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Promotional Content... It's the little things that count
by: Edward B. Toupin
Promotional content is the invisible content in the various recesses of a
Web page. This type of content is used by search engines and directories to
properly categorize your site and its pages during indexing.

--- Site Title ---

The title is the first thing a search engine displays as a result of a
search. This makes it imperative that the title contains something readable
and descriptive. Do not place a bunch of redundant terms in your
title---make sure that the title can be read as a sentence. If the reader
cannot understand the meaning of the title, then chances are they will not
visit your site.

Once you create your page title, place it once within the header of the page
using the < itle> tags. Many marketers will place their title as
many as five to ten times within the header of their page! This is good in
that your relevance increases from the number of keywords; however, this
repetitive approach is poor netiquette and is usually not accepted by most
search engines.

--- META Tags ---

Meta Tags are information fields located in the header of a Web page. These
tags store information about your browser, keywords, site description, and
authoring information. The two main Meta Tags are "description" and
"keywords." The "description" tag contains a short description of your page
while the "keywords" tag contains a search keyword list for your page.
These two Meta Tags are used by search engines to index your site and are
critical elements of every Web page. When your site is indexed, users can
enter search topics into the search engine to locate your site based on
these two tags.

The Meta Tags should look like this in the of your Web page:




To ensure the proper indexing of your page, you will have to devise a
content scheme that targets numerous types of search engines. Note that
different search engines will index your site in different ways, depending
on the content. For instance, the following list provides information on the
different ways that search engines can index your site:

* Some search engines look for an agreement between the description,
keyword, title, and body.

* Some search engines use only the information located in the first line of
the body of the page.

* Some search engines use a combination of the Meta Tags and the body
content to weight your page based upon consistency.

Obviously, you would want to maintain a consistent content and style
throughout your page. It is important, however, to learn how the different
types of search engines work to have your page properly positioned in the
lists.

--- Hidden Form Fields ---

Once you've developed the keywords for your site, you'll find that you still
have over a dozen or so discarded phrases and words that are relevant to
your page. Your Meta Tags are probably filled to the maximum 255 character
limit and that the first line of your page body is a graphic and contains no
pertinent text. Forcing any of these additional phrases and keywords into
the page can get you rejected from several search engines for "keyword
stuffing," described below.

These types of dilemmas are quite common for many Web page developers, but
the solution is simple: a hidden form field. This form field is identical to
every other form field (e.g. input fields, radio buttons, check boxes,
etc.), however, it cannot be seen on the page in a browser.

The hidden form fields go in the body of the Web page and look like the
following:





Many search engines will recognize hidden form fields and use the
information to index your site in the same manner as they would standard
text in the body of your page. Some search engines ignore such fields,
however, it is important to create pages that are acceptable across all
search engines.

Hidden form fields can be used as the first line of text in your Web page
and should reside in your page before any other content. The reason for this
placement is that most search engines will only use the first 2,048
characters in a document. With hidden form fields, you can still get those
extra keywords into your document without forfeiting space and layout.

--- Keywords ---

Keywords are one of the more important elements of a Web page since they
describe the page to which they belong. The keywords that you select for
your site must be relevant to the page as well as frequently used within the
page's content.

Relevant keywords provide a better position in a search engine for your
target market. For instance, if your site is specific to a new piece of
financial software, it's important to stress the keywords that best describe
the general and specific characteristics of the software. If someone
performs a search for "automobile" and your site appears, it's certain that
you will get a few users. The problem is that these users will do you no
good since they are interested in another topic.

Obviously, if you're selling some product that's important to a wide range
of markets, then nearly any choice of keywords would be relevant to your
site. The point is that you want to ensure that you're bringing in only
those users that are interested in what your site has to offer. In this way,
you are maximizing your marketing effort.

The following rules may not make sense immediately, however, by following
them, you're sure to increase your search engine position as well as the
number of hits your site receives:

* Plural Form of Keywords
When a user performs a search, it's unlikely that they will enter a search
term that exactly matches the keywords you selected for your site. In some
cases, the user will enter the singular form of a keyword and in others,
they may enter the plural form. It's essential to capture both forms of a
keyword to maximize your exposure!

