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Twelve Tips for Optimizing Your Site for Search Engines

By Dorian Benkoil, for I, Reporter

“Search engine optimization” — the phrase sounds daunting, highly technical or possibly expensive to implement. But there’s good news for even solo citizen journalists who want to improve how their sites are found through search engines like Google: Your own homegrown search engine optimization can get you many of the benefits of a professional retooling.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, just means making your site as easy to find and highly ranked as possible by search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN and That way, people using those engines to look for relevant content can find what you have to offer.  That’s increasingly important as more and more visitors find their way to sites like yours not by typing in your Web address, but by plugging a few choice words into their favorite search engine.

With a little attention up front and some maintenance work over time, pages from your site will start to show up in the first three pages of search engine results, and maybe even onto the first page (the proverbial brass ring).

Here are some easy steps you can take on your own.  Don’t worry that some of these tips refer to technical-sounding things like HTML (hypertext markup language, what Web pages are made of) or require a little bit of coding. It’s really not very technical, and it’s definitely not hard. We’ll walk you through what you need to know, and if you still want more, you can easily look up more – using search.

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1. Focus on people, not search engines
2. Keep the content coming – for free
3. Code is your friend
4. Consistent structure and navigation
5. Collect content (yours and others’)
6. Use keywords and meta tags (but don’t overuse them)
7. Link in, link out: Offer feeds, be social
8. Blog!
9. Check, and check again
10. Don’t try to trick the search engines
11. Don’t go overboard to get search results
12. Use other resources

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