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SEO! What's the G.O.?

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SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) aims at making changes to your website to improve its position in search engine listings.

Does it work? Do you need an SEO firm to do it for you?

Or can you be optimistic and possibly D-I-Y?

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) aims at making changes to your website to improve its position in search engine listings.

Does it work? Do you need an SEO firm to do it for you?

Or can you be optimistic and possibly D-I-Y?

SEO - Purpose: SEO ensures that your website is accessible for search engines to index properly when they visit, and improves the chances that the site will be found by people using search engines.

A whole industry has grown of companies using techniques beyond the basic SEO rules, in an attempt to trick their way to the top of search engine listings. The result? Search engines constantly change their "algorithms" for displaying relevant results... So the cheaters succeed only with lower placement or even getting banned.

You need a sensible, ongoing approach to SEO so you do not shoot yourself in the foot and run the risk of being banned.

Golden SEO Rules

These are the basic "golden" SEO rules practically anyone can follow to prepare their web site pages for search engines, and involve:
  1. Site content/structure
  2. Page copy and layout
  3. Meta tag usage
  4. Link building processes

These are explained further in this article...

But before you engage any SEO firm, look at what you can do yourself to get things going... You'll save a lot of money if you don't have to pay someone to do what you should have done yourself!

Questions... And Lots of Them...

The first questions you need to ask yourself are:
  1. How competitive is your industry? If you are in a highly competitive industry, it is time for a reality check!

    You are not - EVER - going to get to the top of the search engine results pages! No matter what anyone says! The competition for those TEN places is most likely way to BIG!

    Just how is it possible to get there for ALL the keywords you desire? It isn't. Sorry.

    Instead, focus on aspects of SEO other than getting a top ten placement!

  2. How long has your site been up and running? If it's new (under six months) then remember the other players in your industry have been around a lot longer than you, so they essentially have the top places sewn up! (for now LOL)

    That is highly unlikely to change (in the short term), as search engines don't really like new sites. Many new sites are unfortunately packed with keyword spam and offer little value to searchers.

    As far as the search engines are concerned, established sites should provide better "results" for the real people using them.

  3. What other "advertising" techniques are you currently using to get visitors to your site? E.G. AdWords, directory listings, off-line advertising, social marketing, etc? How are these working for you?

  4. How many visitors each day/month are you getting? Examine your web server logs and look for UNIQUE visits (not hits). Look also for referrers - places your visits came from. How has that changed over time? The key word here is TIME!

Search engine optimisation should be seen as a long term, ongoing process and not a quick fix.

Vital Tip!!!

Keep adding "fresh" content to your site - regularly!

New products, articles, links and news. Change up your existing pages from time to time.

Search engines love sites that "update" regularly. It encourages them to revisit and re-index your site more often.

And that is great news for you!

Now - Let's Look at Your Site...

How many pages are on your site? Remember that an small eight page "brochure" style site has much LESS chance of getting found in the search engines compared to a site with fifty or more pages of great content.

How many of these pages are currently indexed in the search engines?

Type into Google to see how many of your pages are currently in their index.

If your site does not appear at all, then look at getting external links to your site happening quickly. Once your site and pages are prepared properly (see below) then submit your site to the search engines using the forms they provide.

Avoid using services that promise to submit your site to 100's of search engines! These are not always "good neighbourhoods" to be associated with. See the section below titled "How can you get more links IN to your site?"

If you've got less than 5%-10% of your total pages available in the search engines, then you must be doing something seriously wrong that will take a lot of work to get the rest of your site indexed.

If you've got around 80-100% of total pages already in the search engines, then that's an excellent start.

Improve the Positioning of Your Existing Pages

Look at how you can improve the positioning of your existing pages by examining the structure of your site.

Ask yourself the following questions about the structure of each page on your site:

  1. Does each page contain meta tags? You need at least a title and description tag that contain the main keywords relevant to that particular page. These tags are hidden in the HTML code at the top of each page.

  2. Does each page contain simple navigation that allows search engines (and people) quick access to the other main areas of your site? Do the links in your navigation include your main site keywords?

  3. Is the actual content of the page in TEXT or is it mainly graphical? It's much simpler for search engines to index words than pictures.

  4. Is there actually any REAL CONTENT on the page or is it "thin"? For example... this article (@ 1700 words) is well over what I would recommend to be the MINIMUM of 500 words. If you have thin content... take it out to dinner and fatten it up!

    This particularly applies to e-commerce sites. Often the product descriptions used are very "light" on. They are usually just a straight grab from the supplier's pages! Make them "unique" to yours, and you'll be a winner, chicken dinner!!!

