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This book is a guide to help web designers, web developers, programmers, ad agencies, web design firms, online marketers, copywriters, and anyone who builds web sites, to build a better web site, one that can be found through search engines and directories.

The foundation of a successful search engine optimization campaign begins with a good, effective web site, one that delivers content for which site visitors are searching. That is what this book is about: building a strong foundation. Without a strong foundation, a search engine marketing campaign will ultimately fail, which costs web site owners time and money.

Therefore, this book does not teach you a “secret recipe” for each search engine and directory. It does not teach you a “magic formula” to get your site at the top of search engine results. Rather, it teaches you the foundation of a successful search engine marketing campaign, a foundation that works across all the search engines and that delivers long-term search engine visibility—not quick fixes.

This book is not based on my personal design preferences. Everyone has opinions on what constitutes good and bad design. I might look at a site and think it is ugly, but the site might actually be quite successful and get millions of dollars in sales. A beautifully designed site might get virtually no traffic and no sales. However, that’s not what this book is based on. This book is based on my years of experience, expertise, and my 100 percent success rate at increasing search engine visibility, site traffic, and sales on my own site and client sites since 1995—without any spam penalties whatsoever.

It is based on the client data that I have gathered since 1995. One of the many jobs I’ve held over the years is as an online marketing manager at various web design firms. Even though I did not design every site at those firms, I did have to market many of them. I had access to site statistics for thousands of web sites. I was able to see the types of web site designs search engine spiders indexed easily and which designs gave them problems. I was able to see the types of sites directory editors accepted and rejected. With that knowledge, I was able to build web sites that search engines and directory editors liked.

However, that was never the ultimate goal. For a web site to be successful, its end users, or target audience, had to like the site. To my pleasant surprise, I found that sites that are naturally search engine friendly are also user friendly. Thus, this book is not based on my personal preferences; it is based on the years of data on actual user behavior. It will help you build a web site that is both search engine friendly and user friendly.

How This Book Is Organized

The best way to read this book is in order, from beginning to end, regardless of whether you are new to search engine marketing or are an expert. Why?

Too many search engine marketers, advertising agencies, and web design firms are focused on quick fixes and short-term results. This book focuses on the very core of a successful search engine marketing campaign.

In Part 1, “Before You Build,” I define the different types of search services: search engines and directories. The two are quite different, but they are inextricably interrelated. The strategies for being listed well in search engines are different from being listed well in directories. Thus, it is important to know how search engines and directories work, and how they are interrelated.

Part 1 also addresses the basic components of a successful web site design and the foundation of an effective search engine optimization campaign. Site design and search engine visibility are also inextricably interrelated.

Part 2, “How to Build Better Web Pages,” goes into great detail about the foundation of a successful search engine marketing campaign using a fictional web site. Each component of the foundation is addressed. This section contains information on how to write search engine–friendly copy for your whole web site and for individual HTML tags. Part 2 presents solutions to navigations schemes that are problematic, showing actual search engine–friendly web pages. In addition, it contains guidelines to building a solid link-development campaign.

Part 3, “Page Design Workarounds,” is written for sites that have already been created. If your site uses frames, Flash, Dynamic Hypertext Markup Language (DHTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and other technologies, there are ways to make it more search engine friendly. This section helps you employ workarounds on your site without affecting the overall design.

Part 4, “After Your Site Is Built,” outlines the submission process to both search engines and directories. It contains detailed checklists to use before submitting. In addition, the section provides tips, guidelines, and actual email letters to use in the event a submission is rejected.

Parts 1 through 4 teach you what to do. Part 5 tells you what not to do. Part 5, “Best Practices: The Dos and Don’ts of Search Engine Marketing,” addresses best practices—what to do and what not do to. It also debunks common search engine marketing myths. The contents of this section can help you select a reputable search engine marketing firm and determine if the firm follows best practices.

Confused by any term in this book? I have also included a search engine glossary for quick reference.

Although many advanced designers and marketers might be tempted to skip straight to Part 3, I highly recommend starting at the beginning. A workaround helps a site that already has a good foundation, so you should make sure that the foundation is in place before employing a workaround.

Companion Web Site

To supplement this book, I have created a companion web site at www.searchenginesbook.com/. As you know, search engines change all the time, and some of the content in this book can become outdated as soon as search engines and directories change partnerships, new search engines emerge, and so on. The companion web site will contain the most recent tips and guidelines for optimization.

In addition, note that HTML code, style sheets, and JavaScript can be difficult to retype. Thus, I am creating the companion site for you to use in your site designs. For example, if I find that a rollover script is more search engine friendly than other scripts, I will post that information (and the code for the script) on the companion site for your use. Furthermore, search engines are becoming increasingly better at indexing different types of web pages and documents. As the search engines continually develop, so to will search engine–friendly web design tips. Any new or updated information will be presented on the companion site.

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