Engr. F. Azam

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Archive for the ‘SEO Tips’ Category

SEO Basics

Posted by Rock on September 17, 2007

Maggie knows how to find what she wants. She lets her fingers do the walking – not in the Yellow Pages, but at Google.com. She wants to learn about bread baking, and you have just written Bread Baking Made Simple, and you sell some great baking tools. The good news is the Google and other search engines exist for one simple reason: to help Maggie find your website.

Google will show Maggie 534,000 resources on “bread baking”. Unless she fails to find what she wants on the first page, or top 10 results, she will never find your website listed 124th in the results. (Actually, if she does not find what she wants in the top twenty or thirty results, she is likely to refine her search to “easy bread baking” or “home bread baking”).

How do you get into the top 10 results so Maggie can find your website? You might have heard a lot about “search engine optimization” and “ranking analysis” and “algorithms”. It all sounds very complex, but it really works on a simple 1 – 2 – 3 principle.

  1. A search engine will show Maggie only resources (websites) it has on record. So make sure to submit your site to the key search engines and directories. You do not need to hire somebody who will charge you big dollars to do this. Nor should you fall for any of the auto-submit software or services. This should be done by hand, and anybody can do it. You can do it yourself.
  2. The search engine will rank highest those websites it feels are most “important”. This means you have to show that your website is most important. There are a few simple things you can do. First, make sure you have content. Text content equals importance on the Internet. Links, both coming in and going out, are key. Connectivity equals importance on the Internet. Get listed in the major directories (DMOZ.com, Yahoo.com, Zeal.com, JoeAnt.com, etc.), as this also is a measure of importance.
  3. The search engine will show Maggie the most “relevant” high-ranking resources. Google might rank http://TheHappyGuy.com relatively very high, but it is totally irrelevant to a search for bread baking. How does a search engine know which websites are most relevant for Maggie’s search? By the number of times “bread baking” shows up in text on your web page. By the variety of ways it shows up on your page. By number web pages you link to and that link to you with the words “bread baking” included.

Are you ready to roll? Possibly. Some of this you can easily do yourself. But there are three places that are worth spending money to help all the Maggies out there find your website and your book. The first is choosing the right keywords. It might look simple, but “bread baking” might not even be the best keyword phrase to focus on. It might be “easy bread baking” or “home bread baking”. The most searched terms might not be the best, nor the term with the least competition.

The second is to prepare a link strategy. The “link exchange” pages that are getting more popular each day are also becoming less effective each day. Here are just a few of the linking factors that will affect whether Maggie discovers your book:

  • The total number of incoming and outgoing links
  • The importance of the sites you link to and from
  • The relevancy of the sites you link to and from
  • Which pages on their sites and on yours are being linked
  • What you include in the incoming and outgoing links
  • Where on the page the links are placed
  • How many links are on those pages
  • How many pages are linked to or have outgoing links
  • The ratio of links to content on the pages involved

You can implement the strategy yourself, but it is worth hiring somebody to put it together for you. Ask the person what factors she would consider when building a strategy for you. If she does not mention several of the above, your money is better spent elsewhere.The third place to invest is to have somebody knowledgeable review your html code. Chances are that you have missed numerous opportunities to let the search engines know your website is relevant, and possibly some opportunities to show it is important.

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Beginner SEO

Posted by Rock on September 17, 2007

There is so much talk out there about what the ‘perfect’ web page looks like. In this article we give you tips on what we consider perfectly optimized as well as tips on helping turn the page into a great conversion tool.

Step one – Know who you are targeting
As with any marketing campaign the first step in optimizing ANY web page is to know your target audience. Is your site B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer). This is important because this not only affects the tone of your site, but also the keywords you chose.

It is imperative that you nail who your target is before you do anything else because if you don’t it doesn’t matter how big your site is, or how many pages you have. If you don’t write to the right crowd you aren’t going to get too much business.

The best thing is to write down who you think the target is. Be as detailed as possible. For example, your target may be a 30-45 year old female, in middle management, who drives a mini-van and takes her 3 kids to school before she goes to work. She makes $45,000 per year and has a bachelors degree in finance. This is the type of detail you need. You should be able to picture this person in your mind. Not just the abstract idea of her, but a physical look as well. the better you can picture them in your mind the more successful you will be.

Once you know who you target is the next step is choosing keywords.

Step two – Choosing the right keywords

This may be the most difficult part of your journey, especially if you don’t fit the target profile. That is, picking the keywords they will use to find your site.

You can start by using free tools like Yahoo!s keyword suggestion tool. It gives you a good place to start picking keywords.

Start with a phrase you know your site is about (i.e. if you sell widgets, then simply put “widgets” in the search box). The tool will then not only spit out other related words, but also the search volumes associated with each for the previous month.

A word of caution however: Sometimes, depending on when you use the tool, the search volumes are from a couple months ago. So if your product is seasonal based, the numbers may actually be lower or higher than represented.

Don’t be afraid to get a few hundred words to start. Remember, right now you are just gathering ideas – phrases that could drive traffic to your site. They aren’t all necessarily being used by your target customer.

