According to the 1998 Georgia Tech GVU User Survey, 85 percent of respondents found Web pages from search engines. Since then, other studies have reported 50 to 80 percent of Web site traffic comes from search engines. Searching is second only to email as the most popular online activity.
Unfortunately, there are many marketers who simply do not put enough effort into preparing their web site for the search engines.
The following guidelines will help you to start seeing results in the search engines. Your first step is simply choosing the right keywords.
Choosing the Right Keywords
Often times, people make the mistake of optimizing for very general keywords like used cars or online marketing. Although these terms get lots of traffic, it is very unlikely that you will be able to rank highly for them. Then, even if you do, this type of traffic produces very low conversion rates because they are not targeted prospects.
For example, if you are selling hiking backpacks, it would be much more beneficial for you to target the phrase ‘hiking backpacks’ rather than the extremely competitive keyword ‘backpacks’. It would be even better to target the phrase ‘camelbak commander’. This is a specific type of backpack and therefore will attract more buyers than searchers.
In fact, according to Jupiter Media Metrix, 28 percent of searchers will type a product name into a search engine. Nine percent type in a brand name and 5 percent type in company names.
The more targeted your keyword phrase, the more likely they are to buy. A person who types in ‘backpacks’ may be looking for school backpacks or snowboard backpacks. This lends to useless, un-targeted traffic.
However, a person that searches for a specific brand of backpacks knows exactly what they want and they are much further along in the buying process.
Once you have determined the best possible keyword phrases to target, you must now optimize your page for those specific keywords.
Optimize Your Page for Targeted Keywords
There are many factors that will determine how your web pages rank. However, one of the most important ones is that of a good title. The title tag appears at the very top of the head section. The words in the title tag will appear in the clickable link on the search engine results page (SERP).
Your title tag should contain targeted keyword phrases that reflect the copy on the page. The most important keywords should appear near the beginning of the title tag. You must also keep in mind that this should be a compelling title that would attract searchers to want to know more.
Your title tag should focus on your primary keyword, but it should also deliver a message. Use your title to mention benefits, make an attention-grabbing statement, ask a compelling question, or anything else that would set you apart from all of the other pages competing against you. Your title should include the main keyword you are targeting on that page as well as entice visitors to click on your link.
Following the title tag are your Meta description and Meta keyword tags.
You have probably heard that meta tags are dead and for the most part that is true. However, you should still include them in your web site because they allow you to control the description of your listing in some of the search engines.
Your meta description can make the difference in someone clicking on your link or choosing your competitor.
The meta description tag should be used for marketing purposes, enticing people to click on your link as opposed to one of the other 9 search results.
Meta keywords tags are a different story. Google pays absolutely no attention to this tag: a result of spammers. As for the rest of the search engines, meta keywords may be taken into account, but they are still of very little importance.
I would advise that you use this tag for misspellings, technical acronyms and synonyms. Using this technique, you may be able to bring in some additional traffic for people looking for related, but less popular keywords.
Creating Quality Content
Next, you will want to focus on the visible content of your page. Many people online today are creating content that is written specifically for the search engines. However, I would advise you to optimize your content for your readers. Your readers are the most important.
To rank for your targeted keyword phrases, you must include them within your copy, but you must first ensure that your content is appealing to your visitors. After you do this, you can then weave your keywords into your copy.
You’ll especially want to have your targeted keyword phrase in the very first paragraph of your text.
Some other places you will want to include your keywords are in the image alt attributes and within your heading tags. Place all of your subtitles into header tags with your targeted keyword phrases.
Creating quality content for your visitors is crucial. However, proper navigation and site structure can be just as important.
The search engines cannot fully index your site if it is not properly linked together.
Every single page on your web site should be no more than 2 clicks away from the homepage.
Before you create your site, decide on which internal pages are the most important in terms of ranking. Once you have gathered 15-20 of your most important pages, you will need to place them at the side and bottom navigation of each one of your web pages. This will ensure that the most possible pagerank is transferred to those pages.
Each of these links should contain descriptive anchor text, preferably targeted keyword phrases that you are wanting to rank highly for. You should never make your web site visitors guess what’s on the other end with a link that says, ‘click here’. Be as descriptive as possible and your visitors will thank-you.
One of the best ways to structure your site is through the use of hub pages. This is very similar to hubs on a spoke. At the center is your homepage. On the homepage, you have a link to each of the hub pages. The hub pages are basically small site maps that are built into the navigation. Each hub includes a set of information on a particular keyword or phrase. This is often referred to as content layering. You can layer your site through the use of sub-folders.
Once you have finished optimizing all of the on-page factors, you must focus on some crucial off-page factors.
To have a truly successful search engine optimization campaign, you have to go beyond on-page factors. Your overall link popularity is a crucial ranking factor.
Some of the best techniques for getting quality in-bound links are syndicating articles, exchanging RSS feeds, submitting your web site to directories, syndicating your podcast, sending out press releases, and simply having a link-worthy site.
When you have a site that is full of wonderful, useful information, other sites will start naturally linking to you. You have probably heard that content is king on the internet. However, this is simply not true. QUALITY content is the true king.
In review, keep in mind that the most important places to use your researched keyword phrases are in your title tags, the visible body of your text, and in onsite and offsite links.
Successful SEO takes time. If you continually put all of these strategies into action, you will begin to see the benefits in due time.