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The Secret of Professional Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I will call a potential client this afternoon who’s looking for help showing up in Google search results.  I started an outline of the conversation we’ll have,  and I am posting these secrets of the SEO trade so you — or your web designer — can also use them for your business.

First, Everything is Incremental. I am going to suggest a bunch of things you should do.  Each of them has some value.  But, there’s no one thing you can do to show up top in Google.  The good news is that if there is any step which you don’t want to do — or cannot do — don’t sweat it.  There’s no one thing that will keep you out of the top page of Google either.

Second, Search Engine Optimization is about marketing your business on the Internet. This means showing up on Google maps, video listings, and other top-of-the-heap results. Old-style SEO was designed to get your business’ web page on top of web page listings. But, nowadays maps, product prices, and YouTube links can show up above web page results. You want your business high on these new lists, too.

The main focus of most SEO professionals is the optimization of your web site pages to match the rules Google uses for page ranking. This is the most important action you can take to let Google know what your site is about, and we’ll talk about it.  However, tuning individual pages is probably only 50% of the battle.  So keep reading to find out what most amateurs leave out of their hit-and-run approach to SEO.

Tuning Your Web Page(s)

Editing your web pages so that Google knows what you’re selling is the first thing you should do.  It’s the action that will give you the biggest boost in results.

Your initial task is to identify the keyword phrases which people will search for when you want to pop up in Google.  You can effectively tune one web page for one phrase, so choosing the right words is important.  The selection of keywords is an art itself which I will talk about another time.

Once you have identified the keywords you want to compete for in Google, then you tune your home page for the most important phrase and tune other service/product pages for the other phrases you have identified.

What’s tuning? It’s simply placing the keyword phrase in various visible and invisible (HTML code) places on your page.  The keyword should lead the page title, top header, and initial text paragraphs.  The keyword should lead the descriptive tags for photographs. It should also start off the <meta> description that Google uses to describe the page in summary in its results lists.

Many people think that SEO is done when the pages are tuned for the keywords.  In fact, for many keyword phrases, proper tuning is all you need to do to show up high in Google’s results.  But, for competitive phrases — and to stay on top — there’s more work to be done.

What Google Likes

Google doesn’t share its ranking algorithm, but it does publish tips for webmasters.  The guidelines boil down to “have a well-structured and regularly maintained site with original, high-quality content”, in the wording Google uses in one of its tips.

There are some metrics which seem to please Google, resulting in higher placement for your pages and site.  Google likes sites that:

  • have at least 5 pages
    A couple products, “about us”, and “contact” page is the bare minimum
  • frequently update their pages
    Google rewards pages that are refreshed with new content.  They figure that updated pages are more useful to visitors.
  • slowly add content
    Adding a page or two every month shows Google that the site is active and of increasing value to web surfers

So, when planning a SEO campaign, we need to schedule updates and other actions which will show Google over time that your business is a serious player with valuable information for Google’s users.

Incoming Links

Google is impressed when your pages are pointed to by other sites.  The more quality sites point to you, the higher you’ll get in search results.  So, get links:

  • from authoritative sites like professional organizations, alumni associations, government licensing agencies, and other formal places.  Links to your site from sites that end in “.edu” or “.gov” are especially valuable.
  • from business associates
  • family sites, family blog, friends, anyone and everyone

Social Media

Making your site popular also means showing up in Facebook, Twitter, Buzz, and other social media spots.  Not only will people discover your business on these sites, Google will see the links on these sites that go to your main site.  This will tell Google that there’s buzz about you, too.

Blogs

Blogs like this Dangerous Common Sense blog serve two purposes:  they spread your name on the Internet as an expert, and your links from your blog to your main site add to your main site’s perceived popularity in Google.  Regular blogging will boost your visibility and perceived value!

Maps and Other Media

Search Engine result pages for businesses now show maps and information from videos and other non-text media when you search for some phrases. When we searched for “San Francisco CPA” here’s what we got back this afternoon:

Google Results for "San Francisco CPA"

Google Results for "San Francisco CPA"

The lesson is that when you optimize your site for search traffic, also grab your business location listing in Google and Bing. Be sure to enter your telephone number so that it’s clickable on smart phones.

No Voodoo Needed!

I have fielded calls for my clients from a lot of fast-talking Search Engine Optimization marketers who lace their spiels with confusing techo-babble.  I think they’re trying to use shock and awe on traditional business people.  Don’t fall for it.

Follow the steps I’ve listed above, and you’ll do as well as any professional SEO service.  Of course, you may not have the time or energy to do these things yourself, and hiring a professional is a good idea.  I think you should hire me!