You can also go to Google’s Adwords site and perform the above steps. Start with a phrase or two which describe your site or product and use Google’s suggestion tool to help expand your list.

At this point you want as many phrases on your list as possible. Don’t worry, you will cull the list pretty quickly.

Once you have a huge list of words, the next place to go is a site like Wordtracker, which has a keyword analysis tool. This tool can be used for a one time fee, or if it’s something you might want to return to you can purchase a subscription. It is a fairly simple tool to use and will give you a good idea of just how likely your site will be able to compete for a phrase.

A warning about Wordtracker: The software uses search volumes from some fairly minor sites such as Dogpile, so the estimates could be a little skewed. But again, unless you deal with an SEO firm that has their own proprietary software, this is about your best alternative.

Also remember as you are culling your words, don’t just focus on the competitive factors. These won’t account for your target audience. Therefore you need to have that picture in your mind of the target as you are selecting phrases that they might use. If you are unsure, you could always as for help from friends and family that fit the target profile.

A good rule of thumb would be to chose about one phrase per page. That doesn’t mean that you will only have one page per phrase, but it gives you a good target. So if your site is 300 pages, consider having a list of 300 phrases.

Step 3 – Write your pages

Now that you have your keywords its time to write, or re-write, your content to make them more appealing to the target audience, inserting the key phrases you’ve selected whenever possible.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to over do it. Also now is a good time to ensure you have proper keyword density’s and page length.

I recommend pages that are 400-500 words long. If they are a little longer or shorter that is fine, however if they are approaching 1000 words or more you should split them up, trying to hit that 400-500 word limit.

On this 400-500 word page you should have 2 or 3 occurrences of a key phrase, and you want to limit the key phrases used to 2 or 3. In other words you could have between 4 and 9 occurrences of all your key phrases per page. This should provide you with optimal keyword density.

Above all, make sure the pages are readable. Don’t optimize for optimization’s sake. If only one key phrase applies to the page, then only use one.

Step 4 – Optimize your Pages

This can be done in conjunction with the writing. In fact it should be done at then to save time. I purposely made this a separate step so that I could outline the finer points of optimization.

Provided that you are following the guidelines found in step 3, your pages should already have good keyword density, now is the time to improve that optimization by adding optimized meta tags and if appropriate, some image alt tags.

First is to write the meta description tag. While many engines will index thousands of characters in your description, I recommend no more than a couple hundred characters. That is about how long this paragraph is.

The meta description should be a readable sentence or two with the same keywords that you wrote the page for. In other words, the same phrases should appear in the meta description as the body. They should also appear as near to the front of the tag as possible however don’t sacrifice readability for this. If the tag doesn’t make sense with them at the front, then reorganize until they do make sense. Be sure to use proper punctuation as well.

Also preferred but not mandatory is a meta keywords tag. While none of the major engines use this tag, other smaller ones, and some specialty engines do use the meta keywords tag. If your target uses one of these engines then it makes sense to have that tag in place.

Also, with the keywords tag there is a lot of debate over using commas or not. Personally I do not use commas. I just combine the phrases and remove duplicate words. For example, if the page is about blue widgets, yellow widgets and red widgets then the keywords tag could be: “blue yellow red widgets.”

Common sense should be used when deciding if you will use image alt tags as well. If your keywords match the image and you can make a compelling image description, then do it. Otherwise don’t.

Step 5 – Write a compelling title tag

I purposely left this as a separate step from meta tags because this is the most important part of your optimization program. Again, it can be done at the same time as the previous two steps, but it’s importance can not be over-emphasized.

This is because the title tag is the tag which is displayed in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). It is the link that people click on, and also the tag which is generally read by the visitor before they decide to visit.

Therefore, if your title tag isn’t compelling, it doesn’t matter how well optimized your page is, it may not get that click.

For this step, you need to look at your competition to determine what they are doing. Perform a search to see what is compelling about their listing? Is there one that stands out? If so what are they doing? For example, if on every other site the keyword is the first phrase on the title, then consider moving your keyword in to the second or third phrase.

This is because, as you will notice, engines like Google bold the search term in the title and snippets or description. One way to make your title stand out is to have the term in a different position than the competition. That way the bolding stands out like this:

key phrase in title tag
key phrase in title tag
title tag with key phrase
key phrase in title tag

Notice how the third one stands out from the rest?

I can not emphasize enough how important that title tag is. As I said, it is the “hook” to get visitors to your site. If the title is ineffective, then it won’t get clicked which means you don’t get the opportunity to woo that client.

Summary

As you can see, optimizing a page has less to do with optimal keyword density and more to do with knowing who it is that will be using that page.

If you don’t know who your target audience is you will never be able to properly optimize your pages. Sure you can optimize it for whatever keywords you choose, but if they aren’t the words that your customer will search for, what’s the point?

In the end, the more you know who your customer is, the better you will be in all your online ventures, from introduction of your product or service, to closing the sale. It is up to you to cater to them, and not force them into a more generic mold. This is because todays web searchers are much more savvy and willing to browse more if a site doesn’t appeal to them.

