Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Made a website recently but receiving no traffic? That's likely because no one can find it! The art and science of helping your website be indexed by the search engines (and subsequently ranking for particular search terms) is called Search Engine Optimization. This is a phrase that even experienced web designers and developers do not fully understand. But what is understood is that if no one can locate your website in search engine results, you aren't going to be receiving many visitors!
During the younger days of the internet, when few individuals or businesses had a website online, tasks related to search engine submission and optimization were relatively easy and straightforward. However, with more and more businesses online, all competing for those top 10 precious spots on the first page of search engine results, getting ranked can be challenging.
In the "here and now", in order to attract visitors to your site, you totally require insight and knowledge about what the top search engines are using as criteria to help sort their search result order. By understanding the factors affecting these results, you can hopefully improve your page compared to the rankings of similar websites.
There is no doubt that in today's internet world, the most important search engine is Google. And it's hard to believe that 10 years ago, Google wasn't even born yet! More folks use Google for search than all of the other search engines put together - about 60% as of 2008. Practically equated, this means that more than one out of two folks trying to find information or products online are using Google.
Therefore, a primary strategy is to optimize your website towards Google, which will likely result in good optimization anyways for the rest of the search engines, such as MSN and Yahoo. My personal experience has shown that a well-optimized site for Google will almost always equate into very good results with MSN, and above average results with Yahoo.
The best place to start is to make a good website with good content. Yes, a real website, with pages of helpful information for your users. Search engines love websites with good unique content, so always keep the creation of an excellent site foremost in your mind.
A significant portion of weight from Google comes from having quality inbound links to your website. So, once your website is launched and your web content is increasing in quantity, you can focus on trying to get inbound links to your web site. Inbound links are links found on other websites that point, or link, to yours. And, websites generally will link to you if you offer excellent content. So, first and foremost, good content is the key!
Remember though, it's not specifically the quantity of incoming links - the quality of these links is a huge determinant factor in how Google places you in search results for your own keywords.
You can also begin to get traffic to your site by utilizing free search engine submission services. This will essentially get your "foot in the door" by getting your website listed within a variety of directories. Don't overdo it here though - discretion is advised and only submit your website to directories known to be of high quality. A great list for free directories is the VileSilencer site found here.
While this is a good start, you don't want to stop there. You should focus on additional link building efforts in addition to the directories to which you have already submitted. With good incoming links to your site and good content for your visitors to use, you will have a great start on the way to realizing free search engine traffic.