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 Effective SEO
Posted By: Frank Puma On: Sat 12/20/2008 5:59 PM
Details Search engine optimization is an activity that concerns itself solely with achieving higher rankings for specific keywords on search engines such as Google. Search engine optimization is not building brands. Search engine optimization is not marketing, nor is it advertising.

Part One - Defining SEO

First, let's get one thing out of the way. Search engine optimization is not synonymous with Internet marketing.

SEO Isn't The End All, Be All Of Internet Marketing. Perfectly profitable business models exist without even a whiff of SEO.

Search engine optimization is an activity that concerns itself solely with achieving higher rankings for specific keywords on search engines such as Google. Search engine optimization is not building brands. Search engine optimization is not marketing, nor is it advertising.

An Internet marketing scheme may employ search engine optimization as one of its tactics, but it is just that - one tactic available in an Internet marketing campaign. Many other tactics of equal or more value are also available. Creating a strong brand which consumers are able to emotionally connect with is probably one of the more important activities of an Internet marketer, and something that has nothing to do with search engine rankings.

Conversational marketing, buzz marketing, viral marketing campaigns and good old fashioned advertising are also great ways of promoting a web site. And let's not forget the single most effective way of promoting a web site; becoming the market leader. When you become the market leader, folks no longer search for "carbonated soft drink" (generic) but instead search for "Pepsi" & "Coke" (brands).

All of these other marketing techniques are just as effective or more effective for promoting your web site and should not be overlooked in favor of search engine optimization. I tend to be anti-SEO at times, but that's just a knee-jerk reaction to the common practice of ignoring more effective marketing techniques in favor of blindly chasing after search engine rankings.

Having said that, search engine optimization can make or break a business. More than a few businesses have been made and lost fortunes based on their search engine rankings.


Part Two - The Need for SEO

Search engines are no longer just a mere tool of the Internet consumer. Search engines are now an indispensable part of the infrastructure of the world wide web. Search engines are the primary means of navigating the web. When a consumer wants to find web hosting, they search for it. When a consumer wants to know the stance of a presidebtial candidate on an issue, they google it.

Search engines, and Google in particular, wield a frighteningly huge influence over how people, political parties, businesses and issues are seen.

A first page listing on Google for "web hosting" is considered to be worth more than $30,000 per month. A listing on the 3rd or 4th page for that same term is worth hardly anything.

The reason for this is, search engines drive traffic. "Traffic" being consumers, with credit cards and money. Consumers do not tend to drill down through the search results. They do a search and more often than not spend their money on web sites listed on the first page of the search results.

Search engine optimization is about getting your web site to appear in the first page, and preferably at the top, of those search results.

Part Three - Keyword Research

Before you jump into a car, you need to know where you're going. In SEO, you need to know what keywords you are going to optimize for before you start optimizing. Spending a few hours researching keywords can make all the difference in the world.

The First Step

First, let's say that your website was www.v7inc.com. It's a web hosting related site, so let's search for web hosting on Google and see who the competition is. FortuneCity.com comes up in the first place, so take note of that and go to Google's Keyword Tool.

Click on "Site-Related Keywords" and then insert the URL of the competition. In this case, fortunecity.com. Wait a few seconds, and Google shows you over one hundred keywords for that site. You are now officially off to a good start!

The Criteria

The criteria for determining which keywords to go after and what keywords to discard is this: The keyword is must be able to produce positive return on investment. Keywords take time and money to get ranking on. Consider those resources. Will a top placement for that keyword produce positive ROI?

Broad is Bad, Specific is Good

The more specific the keyword, the better it will convert. For example, a close friend of mine sells plasma screens. The keyword "plasma screen" drives a lot of traffic, but not so much in the way of actual sales. The keyword "42 inch plasma" drives more sales, but still doesn't convert as good as "Pioneer PDP-507CMX". Consumers who have made up their mind to purchase an item usually use much more specific keywords than consumers who are simply window shopping.


Confucius put it like this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Confucius
You have a store. It's surrounded by water. Think of each keyword as a bridge to your store. Now of course you want as many bridges to your store as possible. But you can only afford so many. So you must choose wisely. You must choose the keywords that will create the most profit, that will convert the best.
And yes, I said that. I was Confucius in a former life.

Part Four - On-Page SEO

"On-page SEO" is the stuff, oddly enough, on your pages and to your site.

