*Update – These steps that I am talking about relate to the “On Site” optimization!
I did a conference call tonight for a small group of Internet business beginners, and I talked about Organic Search Engine Optimization and tried to help them understand better what Organic SEO is with 10 simple steps. I wanted to post this for them (for reference) but I also thought it would be a good refresher for those that may be new to this blog, and have not dove deep enough into my archive to find the other posts about this topic.
- Proper Keyword Research and Analysis – It is not enough just to come up with a few keywords, and throw them in your meta. Most people new to the search industry are stuck on keywords and meta tags (being the only and most important thing you do), and are still SEO’ing in the 90’s. You have to realize that the web is so competitive nowadays, and being found on Google or other major engines is going to take some planning. I would recommend going to a keyword research tool like the one on Digital Point, or 97th Floor has a great keyword comparison tool* (*note you must have a Google API in order to run this tool). When using these tools you can get yourself a great list of targeted keywords that you can research out on Google. You can start out with words like Network Marketing that brings back 207 million results, (that you will never have a change in getting traffic from) or you can find words like affiliate lead marketing mlm network that bring back 730k in results, that get 900 searches/month on Yahoo alone. That is a very targeted word and would probably get a better conversion rate then a”general” keyword anyday. You also need to pay attention to the Google “allintitle“, “allinanchor“, “allintext“, and “allinurl” number for each keyword or phrase as well, and try to find the ones with the lowest possible results. These keyword suggestion tools can help you find hundreds of keywords to go after. By “going after” I mean try to get a ranking for on a search engine. Some companies will try to limit you to the amount of keywords you can “go after” but if you are creating enough amazing content, and pages on your website to go along with the keywords you are targeting, there is no limit to the keywords you can try to get rankings for. In my opinion with these keyword tools you will never run out of words to go after.
- Content Writing – Once you come up with a great list of keywords, you need to assign those keywords to specific pages on your website and start writing the content based on those keywords. You want to write your content for a human reader, rather then a crawler, but also keeping in mind that you need to use your keywords often in the content so you have a better keyword density level then your competition. A great tool for finding keyword density level can be found at RankQuest. When you read SEO people talking about content and how it is “king” when it comes to search engines. Yes, it is very important, but I would not consider it “king” unless you are doing everything else you are suppose to be doing to get rankings. You need to implement all areas that I am talking about in this post, and not just one area (like content writing). I would also recommend focusing on 3-4 keywords/page so the search engines can have a better idea of the keywords that you are telling them are best suited for any given page you have. Content writing includes product descriptions if you are selling products. I see most that sell products online from a drop-shipper (or wholesaler) just copy and paste the description they are given. Think about this, if you do that and 1000 other people have done the same – talk about duplicate content. You will get nailed by Google for this for sure, and it will be very hard to obtain any good rankings with this kind of duplicate content. Go back to your keywords and do your best to re-write them the best you can.
- Title Tags – With much debate on this topic, the title tag is still a very important tag when it comes to organic search engine optimization. Going back to what I said in #2, remember to focus on 3-4 keywords per page, and that includes the title tag as well. Every-page on your website needs to be unique, and one of the best ways to make sure the search engines do not pick it up as duplicate content is to write unique title tags for every-page of your website. The title tag should be about 7 words max. I like to separate the words with a bar, or write a “to the point sentence” title tag using all my keywords I am focusing on for that specific page. If you can do all you can to make your pages unique with content, title tags etc. it will help you not have to fight the “supplemental hell” results in Google.
- Meta Description & Keywords – I do not want to spend a lot of time on this topic, because it is not something that really can help you with your SERP’s (from what I have found) but it can hurt you if done wrong, or abused (or spammed). I have seen people get in trouble for using to many keywords in the “meta keywords” area. Google longer is pulling your meta description for the summary in the results, (they usually pull content off the page) but again if you have all of your descriptions the same I can see it throw you in the supplemental results faster then you can say “supplemental”. Again, just a good practice to make everything as unique as possible. Just in-case you don’t know – make sure your meta description is about 25-30 words long, and only use the 3-4 keywords you are going after in the meta keywords area.
- Whats in a name? Domain Name that is – Even more then just branding, its smart to get a domain name that has at least one of your major keyword (or phrases) in it if at all possible. You can start to rank for your domain name right away even with very little marketing. As example just do a search on Google for Business and notice the result out of 1.4 billion results. I know that is an extreme example, but it shows the importance. That domain name a few years ago was sold for millions. Just the domain name!
- Search Engine Friendly URL’s – If you have a shopping cart make sure it has SEF url’s.
- Navigation & Breadcrumbs – Every site needs to have at least two forms of navigation. This benefits the crawlers and the humans. If I click 5 pages deep into a site I need to know where I have been, and know that I can get back to the home page with one click. Don’t create a site that gets you lost, or poor navigation. Also, doing this will help you avoid having “orphan” pages which can hurt you on the search engines. If you have pages you do not want the crawlers to pick up then make sure you do a no index in your robots.txt file. A great visual example of what breadcrumbs are can be found by clicking on the link.
- HTML & XML Site Map – It is a pretty good idea to create both an HTML site map as well as an XML site map that you can upload to Google Site-maps. Letting the search engines know what pages you have in this form can also help the “crawl-ability” of your site.
- Analytical Software – There are a ton of places out there where you can get free tools to help you with statistical and analytical information. Crazy Egg has a Heat Map analytical software that is amazing. Google Analytics is probably the most extensive analytical software (for free) that I have used. You can find out things like entrance pages, exit pages, unique visitors, conversion rates, how long pages were viewed, you can set goals, site overlays, and a TON of other important information that you can use to make your site better optimized.
- Link to your Links – It is generally good practice to link to deep pages of your website that have other information and “links” when appropriate. If you have a content page, or article talking about products that you have then give yourself a link to them. It is very targeted and just makes sense to take the reader to the most appropriate place on your site. If you have other sites then create articles about the pages you are wanting to link to. Again, this is a form of creating the unique content that Google is looking for in order to assign rankings.
- BONUS – Avoid Stupid Things – such as keyword stuffing in <div> tables, or meta keywords, hiding text, making a ton of garbage text that is so small no one can read it (but the search engines). Don’t try to trick the search engines, and don’t use software that could possible get you banned.
These are what I feel are the most important things to understanding how to organically optimize your site. There are many things when it comes to onsite optimization, but these are the most important things that every site owner should understand fully. If you can get a good grip on these then that is a good start! Feel free to add any tips that would be beneficial or that you think I left out via the comments: