SEO & Keywords

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

seo keywordsThe #1 SEO challenge is to find the best keyword or key-phrase around which to build your campaign. Once you have that, you need to optimize your site(s) around that keyword so as to best take advantage of it.

If you can discover the best high-search but low-competition keyword, your Google rank for THAT particular keyword will be tops – and you will automatically attract clickthroughs. In my experience so far, as well as that of others, if you get your keywords right, you can really get some meaningful traffic, if you’re operating in a popular niche.

seoUse SEO/keyword optimization techniques to discover the best keywords for your page. To do that, use Google, SpyFu as well as the Google Keyword Tool to start with. There are more tools as well, which I’ll tell you about in due course.

Keywords can be short of long (a.k.a. “key phrases” or “long-tail keywords”), and it goes without saying that the short ones are the toughest to dominate. They’re all taken and you’ll probably never rank very high with any of them. If you have an indie music website, for example, and you thus feel that one of your keywords should definitely be “indie music”, you’ll discover that your page will be listed at the bottom of the search results on page 999,999 – in other words: no one will ever find it!

I just typed “indie music” into Google and I got 51,800,000 results! Ugh…

“Long keywords” to the rescue.

If your site specializes in really cool new indie music – use THAT very phrase and see what you come up with. I just did and wouldn’t you know “really cool new indie music” returned 6,540,000 results. Not great but already better than the shorter keyword.

We need to get our search results down to something much more manageable. I tried “really cool new indie music that rocks” and I “only” got 330,000 competing results… Hey, we’re getting somewhere now! If we can get under 100,000 we’re in with a chance, and if we can get it down to even fewer – like 10,000 or so – we’re almost guaranteed to get to the top of Google for THAT very phrase. You’ll discover that this exercise can take you quite a lot of time. But if you take it seriously – it can seriously reward you. One note at this point, however: just because you get a popular phrase right, doesn’t mean that it’s worth taking. Use the keyword tool and SpyFu to establish whether there is a lot of competition for it! No competition might mean that nobody’s searching using that phrase!

Once you find a few potential (long) keywords – with low competition – enter them into the analytical tools mentioned above and check how many people search for the component words. You want low competition on the long keyword but high popularity of the whole niche and the individual components of your keyword.

Getting the keyword right means that Google’s organic results will be working for you – FOR FREE. Just remember that EACH PAGE of your website needs its own keywords!

One word of caution: Google doesn’t like single-page websites, so even if you get the best keyword in the world, if all you have is a squeeze page – chances are you won’t get listed high at all. Google loves content sites. For this reason, your squeeze page MAY benefit from at least a few internal links, menus and such. Some marketers will tell you, however, that this is a distraction and shouldn’t be done. In truth, you can justify both positions. Experiment!

The way around this “squeeze page prejudice” is to place an article with links to your squeeze page on one of those article marketing sites! (Look for insights on those within these pages!). If Google finds your article – people will read it, and your article will direct them to your squeeze page! Just make sure that your article’s title is keyword rich!

A Few Things To Keep In Mind

  • Ggoogle looks at individual pages, not whole website
  • Compare organic results vs PPC results on a Google results page. Organic results get MORE clicks!
  • Top-ranked pages get to top of the listing
  • Right side of the page – sponsored links – tend to get the lowest clicks…! 1 – 2%
  • Top portion of the results page  – sponsored links – also get lowest clicks…! 4 – 6%
  • Organic results – NEAR top of page – get the most clicks (ca. 30%)
  • Google wants their customers to be happy & trust them so results must be pertinent
    • Site content is king
    • Backlinks (web page pointed to by other sites) – with one-way links being the most valuable.
    • Google doesn’t like squeeze pages
  • Write a keyword-rich article – eg eZineArticles.com; then give it to a popular website – the same article as on your squeeze page. If you’re on a PAGE at ezinearticles Google will respect that and your *article* will appear on top (which leads to your squeeze page via your signature under the article).
  • Twitter posts can appear on top of Google as well!

A Few More Things To Keep in Mind, Regarding Keywords

  • Research: discover which words will be most profitble
  • Most popular – not necessarily most intuitive – to you
  • Use Google Keyword Tool to discover how many searches a keyword gets
  • Then proceed to discover the competition for this keyword
  • Look for – high searches but low competition
  • Long/short-tail keywords: short keyword mean lots of competition!
  • Find profitable long-tail keywords.
  • Use Google AdWords Keyword Tool! Anything over 2000 is potentially a profitable keyword
  • To find what your actual competition is, go back to Google and type keyword in quotation marks. This will list ### pages that match.
  • Millions of results are too many – less than 60,000 is probably “low competition” for keyword.
  • Each page of a website needs specific (good) keywords!
  • A Squeeze Page doesn’t get to top of Google because it’s a 1-page website – Google loves content, i.e. a page from a bigger site. But an article can easily get to page 1! Just remmber: keyword-rich article title is key.