Search Engine Friendly URL's

Build a site without session ID's. Build a site which either has static URLs are URLs that appear to be static. The fewer parameters in the URL, the better. After all, what's the use of optimizing a page if it's never going to make it into the search engine's index?

An example of a URL with session ID's:
http://www.v7n.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=9

A cleaner URL:
http://www.v7n.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=9

Best URL for SEO:
http://www.v7n.com/forums/forum-lobby/


The Title Element

The title element, commonly referred to a page title, is the most important of on-page SEO.

Code:

<TITLE>Web Hosting - Rated #1 by Slanted Reviews.com</TITLE>

Other factors to consider are:

Keywords in the heading tags:

Code:

<H1>Quality Web Hosting</H1>

Meta Keywords:

Quote:
<meta name="keywords" content="web hosting, cpanel hosting, seattle hosting, web host, quality hosting, webhost, webhosting, PHP host">
Meta Description:

Quote:
<meta name="description" content="Web Hosting by V7. Rated #1 by Slanted Reviews.com. We support PHP, MySQL and a bunch of other stuff.">
Folder and File Names:

Bad:

www.v7inc.com/tutorial/cpanel_xv2_POP.htm

This URL may include the word "cpanel" and "POP", but it is separated by an underscore (_) instead of a hyphen (-). Google does not parse keywords in URLs when they are run together, or when they are separated by an underscore.

Instead, use the hyphen:

www.v7inc.com/flash-tutorials.php


Internal Anchor Text

Wrong:

Quote:
Navigate to my Business Hosting Page by Clicking Here
Unless you are targeting the keywords "Clicking" and "Here", that isn't going to help you much.

Correct:

Quote:
Check out our Business Hosting
Descriptive anchor text. It works wonders.

Body Copy Keyword Density and Prominence

Without Keyword Density:

Quote:
You'll love our services.
Include the keywords:

Quote:
You'll love our web hosting.
Low keyword Prominence:

Quote:
You'll love our web hosting.
High Keyword Prominence:

Quote:
Web Hosting is what you'll love.
Keyword first, you see.

Bold Text:

Quote:
You'll love our web hosting.
Italicized Text:

Quote:
You'll love our web hosting.

NOTE: The above mentioned items are "on page SEO". They tend to make your pages look uglier. You need not use all of those, or any of those. They are simply factors that the search engine may consider, and you may pick and choose which items you wish to use and which you'd rather not use.

Part Five - Link Building SEO

In the old days before Google, search engines based their rankings on the text found on the webpages and meta tags. An article on bobsledding by the inventor of bobsledding could easily be outranked by an article on bobsledding by a webmaster who had never even seen a bobsled, simply by repeating the keyword "bobsled" over and over. Search engines weren't pretty back then.

Then Google came along with its links based ranking algorithm, and links became the deciding factor in most SERPs. There are many places to get links, but how you get links does have an impact on how those links will impact your search engine rankings. Google has developed extremely advanced algorithms to evaluate links.

Part Five, Subsection A - Where To Get Links

Web Directories

First order of the day is to submit to quality web directories.

1. Yahoo! Web Directory

URL: http://dir.yahoo.com
Links: 86,967
Alexa Rank: #1
Comments: Oldest web directory on the web and one of the few that Google recommends you submit your site to.

How to add: Find the most appropriate category and click on the Suggest a Site link in the upper right. Adult sites are $600 non-refundable, recurring annual fee; non-adult sites are $300 non-refundable, recurring annual fee.


2. V7N Web Directory

URL: http://directory.v7n.com
Links: 172,050
Alexa Rank: #441
Comments: A powerful directory, one with a near-perfect uniqueness score. One of the highest traffic web directories on the web.

How to add: Find the category that best suits your site and click on the plus sign in the top right. Cost is $49,95, one time fee by PayPal.

3. DMOZ

URL: http://dmoz.org
Links: 9,789,433
Alexa Rank: #313
Comments: An older, well established web directory. Google recommends submission to this web directory, but acceptance rates are low.

How to add: Find the most relevant category and click on the suggest URL link in the top right. Review time could be a year or more, but it is worth trying. No fee to submit.

4. Umdum

URL: http://www.umdum.com
Links: 125,918
Alexa Rank: #95,685
Comments: Umdum is a newer web directory, just a year or so old. It is owned by industry expert Loren Baker, a known and respected personality and operator of Search Engine Journal. Not exactly high traffic but the link juice is strong and the directory is not over-crowded.

