Introduction – in simple terms, SEO is the process of increasing the number of visitors to a website through search engines. By optimizing your website with specific and targeted key phrases used by your target customers, search engines can rank your website higher than similar (non-optimized) competitor sites. SEO should be seen as a component of your overall professional internet marketing strategy and used ethically to improve the quality of your visitor experience, in accordance with search engine guidelines and standards. The first step is to understand how search engines work….
Search Engine Basics – A search engine is a website that allows anyone to enter a search query for website information from billions of web pages, files, videos, images, music files. Most people have heard of Google, Yahoo, MSN, but they are also literally hundreds of lesser known Search Engine specialists also providing similar services. When you visit a search engine, the search results are usually displayed as a blue link with a short description of the website. Results are directly related to the user’s search query. Search engines evolved from the creation of large directory projects such as DMOZ and the Yahoo Business directory. In the early to mid-1990s, search engines started using the web by crawling technology to search for more and more websites that were being developed. Today search engine results from google, yahoo and MSN also appear in other small search engines like AOL. 80% of people find information on the Internet through search engines because it is easy to use, flexible and provides highly relevant links to the Internet.
How Do Search Engines Work? – Search engines use automated mathematical algorithms to rank and compare web pages with similar content. Its algorithms are very complex and rely on search bots that are constantly scouring the Internet for a copy or ‘cache’ of every web page it visits. Search bots automatically look for specific information when visiting websites such as robots.txt files, sitemap.xml files, WHOIS data. They do this to discover new content in microseconds and ensure their own listings presented to users are up-to-date and relevant. Data is stored by search engine companies in large server data centers. The exact mathematical formulas of search algorithms are closely guarded by search engines, and only historical data analysis is used to make some general assumptions about how their rankings work. In addition, each engine publishes several webmaster guidelines to provide some general guidelines on how to build a quality site and not use techniques that can get the website banned from its list, by its moderators.
How Do Search Engines Present Relevant Results? – Historically, the main factor search engines used to rank websites was the number of links a website had from other websites. These are known as inbound links. Over time search engines grew more popular and link farms were developed to try and manipulate the results. To overcome this the algorithm becomes more sophisticated. Nowadays, links are less important and instead the textual relevance of words, paragraphs, pages and entire website themes is very important to achieve high search engine results. Search engines use advanced anti-spam factors to ensure that users are served with the most relevant and quality results to reflect their search. Recently search engines have diversified into various search methods, such as images, videos, universal local search, product and price comparisons and developed free online applications such as calendars, spreadsheets, and word processing applications.
Keyphrase Analysis & Selection – the next step is to identify keywords related to your product or service, which your target prospects type into search engines. Only then can you begin to strategize and effectively design and optimize your website around the needs and wants of your buyers. Selection of key phrases is the first and foremost step in internet marketing. Why is this relevant?… Search engines use mathematical algorithms to compare web pages to rank these pages (based on user search queries). If you make the wrong assumptions (without researching) and target key phrases that don’t interest buyers, your website will fail. On the other hand, if you target the right combination of keywords and phrases (before you even design your website), you will maximize your chances of getting higher search rankings and creating opportunities to sell. The bigger the market for a particular product or service, the more competitive the online market for related search terms will be. For example, a quick check on Google reveals there are approximately 3.44 million search engine results for the term ‘mortgage’… but only 0.217 million results for the phrase ‘discount commercial mortgage quotes’. In other words, the former is roughly 19 times more competitive in achieving top search engine positions than the latter. Using a keyword selection tool, advertisers can identify what search terms are not only popular but also how competitive they are. For example, there are about 37.2 million people typing ‘mortgage’ into all global search engines per year, but only 0.8 million people typing ‘commercial mortgage’. The keyword tool is invaluable in identifying various niche search terms that can be used to help optimize a website to achieve higher search engine rankings/more website visitors. These tools can also generate derivatives and synonyms, common misspellings and generate a comparative competitiveness index to see if a particular phrase is difficult or easy to reach the top search lists.
Once you’ve used your market knowledge and keyword tools to validate your phrase search volume, build a list, ranked by search volume, of your top 10 phrases. There are always derivatives of your top ten target phrases. For example, if your primary target term is ‘mortgage quote uk’, you might also identify ‘uk fixed rate mortgages’ and ‘mortgage broker uk’ as secondary phrases. Your prospect will type in hundreds of similar search queries to find a specific product or service. By creating optimized web pages with relevant content (including these phrases), you maximize your chances of achieving increased search engine traffic. You should keep your list updated and check your site logs and statistics and test using keyword tools. From this feedback, by checking which search phrases and entry pages are used to enter your site over time, you can easily see how successful your optimization efforts are. The selection of key phrases should really determine the choice of domain naming for a new site, website design; navigation structure, unique selling points and linking strategies. Always add some optional fields in your Contact Form to get feedback from your website visitors; ‘Which search engine did you use to find our site?’ and ‘what search term did you use?’