Search Engine Strategies (source)

Perhaps the most important — and inexpensive — strategy is to rank high for your preferred keywords on the main search engines in “organic” or “natural” searches (as opposed to paid ads). Search engines send robot “spiders” to index the content of your webpage, so let’s begin with steps to prepare your webpages for optimal indexing. The idea here is not to trick the search engines, but to leave them abundant clues as to what your webpage is about. This approach is called “search engine optimization,” abbreviated as SEO.

1. Write a Keyword-Rich Page Title. Write a descriptive title for each page — rich in keywords you want people to find you with — using 5 to 8 words. Remove as many “filler” words from the title (such as “the,” “and,” etc.) as possible, while still making it readable. This page title will appear hyperlinked on the search engines when your page is found. Entice searchers to click on the title by making it a bit provocative. Place this at the top of the webpage between the <HEAD></HEAD> tags, in this format: <TITLE>Web Marketing Checklist — 37  Ways to Promote Your Website</TITLE>. (It also shows on the blue bar at the top of your web browser.)

Blue bar at top of web browser containing the Title

Plan to use some descriptive keywords along with your business name on your home page. If you specialize in silver bullets and that’s what people will be searching for, don’t just use your company name “Acme Ammunition, Inc.,” use “Silver and Platinum Bullets — Acme Ammunition, Inc.” The words people are most likely to search on should appear first in the title (called “keyword prominence”). Remember, this title is your identity on the search engines. The more people see that interests them in the blue hyperlinked words on the search engine, the more likely they are to click on the link.

2. Write a Description META Tag. Some search engines include this description below your hyperlinked title in the search results. The description should be a sentence or two describing the content of the webpage, using the main keywords and keyphrases on this page. Don’t include keywords that don’t appear on the webpage. Place the Description META Tag at the top of the webpage, between the <HEAD></HEAD> tags, in this format:

<META NAME=”DESCRIPTION” CONTENT=”Increase visitor hits, attract traffic through submitting URLs, META tags, news releases, banner ads, and reciprocal links.”>

The maximum number of characters should be about 255; just be aware that only the first 60 or so are visible on Google, though more may be indexed.

When I prepare a webpage, I write the article first, then develop a keyword-rich title (#1 above). Then I write a description of the content in that article in a sentence or two, using each of the important keywords and keyphrases included in the article. This goes into the description META tag.

Next, I strip out the common words, leaving just the meaty keywords and phrases and insert those into the keywords META tag. It’s no longer used much for ranking, but I’m leaving it in anyway. I think it may have some minor value. So to summarize so far, every webpage in your site should have a distinct title and META description tag. If you implement these two points, you’re well on your way to better search engine ranking. But there’s more that will help your ranking….

3. Include Your Keywords in Headers (H1, H2, H3). Search engines consider keywords that appear in the page headline and sub heads to be important to the page, so make sure your desired keywords and phrases appear in one or two header tags. Don’t expect the search engine to parse your Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) to figure out which are the headlines — it won’t. Instead, use keywords in the H1, H2, and H3 tags to provide clues to the search engine. (Note: Some designers no longer use the H1, H2 tags. That’s a big mistake. Make sure your designer defines these tags in the CSS rather than creating headline tags with other names.)

4. Position Your Keywords in the First Paragraph of Your Body Text. Search engines expect that your first paragraph will contain the important keywords for the document — where most people write an introduction to the content of the page. You don’t want to just artificially stuff keywords here, however. More is not better. Google might expect a keyword density in the entire body text area of maybe 1.5% to 2% for a word that should rank high, so don’t overdo it.

5. Include Descriptive Keywords in the ALT Attribute of Image Tags. This helps your site be more accessible to sight-impaired visitors (www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/glance/) and gives additional clues to the search engines. The ALT attributes do help get your images ranked higher for image search (see #12 below).

6. Use Keywords in Hyperlinks. Search engines are looking for clues to the focus of your webpage. When they see words hyperlinked in your body text, they consider these potentially important, so hyperlink your important keywords and keyphrases. To emphasize it even more, the webpage you are linking to could have a page name with the keyword or keyphrase, such as blue-widget.htm — another clue for the search engine.

