12 Things You Really Should Know About SEO

Studies show that over 90% of all online users use search engines to find what they are looking for, whether products/services, or just information.

The following 12 points will summarize a philosophy, approach and methodology to SEO which will give some helpful insight.

1. Content. Content. Content.
Effective, professional, optimized copywriting is the single, most important factor in any SEO campaign. Search engines index websites based on the content found on each page of the site. With a thorough understanding of the language and grammatical conventions combined with intensive research, to find and exploit the market focus, one can move a website to the upper echelon of the search engine results page in a methodical as well as ethical manner.

2. Analyze Web Logs.
Measure everything, at least twice, and then check again. While I would be the first to say that many of the procedures that make up website optimization are more art than science, one needs to take a very scientific approach to the results of the effort. This is done by methodically keeping a record of, and making an analysis of the sites web logs. There are a number of specialized software which make the job easier but at the bare minimum, one needs to keep a close eye on the site visitors and their activity while on the site. No matter how well planned the strategy, it is largely theoretical until proven by the results, which can only be measured by the logs, and a thorough analysis of their content.

3. No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google, or any other search engine.
Those who promise such feats will either optimize for such vague search term phrases (such as, “green stunted widgets with purple Polka-dots and icing”) that no one will ever likely look for, or they are making a false claim, which they have no intention of keeping, or they have an inside edge at Google, something which they will loose, quickly, when the honest folks at Google find out about it. The other option, that they will take the money and run, is worth mentioning here but I’ll be polite.

4. Some things are just plain silly.
You don’t need to submit your site to 50,000 search engines. Businesses which offer this service are suspect, at best. 85% of the search results on the Internet come from one search engine, which, if you have one link from an established website, or better yet, a directory, will find your site just fine, on it’s own. Four search engines account for over 90% of the traffic on the web. As for any supposed benefit which may accrue from being listed in an obscure search engine in Botswana which specializes in safaris to the Kalahari Desert and receives 7 hits per day; well, you figure it out.

5. SEO is not Pay-per-Click.
While no one would argue the effectiveness of getting increased traffic and sales, through a well planned, pay-per-click campaign, the fact remains that the conversion rates are generally low and they cease the moment the “pay” stops. With a well planned and executed SEO campaign, while results may take a bit longer, they continue to produce, and in fact grow, long after the work is done and paid for. Quite often we have found that after a thorough optimization of a site, only minor adjustments are needed on an ongoing basis, primarily related to new content and/or new items of sale or service.

6. SEO is not witchcraft, Druidism, shamanism.
Neither does it require any special chants, ceremonial fires, or vestments, though some of us do like to howl at the full moon, on occasion. There are no “Top Secret” practices which a reputable SEO can not tell a client, a judge, or his mother, for that matter. The very nature of the Internet has always been cooperative and there is nothing about SEO that can’t be learned, with a heavy dose of time and money. A reputable SEO firm will give you an item per item breakdown of just where the money goes. Be wary if you sense a secretive atmosphere or any unwillingness to answer questions. While there are technical points which might take some background to fully understand, if one has a solid overview of the entire situation, a simple explanation should be easy enough to come up with.

7. Do-it-yourself SEO.
Yes, you can execute your own SEO campaign and find a reputable SEO firm to help plan and organize it for you. About one half of my own clientele do some part of the actual work themselves, or have their in-house dedicated personnel do it, after discussion of the goals and aims of the business/website, a thorough website analysis, comprehensive search phrase research, and focused instruction on the ways and means of achieving high search engine results page. These preliminaries are followed up with a detailed program of suggestions and methods which the client can then implement themselves or hire others to perform. Average savings; 30-40%.

8. Phased Implementation.
While many companies spend thousands of dollars per month on Search Engine Optimization, an alternative is available which will pay dividends to you in increased sales and leads without the high initial investment. The most important consideration is to have a reputable firm handle the initial evaluation and suggested optimization planning first. The trial and error method will cost much more, in the long run, with or without the desired result. After studying the plan and establishing a workable budget you may implement the plan as finances allow.

9. Remember the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Never was this more true than in the realm of SEO. While concrete and measurable gains will always come from a well thought out and executed optimization strategy, the Internet is a competitive media and we all want to be number one. Accept that a steady upward movement, over time, will place you worlds ahead of a flash followed by a crash.

10. A thought to ponder.
At stake, in the race for the top, is the very existence of your website, your business, and quite possibly your reputation. Beware of any “shortcuts” or less than ethical schemes that anyone might suggest to further your business goals. When it’s all said and done it is you, the business owner, who bears the responsibility for any company or individual you hire. Insist on knowing exactly what the strategy is and what steps are being performed to implement it. If it seems, in the least, suspicious, ask for and get an explanation. In this case, not only is Ignorance not bliss, it could very well be the beginning of the end for your business.

11. All incoming links are not created equal.
Both the relevance to your line of business and website subject matter and the PR value of the incoming link determine how valuable they are to your own PR ranking. With Google starting the trend, nothing new there, and most of the others following close behind, the days of grabbing all the inbound links, in any way possible, are gone. Not only will low ranked and/or irrelevant inbound links not help, they will, in fact, cause a penalty. Link farms, free-for-all link schemes, automated link accumulation software, or any other fad that doesn’t carefully screen the links and websites they are coming from will, in the long run, do more harm than good.

