Archive for February, 2009
I was recently reading a book on fad diets and why they don’t work. The primary reasons the author gave was that all diets are short term, usually done when your body reaches a desperate situation, and once you stop, you end up in the same soup (sometimes worse). The solution lay in creating a suitable diet that works for you, is fun to do, and can be sustained over a lifetime.
Clients generally get a wakeup call after having spent thousands of dollars in building a great website with great content only to find no business coming to it. That’s when they decide it’s time to go on a quick SEO diet.
The SEO recipe goes something like this:
On-page optimization (10 days) + Link building (2 to 3 months) = Top 10 Spot on
Now while the above recipe is not entirely wrong, it’s the shortsightedness of this that bothers me. So what happens after 2 months and 10 days? If I was reciting a fairytale I could have ended this post about now with “And it Ranked No #1 Happily After”, but such is not often the case.
Search engine optimization is about identifying the right keyword combinations (with traffic potential), optimizing your content around those keywords, and syndicating and promoting the content pages to build quality links across relevant, popular and diverse web, user and social communities. You also have the competition to watch who may be trying their own SEO expert strategies to defeat you.
So why do clients want to go on a crash SEO diet? I guess it’s more difficult to stick to a diet that works for your business, is fun to do, and can be sustained over the lifetime of your online business with growing returns.
So what is your SEO diet?
It’s been said many times before, that creating unique and compelling content in the way of articles, FAQ’s, how to guides, eBooks, user testimonials, blog posts and innovative videos, and taking the time to syndicate that content across relevant user, web and social communities, is the best way to get people to link back to your content. This is also termed as “link baiting”.
Having said that, if you have been sincere in creating and promoting your content over the last 6 months to a year, and in building quality and diverse links to your website with relevant anchor text, then a neat seo opportunity lies in revisiting your past content archives.
Sometimes we SEO experts get so caught up in building external links and battling it out with the competition for our clients, we forget to make ideal use of internal link building to get a boost in rankings.
External links tell a search engine that there are other websites and communities (other than you) that think your website to be of some value, in the same way, internal links tell the search engines which pages you think are most important by counting the number of links pointing to that page.
While building a link matrix of external links with relevant anchor text is important to search engines, the internal link structure and anchor text also plays a big part in a successful search engine optimization strategy. In addition good internal linking makes it easy for the users and search engines to understand your content better with category and sub category pages that link to the deeper pages of your website.
Expert SEO TIP: Tweak your Content for Higher Ranking
They say that the answers we seek lie in the past “going back to the roots”. In revisiting your past and looking at it with a new perspective you can begin to understand the mistakes made, the underlying fears and insecurities developed, lessons learnt, and maybe some answers for the present moment.
By revisiting your past content, and looking at it with a fresh perspective, you can find innumerous SEO opportunities. I have listed a few of them below:
1. The Title – Can the title of the content page, article (or blog post) be improved, or better written to incorporate the keywords you are targeting currently?
2. Internal Linking – Many times when we revisit old content pages we find opportunities to include anchor text links to the important pages (focused around our primary keywords) of our website and internal links to relevant newer content pages. This helps in building relevant internal links and gives users a choice to navigate through your content easily by clicking on the link/topic of interest.
3. External Linking – Revisiting old content also reveals many opportunities for creating relevant external links. An external can be given if the external link provides some additional value to the topic being discussed. External links should also be given to authoritative sites and to relevant sites in your industry. An external link tells the search engine and your users that you are helpful and not afraid to link out (sometimes even to a competitor’s site). Become a hub for resource links in your industry.
4. The Tags – Do you need to tweak those tags (or Meta tags) to make them more focused? Are there some keyword variations you want to add to the list? Remember to keep it simple!
5. Improving the Content – Did you find grammatical errors (hopefully not) that need to be corrected? Do you have some new insights into the content that was originally created? You can always add value to the original articles, and maybe make a new article out of it (the link juice can be passed down to the new article, cross linking possibilities and its new content for search engines). Also revisiting your content is a great place to find new content ideas, and missing gaps in your older content.
6. Targeting New Keywords – Over the last few months you may have discovered new keyword phrases or long tail phrases you want to target, and maybe move away from some keywords combinations that have not been working so well. This is the time to use your old content to give the new keywords a boost.