Whomever you engage, make sure that they are ready to do all of the actions I’ve talked about. Tuning, in-coming link gathering, on-going page changes, web site additions, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and business center listings are all important, incremental actions you can take to gain business from the Internet.

By |2010-06-30T12:48:19+00:00June 30th, 2010|Search Engine Optimization|1 Comment

Picking the One Phrase that Will Get Your Site the Most Visitors

New clients start off by telling me that they want their site to show up on the top of Google search results. My response usually stumps them: “For what phrase do you want to be #1 ?”

As I posted last week, you can tune a web page for just one phrase, and most business owners don’t know what their best money-making phrase is.  Selecting the right keyword phrase will get your site visitors. Picking the wrong one will mean your work is invisible and a bad return on your website investment.

Here are 2 tips to help you pick the right keywords for your web pages:

Pick phrases that are specific.

User searchingIf you are offering a guided tours of the Alaska wilderness around Prince William Sound, you don’t want to tune your page for “vacation”, even if people buy your guide service as part of their vacation.  “Vacation” is too generic, and most people looking to go on a vacation have another destination in mind. Perhaps they’re even thinking of a tropical resort.

You’ll be better off selecting a phrase such as “Alaska wilderness vacations” or even “Prince William Sound guided tours”.  If people type those phrases into Google and find your site, they are much more likely to want your services than someone looking to bake on a beach in Puerto Vallarta.

Similarly, if you are selling a product, you should tune the web page for a longer phrase instead of a generic one.

Web visitors looking for Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly shoes  are going to be overwhelmed with choices when they enter “athletic shoes” as a Google search term.  Visitors are also going to have a lot of choices if they search for “Nike shoes”.  Soon these web browsers are going to wise up and search for what they really want, “Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly”.

Your web page should be tuned for that phrase so that you can snag those motivated customers!

Find a phrase that is searched for a lot and which doesn’t have that many competing web pages.

This is a tricky task, but it’s one that can make or break your site. If there are 100 searches a day in Google for “San Francisco limousine service” and already 10,000 sites published with that phrase, it is going to be difficult to rank on the top of Google’s result list.   If there are also 100 searches a day for “San Francisco limo service” and only 100 sites published with that phrase, you should tune your new web page for the phrase with fewer potential competitors.

Finding the most effective keywords is one of the tasks of Search Engine Optimization specialists such as Ozdachs Consulting. I use two tools to identify cost-effective keywords: Google AdWords and Wordtracker.

Google AdWords

Google’s advertising program AdWords tools includes a screen which shows the number of searches for a particular term and the number of other people bidding for that term.  The number of competitors is not quantified and is only described in terms like “Very high advertiser competition”.  And, the number of advertisers doesn’t directly translate to the number of web pages with the keyword term.  Still, the AdWords provides a free glance at what people are searching for and the number of people competing against you.

Wordtracker

Boy searching
Wordtracker is specifically designed to find the terms which are most searched for with the least competition. Wordtracker has created proprietary algorithm that produces a Key Effectiveness Index (KEI) that provides a numeric value to indicate the quality of a search term.

When you find a keyword phrase with a high KEI, you should tune your page for that highly-searched-for rarely-appearing term. Unfortunately, in my experience, there are few terms with a high KEI that relate to my clients’ real-world business.

Wordtracker is also relatively expensive, $60 for a month of access to their database of searches and web page competition. Running a search for a client with a small website takes at least a couple hours of my consulting time, so the price of selecting a better keyword for tuning can be several hundred dollars.

Nevertheless, I recommend to my clients that they buy a Wordtracker subscription for a month and have me use it.  We don’t want to overlook a money-making phrase to tune a web page for.  I’d hate to have my San Francisco CPA’s miss out because neither they nor I thought to tune a page for “independent public accounting firms”.

Picking The One Phrase That Will Get You the Most Business

Both Google’s AdWords Tools and Wordtracker will point out keyword phrases that you can tune your web pages for to get the most number of visitors to your site.

But, you and your Search Engine Optimization expert need to use common sense in tuning your site.  Don’t go after visitors for a phrase that isn’t going to make you any money!  If you are renting a vacation home in Puerto Vallarta you may tune for many different phrases that relate to your business.  However, just because you see that “Puerto Vallarta food poisoning” is searched for a lot and there are few sites with information on that topic, it doesn’t mean that you’ll get more customers for your vacation rental if you publish a spiffy page on diagnosing, treating, and avoiding food poisoning in that city!

By |2009-09-05T16:58:51+00:00September 5th, 2009|Google, Search Engine Optimization|0 Comments