Posts Tagged autocorrect

Search Engine Optimization Primer

Search Engine Optimization, sometime referred to as Search Engine Marketing, can seem overwhelming at first. There are new acronyms and terms to learn. You may be expert at your business or profession, but as an uninitiated player on the sidelines, it sounds like a lot of “computer voodoo.” However, once you understand the basic premise behind Search Engine Optimization (SEO) you catch on quickly to know what it’s all about.

The search engines, like Google, build an index of web pages for terms they believe are relevant to the content found on the page. When you perform a search using Google, you really are searching and index of all the web pages on the Internet. They do this because the better their results returned to the searcher, the more likely that person continues to use that search engine. Of course, there are other motivations like the paid advertisements that are found on a search results page. But that’s a topic for another day.

Each search engine results page (or SERP) includes about ten organic listings (i.e. those you don’t have to pay for) your goal is to have your page indexed on Page One for a set of terms you believe relevant to your content and business.

To do this, you simply give the search engines what they want.

So, what do search engines want?

Search engines want a number of things but here are some of the basic ingredients that are common to Google, Yahoo and Bing:

1. Quality web design and informative content.

The better your content is, the more likely the search engines are to help you promote your content through better search engine placement.

But how do the search engines determine the quality of your content? Since they do this through an automated process, they had to come up with metrics that allow programs to award points to each web page on your website. Some of these points are related to what is found in the HTML of your web pages. Other points are awarded for how long people linger on your website and if they visit other pages. The longer a visit lasts then the greater the likelihood that they find the content on your pages helpful.
In other words, they found what they searched for using the search engine tool. The visitor had a positive experience and your website is awarded more points than another where people only visit a single page or stay just a few seconds.

2. Ability to easily evaluate what the main keyword phrases are to place in the index for your web pages.

Similar to the index at the end of a book, you expect the search index to present results for you to review that actually are relevant to your query. As your pages will be found when someone conducts a Web search, the search engines need to index your pages for terms (called keyword phrases) that are most relevant to your on-page content.

You can help them by ensuring that each page of your site is optimized around keyword phrases. How many keywords you should optimize for is really not known, in fact, there may not be a set number of phrases. The key is to ensure that each keyword phrase is relevant to each other.

For example, a website about arthritis in dog shouldn’t have pages and keywords devoted to how to raise your puppy. Instead, chose keyword phrases like arthritis in dogs, natural treatments for arthritis in dogs, and so on.

After choosing which keyword phrases to target, make sure to add them to your “meta page title” and “meta page description” at minimum. These are HTML components of your web page.

Also, it’s important that these keyword phrases appear somewhere on your actual page… the content that can be read by your human visitors. This helps the search engines to index your pages more easily and you will be rewarded for your work.

3. Getting as many links as possible for each page of your site.

In Internet terms, each link pointing to your site is seen as a “vote” that your page is relevant to the piece of text that is linked.

So, if you want a particular page of your site found for the keyword phrase, best Sydney plumber, you’d be wise to get as many websites as possible to link to your page using this phrase in their “anchor text.”

Anchor text is merely the words that create the clickable link. If the phrase, “best Sydney plumber,” is linked to your web page, you just earned a “vote” for that page.

The more links you can get with that term, the more likely your page will be to rank well for it.
There are numerous methods to improve the SEO of your website. The principles discussed above create the foundation for each page of your website. If your pages contain great content and the website is sound, pages are optimized for a relevant keyword phrases and are linked to from other websites, you’re on your way to improved search engine placement.

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Analyzing Your Competition’s SEO

One of the first things we do when we bring on a new client is to analyze what their competition is doing as far as search engine optimization, or SEO. Competitor analysis is a huge part of SEO. If you want to be the number one listing for a keyword phrase, you have to be able to bump the current listing off that ranking.

We research the resulting web pages that show up in search results for keyword phrases that are relevant for the client’s niche. If our client owns a bar in Sydney, then we’ll go to Google and type in Sydney bar to see who pops-up on the organic listings. The organic listings are those down the middle of the page, not on the right side or very top of the results page. Then we’ll note some important facts about the top 5 listings. Here are things that are worth noting:

Domain Name

Is the page listed the top-level domain name or is it an inner page. If you look at the term Sydney bar and you find that the first listing is for www.sydneycafes.com.au/bars.html, then you know that one of this website’s internal pages is ranking as # 1. If the page listed is the very top level domain, i.e., www.sydneycafes.com.au, then the top level of the domain is ranking for #1.

It’s important to know that for a few reasons. It’s quicker to basically jump other listings and get page one results if you can grab the keyword specific domain. So if you’re looking for ranking on Sydney bar and if SydneyBar.com or .org or .net is available, you may get to the top of the search results simply by buying that domain and putting up well crafted web pages optimized for the search engines. This gives you a very strong likelihood of ranking for that term very quickly.

This is often one of the hardest things for a business owner to accept. They’d much rather have the domain named for the bar. Of course, that is often the path we have to accept. We won’t argue with a strong brand name. If they already own RockpoolBar.com with strong brand recognition, then we’ll just improve on the current website while maintaining the domain name. [However, we might must go ahead and purchase Sydneybar dot com if it is available. That is premium Web real estate.]

Domain Age

More mature websites are harder to compete with than websites that are new or under a year old. The concept here is that an established website is one that is more likely to be around in the future. If you are buying a domain, you may want to pay extra for an aged domain. The price can go up astronomically with age, so do some serious thought as to the value of that domain to your brand image or web strategies. New domains can still compete for top ranking when the website design is sound and content writer uses smart SEO strategies. If you are registering a new domain, consider spending the extra $10 to register it for 2 years instead of for one.

Google Page Rank

One other thing to take note of when you’re doing competitor analysis is the Google Page Rank. Page Rank is a calculation, based on incoming links, of Google’s estimation of the importance of a page. It is expressed on a scale of 0-10 in the toolbar, with ten being more important.

On Page SEO

Take a look at your competitor’s on page SEO. On page SEO includes things like meta tags, url relationship to keywords, header tags (H1, H2, H3…) and the keyword density. Take note of their weaknesses and make them your strengths.

Evaluate In-bound Links

You can use the Yahoo Site Explorer to see what links are pointing to the competitor’s high ranking page. Avoid attracting links from unrelated websites, or worse, links from adult-type websites (unless, you have an adult-type website.)

The best way to get quality in-bound links is not to pay for links. The best way is to create unique, compelling content that attracts links. This is a win/win because not only will great content attract links pointing to your website, but also visitors.

You can offer articles to website owners. Contact the owner and ask if they would be open to posting a unique article that includes a link back to your top-level domain or internal page. Usually, a website owner is open to posting quality, unique material. All you need to do is make it available to them.

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