7. Pass on PageRank – If you notice that each individual page of your website has a different page rank. The index page generally has the max page rank (Normally because the index page also has the max inbound links which is one of the criteria of search engines while calculating PageRank). Did you know you can use internal linking to pass the rank juice from well ranked pages to ones that do not have PageRank?
Find relevant opportunities, and work on adding value to older content, and you should see a significant boost in search rankings.
A word of warning here, don’t overdo it. At the end of the day, though we may get some answers by “going back to our past roots”, we have to eventually come back to live in the present moment.
We are all searching for something in life, whether it’s true love, fame and fortune, or money and power. A few people that search for meaning, passion and purpose will be the ones that will be able to give something back to this world, and will become leaders of the new economy.
So The Search plays a pivotal role in human existence, and it’s The Search that drives us, and motivates us to reach newer heights. In the same way Search Marketing can play a pivotal role in the success of your online business.
Other forms of advertising and marketing are now being seen as intrusive and aggressive by the consumers and this trend will continue. Advertisers end up spending a whole lot of money, and consumers have to unnecessarily suffer in-the-face campaigns that tell them what to do, and what to buy. It’s a no win situation for both parties.
In Search Marketing you not only sell what your customers wants, but you also sell it while they are actively looking for it. So it’s the customer that chooses you at their own time, convenience and when they actually need you. Now this is a very powerful marketing tool for an online business if they knew how to make themselves easily available to this customer.
There are billions of consumers who are searching on the Internet. Do you know how many of them are searching for a product or service like yours? Normally once I give the hard numbers to clients, they are often amazed at the number of people that are actually searching for something they are already marketing.
What’s even more amazing is when I tell the clients what keywords people are using to reach a product or service like the ones they are offering. Once I arm the client’s with statistics, trends and numbers, they like any smart individual recognize the potential business (which they are not getting) out there.
So what potential customers are out there searching for your Internet business? What keywords are they using to reach you? What is the traffic potential for those keywords? How much is that traffic worth to your business? How much are you willing to spend to get that business? What conversions are you expecting from your marketing efforts? Are you doing what’s necessary to get that business? Have you shortlsited a SEO expert who will help you achieve your goals?
In finding honest answers to the above questions, you will find solutions to harness the greater power of Internet Search Marketing for your online business. Whether you are a home business, a house wife, an online maverick, a small business, a big brand, or a mega corporate, Search Marketing may be just what you need to get new customers, even in an economy that faces recession.
The customers are out there and they are searching for you, but are you ensuring they find you easily! If this strikes a chord in you, then SEO or search engine marketing may just be the answer you are searching for.
Dedicated to The Search (May we all find what we are searching for)
If you are ready to take an honest look at your traffic and analyze the same, many of you may find that you are attracting more shoppers to your website than prospective buyers. What this means is that even though you are getting good traffic on your website (and assuming your content copy and services have been well presented), a very few are converting to actual sales.
If you have a website that’s not selling anything, and traffic is your goal, then there is no problem. But if online sales are the goal of your website, then the problem could lie in the “keywords” you have selected.
A shopper – is one who finds you because they are looking for some information, but they may not be ready to buy as of yet. A shopper generally uses generic search terms like ‘cameras’ or ‘new cameras’ because they are not exactly sure of what they want, but are interested in knowing some more information. Now, not all shoppers are bad, because even though they may be just looking now, they could get interested in what you offer or return at a later date as a prospective customer.
Eg. Kate is interested in buying a camera, but is not sure which one to buy, or what features she wants. Kate uses a generic search term like ‘cameras’ or ‘new cameras’ and finds thousands of listings right from the definition of camera, to an online shop selling cameras, to a site selling used cameras, to a site offering user camera reviews, to a blog by a photography enthusiast, and even a YouTube video about the best camera one can buy. Kate browses through many websites to find more information so that eventually she can make an informed decision.
Now if your website was selling cameras, and you rank well for the keywords Kate used, then Kate would have visited your website, and the website offering user reviews on best cameras, and an eBay link for camera for sale… By the time Kate would have decided on which camera to buy, and what features she likes most, you have lost a customer today.