How to add: Find the most relevant category and click on the Submit URL Here button in the upper right.

5. Aviva Directory

URL: http://www.avivadirectory.com/
Links: 332,245
Alexa Rank: #8,279
Comments: AvivaDirectory is one of the highest promoted web directories on the Internet, and consequently a very high traffic directory.

How to add: Find the most relevant category and click on the Add Link button top left. Cost is $49.95 per year.

6. RubberStamped

URL: http://www.rubberstamped.org/
Links: 15,378
Alexa Rank: #128,000
Comments: RubberStamped is the web directory of Peter Da Vanzo, a veteran SEO industry commentator. Clean directory, not over-crowded.

How to add: Find the most relevant category and click on the Add URL link at the bottom of the page. Cost is $29.95.



Free Directories

One of the nicer things on the Internet is a free submission web directory. There are hundreds of these web directories, usually generating revenue by displaying Adsense ads. Go submit. Now. You can read the rest of this later.

Topical Directories

One of the better quality links that may give you targeted traffic is a listing in a topical web directory. If you sell widgets, go over to widget-world.com and get listing.

Related Sites

Do a search on your favorite search engine. Note the top ten websites ranking for your search term. Report these sites to Google for spamming. Then offer these website owners a small annual fee to have your link appear on the index pages of their websites.

Reciprocal Linking

Exchange links with a few of the better quality sites which deal with the same topics as your website.

Press Releases

New product line? Company going public? Acquired another company? Any newsworthy event you may have, do a press release and submit it through PRweb.com.

Link Conducive Content

Create useful informational pages which attract links. Offer a free tool, or advice. Forums often attract free links.

Free Stuff in Exchange for Links

Ever wonder how phpBB.com got a PageRank of ten? They gave away a script for free, with a link back to phpBB on every page. We gave away free hosting and saw some sweet PR, too.

Paid Stuff in Exchange for Links

The vast majority of vBulletin’s backlinks come from paying customers using their software. Ask your customers, politely, for a link.
It doesn’t have to be web related, either. Even if you sell lumber, you can ask your contractor/customers to link back to your website from theirs.

Writing Articles

Write articles. Include a link in your byline. Offer articles to related websites. Voila. Linkage.

Writing Testimonials

One great way to get links and make people happy is to give other webmasters testimonials. Do you like your web host? Neither do I, but it doesn’t stop me from offering a testimonial to my web host which includes a link back to my website.

Supporting Good Causes

A few of the better links we’ve acquired for v7n were acquired by donating to good causes, such as MozDev and Evolt.org

Blogs & Forums

Contribute intelligently to blog or forum discussions. Include a link to your website in your signature.

Interviews

Interview people who have friends. Their friends will link to the interview you place on your website. Or, if people like you, give interviews and make sure the interviewer includes a link to your website on the interview page.

Professional Organizations

Do you belong to the AMA, the MRI or the BBQ? Most professional organizations have websites. They may already include your name and address - ask them to include a link to your website.

Free Hosted Doorway Pages

Create a two or three page doorway site on Geocities. Include your keywords in the page titles. Include several links to your real website with your keywords in the anchor text. Provide doorway pages with limited number of links from dubious sources.

Awards

Selling widgets? Have a Best Widget Resource Site Award. Give the award to every widget resource site on the Internet. Get them all to link to you. Schweeet!

Contests

Have a contest. Create publicity. Get links. Even better if you can tick off a pompous windbag. More publicity.

Friends

Seventeenth-century English author John Donne said, “No man is an island”. I really have no idea how that ties into this discussion, but I am sure you know people. Friends, family, people who think you are friends - these folks may have websites, and you may be able to force them into linking to your website. Who knows; it’s worth a try.

Organic Links – Link Worthy Content

Organic means natural. In SEO, an organic link is a free link. In this article, organic is used in reference to links which are not paid for.

Each website is different, one effective strategy is to create link-worthy content such as an original and legitimately insightful article, and then promote that article via Pay Per Click services such as Adwords. If the article is genuinely useful, the chances are that you will reap a wealth of links after just a few weeks of pay per click promotion.

In Summary

SEO is not a substitute for a viable business model. SEO is not a substitute for a good marketing. SEO is a legitimate way of increasing your search engine referrals for keywords relevant to your business. SEO has saved individual business owners hundreds of thousands of dollars, and created revenues in the millions.



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