  5. Does your text-based content contain your important keywords? Does your copy include the relevant keywords for the page? These keywords can be repeated several times on the page, preferably in properly formed sentences that make sense to human visitors. But do not overdose the page with lists of words. Such keyword spamming will get you banned!

    Speaking of key words... Are you just "guessing" what keywords people "might" use to find you, or have you done some solid research into that area?

  6. Is there any unnecessary text on the page that dilutes the importance of your main keywords? If so, get rid of it!

  7. Is your "call to action" obvious? It's got to be so obvious, even blind Freddy can find it! If it isn't, then what DO your visitors do when they get to your site?

  8. Are your page URL's meaningful and include keywords? If your pages are named like please note that many search engines don't like following that type of link. Make sure the majority of your pages are "normal" html pages in the eyes of search engines, e.g. It also makes it easier for us humans to understand too.

  9. Are pages self-contained? In other words, NOT set up in a "frames" structure. Search engines don't like framed pages. And it doesn't work well for visitors who come into your site through a page that is only part of the frame.

How can you INCREASE the number of pages on the site?

Throw a few more needles into the search engine haystack... Add another 50 or so pages to:
1. be indexed by search engines to improve your chances of being found, and
2. offer more benefit to your visitors when they come to your site. Give them a good reason to return again and again with the depth of content you offer.

There are two ways you can easily add new pages to your site that both search engines and your visitors will love.

  1. Add Articles.

    Make sure these new article pages are relevant to your site's theme, and each article focuses on one set of keywords. Don't stuff all the articles with all of your keywords!

    That's not good SEO... and they'll stay buried under the bottom of the haystack!

    Included in this category are "news" pages. Do you have "news" section on your site to keep your visitors updated with the latest info?

  2. Add a Links Directory.

    Yes... this is an "ancient" tactic, but still very worthwhile IF you approach it correctly :)

    Notice I used the word "directory" as opposed to a "page". A "page" of a hundred or more links offers NO search engine value to you (or even the sites you link to).

    Set up a directory structure. Then, build an entirely new, comprehensive section of categorised links to other websites that are relevant to your business or locality.

    It's actually quite easy to build several hundred pages here... one page for each category, and one page describing each linked site in detail.

    Examine how you link back to the rest of your site from these pages, to ensure that any visitors who arrive at these pages can easily find their way to what it is you are selling!

    This does NOT need to be a "reciprocal" links directory as the benefit to you here is the extra content you are getting indexed.

    Remember... Google does not like "Low-quality directory or bookmark site links" - so don't be one of those :)

Speaking of Google... here's what they currently say about "Link Schemes":
"The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it."

How can you get more links IN to your site?

It's good SEO practice to have a certain number of incoming links to your site. Incoming links are very valuable in the search engine stakes, as long as they are from sites that contain content "relevant" to yours.

An age-old tactic can be "reciprocal links" - i.e. sites link to you and you link back to them. Any reciprocal links you do get should be "featured" within your Links Directory mentioned in the previous section.

You should definitely look at building one-way links into your site. You can do this by "listing" your site on relevant topic directories, either with free or paid/sponsor listings.

Two excellent ways to get incoming links are to write articles and submit them to article banks, and/or submit press releases at other sites.

Wherever you link from, make sure the link to your site is a direct link to your URL, and not passed through a "redirect" or counter script. There is little SEO value in that. Also, avoid like the plague "link farms". They will damage your reputation.

RSS Feeds

Another way to attract traffic to your site is to create RSS feeds of your new content. RSS is a technology which lots of people use to stay in touch with what interests them.

Whatever new products, items on special, new articles, new links, etc., that you add to your site can be converted into RSS feeds. Search engines pick these up very quickly.

And… you can use other people's RSS feeds to add content to your site!


Well... Yes! You CAN do all of the basic stuff yourself if you want to! Why pay good money to an SEO firm, unless you just don't have the time to do it yourself.

However... if you have done all the basics and you are still not happy with your search engine results, maybe it is time to talk to an SEO firm. At least by now, you should have a far better understanding of what they suggest they can do for you to decide if the investment is worth it.

Remember, as a website owner it is your responsibility to ensure any SEO firm you use to improve your site's visibility does NOT use dodgy techniques! These could permanently damage your site in the eyes of the major search engines.

A good SEO firm can add the shine to all your hard work! So be sure you get the right one.

Written by coais

About Stephen Spry

Stephen Spry is a freelance web designer and Internet publisher. He has been working online, full-time, since 1995 after an 18-year career as a high school Careers Adviser. Stephen operates several websites and web directories in a variety of niches. His main web design business can be found here » Come On Aussie.

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