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24 On-site SEO Checkups

Posted by Rock on September 17, 2007

Although this will seem, to many of you, a very generic list of SEO on-site tips, you may be surprised to see how many SEO consultants and web developers overlook or forget these basic steps when launching a new site. These twenty- four On-site search engine optimisation checkups/tips can assure that any link building / link baiting efforts that will be made will give great results.

1. Run a $100 Adwords test campaign after your initial keyword research, helping you do the best themed/relevant keywords on-site optimisation.

2. Ensure there is a well written, non-duplicated attractive Title / Description tags on every page.

3. Verify that almost every single piece of relevant content on your site is somehow static to the page it was written for and is not a text image (double check that with a text browser).

4. Revise the On-page content to be sure there is a minimum presence of your themed keywords on every page. Don’t try to go overboard, just think as if you’d be the user.

5. Double check your code to make sure you’ve got your content titles and subtitles under H1 / H2 tags.

6. Verify that the any navigational element are text links and are not “click here” or “more info” type of links.

7. Make sure contextual links are widely spread and commonly used all across the website content to emphasize key pages.

8. If you plan on trading links, make sure there is small directory with themed categories, or at least get a “links/resources” page.

9. Verify that your robots.txt file exists and that you added the folders you want to prevent access from.

10. Be sure there is a sitemap.xml at the root of your site.

11. Make sure there is a breadcrumb to help the cross-linking of your site.

12. Verify that the static sitemap is easily reachable by your visitors.

13. Ensure that your 404 page contains links to your main categories and maybe a search box.

14. Check that important images are labeled properly with the alt tag (this should be automated somehow).

15. Make sure you installed generic analytics to ensure any kind of tracking (Google Analytics, Indextools).

16. Make sure that conversion/defined action tracking analytics are installed (Heatmap tracking, conversion trackers from PPC platforms, Indextools action trackers, etc).

17. Register / validate your site through Google Webmaster central to be able to analyze incoming links and validate a few things (like your robots.txt file).

18. Do a quick IP location test to make sure you’re hosted near your main market.

19. Unless otherwise advised, get your company’s signature at the bottom of the pages you create for clients, using one of your best keyword as anchor text. This is vital. You shouldn’t be worried about promoting your services, especially if your clients are highly satisfied with your work!

20. Use all SEOmoz tools (I’m a bit biased here): Page Strength and Keyword Difficulty to measure the efforts required to achieve high SERPs (by comparing your actual site with the top competitors website), and the Crawl test to ensure your website will get properly indexed.

21. Get your website xhtml/w3c validated to cover the major issues you might not have thought of

And a few extras, if you’re running a blog platform

22. Ping the major content aggregators (Google Blog Search, My Yahoo, Wikio, etc.)

23. Include links to major social platforms (digg, del.icio.us, blogmarks, technorati tags, etc.)

24. Use Feedburner to get stats and a universal RSS feed

With this basic checklist, any web development company that is building and marketing websites will give its customers a fairly good chance of achieving high SERPs while generating several leads with referrals and good SERPs for themselves. The extra time it takes to do this justifies the reward you get. As an example, our company currently employs 17 people: I can say that half of the business we’ve generated has been solely because we insist that our customers implement at least these basics steps before launching a site. And, let me tell you, nobody is unhappy with the traffic, and nearly all of them don’t mind that our signature’s there!

My special thanks to Sarah Benmaza & go-referencement.org

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Cache Date || New Google PageRank ||

Posted by Rock on August 12, 2007

Aaron Wall has a great post over on SEOBook about the Cache Date of your site being a better indication of trust than PageRank.Have you checked the cache date of a page or your site? Jim Boykin has a free tool to check the cache date easily. It will also show how recently other pages linked to from that page have been cached.

As Aaron explains, cache date can be a much better indication of importance than looking at the raw PageRank score. And it makes sense. To quote Aaron, “What Google frequently visits (and spends significant resources to keep updated) is what they consider important.” If you add new pages or updated content to your site and see them in the cache index right away that is a good sign.

This is especially important consideration if you are in a news related field, as sites that are quickly indexed rank for the new ideas while they are spreading, and enjoy many self reinforcing links due to automated content and the laziness of journalists, bloggers, and other webmasters.

Posted in SEO Tips, SEO Tools | 1 Comment »

SEO for Firefox Updated

Posted by Rock on August 12, 2007

seo for firefoxSEO for Firefox, a great tool that I use for SEO offered by Aaron Wall, has been recently updated. The new features are scraping Google cache dates, and allowing you to CSV export the data.

What are some cool ways to use SEO for Firefox?

  • Check out how old competing businesses are.
  • Evaluate the competitive nature of a marketplace.
  • Research the backlinks to a competing business to see whch links are their most powerful.
  • Do a site level search on a site to see which pages are most frequently cached, and to check the general health of a site.

What are your favorite ways to use SEO for Firefox? What other features would you like to see? Let Aaron know!

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