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How to rank higher on the search engines

by Josh Hoffman

I am often asked, “What can I do on my own to improve my rankings on the search engines?” The answer, quite simply, is organic search engine optimization (SEO). Organic SEO is the process you go through to obtain a natural placement ranking on search engines, hopefully page one. 

The first thing you need to know is SEO is not an A, B or C practice but rather an A, B and C practice. There are many steps you can take on your own, without the assistance of professionals, to help in gaining a higher rank on search engines.

The two main attributes when it comes to SEO are quality content and relevant keywords within that content. Without relevant keywords, your website will be nowhere on the Internet. Anyone who does organic SEO for a living will tell you content is king.

Think of it this way: If you publish a book, would you have it full of blank pages no one can read? It’s the same idea with content on your website. The more content with optimized keywords, the better.

For example, your business’ main focus is on flooring. Would you write content about the 2012 election? Of course not. You would focus on flooring, flooring products and flooring services. Those are your keywords.  Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you were going to buy flooring, the words you would search for on the Internet will become your target keywords.

Will anyone read your content? Yes, but more importantly, it’s for search engines to see what your website is about and index your site inside their search engine results pages.

Try this experiment: Go to your favorite search engine and search for something in which you’re interested. Pick any site on page one. Odds are, the site you picked has a great deal of content for search engine spiders (or bots) to crawl.

When you think SEO and ranking, think content, content, content!

Some other useful mechanisms to implement SEO within your site are “meta tags.” Meta tags are CliffsNotes that tell search engines what your site is about and where it is located. When you make a search in your favorite search engine, you’ll see the title of the website (which is called the title tag and usually blue), then a brief description of what the website is about (which is called the meta description) and your website’s URL or address. There are tons of meta tags that you can use to help boost your site. Some search engines don’t use most meta tags to prevent manipulation using “black hat” SEO practices. The three main meta tags are your title, your description and keywords. When dealing with meta content, you have to be aware there is somewhat of an art to it: how keywords are positioned in the title and description, how the descriptions are written, what keywords you decide to use, how long the description and title are, etc.

This might come as a surprise, but becoming more involved in your industry will help your SEO. Do you have a favorite blog or website in the flooring or furniture industry? (FCNews.net?) If so, you’re already one step ahead of everyone else. Most of these websites will have a built-in social media aspect about them, usually with a section to leave comments on their website or social media site about their articles or blog posts.

This is important because it’s another way for you to promote yourself on a website that has a good reputation. It will also help you gain traffic from a user standpoint. Sometimes people will click on the name of someone if they think their comment is well thought out and interesting just to see more information on that person.

Make sure your comment is interesting enough for people to read and enjoy. You may even find more people linking to your site if the information you post on their site is beneficial to them in some way.

Another method of SEO many people use for generating views and links is putting their website and information in public directories or social me-dia. Sometimes directories or social media sites will rank higher than websites due to constantly being updated with content being created by people who sign up to their website. The purpose of directories and social media is for you to put your site on more than one search engine.

Technically, a directory or social media site is a type of search engine focused on businesses, people and their information. The main purpose of directories or social media is for link building and reputation building. The more links you have on trusted websites, the better your results will be; the more people who like or share your site, the more you’ll be seen as a trusted business. Directories and social media are amazing tools to implement this method.

You should think of a website as a houseplant: If you want your houseplant to flourish, you need to give it plenty of fresh water, fertilizer and attention. Like a plant, a website needs plenty of work to keep growing. In tech talk, SEO is the water and fertilizer for your website. If you don’t put the time and care into your website, it’s going to wither away. However, if you are diligent in caring for your website like you would a houseplant, it will thrive and flourish, and produce lots of fruit. Josh Hofmann is an SEO expert at FloorForce, a technology company focused exclusively on the floor covering industry. FloorForce offers websites and web marketing solutions and services to flooring retailers, distributors and manufacturers. Visit them at floorforce.com for more information.

Josh Hofmann is an SEO expert at FloorForce, a technology company focused exclusively on the floor covering industry. FloorForce offers websites and web marketing solutions and services to flooring retailers, distributors and manufacturers. Visit them at floorforce.com for more information.