Honestly, the first rule is to be straightforward and real in your design and content. Search engine companies keep a lot of their methods secret, but one they admit openly is that if they sense a website designer is being "over-the-top" in their attempts to attract a good page rank, they'll actually count that against the site. If you're selling baseball bats, don't use the term "baseball bat" thirty-five times in one page. Don't make page rank your top goal - make designing an attractive, informative site about your baseball bats your top goal.

Secondly, take every opportunity that comes your way to get other sites to link to you. The Google's and Yahoo's of the world watch this kind of thing closely. If your competition has links on the websites of trade organizations or buyer's guides, try to get your site listed alongside them. This raises your legitimacy with the search engines. In this area though, as with design and content, the efforts have to be real. You'll be approached by people running “link farms” and similar schemes that are intended to simply boost numbers of links pointlessly. Don't waste your time with them.

A third aspect to achieving a good ranking is to think carefully about your choices of website domain, page title, and meta tags. Obviously, if you market coffee cups, would be a tremendous domain to have. Unfortunately, many of the best domains are already taken. That's where creativity comes in. Maximizing your page titles and meta tags (if you don't know what meta tags are, ask your web designer) is somewhat easier because you don't have to beat anyone else to the punch on those.

There are a lot of ways to publicize your website, but in most businesses none are better than making sure search engines like Google and Yahoo are noticing your site and ranking it highly. There are a lot of people advertising themselves at "seach engine optimization" experts, but most charge money. Before we get out our checkbooks, let's look at what we can do for ourselves first! Remember: be genuine, look for opportunities to get your site linked on related sites, and think carefully about your site's identifying characteristics such as domain, page title and meta tags. Customers don't dig five or six pages into their search results when they make buying decisions. They buy near the top. That's where you need to be.