What is meaningful and relevant content?

Users want to quickly find information that they search for. This means we need to predict the search terms they will use and incorporate that language into your site. It also means that users should find your site easy to navigate, easy to read, and full of content that answers their questions. The following section includes extensive advice that we've gathered through experience and research.

Ensure that the most relevant keywords are on the home page rather than other pages. Make the home page content-rich, so people will find it first. Think of it as a table of contents rather than a cover. Put the most important information at the top of the page. Let the user know right away what the site is about and what they will find there. The home page is the place to identify the information that users are seeking and point them in the right direction to find more. You can tell about yourself or your company on an About page. The home page is about the user, not you.

Use real text instead of graphic headlines. Search engines can't read pictures (yet). If search engines see keywords in the metadata but not on the page, they will think that you are being dishonest about your content. We can attach hidden text to graphics, but it's more time consuming and is not considered consistent with Web standards.

Know your audience. Identify the terms customers use to identify products and services. If there's been recent discussion on news or talk shows, incorporate some of the language they're using. You don't have to adopt their terminology, but you can refer to it.

Provide as much information as possible to help visitors choose your product. A good way to do this is to offer customer reviews in your shopping cart. Customer testimonials or case studies are also helpful.

Give users a choice between concise information and extensive information. For products, you can include buyer's guides, owner's manuals, tutorials, and links to reviews. Give users a reason to drill down into your site, and a prize for their mining. They will tell their friends and publish links to your site. Creating a hierarchy of information also helps search engines prioritize the most important keywords while indexing all the language related to your product or message. And all this information-rich content will include terms and phrases that people search for, including many you've never thought of. This is what we call semantically-related keywords. Words that make sense together because you concentrated on creating meaningful and relevant content.

Include information or content that other Web sites will want to link to:

Industry events
Reference tools, applications
How-to guides
Articles, papers
Definitions, glossaries of technical terms
Industry links

Include a frequently asked questions page (FAQ). FAQ pages include the most searched ffor keywords. So you get all your important keywords all on one page, with the answers people want. An FAQ page will have content that is keyword-rich, and also meaningful and relevant.

Include a site map on one page. This is basically an outline of all the interconnected pages on your site. The map shows you the pages and, often, how they are linked. Make sure that you include some text on this page, too; search engines are suspicious.

Include a Google map on your site and/or register your business with Google Maps. You want Google to know where you are. If you put your name on their map, they know where you are.

Obtain a 5-year domain name subscription. Search engines rank sites lower if the domains are set to expire soon. This is partly because many spam sites are only registered for a short time--just like their office and storefront leases. Also, a longer domain registration indicates an expectation of longevity for your business and a commitment to your web presence. Like your office or storefront lease. For the same reason, obtain a public registration for your domain rather than a by-proxy registration. Publish your physical address, if appropriate, and include a toll-free phone number in a prominent location on your site.

A blog and a newsletter are both great ways to constantly update your content, reference popular terms, and connect with people.

As much as possible, share what visitors are looking for. People aren't searching for you, they are searching for information or product. If they don't gain access to it on your site, they will move on. The Web is all about sharing information. It's important for the user to feel that you are providing access to information they want. You may ask that customers compensate you for sharing expert information, but you still have to make the site an interactive experience.

Search engines don't just index your site, they index the references to your site on other sites. For example, you may give away a free song download and find that people are posting links to your download on blogs. Search engines notice that. Not only will that blog show up in a search, but Google will rank you higher for having incoming links. List your site in directories on the Web. Join networking communities. Make sure that all the organizations related to your business have your site linked from their site. Send them your URL. Trade links with affiliates. If you send out a press release and it lands you a link from another site, you will increase your Web presence and will rise higher in the ranks of search engine results.

Finally, ensure that your site meets as many of the current Web standards as possible. Following Web standards serves two purposes: 1. Creating a standards-compliant page is another way to offer strong content. The easier it is for people to receive your content, they more likely they will be to spread the word and link to your site. If their browser setup fights with your design, they will move on. 2. Search engines evaluate your site for standards compliancy. A site that is not standards compliant will be penalized in search engine rankings.