag-on listings later and your exposure in the search engines will be very limited. It says a great deal about your commitment to your products and services and if you can't afford the minimal cost of doing this, you probably shouldn't be marketing anything on the 'net in the first place.

Once your site is up and running and submitted to the search engines, you'll need a statistics system to monitor the performance of such criteria as:

-Where your visitors are from

-How they found your site and what they typed into the search engine

-How long they stayed and what they looked at

-Where they exited the site

For a live demonstration of such a system, visit our site at http://aero-host.net/
(use the 'BACK' button on your browser to come back here)

Once you have your system up and running, it is quite a chore to check your positioning in the various search engines with each different 'targeted' search phrase you can think of. The folks at WebPosition have created some affordable software that automates this task. To learn more about WebPosition, Click Here. This is simply the BEST SOFTWARE IN ITS CLASS, and we have tried most of them!

Home Page Construction Techniques

Effective site design for achieving top ranking begins with careful planning and strategy, long before page construction begins. Here are the 4 most important components:

1. Keyword List:

You need to sit down and write out a long list of 'keywords' that are relevant to your site content (most important words first). Utilizing a word processor that has a 'character count' (and spell checking) feature will make your job a lot easier. These keywords will be in a 'META' tag embedded in the HTML code of your home page.

The META tag is invisible to the visitor, but very 'visible' to the search engine robots that will 'spider' your site for indexing information.

We'll use an imaginary property and real estate company in Montana as an example.

It is important to understand that many search engines will penalize your listing if you try to 'rig' your submission with repeated 'keyword stuffing'; some important tips are:

-get as close to 1,000 characters as you can, but DO NOT EXCEED

-spaces and commas are included in the character count, so use commas instead of spaces, except between two word phrases

-repeat primary keywords sparingly, NO MORE THAN 3 TIMES

-separate repeated words

-use two word phrases when appropriate, but watch out for repeats (note 'real estate' and 'for sale' below)

Here's the sample list of suitable keywords:

montana,land,real estate,property,acreage,properties, retirement,recreational,wyoming,for sale, realtors,brokers,realty,company,yellowstone,waterton,park,holiday, vacation,log,homes,retire,horse,horses, ranch,ranches,raw,open,wilderness,rural,columbia,flathead,lake,lakes, lakefront,waterfront,national,forest,timber,wooded,prospecting,scenic, recreation,vistas,view,views,river,boat,boating,stream,creek,golf,fish, fly,fishing,cabin,camping,panhandle,moose,deer,elk,trout, bear,fish,hunt,camp,hike,rodeo,cowboy,western,rocky,mountain,rockies, cross,country,downhill,ski,skiing,snowboarding,billings,bitterroot, valley,whitefish,kalispell,missoula,coeur d'alene,cda,idaho,yaak, kootenai,sandpoint,post,great,falls,butte,helena,anaconda,hamilton, florence,stevensville,lincoln,sanders,ravalli,granite,mineral, beaverhead,lodge,jefferson,roosevelt,madison,teton,pondera,glacier, cascade,lewis,clark,county,landco.com

The strategy used here was to list property related terms, recreational terms, names of major parks, cities, counties, etc. You can devise your own strategy - the more thought you put into it, the better the result will be. Note the inclusion of the domain name at the end; this makes it easier to search and verify site registration.

2. Site Description:

You should create a succinct core description of your site. It should contain most of your primary keywords and will be the content of another important "META' tag. Use as close to 150 characters as you can, but do not exceed.

Here's the example description:

For sale: land, property and acreage in Montana. Montana Property Co. is the #1 real estate broker for homestead, recreational and retirement properties

3. Site Title:

Your site title META tag is the text that appears in a list when your site is 'bookmarked' by a visitor. It is also what most search engines display as summary text during a search. Use as close to 60 characters as you can, but do not exceed.

Here's the example; note how the primary keywords appear in the text:

Montana Property Co - Property and Acreage For Sale in Montana

4. Opening Text of Page Content:

The very first visible element in your page should be text (contained in a header tag) that relates to the first three items - not large graphics, tables, or anything else. Do not use frames on your home page as some major search engines will not index your page properly.

Here's the example:

WELCOME! Looking for land, property or acreage in Montana? The Montana Property Co. is your #1 real estate source for homestead, retirement and recreational properties ...

Be sure to incorporate your keywords in the remainder of the text as well.

Finally, make sure your html code structure is correct. Many people get this wrong and the search engines will not index your site properly. The META tags MUST be between the HEAD tags. Also, make sure there are no carriage returns in your META text. Here is the complete example (between the double lines):

===========================================================

<HTML>
<HEAD>

<TITLE>Montana Property Co - Property and Acreage For Sale in Montana</TITLE>

<META NAME="description" CONTENT="For sale: land, property and acreage in Montana. Montana Property Co. is the #1 real estate broker for homestead, recreational and retirement properties">

<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="montana,land,real estate,property,acreage,properties, retirement,recreational,Montana Property Co.,wyoming,for sale, realtors,brokers,realty,company,yellowstone,waterton,park,holiday, vacation,log,homes,home,north,west,MONTANA,LAND,investment, PROPERTY,taxes,relocate,REAL ESTATE,retire,horse,horses, ranch,ranches,raw,open,wilderness,rural,columbia,flathead,lake,lakes, lakefront,waterfront,national,forest,timber,wooded,prospecting,scenic, recreation,vistas,view,views,river,boat,boating,stream,creek,golf,fish, fly,fishing,cabin,camping,panhandle,musselshell,moose,deer,elk,trout, bear,fish,hunt,camp,hike,rodeo,cowboy,western,rocky,mountain,rockies, cross,country,downhill,ski,skiing,snowboarding,billings,bitterroot, valley,whitefish,kalispell,missoula,coeur d'alene,cda,idaho,yaak, kootenai,sandpoint,post,great,falls,butte,helena,anaconda,hamilton, florence,stevensville,lincoln,sanders,ravalli,granite,mineral, beaverhead,lodge,jefferson,roosevelt,madison,teton,pondera,glacier, cascade,lewis,clark,county,landco.com">

<META NAME="Classification" CONTENT="Real Estate"> (optional)

</HEAD>
<BODY>

... start of visible page content ...
<H3>
WELCOME! Looking for land, property or acreage in Montana? The Montana Property Co. is your #1 real estate source for homestead, retirement and recreational properties ...
</H3>
…. Rest of visible page content ….

</BODY>
</HTML>

===========================================================

Tips for search engine submission:

-submit it only once at first; keep a record of what you did
-submit sub-pages as separate URL's with at least a 24 hr. delay
-monitor your progress for a month and re-submit if some engines missed your site
-it takes from six minutes to six months to be indexed, depending on the engine
-Infoseek and Alta Vista are fastest; Yahoo is slowest

Once your site is up and running, take some time to look at other sites on the Internet. Have a look at what you find annoying (slow loading, flaming logos, gaudy colors, 3 day email response time, etc.) and then make sure you don't repeat the same mistakes.

Bonne Chance!

Adrian Biffen
Systems Administrator
AeroHOST Web Systems
admin@aerohost.com
http://aero-host.net/