There is this classic thought experiment that goes: if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, would it make a sound? A similar question can be raised about your site amidst the forest that is called the Internet: does it really exist if nobody can find it? Having your site appear on the first pages of a search result allows you to avoid this conundrum completely. Here are the top 25 tips for search engine optimisation.

1.        Get your own domain. It is really important for you to get your own domain. Not only will it be easier to remember, but people will associate your site with professionalism.

2.        Use the common TLDs (top level domains) such as com, net, and org.  However, if you know your target market is limited to a certain geography, using country-specific TLDs are better (like mydomain.com.au)

3.        Set a goal and aim for it. If an SEO campaign should increase traffic to your site, give measurable numbers to that increase (10%? 15%? 75%?)

4.        Measure your performance. Tools like Google Analytics can help you determine from which sites your visitor are coming from, how long they stay in your site, how they get out, and other metrics.

5.        Use your own host for better control. There are statistics you can only access if you own the server hosting your site.

6.        Think about doing A B testing where you have two different CSS affecting the layout of a single page. That way you will know which layout sells the most.

7.        Participate in industry related forums. Some of these forums have commercial sections where you can link back to your site.

8.        Start your own blog. Make sure to link back to your own product pages.

9.        Update your blog regularly. Once your blog becomes popular, other people might start Linking to your blog.

10.     Don’t forget about DMOZ, the open directory project. Though not as popular as search engines mainly due to its being edited by humans, the information here is still used by some engines at least for indexing.

11.     Start a contest or a survey that has real prizes at stake. People will link to that.

12.     Be text heavy. Don’t be image heavy if you can avoid it.

13.     If you can’t avoid being image heavy, don’t forget to supply alt tags.

14.     Don’t use too much javascript in your pages as well; complex javascript confuses search engines.

15.     Just like with images and javascript, avoid building your Content in flash.

16.     If you’re unable to avoid flash (a product demonstration for example) try if you can to include a transcription near the video. Not only will you make your site accessible to people with disabilities, it’s a good way to create alternative content.

17.     Find good Keywords. Tools like wordbutler.com can be used to generate good keywords that will drive traffic to your site.

18.     Try putting your keywords at your title, first sentence, and if possible on the URL.

19.     Surround your keywords with relevant words. When a searcher previews a search result, he sees a snippet containing the Keyword and some text around it to give them context. Supply that context.

20.     Put your keywords in bold or emphasised text.

21.     Add headings and subheadings (use keywords here as well)

22.     Avoid keyword stuffing – this can get your site banned or de-listed from search engine indices.

23.     Don’t use doorway pages – you can get banned from search engines as well.

24.     In general, avoid underhanded techniques. They might initially work, but search engines update their algorithms all the time. The risk is simply not worth it.

25.     And as always, content is king. This idea will be repeated as often as is needed to drill it down: without Quality Content, all your SEO efforts are just a scam.

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