Search Engine Optimization : Elements of an SEO
Of all the areas of Internet Marketing, Search
Engine Optimization is the most misunderstood, and potentially the most
important to your marketing efforts. There are millions upon millions
of pages of web content out there -- you can work hard, build a great
site, and then be totally lost in the shuffle. SEO is important. It's
also a very complex process that requires patience, careful planning
and a long-term approach.
If you're just getting started with:
...read on. This article should provide you with a
high-level review of the SEO process, dispel a few SEO myths, and help
you understand legitimate optimization strategies.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, defies easy definition. But here's
a short version:
Search Engine Optimization
Using keyword analysis and other legitimate practices to gain the
highest possible search engine and directory rankings, under a given
key phrase, for a given URL.
Every SEO professional in the world just cringed,
so I'll break this definition down a bit and hopefully prevent a hail
of angry e-mails:
Keyword Analysis is the
process of mining keyword search data to find the best balance between
the keywords you need and the best potential search niche. More on this
Search Engine means an
automated search engine. 'Search Engines' include Google,
AlltheWeb.com, Yahoo (powered by Google plus their own directory
information), AOL Search, Ask Jeeves and MSN Search. A search engine
obtains its results from 'spiders' or 'bots' -- small programs that
come to your web site read it in much the same way you would: By
reading the content on a page, and then moving from page to page via
links. A directory, on the other hand, is built at least in part by
human beings reading sites and other information and deciding where
each site fits into the directory structure. Yahoo's directory area and
Open Directory are both examples of directories.
Ranking is the numeric rank
reflecting your position in the results list when someone performs a
search on a particular set of keywords.
Highest Possible means getting
as close to number one as you can. Sometimes you just can't get that
number one spot. Maybe someone else has a 400-page web site solely
dedicated to the key phrase for which you're attempting to optimize. Or
maybe they're paying a fortune in advertising. That's life, sometimes...
Key Phrase is the
keyword or set of keywords someone types into the little 'search' field
in Google or Alta Vista or any other search engine.
A URL is the address of one page on your
site. Most search engines display keyword search results and provide a
link directly to the page most relevant to those results, rather than
your home page. It's very, very important to keep that in mind when you
build and optimize your site.
Legitimate Practices is a pet
peeve of mine. A true search engine optimization campaign will not use
practices such as page or content cloaking, redirects, or lists of
links (so-called 'link farms') but relies on good coding practices,
well-written content, steady link popularity work and site features
that will be every bit as valuable for site visitors as for search
engine ranking. Anything less is a short-term fix that will likely
reduce your rankings more often than increase them.
So, the long version of the definition would be:
Search Engine Optimization
Using keyword analysis, good coding practices, well-written copy, link
popularity analysis and careful site organization to move a web page as
close to the number one search results position as possible for a given
key phrase, in both search engines and directories.
Hey, that's not so bad after all. But how do you
get started? First, you separate reality from myth...
SEO Urban Legends
There are quite a few SEO myths out there. Here are my favorites:
The Keywords META Tag Matters.
Mostly wrong. Only Inktomi pays any attention to the keywords meta tag.
You should do something basic, but don't bother putting in keywords
that aren't supported by your page content.
Search Engines can read Flash, images and
video. Sorry, and Ford isn't selling a flying car yet,
either. Search engines can read one thing: Text. Anything else, while
perfectly legitimate as a design tool, will not help your ranking. And
relying too heavily on Flash or images may reduce your site's
visibility. Google is one partial exception -- they can read some links
in Flash, but still have very limited ability to read Flash content.
Mirroring my site in multiple locations will
improve ranking. Actually, just the opposite.
Duplication of content will generally have no effect or, worse, reduce
your ranking in major search engines. Most search engines now have
rules against this form of 'spam' and may reduce your ranking or ban
your site altogether.
'Doorway' pages improve ranking.
Pages that have lots of keywords but then quickly redirect to the main
site will not help you in major search engines, such as Google. And, if
someone catches you and reports you to Google or the other search
engine, you may be banned altogether. A 'landing' or 'bridge' page,
though, that's designed to be as useful for users as for search
engines, and does not redirect the user, can help by providing
keyword-rich content that's genuinely worthwhile.
Firms promising to get me #1
rankings in 10,000 search engines for $99.95 can help. I
alternate between tooth-grinding and hysterical laughter when I see
these ads. First, there aren't 10,000 search engines. Actually, there
are probably 10-20 you should really worry about. Getting listed in the
other thousand or so is largely a waste of time. Second, no one can
guarantee any ranking in any search engine for a specific keyword.
