So you have a website. Who cares?

The first step in good search engine optimization (SEO) is having your site indexed in the popular directories Google trusts.

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The 5 important components of having your site well ranked in Google are:

  1. Inbound links from others sites (that are well ranked) to yours, otherwise known as back links.
  2. Good content whose copy and code are optimized for the Googlebot (the spider that ‘reads’ your web pages).
  3. The choice and density of your keywords on your pages as well as the insertion of keywords within links and titles, headlines and sub-headlines. Also, the insertion of keywords as links in the footers of each page count as well!
  4. Other reputable directories. So not only does Google index and rank sites, it references other directories to validate their own results. It’s one of Google’s ways of maintaining quality in their search results, which means it helps to have your website listed in these 3rd party directories.

DMOZ. Still the most respected and most difficult to get into, but worth it. Google relies less heavily on dmoz results than it did in the past (they liked the human-edited verification, methinks) but it’s still the heavy hitter. Submit your website to dmoz.

Facebook. I’ve said it before but will say it again friends – Facebook pages get highly ranked and if you embed enough links on your fan page (now called “Official Page”) you’ll get some powerful back-links to your website. Create a Facebook Official Page. Make sure your links contain descriptive keywords!

CitySearch. They recently brought back their free business listings, and now any small business owner can add their contact information and location to this powerful and large directory. The Father (or Mother) of local business directories, CitySearch pages tend to be well ranked by search engines and I suspect their directories are heavily referenced. Submit your small business to CitySearch for free.

Yelp. You’ve got to wonder about a company who turns down a $500M offer from Google, and another $700M offer from Microsoft. So much so one has to believe a listing here is as good as CitySearch’s above. Submit your small business to yelp here for free – but expect calls from their salespeople trying to upsell you. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just fair warning.

AOL Yellow Pages. The power of the “AOL Mom” is widely known amongst web marketers who understand it can pay off to reach this massive legacy market. Submit your directory to the AOL Yellow pages here, though subscription fees may apply.