SEO 101

SEO 101

Are profitable, top SERPs possible without the help of an experienced search engine optimization company?

Can a software package or online miracle tool or program touting testimonials and grandeur guarantees of success elevate your online presence enough to really increase sales?

Unfortunately, unless the software or miracle SEO tool were able to research your product market, find hidden niches within it, write intriguing, creative, relevant and keyword laden content, house it in a framework that meshes precisely with that content, research and analyze your ranking competition and apply that statistical data within the afore mentioned tasks, you’ll definitely be using that money back guarantee.

The same goes of number one ranking promises for a keyword for $49. Now I’m not suggesting a claim like that is bogus or false advertising by any means. But, ask if that keyword or phrase has actually had more than one search somewhere in the world in the past month. Or to shake them, insist your keyword phrase they must bring to the number one spot is a large search phrase like “SEO” for example. Many time the phrases they are offering will rather be something like “SEO in East Mogadore Ohio 44260″… and you know my kid could hit that one.

IS THERE INEXPENSIVE SEO HELP THAT WORKS?

Is there a working alternative for smaller businesses and startups that can’t budget professional SEO right now? There are techniques that will give your online store a chance of rising higher in the ranks. You’ll find countless articles, posts and instructions online and in bookstores about general things you can do to your shop to improve its online presence and organic rank.

While helpful and usually fairly accurate, blindly applying every technique you read to your site without some further knowledge of your own site, your competition, your  market and some good old fashioned research will hinder your efforts.

With some real hands on, current analysis of YOUR individual situation at your disposal, you can greatly improve your efforts with even the smallest textual copy, title or content adjustment. However, it is going to require some work on your part, no matter what DIY tactics you employ. There is no something for nothing or any free rides on for online businesses… No matter what you though or were told when you started.

There are however, tools and analysis reports available to you for free that can give you a a plain and relative advantage. Some plain English comparisons of your page vs. the top 10 ranking pages in a particular search engine for a particular keyword phrase will define dozens of parameters to begin your DIY optimization.

How many links do you need? Are there better keywords you should choose? What do you do with all this information once you have it? Comparisons and analysis of your store and your competitor’s stores are usually presented in an easy to understand graphical format that will reveal patterns and collected intelligence that can help you re-write and revise your own content,  page layout and begin your SEO efforts… Without spending a dime.

SET REALISTIC GOALS

You must remember, legitimate, professional search engine optimizers are completely engaged in their specific field and are educated generally with experience. The time, knowledge, talent and effort that you get with a professional SEO is worth every penny.  Face it can your simply read about SEO for 15 hours a week? This is the kind of commitment good SEOs have taken for their own personal and professional growth.

A professional SEO’s approach will involve research of your product or niche market, competition and most times a significant renovation of your existing site from code to content. The in-depth attention to detail and deep analysis, content development, link and page structure requires a significant amount of time, experience and a lot of hand work… Then you add the things the SEO sees as obvious that most would never even consider, and the benefits become even more clear.

In other words, if you want to feel better and improve your self image and confidence, you don’t have to pay a doctor to tell you that eating healthy, taking a vitamin and regular exercise will make a marked improvement in your well being… Do you?

If you want the large scale, lasting and radical change a facelift can give you, you must pay a plastic surgeon for his education, experience and talent… This is not going to be a butterknife job!

Don’t forget to use some common sense when looking at your market and your SEO. If you think you’re going to rank for a highly competitive keyword that has several well known authorative websites at the top without the aid of a professional, you’ll probably end up disheartened. Your website is your business, or maybe you would just like it to be… Would you trust a part time fast food worker to install a safe in your brick and moratr business to protect your assets?

Achieving first page SERPs for competitive keywords in a saturated market is really a insurmontable task for very new stores. This type of goal setting is great, but short term goals will keep you afloat and support the longer term goals like this along the way. At the very least you would require a full time effort by an experienced firm with expansive resources to take on such a challenge… and the budget to pay them as well. Don’t be discouraged; with some brainstorming and common sense you can think of some related, less competitive longtail keywords and niche markets to target which will sustain your business and lend to the strong foundation for the bigger box phrases and necessary authority to acheive them later on.

A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE CAN GO A LONG WAY

Some very simple copy (text) adjustments in the right places in your store can go a long way on less competitive sites. Let’s look at a few easy changes any shop owner can make.

Page Titles

The page title, the words that display in the top of your browser window, is one of the most crucial elements on the entire page as far as the search engines go. When you search for something you sell what do you type in the search field? Unless it’s a company’s specific name, you type in a keyword or key phrase like “men’s cross training air sneakers”.

A very common mistake is to put your company name in the page title. Sometimes it’s appropriate and necessary, but for ranking purposes, use a concise and descriptive title for your page with a prime keyword from that specific page.