A buyer – is one who reaches your site because they are looking for something specific, and they enter a specific keyword phrase to find the product, service or information they are looking for. A buyer generally uses specific search terms like ‘seo expert india’ or ‘affordable internet marketing services’ or ‘how to hire a seo expert’ or ‘free seo training’ to find something they want. The buyer searches are a lot more specific, often with key modifiers like affordable, cheap, free, best, or location like mumbai, india to narrow the search to find what they are exactly looking for. The need of the buyer is more urgent (it reflects in the specific search phrase they use) and the chances of conversion of this user can be high if the page that opens can resolve the buyers specific query.
Eg. Kate wants more traffic on her website that sells designer shoes online. Kate wants to find a seo expert that can help her achieve this. Kate also has a very low budget and wants to read up some information on search engine optimization so that she would be in a better position to choose the right seo expert for her business. Kate’s needs are very specific. Say she enters ‘how to hire a seo expert’ in the search box, and finds a link to an article on your website that offers tips to evaluate the right seo expert. She finds the information very useful, and finds her way to your seo services page and order form. Kate could also have entered ‘seo expert in india’ if she was looking to outsource her seo needs to India (since she had heard that outsourcing to India is affordable and that is one of her requirements). Since the buyer reaches your website with a specific need in mind, and has entered a specific keyword phrase to reach you, and your page resolves that buyers query, the chances of sale conversion are high.
If you notice the differentiator between the shopper and the buyer is the search phrase they used. The shopper used a shorter keyword (one word, two word phrases), while the buyer used longer phrases (three word to five word phrases).
A common SEO saying – shorter keywords are the shoppers and longer keywords are the buyers. And this makes sense when you understand the different needs of both these segments and how they search for you.
How does this affect your keyword strategy?
Many online businesses make the mistake of putting all their attention on the competitive two word keywords. These keywords have high traffic volumes and that seems to be a great incentive. But generic keywords or short keywords are invariably highly competitive, take a lot more time and money to rank well, and attracts mostly shoppers who are just looking. Also keep in mind is that the leads that come via the generic or two word phrases are not really qualified for sale. This could mean you are investing more time, money and resources in targeting keywords that are not bringing in the conversions.
It’s the longer keywords (three word to five word) that will get you qualified leads and targeted traffic. Longer keywords don’t have that much competition (and are easier to rank) and you can always create new variations using key modifiers like location, price, model number, brand name etc. A good seo strategy starts by targeting the long tails of the keywords first, and then moving on to those competitive short keywords.
Who do you prefer visiting your website, prospective shoppers or buyers?
If it’s primarily traffic you want for your website then focus your website around one or two short primary keywords, and build many quality links to those pages that are focused around your primary keywords.
But if getting more business if what you want, then the opportunity lies in the longer keyword phrases (even the seemingly strange ones) and you will need to change your current seo strategy to identify and rank well for those longer versions of keyword, and build links accordingly.
Are you tired of seeing you competitor’s links on the first page of search results, while your website on the other hand is flailing behind somewhere on Page 11 or 18?
Are your competitors stealing your traffic? And if they are, are you ready to fight back?
Does your SEO expert shy away from targeting keywords which face stiff competition? And offers no viable strategy to combat the same?
The reasons for this could be many.
A few key ones that came to mind are listed below:
1. Yours is a new website (or new domain)
Websites with new domains generally have a hard time getting indexed and ranked in search engines. The reason for this is that search engines do consider the age of the domain as an important factor while calculating rankings. Even in the real word if someone has been in the business for a year, they will have more credibility than a startup.
What to do about it? Well prove it to the search engine that you are credible (don’t forget on-page optimization) by creating fantastic content (search engine friendly content) and then syndicating that content across popular user, web and social communities. If other websites and users deem your website/ content as of value, eventually so will the search engines.
Stat a blog! Yes, it’s an easy way to get noticed by search engines in a short span of time. Search engines love blogs, and so should you! Update your blog frequently with interesting and informative content, and use your blog to create relevant links back (with proper anchor text) to your primary keyword pages. Don’t forget to promote your blog across blog search engines, and blog directories.
Write articles! This is a great way to build credibility, popularity and quality link backs without the fear of getting trapped by the duplicate content filter. Write articles that are focused around topics/ keywords you want to target. Write your article to resolve the query of the user who typed in that keyword to find something they were looking for. Promote your articles by posting them on your site or blog first, and then syndicating them to various popular and credible article submission sites.