Competitor Analysis – assuming you have a product or service that has some unique selling points, you need to analyze your online competition so you can optimize your USP effectively. From an internet point of view, you need to analyze what other websites have achieved compared to your own. For the first step is to identify who they are and make a list. It’s quite simple by entering all your primary and secondary key phrases into the major search engines and creating a list. Similar key phrases usually bring up the same websites and you will quickly understand what you need to make search engines successful. Updating this list regularly is just as important as the initial analysis. By obtaining feedback from search results, you can continually re-analyze competitors in terms of additional links or content they have added, or analyze how they have restructured and rearranged their website to make it more search engine friendly. Review each site carefully to analyze your competitors based on the following:-
Keyword/Keyword Density Analysis – make a list
Link Analysis – link building is a never-ending and never-ending process (because your competitors won’t stop). As the number of pages on your site increases, you will find sites (and directories in particular) will start adding links to your site without your knowledge. To help reach the top rankings, you can start to see how many quality links you need by looking at the number and types of links and ‘backlinks’ from your top 5 competitor sites. You can also use the link checker to see how many inbound links competitors have accumulated since their conception by using tools like xxx or xxxx. This is your general target for link volume. Alternatively, you can manually find this type of information directly from a search engine such as Google by entering the following search query:- your competitors.com
Choosing a Domain Name – this section summarizes the problems you may encounter when deciding on your new website name and how to manage the domain name….
Where to Buy a Domain Name? – if you haven’t chosen a domain name for your new website, a good place to start is NetworkSolutions. It is the largest domain name registry on the Internet and provides a service to check the availability of domain names. It is a leading company that allows you to freely move your existing domain name (DNS) settings and ensures your privacy is protected as well. Some domain name resellers have used sharp practices to make it difficult for you to move your domain name in the future, between different hosting companies. They have achieved this by resorting to financial penalties, overly complex technicalities, call center queues and in some cases minor contracts (which can even forfeit your legal right to own the domain name). In most situations, the domain name reseller is often also a hosting company whose primary interest is in selling more hosting space associated with the domain name itself.
Choosing the Right Domain Name? – it is better to choose a name that combines the main search terms or phrases you want to achieve high rankings. Your new domain name should reflect what you are selling or your company vision. There should be no confusion in the mind of the user. In particular, if it’s the type of site where you want repeat business, the site name should be easy to remember, to spell – so the shorter the better. However, almost all of the popular commercial ‘single words and key phrases’ used to register domain names have been purchased by other people and domain name squatters. So choosing a domain name is always difficult and may involve bidding on a domain from a second user market. If this is the case, (such as buying a used used car), it is important to check the history of the domain name in relation to what was used in the past and whether it has been banned by search engines like Google. The last thing you want is to buy a domain name from a second user marketplace, only to find Google has banned it in the past because it doesn’t conform to search engine guidelines. It also always makes sense to look at country domain extensions to check if the domain name you are looking for is registered and served in another country. People tend to sometimes assume that all websites are ‘.com’. Therefore, if you can find a name where you can register your ‘.com’ as well as your local country extension, you will avoid confusion. Search engines also use the country extension of the domain name in their ranking algorithm to generate search results. Since search engines also have a variety of country-oriented search websites, you should make sure your domain name reflects your country (especially if your target market lives in one geography only).
Domain Names & Search Engines – if there’s usually no valid reason why you need dozens of domain names to sell the same product or service, then don’t… these are known as splash sites or doorway pages and are not liked by search engines to see these as form of spamming. If the content of each website is unique and completely different, then separating by topic or localized geographic content makes a lot of sense. Keep in mind that it takes twice as long to promote and build and manage twice as many sites. Search engine ‘search bots’ also automatically interrogate the WHOIS database to identify the owner of the website. Therefore, when you register your domain name, it makes sense to disclose your contact details in the WHOIS database if you have nothing to hide.
Hosting Decisions – Website hosting is almost always overlooked by beginners. There are thousands of hosting companies that offer very cheap shared hosting space and the temptation is to choose the easiest, fastest and cheapest option. Sometimes this attitude can destroy a business website. The general rule for choosing your hosting company is you get what you pay for. Quality hosting is essential to ensure your target market can actually access your site without crashing every day. Before ‘pointing’ your DNS settings to a new shared hosting server plan, you should think about your technical requirements such as operating system support for databases, online applications and scripts, statistics, email access, and the level of phone support offered by the hosting company. To learn more about technical issues surrounding hosting, please visit our hosting section.
