Search Engine Optimization

search[1]Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content and HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic.

Observations

This is not intended to be a complete guide, as SEO can be complex.

Generally:

  • Free traffic generally requires more work than paid traffic.
  • Every free web traffic strategy can (and probably should) be outsourced
  • The top organic search results get a LOT more traffic than the paid advertisements.
  • The top 3 organic results get the lion’s share of web traffic. It’s more important than ever to aim for the top 3.

Choosing the right keywords to base your site optimization around is an important first step. General or generic keywords are usually not the best approach, and sometimes it’s better to be a little more specific and focus on niche keywords relating to your product or service.

Keyword Research (and Competition Analysis) is foundational to good SEO.

Objectives of keyword research:

1) Come up with a list of keywords.

Free keyword tools:

Google keyword tool
Traffic Travis

2) How popular is the keyword?

3) How competitive is the keyword?

-On Page optimization of the top 3 sites for the keyword
-Google PageRank of those sites
-Quantity and quality of backlinks to those sites

Use  Yahoo Site Explorer.

On Page Optimization Factors:

Domain Name – Use your primary keyword. Hyphens are optional. Use a top level domain (.com, .org. net). Country domains can be used if you’re optimizing for your country only.

Page URL – Use the page’s targeted keyword as the page file name. Hyphens optional.

WordPress makes it easy. See training for permalink setup. If you’ve already got WordPress posts with non-SEO friendly URL’s, use a permalink migrator plugin, such as Dean’s Permalink Migration or Permalinks Moved Permanently.

Title Tag – Use the page’s targeted keyword at the beginning of the title. If you’re using WordPress, use the All In One SEO Pack plugin.

Meta Description – NOT generally used for SEO ranking, but still important. Use your keyword one time, keep an honest non-spammy description, and make it compelling to entice clicks.

H1 Tags – Use your targeted keyword within an H1 tag at the top of the page. This can be a headline.

Keyword Usage – Forget about density, frequency, LSI, etc. Just be sure to use your keyword at least once in the content, and use it up to several times in a natural way that makes sense. It may help to make it bold one time.

Images – Use your keyword as the image name, and in the “alt” text. Just make sure your picture accurately fits the name and description.

With good image optimization, you can get a lot of extra traffic from image searches. In general this traffic is known for NOT converting into sales, but is traffic nevertheless, and in some cases can be converted.

Site Structure – Your site should be easy to navigate. Use canonicalization (no duplicate content within your own site). Front-load your content in the coding of your page (ie. you don’t want a big navigation menu to be the first thing the search engine robot sees).

Internal Linking – Use keywords when linking within your own site.

Site Map – Use an XML sitemap. To make your own, see the protocol at sitemaps.org. Or use one of the many site-map generators, or a WordPress plugin such as Google XML Sitemaps by Arne Brachhold.

Privacy Policy and Terms of Service – Some people say this affects SEO, although it is very questionable. But even if it doesn’t affect SEO, you should still have the proper legal docs on your site. And on the topic of compliance, you also need to follow Google’s technical and quality webmaster guidelines.

“No Follow” Link Attribute – For SEO purposes, it’s probably best to use “no follow” on your blog comments. Also, you may wish to use it for affiliate link, and any link to a “bad neighborhood” (but you shouldn’t be linking to bad places).

Fast Page Load Time – Your site should load FAST. Don’t bog it down with many plugins and 3rd party apps. Use clean, minimalist coding.

Original Content – Yes, content is king. Not just for SEO, but for long term success of any website. Good content does not inherently bring web traffic; you still have to be a marketer. Good content is also necessary to decrease your bounce rate (helps with SEO), increase the time visitors spend on your site, and increase repeat traffic.

Fresh Content – Posting more frequently can help you gain authority with the search engines more quickly. And I’m not talking about auto-blogging. It must be good, original content.

Google’s Starter Guide
Seomoz Beginner’s Guide

And this leads us to the toughest part of the Google SEO process — back-links. Back links are websites that link directly to your website. The general principal is the more back links you have, the higher your pages will be ranked, as your website must be good if so many other sites are linking back to it.

In most cases, Off Page SEO contributes more to your search engine rank than On Page SEO. (The exception is when there is little or no competition)

Some links are more valuable than others. To outrank a competitor, the combined value of your inbound links should outweigh the combined value of their inbound links.

Factors that may determine the value of a link:

  • The PageRank of the page linking to your site
  • Was the “No Follow” attribute used?
  • Is it a reciprocal link?
  • The anchor text in the link to your site
  • The page title of the page linking to your site
  • The number of outbound links on the page linking to your site
  • The quality/reputation of the sites being linked to by the site linking to your site
  • How the link was created (self created?)
  • The age of the link to your site (how long ago was it created)
  • The placement of the link on the page linking to your site
  • The keyword relevancy of the page linking to your site

Ways to get links:

1) Spam link building

  • Automated tools
  • Black Hat

2) Conventional link building

SELF CREATED:

  • Directories
  • Blog comments (that don’t use “no follow”)
  • Trackback Links (Linking to other blogs from within your blog posts)
  • Free blogs
  • Guest books
  • Social media profiles (List of social sites)
  • Social media posts
  • Forums (in posts, signatures, and profiles)
  • Q&A Sites and Wikis (Yahoo Answers, Google Groups, Wikipedia, etc.)
  • RSS feeds (submit to aggregators)
  • Bookmarking (List of social bookmarking sites)
  • Free classified ad sites, FFA pages, etc. (spam)

RECOMMENDED WHITE HAT METHODS:

  • Article Marketing
  • Asking for Links
  • Strategy to get links to outrank competitors:

1) Identify the top 3 sites on Google for your targeted keyword.

2) Find out all the places that THEY are getting links from. Use Yahoo Site Explorer or, Traffic Travis

3) If a self-created link is possible from any of those sites, do it.

4) For all other sites… Look for contact information on them. (If no contact info on site, check whois on domaintools.com)

5) Send a personalized email or phone call to each of those website owners.

– Note: links from .gov and .edu sites are great!
– Make friends

GREY HAT METHODS:

Not allowed by Google, but these methods are widely accepted by the marketing community as being acceptable and ethical.

  • Buying links
  • Building your own link network
  • Joining a link network

Natural link accumulation

  • Content is king
  • People link to you without being solicited

“Link baiting” ideas

  • Blog posts including “lists”
  • Blog posts that are aggregations of resources
  • Highly controversial blog posts
  • Pictures of kittens (etc)
  • A tool
  • Free software download
  • Free web application
  • Free ebook
  • Games
  • Quizzes
  • WordPress theme
  • Firefox extension
  • Collection of public domain pictures
  • – A contest

Ways to get your links built…

1) Do it yourself
2) Hire an SEO firm
3) Join an SEO Outsourcing service (ex. Traffic Sage)
4) Hire your own workers

Final thoughts:
– Content is king
– Google does look at activity on your site (ie. traffic).
– Positive traffic growth trend affects SEO.

Precisely.

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