Find long tail keywords! You may think you know your business, products, services and customers dam well, but that still does not ensure you any traffic. There are keywords (and keyword combinations) that people are using right now that you may be unaware off. Spend maximum time in finding the right keywords, tweaking those pages around the keywords (keyword placement), and in analyzing the traffic potential of those keywords. Expert SEO’s use various projection tools, analysis, statistical and research tools to do this.
Make a creative video! Wondering how to get a traffic and ranking boost with the least effort? Make a creative and innovative video, post it on your website or blog, and then syndicate to popular video submission sites like YouTube. If this sounds easy, it is, you just need to know how to optimize your video content for search friendliness. Keep in mind this is not an alternative to good on-page optimization, and quality link building.
Build those links! This is the most important aspect of getting higher rankings for your select keywords. If you have a new domain, start with building links across popular web directories and announce your new website/product/service using online PR network services. It’s the easiest way to start building some good links. In parallel you can use social networking and bookmarking to spread the good word through friends and colleagues. Join communities and forums that are relevant to your business and industry, and participate in them. Comment on relevant blogs.
Find sites that are relevant to your business and market, and request for links with your relevant anchor text. It is important to have a healthy mix of social, user and web communities in your link building matrix. Creating great content that other webmasters will want to link back is the best form of link baiting. Don’t participate in link exchange, reciprocal linking and automated linking exchanges.
Syndicate all the original content! All your hard work needs to be syndicated to select article and video submissions sites depending on the type of content, and then promoted to user and social communities by tagging your content link across social bookmarking sites. This will not only give you good links back to your content, but also enable you to reach out to new users across user, web and social communities.
Submit your sitemap to Google, Yahoo and MSN. These are the top search engines, and submitting your sitemap is like introducing your website to the search engines and inviting them to come visit your online home.
Go Local! Start with your locality, your city, country and then go global. Like any good business expansion plan it works well to start from where you are right now. Get listed in online local directories, yellow pages, Craigs list (work well too) etc. List your business with Google local business listings, Google maps, Yahoo local, MSN local etc.
2. You have purchased an old domain for a new website, but it’s not helping you getting ranked faster or higher
You have been smart about your online business. Maybe you heard that it’s better to buy an older domain, or you had a domain name in mind and paid big bucks for it without knowing why, it does not matter. But the age of the domain does matter to search engines.
For seo purposes, it’s better to have an older domain to work with. The search engines look at the age of domain as one of the factors while calculating the credibility of the website.
Having said that you will still need to do all the above things mentioned in point 1 to get higher rankings.
3. The competition is very strong for the keywords you have selected
What if you find yourself facing very strong competition for the keywords you selected, and your top competition is beating you by thousands of back links. We know that building quality links is time consuming and building thousands of quality links can take some time. So what can one do if you don’t have the time or the budget to compete with existing competition?
Create a seo strategy! Many online business owners don’t realize that seo or search engine optimization needs a strategy to work well. “Hey, I am putting up great content, have a great list of keywords, have optimized my pages, and am building the links”. Yes, it’s true that in doing these things you will stand a better chance at ranking well for your keywords. But what if your competition has spent years building content and links?
A basic seo strategy when the number of competing links is very high, and your competitor site has thousands of back links linking to it:
1. Identify 2 primary keywords that have max relevance, best traffic and least competition.
2. Optimize your home page and services/product page (any other key page would do as well)
around the primary keywords.
3. Identify 10 – 15 secondary keywords that are three-word, four-word long tails that are
extensions of the primary keywords (Eg. “How to Hire a SEO Expert” could be an article,
and ‘SEO expert’ is one of my primary keywords).
4. Write articles focused around your secondary keywords. Search engines prefer to send a user to a content page that’s useful, informative and resourceful rather than a services or products page that’s selling something to the user.
5. Optimize your article pages around secondary keywords. Each article is written around ONE secondary keyword you are targeting, and the page name, title, description, keyword and other relevant Meta tags are optimized around that keyword.
6. Create links from your article pages to the pages which are focused around your primary keywords using proper anchor text.
