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Search Engine Optimization

By Nancy Drexler and Sam Neuman

Remember the days when the best way to find information was to visit the local library? When the Yellow Pages were an invaluable resource? When you needed to keep a collection of important phone numbers and addresses, and delivery menus, in a pile next to the phone?

Search engines, the Web directories that index and compile information on billions of sites across the Internet, have revolutionized the way we research, learn and access data. Now, when you want to know anything, you simply Google it (or Yahoo it, MSN Search it, AltaVista it or even Ask Jeeves) and, a few carefully chosen keywords later, the facts are at your fingertips.

It's becoming more important to make sure that people using search engines to find suppliers can find your business quickly and easily. In the past, it was simple. Virtually all guides and resources were organized alphabetically; adding an "AA" to the front of your business name was all that you needed to do to get that coveted top slot. But search engines aren't so easily manipulated anymore, and that's where search engine optimization comes in.

Search Engines

» AltaVista:

» AOL Search:

» Ask Jeeves:

» Dogpile:

» Google:

» Lycos:


» MetaCrawler:

» MSN Search:

» Yahoo:

Search engine optimization is the science of increasing your Web site's placement in the search results. Most people click on a site listed in the first five to 10 search results. Very few will travel beyond the first five pages, and nobody bothers with page 22.

Search engine optimization is a series of tricks and tips that will move your site up in search results. You don't even have to add extraneous "A's" to the front of your DBA name.

Get Your Site Noticed

First things first: Type your company's name into several search engines to see if your homepage comes up. Search engines use crawlers to travel the Internet. These go from link to link and automatically index the pages they find, but every search engine won't necessarily have found every page in existence.

If your Web site is still under the radar of some of the more popular search sites, submit it yourself. It's free, it's fast, and you can choose exactly what you want to say about your business. Self-submission is a marketer's dream.

Start with Google, the search engine so popular that its name has become a verb. If you want people to Google your site, simply go to addurl" target = "_blank">" addurl" and input your Web address and a brief description of what your site offers. Then, add your site information and address to the other major search engines.

Give the People What They Want

Choose your description very carefully; most sites limit you to about 250 characters. The description that you enter will play a major role in how people using search engines find your Web site. Think like a potential customer, and include phrases most commonly used in Web searches.

For inspiration, I recommend using Google's AdWords Keyword Tool "" to find the most common search queries related to your business. The tool is easy to use: Simply type a few relevant keywords (e.g., "credit card processing") in the box on the left of the page, and select "Show matching queries" to find the most common searches related to those terms.

Google users commonly search for phrases such as "wireless credit card processing," "credit card processing machines" and "merchant account credit card processing."

Use one or more of these relevant phrases to improve the odds that your site will appear at the top of the search results when a potential customer looking for information uses these or similar keywords.

Repetition Is Important

Repetition is important. I repeat: Repetition is important. The more a phrase is repeated exactly on your site, the earlier it will appear in the search engine results when someone searches for that phrase. Integrating the commonly searched phrases that you found in Google's AdWords Keyword Tool into your Web copy will improve your standing in search results.

Remember that each page of your site is indexed separately, so repeat crucial phrases on each relevant page. To avoid making your site boring to read (imagine how dull a 300-word page using the phrase "merchant account credit card processing" five times would be!), you may need to get a little sneaky.

Search engines prefer sites that list key phrases near the beginning of a page, so ask your Web designer to write relevant words and phrases in small type at the top of each page but using the same font color as your site background. That way, readers won't notice the extra words, but the search engines will, and in a way that's sure to send your site to the top of the results page.

Programming Tips: For Experts Only

If you work closely with programmers, Web designers or other Internet experts, they can help you with more advanced ways to optimize your site for maximum search engine recognition.

Include your key phrases in HTML "title" tags as much as possible. Use HTML links on your homepage and between internal site pages to make it easy for search engines to "get inside" your site.

Remember that search engines can't search Java, tables or image files. A design that's too heavy on these elements may lead to a site that's beautiful but also one that nobody can find.

Also, remember to resubmit your site any time you make significant alterations in copy or layout. Don't wait for the search engines to find your updates on their own; let them know directly that you have new, interesting information.

Good luck! I look forward to Googling you.

Nancy Drexler is the Marketing Director and Sam Neuman is the Communications Specialist of Cynergy Data, a merchant acquirer that distinguishes itself by relying on creativity and technology to maximize service.

Cynergy offers its ISOs: VIMAS, a cutting edge back-office management software; Vimas Tracking, a ticketing system that makes responses to customers fast, accurate and efficient; Brand Central Station, a Web site of free marketing tools; plus state-of-the-art training, products, services and value-added programs, all designed to take its ISO partners from where they are to where they want to be. For more information on Cynergy e-mail Nancy Drexler at .

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