Website Search Optimization - Getting Started

(Please take note this article contains only the first steps for optimizing your site and raising your page rank. The tips here by no means guarantee that search engines with index you faster or increase your page rank.)

Step 1- the robot.txt file

The best place to start is by creating a robot.txt file. This is the most rudimentary task you can do to help optimize for search engines. It must be added to the root directory of your website. The robot.txt file is the first thing that almost any search engine looks for when it arrives at your site. Although it is not necessarily required, most search engines treat this file as a formal invitation to investigate and index the pages of your site. Many engines will not explore your site if it cannot find this text file. As long as you do not have directories or search engines you want to omit, the format can be as simple as two lines of text:

User-agent: *


This tells an arriving search bot that it is permitted to explore the entire site. If you would like to make certain directories off limits or block certain search engines, you can expand the scope of the file. For instance, if you do not want Google indexing anything in a directory you have called 'resources' you can place this in your text file:

User-agent: Googlebot

Disallow: /resources/

Step 2 - create a site map

The next step is to create a sitemap. This is a detailed list of the links on your site in xml format. Google has a sitemap maker for download to aid you. There are many sites that offer this for free, as well. Once created, they must be submitted to search engines.

Google and Yahoo both allow you to manage you website from a webmaster tools section. Here you can add your sitemap, monitor keywords, and much more. It is strongly advised to create an account with both companies and monitor how your site is doing. Creating a link to your sitemap that is reachable by end users of the site is also advisable.

Step 3 - validating your code

Many webmasters overlook validating their html as long as the site 'looks good'. Note that just because a site displays properly does not mean that it obeys the rules of the mark up you have specified. If you are unsure if your site passes this validation you can run it through the wc3 validator. It can be found here:

Step 4 - build links to your site

The final step that will be covered here requires some time and work but is well worth it. You must build up the amount of quality external links to your site. The more quality links are pointing to your site, the more attention you will receive from search engines. There are many ways to go about this and most of them are unwise. Avoid paying to get links from sites that offer link advertising as one of their primary services. Being placed on a page with a long list of irrelevant links in order to boost page rank will probably hurt your efforts more than help them. Look for quality advertising. This means finding sites to get links from that have real content and is not just based on advertising links like yours. Placing content on your site that appeals to people will result in links to your content from other sites and blogs across the web. This is great for your page rank.

Another way to get quality external links at no cost is to write articles related to the content of your site and place them on article database sites throughout the web. If you have a site worth viewing then chances are there is a topic on which you can write. Be sure to reference your site in the resource box or in the article body if the database's rules allow you that option. Write your articles well and offer needed information and it will help increase your sites popularity.

Author: Mason Curry, Vexart Studio

Search Engine Optimizer & Web Developer.

Web Design and Search Engine Optimization