7. Syndicate the articles to article submissions sites, and create link back using “primary keyword” as the anchor text.
8. Focus your link building campaign (web directories, forums, social bookmarking etc) around the primary keywords ONLY, and build links from various popular web, user and social communities. In this way you will not dilute your link building campaign.
9. The idea is to build as many quality links back from these communities with the anchor text as the primary keywords you are focusing on. When search engine spiders will see the anchor text as used by popular web, user, and social communities to describe your website and your services, and then compare it with your optimized page (that’s focuses around that specific keyword), it will give you a good boost in rankings for your primary keywords.
4. You have not identified the right keywords (with traffic potential)
And I am not talking about ones you copied of your competitors website or smartly guessed. Keywords are based on pure factual data, charts, and analysis of keyword/user behavior and trends across search engines which are computed using projection tools, analysis tools, research tools etc (and a dash of business and marketing logic). Do you know what is the traffic potential of your select keywords?
5. The on-page optimization on your website lacks focus
It’s advised to target each page of your website around ONE keyword only, and focus the page name, title, description, other relevant Meta tags, and the body content (copy) of that page around that keyword ONLY.
6. Stale, boring or duplicate content on your website
Search engine dislike websites with badly written, copied, old or irrelevant content for its users. So make it a habit to create unique, compelling and resourceful content often that the users will value. If users value your content, the search engines will too.
7. Clean up those broken links, redirect errors, and 401
Search engines don’t link encountering broken links, missing redirects and 401 errors on your website. These types of errors are recorded by search engine. It is not very difficult to clean up your website, so get down to it. If you have a website over 3 years old with good content, and you have the same number of links as your competitor’s site, and yet you can seem to move up the ladder, your culprit could be the errors search engines are encountering while spidering your website.
8. Most of the above
Don’t be disappointed if you fall in this category. This is generally the case with 90 per cent of the websites.
There was a time where doing some simple keyword research and Meta tag optimization was enough to get ranked in search engines. As the web population grew, the search engines algorithms became more complex to weed out the bad ones.
Today SEO is not just about optimization of pages, keywords and link building ONLY, but about building a complete strategy for a successful online business. In these times of recession SEO may just be the most powerful tool for any business to succeed.
Also please enjoy the free seo training on basic and advanced seo strategies that will work to get your website and keywords ranked high on search engines.
Now what excuse will you give when you know the secrets to winning at SEO even amidst strong competition? If you don’t know what to do yet, then go back to the beginning of this article and read it again.
Once upon a time to be a good journalist or a good editor all you needed was two simple qualifications – intense curiosity and a good command over the English language. The computer age has, however, changed all that.
Today a journalist or an editor needs to make their presence felt online. A good online article has to have great content, crisp language, and SEO friendliness. This is because the article is not only targeting the net user but also the search engines.
In India SEO is at a nascent stage. Only when a journalist or an editor is writing for a blog or online media the need for better understanding of how SEO works is felt. Journalists / editors working for web media should develop SEO skills. This skill should be developed from both, writing and technology perspective. This is because SEO is the heart of a blog or a website. Companies or organizations having only online presence are totally dependent on SEO to drive traffic or visitors to their site.
Today most large and medium and even some small companies in India have online presence in some way or the other. This has created new opportunities for journalists / editors to exhibit their skills. At the same time it has also increased the need for these people to acquire or brush up their SEO skills.
Thanks to recession companies are competing more intensely than ever for better visibility among the internet users. Only those companies which use SEO efficiently and provide unique content and ideas will be able to hold their interest. Only such companies will survive and tide over the recession.
More and more non-IT professionals are waking up to the potential of online presence. They are also becoming aware of the crucial role of SEO in ensuring visibility of their online assets.
Both amateur and professional websites and blogs need services of SEO consultants or develop in-house SEO experts.
The SEO expert has to understand search engine patterns and user behaviors, and search keywords in detail and customize the site or blog content to suit such patterns. Such SEO exercise is not a one-time process but an ongoing process.
No matter how good your website is in terms of content or features, it is the SEO skills which decide that the world knows and acknowledges what you already know to be true about your website.
About G. Rajesh
G. Rajesh is a blog editor at www.siliconindia.com, a professional networking website. As the editor, he is responsible for developing new strategies to promote blogs, selecting and featuring best blogs and bloggers. He also provides guidance to bloggers having trouble posting the blogs online.
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