7. Make Your Navigation System Search Engine Friendly. You want search engine robots to find all the pages in your site. JavaScript and Flash navigation menus that appear when you hover are great for humans, but search engines don’t read JavaScript and Flash very well. Therefore, supplement JavaScript and Flash menus with regular HTML links at the bottom of the page, ensuring that a chain of hyperlinks exists that take a search engine spider from your home page to every page in your site. Don’t set up your navigation system using HTML frames (an old, out-dated approach); they can cause severe indexing problems.

Some content management systems and e-commerce catalogs produce dynamic, made-on-the-fly webpages, often recognizable by question marks in the URLs followed by long strings of numbers or letters. Overworked search engines sometimes have trouble parsing long URLs and may stop at the question mark, refusing to go farther. If you find the search engines aren’t indexing your interior pages, you might consider URL rewriting, a site map, or commercial solutions.

8. Create a Site Map. A site map page with links to all your pages can help search engines (and visitors) find all your pages, particularly if you have a larger site. You can use a free tools, like XML Sitemaps to create XML sitemaps that are used by the major search engines to index your webpages accurately. Upload your sitemap to your website. Then submit your XML sitemap to Google, Yahoo!, and Bing (formerly MSN), following instructions on their sites. By the way,  Google Webmaster Central (www.google.com/webmasters/) has lots of tools to help you get ranked higher. Be sure to set up a free account and explore what they have to offer. Also, if you use WordPress, there are many excellent plugins which automatically generate the sitemaps for you.

9. Develop Webpages Focused on Each Your Target Keywords. SEO specialists no longer recommend using external doorway or gateway pages, since nearly duplicate webpages might get you penalized. Rather, develop several webpages on your site, each of which is focused on a target keyword or keyphrase for which you would like a high ranking. Let’s say you sell teddy bears. Use Google Insights for Search (www.google.com/insights/search/) or the free keyword suggestion tool on WordTracker to find the related keywords people search on. In this case: write a separate webpage featuring the keyword “teddy bear,” “teddy bears,” “vermont teddy bears,” “vermont bears,” “the teddy bears,” teddy bears picnic,” “teddy bears pictures,” etc. You’ll write a completely different article on each topic. You can’t fully optimize all the webpages in your site, but for each of these focused-content webpages, spend lots of time tweaking to improve its ranking, as described in point #10.

10. Fine-tune with Careful Search Engine Optimization. Now fine-tune your focused-content pages and perhaps your home page, by making a series of minor adjustments to help them rank higher. Software such as WebPosition allows you to check your current ranking and compare your webpages against your top keyword competitors. I use it regularly. WebPosition’s Page Critic tool provides analysis of a search engine’s preferred statistics for each part of your webpage, with specific recommendations of what minor changes to make.

Frankly, this kind of SEO fine-tuning is time-consuming, painstaking work that takes a lot of specialized knowledge. For this reason, many small and large businesses outsource search engine optimization.

11. Targeting Unmonetized Searches

  • Ingredients: KW research tools like Yahoo!’s KW Selector Tool, Wordtracker & KWDiscovery + Overture’s View Bids Tool and Google’s KW Tool
  • Process: Identify some relatively high-traffic search terms or phrases that have a very rough relationship with your industry, business or site but have little to no advertisers buying keyword advertising. For $0.10 a click (sometimes less), you can build your branding and your site’s visibility. Make sure to serve up great content that targets exactly what the searchers want – a list of resources, an informational how-to article or the like. If you deliver great results in a search where you’re the only advertiser, searchers will remember you, re-visit you and, occassionaly, write about and link to you.
  • Results: Campaigns of this size can be anywhere from a few dozen to a few thousand visitors per day depending on your budget. In either case, be sure to have some action items for visitors to follow and watch your analytics like a hawk to ensure that you’re bringing in real value with the terms you’ve chosen (i.e. if your abandonment rate is 75%+, you need to tweak something).
  • Examples: On this one, it’s very hard to give examples without giving away clients or potentially spoiling opportunities, but luckily, Graywolf has a perfect example in his Pirates of the Caribbean post, where there’s a lot of searches trending that way and no advertisers – a perfect opportunity for the right player to get in the game (pun intended).

Google Search for McDonalds Pirates of the Caribbean

Note the lack of ads…

1 Comment

  1. Hello there! I really enjoy reading your blog! If you keep making such great posts I will come back every day to keep reading!

    Reply

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