Writing for the Web - Increase your Ranking in the Search Engines

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Writing and preparing content for the Web requires a different approach from writing and preparing content for print documents and publications. When writing for the Web, not only do you have to make it appealing and grammatically sound, you also need to focus on developing your content in a way that provides search engine optimization (SEO).

This added step, referred to as Content Development, is oftentimes forgotten when people write content for the Web and is a primary factor why their website or article does not appear as high as they would like in the search results. However, once this step is understood and mastered, you will be able to increase you ranking in the search engines... guaranteed!

Step 1: Understanding your Target Audience to think like one of your Customers
In order to help you master the Content Development process, you'll first need to understand your target audience. When writing content for the Web, you need to be in the mind of one of your customers at all times and attempt to think like they do. If they were to be searching the Internet for a business like yours or information on a specific topic, what would they be typing into that search box? This question is crucial and needs to be answered upfront before you begin to write and develop any content for your website or article.

Step 2: Define Several Primary Keyword Phrases
Once you learn to think like your customer, then you will be one step ahead of the game. Begin to write down several keyword phrases that you believe your customer will type into the search engine. These phrases are extremely important and must be used within the content of your article or website a number of times. If you do not use these phrases in your content, then there will be absolutely no way for your content to be discovered in the search engines.

Content Development is the key to success on the Internet and with good-quality content, you will be sure to increase your ranking in the search engines. So before you write any content write down these phrases on the top of your document. When you're writing, refer back to this list and make sure you're using these keyword phrases throughout the development of your content. The more you list these keyword phrases in your content, the greater change you have to be discovered in the search results for those particular keywords. The Internet is a numbers game - the more relevant content you have, the greater change you have to be discovered.

Step 3: Be Creative with your Article or Web Page Titles
When coming up with titles for your articles or Web pages make sure you use a few of the keyword phrases that you've defined above. In many cases titles are often written in larger font and sometimes bolder than the rest of the content on that page. Some search engines will even give a higher weight to the words that are in larger font or are bolded because in many cases the title of a page usually defines the content of the article. So be creative but at the same time make sure to add a few keywords to your titles.

Step 4: Utilize Image Alt Tags and Link Titles
Adding alt tags and titles to the images and links within the content of your website or article is a great way to help increase your search engine optimization (SEO). This is a key step in the Content Development process and will help increase your page rank because many search engines will provide a higher weight for the information provided in an image alt tag or a link title. However, it's vital that when adding image alt tags and link titles to your content, you must be sure to use the keyword phrases that you've defined above - this is extremely important. If you do not use the same keywords, then it will be completely worthless and will provide no added value to your content.

Step 5: Setup a Sitemaps File and submit it to Google, Yahoo! and soon MSN Live
Sitemaps are an easy way for website owners to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.

I highly recommend setting up a Sitemap for your website using the new Sitemap Protocol 0.9 as defined at www.sitemaps.org and submitting to Google Sitemaps and Yahoo! Site Explorer. If you're thinking of taking your SEO to the next level, then you should absolutely start here. If you can force your pages and content to be indexed in days, rather than months, then you will be sure to increase your website's visibility, generate more website traffic and ultimately increase your sales.

If you're looking to manage both of these manually, then I recommend visiting Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo! Site Explorer online sections, which will provide you with all the details of how to create and submit your feeds to their search index.

If you're looking to setup an automated submission of Google Sitemaps and Yahoo! Site Explorer, then you should visit Hudson Horizons HH Sitemap Manager for more information. Their system will automatically crawl your website, create a site feed of your URLs and submit the file to both Google and Yahoo! every three days.

I hope you find this article to be beneficial for the e-Marketing success of your business. Content Development is extremely important to the success of your business on the Internet. If you can think like your customer, come up with several primary keyword phrases and effectively implement them into the content of your website or article, then you will be sure to increase your ranking in the search engines... I guarantee it!

Daryl H. Bryant is President and Chief Executive Officer of Hudson Horizons, helps his clients achieve online success through search engine marketing and customized website solutions.

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