Uniqueness and relevancy count big here….. Short, sweet and potent!

Content Quality

You’ll surely find as many contrasting opinions about content as there are about politics. Take away the extremes and you’ll find the core principals are the same. To increase your organic rank, you have to have search able content, and it must be high quality. What is quality? More importantly, what do the search engines think is quality compared to your shoppers?

The answers depend on your store and position on the Internet. However, all quality content shares some common characteristics.

It’s very plainly unique, engaging, descriptive and useful information about your products or services. Don’t throw random free, generic, carbon copied stuff stolen from the web onto your store. Use some thought and creativity. Build great copy around different aspects of your target.

LOOK FROM A NEW PERSPECTIVE

If you have a site about restoring classic cars, write a page about the evolution of headlights over the last few decades. Add another page about how and where to find hard to find classic car parts. This is genuine useful information for searchers.. which is relative to your main target content/theme.

Content should be:

Easy to follow and well written for a 10th grade human reader, not a search engine.

Unique write it yourself or hire a quality writer…. This is not a keyword stuffing fest!

Varied content ranks! Don’t fill your pages with the same keywords repeatedly or you risk being considered spam. Examine the keyword density of your keyword AFTER you write as a self check. While there is no magic number, exceeding 5 % is highly not recommended.

Take a few more evenings or weekends and improve your SERPs by doing some research and data digging, then apply that invaluable knowledge strategically in your store. Make few changes at a time and use your analytics to measure your results…. If you make 40 changes and have great success, how wil you know what worked??

KINDS OF SEO RESEARCH

There are SEO companies and tool online who offer various reports that can save you a lot of the legwork. Even the simplest of tasks can be too time consuming when you need to focus on editing your store’s pages. For example, finding your current rank, if any, in all of the major engines for all of the keywords you want to rank could take a day on your own.

Some other types of reports available are:

Keyword Research

A list of keywords you or I might make sitting down with a pencil and paper is a good start, but barely the tip of the iceberg. The important word here is “start”. That list is dozens of revisions and hours of solid research away from completion. It will expand and contract many times as further information is gathered and implemented.

Are your words focused and targeted enough so you’ll attract qualified sales leads? Are there related words and phrases that you haven’t thought of? What words does your competition have throughout their pages? And most importantly, are the words you’ve chosen are actually being typed into search engines to find your products?

You can find many different levels of keyword services from simple analysis of your existing pages to research and development of an entire list ready for use in your pages or PPC campaigns.

Competition Research

Who is ranking now? Who is in the top positions where you want to be? Examine your competition’s pages with a microscope. Gaining a deep understanding of those you want to outrank gives you a working outline to revise your own. (Do NOT copy their content or ideas…. It won’t work.) Focus on the search trends, keywords, densities, titles nd other on page elements… their page structure and their backlinks (including anchor text).

On Page Optimization

An page or site report like this analyzes the words in the elements on your page like titles and boldface or headings as well as your body copy, and link text. It also tells you information about keyword density. Earlier I mentioned that using a keyword too many times on a page could be considered spam. An analysis like this will show how many times each word, word pairs and groups of words were used on a page and what percentage of density all the words they are.

A report on a high ranking competitor’s site will give you some relative insight into a page that is successfully ranking for keywords you want.

Off Page or Link Reports

As soon as you start learning about search engine optimization, you’ll understand what a key role good quality inbound links play in determining rank. These types of analysis will show who is linking to you, or even better, who is linking to a ranking competitor. You can get some ideas of websites to list with and an approximate number of links of a particular quality that you’ll need to rank as well or better.

TAKE SOME ACTION

If ranking and online presence are crucial, then find a respected, recommended and experienced search engine optimization professional to at least help you along. The same common sense logic that tells you to go to the doctor when aspirin doesn’t do the job also applies to this situation.

If budget is constricting, your keywords have little competition, or you’d like to improve your presence to the best it can be without employing a professional then you’d be surprised what a little detication, new knowledge and time can do for your ranking. Applying the same techniques every few weeks and keeping your store’s content fresh will put you a level even higher above the rest.

Remember, many variables and factors are considered and given varying weights by different engines to determine where your shop ranks. A brand new store, no matter how well optimized it is usually doesn’t show any palatable rank in Google until it miraculously appears about a year later. Older sites of more than a few years often take the top ranks for competitive words due to their trusted content and authority… But the right things now, will make your store trusted and authoratative when it’s your turn.

Don’t let yourself get discouraged. The simple SEO methods you read about online or in other publications can give your site a stronger presence, but will achieve far better results for you if you employ some smaller, budget based intelligence and research to the plan.