* Repeat Important Keywords
In the days of old, we could repeat a keyword numerous times to increase the
relevancy of a site in a search engine. This repetition allowed sites to be
placed higher in the search engine's list so that the user would see that
site first. Today, search engines filter out those sites that over-repeat
keywords. It's best to repeat the most important keywords no more than twice
to increase your relevancy without being eliminated.

* Diversify Keyword Meanings
Assume that every user has a different vocabulary--some users say "book"
while others may say "publication" or "document." Each word refers to the
same thing, however, unless your keywords are properly selected, you may
only get one-third of your potential hits! When devising your keyword
scheme, take into account the different forms of a given keyword. Create the
keywords important to your site in such a way that, regardless of the search
terms used by a user, your site will appear in the results list.

* Keyword Variations
Consider the fact that users will not enter the keywords into a search
engine the same way every time. For instance, some users may enter "real
time software" while others may enter "real-time software" or "realtime
software." Think about the keyword variations to ensure the capture of as
many users as possible. Also, consider common misspellings of keywords. I
know many intelligent individuals who tend to misspell certain words because
of the phonetic spelling of the word---consider "eves" and "eaves." If a
user consistently misspells such a word and you happen to sell plant hangers
for under eaves, you might lose potential clients.

* Keyword Combinations and Phrases
Some search engines will only take the first 255 characters of a keyword
list, while others accept a nearly unlimited list of keywords. The problem
is that you must target the 255-character limitation to be accepted by as
many search engines as possible. One method to accommodate the keyword list
limitation is to use phrases that best describe the page. For instance, I
could use "ebook marketing" as a phrase that could be found with several
combinations of search topics in a search engine. Another method is to
ensure that the most relevant keywords are located at the front of the
keyword list---even with a 255-character limitation, the most important
keywords are accepted.

--- Keyword Selection ---

Your objective is to attract as many relevant visits to your site as
possible. With that in mind, you will have to select keywords that are
commonly used by users and that are relevant to your site.

You can easily attract users by entering such keywords as "naked women,
adult, sex, ..." into your keyword list. Since these are some of the most
searched-for keywords, I can guarantee that your site will get hits. Do you
think that someone searching for pornography is going to spend very much
time on your page? The problem here is that you will be attracting people
who won't provide a relevant hit to your site. This tactic wastes bandwidth,
time, and money.

--- Developing Keyword Lists ---

Using the information we've reviewed, let's look at creating a keyword list
for a page. This is actually a more difficult task then creating the page
itself since you must determine the best keywords that describe your page.
To begin this task, let's ask ourselves: "how would people begin to search
for a site like mine?"

Immediately, you could come up with about three-dozen keywords to place in a
keyword list, however, many of the keywords that you think are relevant may
turn out to be useless. Think about how you perform searches for certain
information and apply that experience to the selection of keywords for your
page. You'll find that the time taken to create a good keyword list will be
most beneficial.

The best way to weed out useless keywords is to use the steps outlined in
the following list. These steps are proven and have worked on several sites
I've marketed.

* Create an exhaustive list of words that describe your site.
* Review and eliminate words that are least descriptive or redundant.
* Create plural versions of words without altering their form.
* Consider and note misspelling variations.
* Combine words into phases.
* Eliminate duplicate phrases.
* Eliminate phrases with words duplicated in other phrases.
* Check for other words or phrases that can diversify the list.
* Create a comma-delimited list of all phrases and remaining words.
* Move and order the most relevant words to the front of the list.
* Duplicate the four more important words and phrases twice.
* Ask an associate to review the words and phrases.
* Ask an associate to edit the list based on their search preferences.
* Clean up and limit the list to 255 characters.
* Perform searches using your keywords to locate other relevant sites.
* Go to these sites to see how they created their keyword list.

About the Author

Edward B. Toupin is a freelance consultant, writer, and published author
living in Las Vegas. With 10 years of experience, Edward provides quality Web site design, development, and marketing as well as
writing, document design and planning, and e-book publishing services. You
can visit his Web site at http://www.toupin.com or contact him at
etoupin@toupin.com.