Period. And finally, the price is less than half the cost to get an
express submission in a single directory (Yahoo). Chances are anyone
trying to get you to spend the $99.95 is operating a 'link farm' where
they list dozens, or hundreds, of sites. While they won't hurt your
ranking, they won't help, either. To learn more about how to choose an
SEO firm, check out Google's article: http://www.google.com/intl/mr/webmasters/seo.html.
Firms charging me more money and guaranteeing
a #1 ranking on Google can help. This is the latest SEO
scam. I can get you a number one ranking on Google, too, as long as I
get to pick the keyword or can get you ranked under a fairly unique
company name. But no one, and I mean no one can guarantee a #1 rank
under a specific keyword. Even Google says so.
Forget the myths -- if an offer seems too good to be true, it is. The
truth is that search engines are now almost savvy enough to read your
pages like a human being would, so anything that will drive away a
typical site visitor will also probably reduce your ranking. Things
that will increase your search engine ranking include:
Good, clean HTML code
Useful, relevant TITLE tags
Useful, relevant DESCRIPTION tags
Relevant, appropriate links from other web
There are some basic steps that, well executed,
will do more to increase your page rank than an ocean of snake oil.
The SEO Campaign Process
A typical SEO campaign starts with keyword analysis, and then
emphasizes insuring your site doesn't impede search engine bots and
follows up with ongoing link and traffic analysis. If you like pretty
pictures, here's one:
What's a Bot?
A 'bot' is a program used by a search engine to read the content of
your site into a directory. I mentioned this briefly in 'What is Search
Engine Optimization?' above. Keep up, now....
Step 1: Keyword Analysis.
Ah, keywords. If you say the right word enough times on your site,
you'll get that coveted #1 spot, right? Wrong. Choosing the right
keywords starts with you making a list of the keywords or phrases under
which you'd like to be found, and typically ends up somewhere
completely different. Typically, selecting the best keywords is a
List the keywords and phrases under which
you'd like to be found.
Find out whether anyone searches on those
keywords, and whether they're searching for relevant items.
Find out how many other sites are struggling
for rankings under those keywords.
Pick keywords with the same meaning but a
better search-to-competition ratio.
Maybe I want to rank #1 under 'Search Engine
Optimization'. Guess what? There are 686,000 other URLs in Google
trying for that spot. Hmmm. But wait! Under 'Seattle Search Engine
Optimization' there are only 19,000. So, I targeted that key phrase,
instead. And guess what? We got a #3 ranking.
Don't forget about relevance, either. If you want a high ranking under
'tires', you're going to have your work cut out for you. And in the end
you'll likely end up getting found for 'bicycle tires', 'automobile
tires', 'spare tires' and who knows what else. Is it worth it?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But you have to do your homework to find
Data Mining and Keywords
If you're doing a campaign for a large site, you may end up testing and
comparing thousands of keywords and phrases. Having a good data-mining
tool (even Excel will do) on hand is important when you're doing
keyword analysis. We use S-Plus, by Insightful Software. It's saved our
lives, and clicker fingers, several times.
There are several tools that help you research the
number of searches and competitors for keywords. Wordtracker
(http://www.wordtracker.com) is a good one -- don't depend on their
results from Overture, though, unless you're specifically preparing an
Overture campaign. Metacrawler's MetaSpy tool is worth a look, too.
Ideally, look at results from a few different sources.
Keyword analysis is the hardest part of a campaign, in number-crunching
terms. It requires a lot of work and may not tell you what you want to
hear. But in my experience it's critical to a successful campaign.
Step 2: Search Engine Readiness.
Almost every web site we review has one or more problems that will
prevent search engine bots from properly reading all content. Typical
An all-Flash or all-images home page
A home page that automatically redirects to
Pop-up ads (does anyone really read these
A site full of pages with fewer than 400 words
on a page
No TITLE or DESCRIPTION tags
A major step in any SEO campaign is making sure
that the site will present the friendliest profile to search engines.
Happily, the investment in optimizing will also pay off in a faster,
more universally compatible site.
Step 3. Content and Site Preparation.
You've done your research: You know which keywords match your message,
and your site's HTML code is one big search engine welcome mat. Now
it's time to make sure that your site contains those keywords. This is
where I most often see folks get confused -- should you rewrite your
web content to emphasize keywords? Yes, but with extreme caution.
Should you make small, appropriate changes? Yes. Here are my guidelines
for content preparation.
Don't write for keywords (much). This almost
always leads to stilted, hard-to-read prose. Writing keyword-rich
content that really works for users is an art form. Be careful.