12. It’s more than just facts and figures.
The relationship between an online business and SEO is, perhaps, one of the closest of business relationships. In order to be effective, one must know not only the facts and figures pertaining to the endeavor, but he or she must know something of the dreams and aspirations of the business principals. Things which don’t normally come out in a prospectus are often invaluable information when searching for the “right fit” into the complex world of the Internet.

10 Quick Things You Can Do Today To Improve Your Search Engine Ranking

Do you know what you can do to work on Search Engine Optimization? Actually, I have put together a list of 10 quick things you can do that will help you move a little higher in your search engine results.

1. Get listed in more search engines. There are tons of them out there. There are also many free services that will help you get listed. Or just set aside some time to get it done yourself. Here is a free search engine submission site that will let you cycle through the top 100 search engines and get your site submitted.

2. Get listed in more directories. Again, there are a lot of them out there. Look for higher pagerank directories. Improvingrank.com has some listed by pagerank. Look on the left side of the homepage.

3. Clean up your HTML and check your links. You want the bots to have smooth sailing through your site. Use the tools on W3c.org and have a real person check them over too.

4. Get a few more links to your site. Make them relevant and at least the same pagerank as you.

5. Make your page filenames descriptive and keyword rich. Naming your page new_page_1.html is wasting an opportunity to do some SEO. Use names that describe the content and keep the keywords flowing.

6. Check your title tags. You can use 90 – 100 characters in the title, so add some keywords. We know Google looks at them, and so do many other search engines.

7. Check your ALT tags. Searchbots can’t see pictures. Make sure you have ALT tags on all of your pictures, and make sure they are descriptive and keyword rich.

8. Rewrite your URL (anchor) tags. Good anchor tags (the text between the http: and /a tags) reinforce the message and keywords of your site.

9. Go post in a few forums and put your website in your signature. Forums are a great place to put one way links. And you can help somebody out at the same time.

10. Put together a text based sitemap and put it on your site. There are a lot of navigation that spiders can’t understand, such as flash, forms, java and javascripts. Putting together a text-based sitemap gives the bots a way to navigate around the site.

Just 15 minutes every day will make a huge difference in getting your rank higher.

12 Free SEO Tools You Must Use

Effective SEO strategies require a lot of time and effort. Although in the search engines market, there are some very advanced tools that can cost a lot, there are also many free SEO tools which can help the novice and advanced SEO marketer equally well.

The following is a list of free SEO online instruments with proven effectiveness:

1) http://www.alexaranking.com . It displays multiple domains instead of one. Therefore, you can have instant traffic results from Alexa Rankings instead of typing and search separately each time .

2) http://www.xml-sitemaps.com . Sitemaps are extremely important for websites because they help search engines crawl and index them. This is a free XML sitemap generator.

3) http://www.123promotion.co.uk/directorymanager . You can track your submissions to various web directories and you can also visit regularly to check on new directories that are added to the list. You just need to tick the appropriate submission boxes when you submit your website. It is very easy to use it.

4) http://www.123promotion.co.uk/ppc/index.php. This is a very powerful tool. It displays, based on the Overture and Wordtracker keyword search tools, similar data, including search figures from previous months. It also provides statistics on average searches per hour, day, week, projected figures for the next 12 months and also a figure displaying how searches may look like in 3 years from now.

5) http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/keyword-density . This keyword density tool is useful for helping webmasters to achieve their optimum keyword density for a set of key terms/keywords. This tool will analyze your chosen URL and return a table of keyword density values for one, two, or three words key terms.

6) http://www.mcdar.net/KeywordTool/keyWait.asp . This is another excellent resource. When you enter the appropriate URL and keyword, it will display pagerank and backlink pages for the top 10 websites.

7) http://www.123promotion.co.uk/tools/robotstxtgenerator.php . You can create a free robots.txt file with this resource. So you will be able to direct the search engines to follow the pages structure of your website and also direct the search engines not to follow and crawl specific web pages of your website you don’t want to be crawled. All you have to do is filling the fields and when the robots.txt file is created you upload it to your root directory of your web server.

8) http://www.nichebot.com . This website displays keyword data using Wordtracker and Google search results. You just need to enter the keywords to obtain the data.

9) http://www.webconfs.com/domain-stats.php . You just need to enter the domain to get the domain age, number of pages indexed, and number of backlinks. The statistics include Alexa Taffic Rank, age of the domain, Yahoo WebRank, Dmoz listings, count of backlinks and number of pages indexed in Search Engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN etc. It will help you figure out why some of your competitors are ranking better than you.

10) http://comparesearchengines.dogpile.com . Shows top results from 3 search engines. This tool helps you get all kind of statistics of your competitor’s domains.

11) http://www.marketleap.com/verify/default.htm . This verification tool helps to check if your website is in the top three pages of a search engine result for a specific keyword. Just enter your URL/Keyword and it will display the top 30 from 11 Search Engines.

12) http://www.related-pages.com/adWordsKeywords.aspx. This tool generates a list of possible keyword combinations based on lists of keywords that you provide. You just need to enter a list of terms, one per line or separated by commas. This is very effective for Google Adwords and Overture.