July 2, 2009, 12:00 AM

When serving up pages to search engine spiders, keywords are king

In optimizing web pages for search engines, keyword research is job No. 1, says Marissa Colwell of home hardware and appliance e-retailer Improvement Direct.

The basics of optimizing web pages for search engines aren’t difficult and there is much web site operators can do on their own. That was the message of Marissa Colwell, director of media at online home hardware and appliance retailer Improvement Direct, who presented a session on “10 ways to improve your SEO rankings” at the Internet Retailer 2009 Conference & Exhibition last month in Boston.

Among those 10 tips Colwell singled out are careful attention to keyword research and selection as the foundation of search engine optimization. Improvement Direct primarily uses the free keyword suggestions and research tools available online from Keyword Discovery and Google Tools. “When in doubt on where to begin, check out what your competitors are doing,” Colwell said.

Colwell stressed the importance of choosing title tags and meta tags for web pages that will make them easier for search engine spiders to crawl and properly index, calling the title tag the most important keyword on a landing page. She advised retailers to create unique title tags for each page to distinguish it for spiders from other pages on the site. Title tags should be short and indicative of the page’s content. Default title tags such as “untitled” or “page 1” should be avoided, she said.

The right page content also helps boost SEO rankings and is of value to customers, Colwell added. “Use keywords in every piece of copy-blogs articles, and descriptions,” she said.

Colwell also noted that the way an image is labeled can affect search engine optimization. “Use descriptive file names and text, and avoid using generic file names like `image1jpg,` she said. “Store images in a unique directory and use commonly supported filed types.”

Improvement Direct is No. 127 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.


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