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Search Engine Optimization - An Introduction

Visitors coming to your website likely come from one of three sources:

Directly from a Browser to your site, or from a bookmark: Unless you are implementing a portal site, conduct frequent off-web ad campaigns that feature your URL, or give out lots of business cards with your web address on there, the number of these visitors is likely to be low. Depending on your business, though, these visitors may be the most important. One thing you can usually count on in this case is that the visitor specifically needs and wants your services.

From a website that links to you: Partner Sites are critical to your business, but it takes time to build up good quality link partners. We have some advice on how to do that in a different section.

From a search engine's "organic" search listings: When someone goes to a search engine and enters a set of search terms, the search engine generates a list of pages in its index and presents them in order of relevance as best as the search engine can determine. These "organic" or natural search results are usually free, but the method that a search engine uses to determine ranking usually favors sites that are very popular or already known to be relevant in some way. The method varies by search engine, and each engine has their own proprietary ways of determining relevance. If your offering is relevant to what the visitor is searching for, then your listing may appear early on in this list. This article will help you design pages that get a good positioning for organic search results.

From a search sngine or content ad: If your site or business is new, then paid placement is a good way to jump-start your web site traffic. But it can be expensive. Paid inclusion falls into one of three categories: Positioning inside the organic search results (Google doesn't do this, but mamma.com and others do offer paid placement), positioning in the ads alongside the organic search results, and placed content ads on other relevant websites that have agreed to host ads from search engines. Almost all paid inclusion is priced per-click on different search terms. And there are numerous ways to find good search terms. Webmaster Toolkit is one we highly recommend and use frequently.

You should design pages for good organic placement, and measure visitor value.

The basic idea is that you have good content that is relevant to the search terms, and you use the search words and phrases frequently. But you have to know what search words and phrases to use, first. And there are tricks, such as using them in title tags, and in link text.

It's also important to design good CPC campaigns and track the results.

Scenario Analysis lets you see how many visitors go through each stage in sequence. To define a scenario, set up "milepost pages" or some wildcard that matches the milepost, so that you can measure how many visitors go through each one during their session. That's where good site design comes in: Name your pages with good file names.

The importance of Names

If you know you will be doing some scenario analysis, which is important for measuring usability, then you can design your web page files with good names that share some common phrase for the same purpose. For example, on there may be several pages that deal with investments on your site. If you make sure that "stock" is in the name of the page, then you could make "*stock*" one of the steps in your scenario.

FastStats Analyzer has built-in scenario analysis that's fairly easy to set up. Just define each of your stages, and then run your analysis.



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