Search engine marketing is one of the most effective methods of promoting your Internet business. Through good search engine marketing, you get targeted website visitors from search engines on which your website has a good ranking – and optimization is your plan to get good rankings.
I have worked on hundreds of sites, helping to optimize content and structure for better search engine placement. Through this work, I’ve devised a series of three “phases” which break the work down into understandable pieces:
Phase One: Current Site Research
Phase Two: Relevant Keyword Research
Phase Three: Optimization Changes
This article will help you work out phase two on your own terms, performing a basic series of steps toward discovering your site’s current standings so that you can work towards optimizing them.
About Relevant Keywords
It’s critical to at least review your keywords, if you’re currently using them. The keywords meta-tag is something that many people aren’t aware is even important – but if your site isn’t performing as well in the search engines as you’d like, this is often part of the problem.
For a successful online marketing campaign, you’ll want to target the right keywords. The keywords you use should be relevant for your website, and web surfers should actually be searching for the keywords you decide to use. Finding the right keywords, then, takes a couple of steps.
First, you’ll need to look at what keywords are currently performing well. What keywords are being searched for the most on search engines? Not only does this help your search engine rankings, but it helps buyers find you – period.
The next step is to consider how your keywords relate to “similar” phrases. You’ll be much more successful combining words in short phrases like “laboratory equipment” instead of just “laboratory, if it’s the equipment that you sell. Most people use 2-4 words in their searches, so phrases are much more effective. For example, you’re probably going to type “free software download” instead of just “software” when you hit the search engine.
Take some time to think about your products and services, and then hit the search engines yourself. What phrases are you automatically entering to find the products that you sell? Then, take a step back and consider what someone else might be entering – someone who is not as familiar with your products as you are. Using focused and targeted phrases like this generates qualified, targeted traffic.
* Use keyword phrases that consist of 2-4 words
* Avoid highly competitive keywords
* Be specific
The reports that you’ll generate on the following sites can be rather extensive. Higher-performing keywords generate lists that are about 5 pages long. Print them out or save them, though, and then take a few minutes to study your results. Highlight or circle the keywords that most closely match the content of your site. These are the keywords that you will want to incorporate into the keywords meta-tag – and make sure that you use them about 3 times in your body text.
Keyword Suggestion Tool – http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/suggestion/ – This is a handy little tool that will show you the results of your query from both Wordtracker and Overture for determining which phrases are searched most often. Enter a search phrase to see how often it’s searched for, as well as to get suggestions for alternate (but similar) keywords. Then, once you know the keywords you want to target, you can use their free keyword position tracking tool to monitor your placement progress.
Google Adwords Suggestion Tool – https://adwords.google.com/select/main?cmd=KeywordSandbox – Created for their popular adwords marketing service, this tool will help you with ideas for new keywords that can help you improve your ad relevance. If you’re running your ads on broad-matched keywords, you may also find additional terms that may trigger your ads.
7Search – http://conversion.7search.com/scripts/advertisertools/keywordsuggestion.aspx – A very tight script, on this page you just enter a keyword to view most popular searches during the previous month that contained your keyword. You can also choose to view recent search activity on one or more keywords for exact matches.
The Search Engines, Strategies, and General FYI’s
You’ve now got all the reports that you need to formulate a complete “plan of action” to follow. The last portion of this article offers up tips for you to perform using the reports you’ve created. The idea is to provide you with more flexibility and informed decision-making in choosing the changes to implement.
In the past, search engine placement was simple: submit your website to hundreds of search engines, put some meta-tags in your code, and wait for all the traffic to come to you – and it was free. The methods that search engines used to rank pages were primitive and easily deciphered for savvy webmasters to manipulate.
Times have changed and gaining a high rank on the top search engines has become extremely competitive. Today, submitting your website to a large number of free search engines will only result in your e-mail address being added to a large number of spam lists. Search engines are now looking to not only provide quality listings for their users but also to turn a profit: hence “paid listings”. SO … never ever go for the “We’ll submit your site to 3000 Search Engines” schemes. They simply don’t work, and can actually hurt your overall ranking.
There is no magic solution to better search engine rankings. It takes time, hard work, market research, educated decisions, and even trial and error. But there are ways to improve your rankings – and actions to avoid that will hurt your rankings. These are the kinds of things that I’ve focused on in the reports I’ve helped you generate.
Additional, more general tips to improving your rankings:
– Your homepage is the single most important page on your site. Your homepage represents your business and its image. Make sure you focus on developing the content and the relevancy to search engines for this page.
– Add content that includes keywords and phrases you are targeting. Many search engines consider the location of the keywords in your site along with their frequency to assess how relevant your site is to those keywords.
– Stay informed on your competition’s rankings. Top ranked pages rank well for a reason – so see what you can do to be more competitive.
META Tags to improve search engine placements: META tags are information inserted into the “head” area of your web pages. Information in the head area is not seen by viewers. Instead, META information is used to communicate information visitors may not be concerned with such as controlling how the page is described by some search engines.
ALT tags provide a means for creating text for images – they describe in words what a picture depicts. Use of ALT tags is useful because some search engines recognize and utilize ALT text as part of a page’s contents. So it is important to include keywords or phrases for your important images, especially on your home/index page, by the use of ALT tags. Do not use more than 5 keywords in an ALT tag. For example, if you have a picture of a business plan you might consider using the ALT tag: ALT= “Business Plan” which relates to the image. ALT tags also help those who are visually impaired to read and understand the meaning of a particular image.
Search engines often place more weight on bold face or linked words. So if you wish to focus on the keywords “search engine optimization” you should put it in bold type, or link it.
Having a sitemap for your website is important. The site map should include a list and short description (keywords included) to all the pages on your site. Provide links to key pages at the bottom of most pages. For example: Home / About us / Contact us / Site Map.
Review your activity logs: “Activity logs” or “server statistics” provide you with statistics on the number of visitors coming into your site, where the visitors come from and what keywords are used. Most web servers provide this information free, so check there first.
First, do your work. The changes that you choose to implement should be in order before you start submitting to search engines. Your title and META tags should be ready. Have your description of 25 words or less prepared. Limit your description to 200 characters, including spaces, and focus on the top 3 keywords. Create a title tag using the top keywords, keeping in mind that most web browsers will place a limit on the display.
Before submitting to the search engines, optimize all the main pages on your website by making them “search engine friendly.”
You have the option of paid versus free submissions. Paid submissions will get faster and better results if done properly. If you have already submitted to paid services within the past 6 months, there is no need to do it again. Before submitting to any search engine, read the submission guidelines very carefully. A good set of guidelines can be found at Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Only resubmit when you update or change your page significantly, and only if you are not already ranking well for a particular engine. It is important to resubmit major changes because search engines are not always aware of them. But there are dangers to submitting too often.
A general rule is not to submit more than 2 pages to any search engine at any single time. Wait at least a month before resubmitting – but three months would be better. Engines such as Google re-index pages on their own schedule so you may need to be patient – it can take a few days or up to a few months for pages to be re-indexed.
Do not submit over and over again as this is considered spam and may cause you to be dropped to the bottom of lists (or banned from a search engine completely).