Do a little careful editing. If you use the
word 'car' but 'auto' is the keyword you need, chances are you can do a
few replacements without marring your carefully crafted copy.
Spend time on the titles and description tags.
Make sure every page in your site has a unique, relevant TITLE and
Never use an automatic page generator. Tools
like WebPosition Gold offer to generate optimized pages for you. Don't.
They tend to hurt your ranking as much as help, and they generate ugly,
Write more stuff. More content is almost
always better. If your site is just missing a specific keyword or
phrase, but you think it's important, then your potential customers
probably do too. By adding a few more pages, or a white paper, or some
other content focusing on those absent keywords, you'll likely help
visitors and improve your keyword ranking at the same time. And, the
more text-rich your site is, the better the odds that you'll catch
longer, stranger but really important key phrases that you can't
Step 4. Link Analysis.
Quite a few major search engines (Google, most importantly) weigh your
'link popularity' when ranking your site. A more accurate term, though,
is 'link analysis', because these engines don't just count up the
number of links to your site. They look for links near and containing
relevant text. So a page full of links, one of which happens to be
yours, won't help very much. But a link from a related site, near a
short paragraph that contains relevant keywords, will probably give you
a boost. Having keywords in the link itself is even better. A quick
doesn't help much.
For search engine optimization, visit http://www.portentinteractive.com
is much better.
For search engine optimization, visit Portent
Interactive where 'search engine optimization' is the link
to Portent, is the absolute best case.
There are a few ways to build your link popularity:
Contact sites that relate to yours and request
a link exchange. This works really well, but obviously takes a long
Syndicate your content. If you can provide an
easy way for interested webmasters to link directly to relevant stories
on your site, you provide an instant link popularity boost, and get
your message out to boot.
Start an affiliate program. If you sell a
product, consider setting up an affiliate sales program.
Google's 'One Site, One Vote' Rule
Google awards a lot less weight to a link to your site if that link is
on a page with lots of other links. That's why so-called 'link farming'
doesn't work. Ideally, you want a link to your site from a page that
includes relevant content and not that many other outgoing links.
Step 5. Submit your site. Many
search engines, Google included, allow you to submit your site for
free. Generally you can submit your home page and let the search engine
crawl the rest of your site. Some directories and engines offer paid
'express' services, and some, like Teoma, require that you pay for URL
submission. Which engines you choose depends on your budget and
Step 6. Review, Revise, and Keep Going.
Think you're done? Wrong -- search engine optimization is an ongoing
project. At least once per month, review your rankings, site traffic
reports and link popularity and tweak your site as necessary. The tools
you need to measure results are:
Site traffic reports. Any web hosting company
should provide you with a web site traffic report, and almost all of
the reporting tools in use today provide a 'referrals from search
engines' section. Take a look at this section for a good measure of
Link counts. Use the link: command on Google
(see above) to determine your link popularity.
Your keyword list. Search on the relevant
search engines to see if your ranking has improved.
Your brain. You have to interpret what you
see, and decide whether changes are warranted. There's no hard and fast
rule for this, and no magic formula. Sorry about that...
So now you'll get instant results, right? Well,
A Word About Expectations
Search engine optimization can take time. Even Google only refreshes
its entire index once a month, so don't expect instant results.
If your first registration run doesn't generate increased rankings
within a month or two, don't panic. Look at your site traffic and
search on the keywords you chose. Make sure that the search engine
you're checking actually includes your site, too -- most likely the
bots just haven't gotten around to 'crawling' your site.
Still stumped? Find a professional. Sure, we cost money. But you may
have missed something about your site that's preventing a good keyword
rank, and a second set of eyes can help.
A Solid Marketing Strategy
Obviously, Search Engine Optimization is a big job. But nothing can
send more traffic to your site, for lower per-click cost. If you follow
the basic steps, and keep at it, you will definitely get results.
What's really, really important is to make sure you don't award too
much weight to one step (such as link popularity) at the expense of the
others. A well-rounded campaign will provide solid, long-term results.
What about pay per click?
Pay-per-click services, such as Overture and Google Adwords, are very
different animals. If you've done your keyword analysis you're halfway
there, but there are other tasks. I've not talked about them in this
article because, well, they need an article of their own. Check back
Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/seo-articles/
About the Author
Technologies as the name suggests is an Indian web designing
& development company located in Hyderabad that
provides professional services in web design, website development, web
hosting, website maintenance, website redesigning, web promotion,
search engine optimization, multimedia presentations, e-catalogs,
e-commerce web development, intranet application development, software
development, extranet applications, portals and vortals development
from Hyderabad, India.