There have always been do-it-yourselfers succeeding at web promotion and search engine optimization. You don't need to be an expert to know the basics of good SEO practices, and that added knowledge will be a great advantage when you're promoting your own site in your spare time.
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Do-It-Yourself SEO (Search Engine Optimization) - A Beginner's Checklist

There have always been do-it-yourselfers succeeding at web promotion and search engine optimization. In fact, many of the established businesses offering web services today came from humble beginnings, perhaps nothing more than a college student with a laptop, an internet connection, and too much free time. The Web evolves as the result of the innovation and experimentation of individuals. The sharing of knowledge. The do-it-yourself attitude.

As text link brokers and mass link networking decrease in value and use in social media increases, it becomes more important for companies to have an internal approach and awareness of search engine marketing. Don't get me wrong; outsourcing to SEO firms is still a smart option. That said, making the most out of Web 2.0 usually requires some level of cooperation between SEO firm and site owner. You don't need to be an expert to know the basics of good SEO practices, and that added knowledge will be a great advantage whether you're working along side an SEO team, or promoting your own site in your spare time.

So if you're on a "need to know" basis with SEO, the following points should illustrate what an overall plan should include:

1. Create Search Engine-Friendly Content

Unique web content is your most valuable asset, and ensuring search engines can read it is crucial. Text embedded in images or Flash cannot be read, so make sure you use important keywords, headings, and hyperlinks in plain text form. Instead of using images as navigation links, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) makes it easy to format those links to look more like 'buttons', thus creating powerful anchor text as well as making it visually appealing. Use heading tags properly and don't try to hide keywords or text by making it the same color as the page background or shrinking it so it can't be seen. Make sure the keywords you wish to rank high for are used frequently in the page copy but within reason.

Now that you've created good content, is it actually being crawled? Copy and paste a page's URL into a search engine to see if it has been indexed. If you've just created the page, it may take a few days to show up. Aside from age, many factors can lead to web pages not being indexed by search engines, such as duplicate content (ie. a printer-friendly version of a page might be indexed and the normal version not, or vice versa); links generated by JavaScript instead of HTML; poor site architecture (ie. using too many sub-directories); lengthy, dynamically generated URLs using special characters; and orphaned pages.

2. Choose Your Keywords Wisely

One of the first steps of SEO, this one needs to be done properly the first time or all your future efforts and promotion could end up being wasted. Start by writing down general terms that describe your products, services or web content. Use keyword research services to investigate word and phrase variations. Wordtracker, KeywordDiscovery, and the Google AdWords suggestion tool are good starting points.

The goal is to find those niche phrases that your target market uses to find sites just like yours and optimize your site for them. If the phrases do not get enough use by searchers, your profits from ranking for them will be low. At the same time, stay away from general terms that are tougher to rank for (ie. like "art", "computers", "business", etc.) as a great portion of the traffic will be irrelevant and you'll break the bank attaining such competitive phrases.

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