Writing Engaging Website Content – the most important ranking factor search engines use is an analysis of the quality and relevance (and to a lesser extent quantity) of the text on any web page and collectively that website. We would recommend not analyzing web pages too much using software tools. Instead, put yourself in the minds of your potential users and invest more time creating original content that is engaging, informative, exciting and most importantly. Try and be clear; You should tell the user what you think he or she wants to hear (based on your market research) because the user’s attention span when they open your homepage lasts for about 4 seconds before clicking back in their browser and moving on to the next one on the List. Therefore, use bullet points and a simple selling message or offer to summarize a unique point of sale site. Remember, most web users browse websites until they decide that they have landed on the site they want to learn more about. make sure you’re original too – write it in such a way that you don’t copy or copy another web page (or rewrite it). Copying content from other websites is strictly prohibited as it attracts duplication penalties from search engines or it may risk getting your site banned altogether. Content writing is the most difficult area of what search engine optimization and web design is all about. To find out more visit the writing engaging content section. The number of words is also relevant; There is no right or wrong answer for the optimal word count on a web page. By analyzing the existing competitor’s web pages, you will probably find that the average word count ranges from 600 to 1000 free words per page – more and the spider may see the page is too large and less and the search is part of the spider probably view the page as content to be disturbed.
Keyword Density Analysis – when targeting specific keywords or key phrases, it is important that these appear in the text of the page at least once. If you enter these keywords or phrases too often, you risk the search engines seeing them as ‘keyword stuffing’ (which is a form of spam). The ideal number should be no more than three times per page. When optimizing an actual web page this may depend on the volume of text on the page itself – the more text (words) on the page, the more often you can make references to your keyphrases. By using a number of free online tools to measure the exact percentage of key phrases appearing relative to other words from the page, you can make a simple judgment as to whether the page is properly optimized or not. This simple principle is known as keyword density. By analyzing the keyword density of your top 10 competitors’ homepages, you can quickly determine what percentage of their key phrases appear on their homepages. For the lower and upper bounds, this test will give you a safe range for your own home page in terms of the number of times your main keyword appears relative to the rest of the page. There is no right or wrong answer. The simplest solution is to write interesting, informative and interesting information for your website visitors. You should place your keyphrase as close to the top of the page as possible. The robot reads the text from left to right starting from the top left hand looking at the screen and working it along the lines. By entering your keyword near the top (as opposed to near the bottom of the page), you attach a higher keyword prominence to that phrase (relative to words that appear near the bottom of the page). To find out more visit section.
Website & Design: Usability Good Practices – You need to consider various web design issues in the context of implementing your online marketing strategy. To find out more about good design, visit the website design section. Highlights:-
Understanding HTML – HTML is a computer language that facilitates the creation of internet web pages and is basically a text file with a short set of defining codes around the text.
Designing an Attractive Homepage – this is the most important page with a website as most of the usage will land there, relative to other internal pages of your website.
Simple Navigation – the most important aspect of usability is the clean and simple navigation structure. Your structure should be consistent across all pages so users have a clear understanding of how to find their way between sections and back again.
Simple Page Structure – try and guess the area of your page to the top but to be the top border, side border, bottom border and main body.
Accessibility – The Internet is developing standards such as WC3 for browser accessibility.
Implementing a Linking Strategy – having an effective linking strategy is an important part of search engine optimization. Search engines measure ‘incoming links’ based on sheer volume (link popularity), link quality (base of web pages and websites on which your link is posted), link types and the frequency with which links are added over time. A website without inbound links will never rank higher than a website with lots of links from other good quality sites. Implementing a reciprocal linking program requires patience, belief, tenacity and a very good understanding of the search engine factors used to rank a website’s links. Depending on the ‘quality’ of your own existing website will determine how you implement your linking strategy. A linking strategy is very important right from the start when launching a new website.
Role of Meta Tags – metatags are hidden HTML elements that help search engines describe a page. Metatags help from search engines describe the content of a web page. Search engines use snippets of information to present lists in results to users. This is a mandatory first step for webmasters when designing web pages. Without Metatags, your web pages will be cached properly. Historically, metatags were an important element of search engine optimization. However, today’s search engine algorithms concentrate more on the content and popularity of sites across the internet. Metatags are only really useful for finding bots creating snippets of information for their listings. To find out more, visit the metatags section which explains more about what each tag means and its impact on page rank. Different search engines apply different importance to Metatags. For example Google has stated it ignores Metatag keywords as a ranking factor. Never ‘fill’ your targeted keywords in the Metatag section of a search engine to see this as a form of range and will act appropriately by banning your site. The main rule is that your Metatags should help users understand your web page.
Statistics, Logs, Web Analytics – the use of ff page optimization is very important. Statistics are an important way to analyze your success. To find out more about the statistics options, please visit the statistics section of the website. Website Statistics can provide you with a large amount of information such as user behavior, lead and sales conversion rates, and which search engine customers are using and what they are searching for with the terms typed into them. Without feedback, your online marketing strategy will fail. Most shared hosting comes with stats options like Smartstats, AwStats, and Webalizer. Alternatively, there are also online services that provide similar information such as Google Analytics, Onestat, and Statcounter.