Saturday, February 7, 2009

How To Optimize A Website?

Web-site optimization is all about creating a site that is discoverable by search engines and search directories. Though it sounds very simple, however there are several factors which are to be considered while optimizing a website and not all of them are about Meta tags, keywords or other html codes of the site.

Search engines evaluate all websites based on a number of factors. The process of search engine optimisation starts long before a new site goes live. In fact, selecting the domain name itself could have serious implications for SEO. The next logical step, selection of a hosting company is just as important, but a lot more complicated.

Every domain name requires registration and that registration can be made public, or kept private. Most website owners are unfamiliar with this option, simply filling in their contact details and putting ticks in boxes they think appropriate.

Does Hosting Location Affect Website Optimization?

That question comes up frequently when a company or individual is designing a web site. Does it matter who hosts your site? The answer is no, but that’s not to say that domain hosting is unimportant. Elements of the hosting have a major impact on how your site ranks in search results. One of the biggest issues that you’ll face with domain hosting is the location of your hosting company. If you’re in the United States and you purchase a domain that is hosted on a server in India, your search engine rankings will suffer.

Geographically, search engine crawlers will read your site as being contradictory to your location. Because many search engines serve up results with some element of geographical location included, this contradiction could be enough to affect your ranking. The length of time for which you register your domain name could also affect your search engine ranking. Many hackers use throw away domains, or domain names that are registered for no more than a year, because they usually don’t even get to use the domain for a full year before they are shut down. For this reason some search engines have implemented ranking criteria that give priority to domains registered for longer periods. A longer registration also shows a commitment to maintaining the web site.

Multiple domains hosted on the same server indicate to the search engines that they might belong to the same company. Similarly, links from multiple domains hosted with the same provider indicate artificial link building with the aim of influencing search results. And websites hosted on blacklisted hosting companies are likely to be unreliable.

However, most importantly, the location of the website host provides the search engine with information about the location of the business and thereby enables it to provide more relevant results based on location of searchers. For example, a website hosted in India is more likely to be relevant to a person searching for a service in India than a website hosted in New York.

Tips for Naming a Domain

When selecting a name, most people think in terms of their business name, personal name, or a word or phrase that has meaning for them. In the modern world of the Internet, where people automatically turn to the Web for information, it pays to have a domain name that reflects your site or business. There are just fewer things for your customers or visitors to remember. Moreover, you don’t seriously think that they’ll try to memorise an unrelated URL just because you want them to, do you? The only people who’ll memorise it are you and your competitors who want to compare your prices. Yes, as far as is practical, your domain names should contain your top keywords. What they don’t think about is how that name will work for the site’s SEO.

There are many factors besides SEO factors that determine a good domain name. Having your most important keywords in your domain helps in terms of SEO, but having a very long domain like is just not worth it.

A few more things that you should keep in mind when you’re determining your domain name include:

  • Keep the name as short as possible. Domain names can be of any length up to 67 characters. Too many characters in a name mean increased potential for misspellings. It also means that your site address will be much harder for users to remember unless it’s something really startling.
  • Avoid dashes, underscores, and other meaningless characters. If the domain name that you’re looking for is taken, don’t just add a random piece of punctuation or numerology to the name to “get close.” Close doesn’t count here. Instead, try to find another word that’s relevant, and possibly included in the list of keywords you’ll be using. For example, instead of purchasing, try to find something like
  • Opting for COM, ORG, NET, etc? Well choosing a .com name whenever possible, is always good for SEO purpose. There are lots of domain extensions to choose from: info, biz, us, tv, names, jobs. However, if the .com version of your chosen domain name is available, that’s always the best choice. Users tend to think in terms of .com, and any other extension will be hard for them to remember. Com names also tend to receive higher rankings in search engines than web sites using other extensions. So if your competition has and you choose to use, chances are the competition will rank higher in search results than you. Again, it’s important to realize that domain naming is only one facet of SEO strategy.

Understanding usability of the website

It is not only keywords in URLs and on page that matter. The site theme is even more important for good ranking because when the site fits into one theme, this boosts the rankings of all its pages that are related to this theme.

Web-site users are impatient. They don’t like to wait for pages to load, they don’t want to deal with Flash graphics or JavaScript, and they don’t want to be lost. These are all elements of usability - how the user navigates through and uses your web site. And yes, usability has an impact on SEO. Especially from the perspective of your site links and loading times.

When a search engine crawler comes to your site, it crawls through the site, looking at keywords, links, contextual clues, meta and HTML tags, and a whole host of other elements. The crawler will move from page to page, indexing what it finds for inclusion in search results. But if that crawler reaches the first page and can’t get past the fancy Flash you’ve created, or if it gets into the site and finds links that don’t work or that lead to unexpected locations, it will recognize this and make note of it in the indexed site data. That can damage your search engine rankings.

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