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Expert tips for better search hits

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Name: Danny Sullivan Title: Editor Company: Search Engine Watch, Shrewton, England
Danny Sullivan's claim to fame before founding Search Engine Watch was a graphic illustration of the TV show "Melrose Place" for The Orange County Register. A graphic reporter at the time, his creation ended up in 40 other newspapers nationwide. Editor of Search Engine Watch since 1993, Sullivan is known as one of the foremost experts on Internet search listings. He is also a columnist for Yahoo! Internet Life and has written about search engines for publications such as Online and The Guardian.

Q: What are some simple things you can do to improve your site's rankings?

A: The best thing you can do is have very good content in HTML text. Sometimes people create great Web sites, but it's all graphical in nature and/or the information is done up in Flash, and these are things that search engines can't read. It's also important to ensure that every page within your Web site has a unique title tag that includes the key terms that you think the page should be findable for. It summarizes what the page is about usually in about five to 15 words, generally in a snappy way that attracts people to make them want to come to the page.

Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes marketers make in search engine optimization?

A: They don't research the terms they want to be found for, so they are going after phrases that nobody is searching for them on. And there are ways to research this, such as using GoTo.com's suggestion tool or even simply asking your customers, 'If you were going to search for the kind of product or services I offer, what words would you use?' Another mistake that people make is to put too much importance on search engines. Search engines are very fickle, and depending on them is leaving yourself open to disappointments. You need to have other kinds of publicity to bring people to your Web site.

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