Archive for May, 2009
The online business model is changing the way we do business in the 20th century. The search engines played a big part in bringing about this change, enabling millions of users to have access to real time information on news, products, services, businesses, entertainment and people. This presented smart entrepreneurs with an opportunity to sell products and services, information and entertainment, in a way that would never have been possible with traditional business models.
SEO too has seen many changes over the decade, and much to my surprise is still veiled in secrecy and confusion as to the standards and values that are applicable for the success of your online business and brand. In my previous posts – What I have learnt about SEO so far, and Seperating SEO Myths and Reality, I had covered some very important misconceptions about SEO and Lessons learnt. It will help you get bigger picture before I delve deeper into the not-so -known “value” attributes that search engines are paying more and more attention too.
What differentiates one SEO professional from another? if both could help you achieve search rankings in the same time, at the same rate? The answer lies in the “value” that’s being created for the users.
Your online business is a reflection of your values and business ethics. And in delivering consistent “value” your online business is on a path of success.
1. Be consistent in creating unique, compelling and resourceful content in the form of articles/ blog posts – 3 to 4 a WEEK.
2. Be consistent in syndication of the same to 10 – 15 relevant and popular article submissions sites a WEEK (Build Author Reputation, Traffic, Natural Links).
3. Be consistent in promotion of the same content links across 10 – 15 relevant and popular social bookmarking sites a WEEK (enhance Social Reputation, Traffic, Natural Links).
4. Be consistent in attracting 3 to 5 user thumbs up/ reviews for same content each WEEK(enhance Social Reputation, Traffic, Natural Links).
5. Be consistent in participating in 3 to 4 relevant blogs, by blog commenting and forum postings each WEEK.
6. Be consistent in ALL OF THE ABOVE each WEEK
BENEFITS: Enhance Social, Web (Page Rank) and Link (Natural and Diverse links) Reputation by participating in relevant social, user and web communities. Increase Traffic. Higher Ranking for your Keywords.
1. Be immediate in syndication of your 3 – 4 articles to the selected and relevant article submision sites.
2. Be immediate in promoting the same articles to select and relevant social bookmarking sites.
3. Be immediate in posting the link to Twitter, and Stumble Upon
BENEFITS: Faster delivery of your content/brand/message across relevant channels. There is no news lie fresh news.
SEO has been around for a decade, and is still somehow lost behind veils of myths and secrecy. I am here to remove the sugar coating that surrounds SEO.
The Faith Myth
If I build it (a website), they will come? The answer to that is NO. If you create unique content, actively syndicate and promote that content to selected sites, and participate in social, web and user communities – Then they will come.
Do I need a SEO guru? The answer to that is NO. Anyone who claims to be a Guru is a normal person with SEO knowledge, but he likes to flaunt it to people who don’t know anything about SEO.
Do I need a Technological Wizard? The answer to that is another NO. SEO is based on online branding, marketing and selling strategies, and is not a programming code. Yes, a good website needs a tech wizard for other things, but that will not help with search rankings.
Do I need an in-house SEO expert? The answer is YES, if you have the budget to hire the “Best”. But if you don’t have the budget you can outsource to a SEO expert at half the cost (minus the employee benefits).
Do I need a top SEO company? Working with a company has its advantages and disadvantages. The main advance is that a team of SEO’s will be working on your project. The main disadvantage is that the team of SEO’s working on your project will probably have just 1 to 2 years of experience. SEO is more about creating constant value for your users, following your intuitions, and keeping a look out for opportunities. Will this company be attentive to these?
Do I need a Link Builder? The answer to that is NO. Amazed! The era of paid link building, reciprocal linking, and link building requests is OVER. Natural link building is based on the merit on your content, and syndicating and promoting your content on relevant and popular web, user and social communities.
What you need is a SEO expert who is a willing partner with your online success, can assist build a long term SEO / SEM strategy, and take responsibility for the success and failures. It’s a journey to your online success, so partner with someone who is willing to go the distance.
The Rate Myth
Are all SEO services the same? NO they are not. While the foundations principles remain, each SEO expert follows their own process to higher rankings based on their own unique experiences and knowledge. It’s a case of many roads all leading to one. Ask the SEO expert to explain his strategy. If it does not sound like common sense to you, it’s probably nonsense.
Hiring a SEO expert is expensive? YES they are expensive, but not as much as the “Losses” you are making right now because your competitors are stealing your business.
Cheap SEO services are cheap? NO it’s not necessary. It’s not about the price, it’s about value. A SEO expert who is constantly dedicated to creating value for the users, and actively promoting your products/ services across diverse web, user and social communities is bound to succeed.
What you need is to “outsource” to a SEO expert who can “be part” of your core online team. Get the best of both worlds. Find a SEO expert who is ready to work on a fixed monthly remuneration (plus some nice bonus), and if he/she is good, then don’t let go.
The Time Myth
Is 6 months enough for SEO? The answer is NO. Do you plan to be in business for 6 months only? I though not. Then SEO and Internet Marketing needs to be a part of your core marketing activities till the time you plan to be in business.
Is 3 to 4 months enough to see results? The answer is NO. The reason is search engines are now valuing consistency and quality over a period of time. In 3 to 4 months you will become a serious contender in the search rankings but emerging a winner (convert your traffic into leads and orders) can take 6 months to a year depending on the keywords and the competition.
The faster I build links the better? Speed is not the key here, its consistency that’s the new mantra. Are 500 web directory submissions in 15 days better than say 30 to 40 high quality web directory submissions every month? The answer to that is NO.
What you need is to implement a long term SEO strategy, implemented “Weekly”. Create resourceful, unique and informative content EACH WEEK, syndicate to selected 10 to 15 popular article sites EACH WEEK, promote across 10 – 15 relevant social media and bookmarking sites EACH WEEK, and participate in relevant social, web and user communities EACH WEEK.
The Link Myth
I have to pay, beg or trick for links? The answer to that is NO. The days of paid links (unless they are part of a PPC or advertising campaign), reciprocal links and requesting for links are OVER. Natural link building is actively syndicating and promoting your content so that these communities that you participate in link back to your content. These links are based on merit, and are highly valued. In the near future I predict that these may the only links that matter.
Is quantity of links the King? NO, it’s quality and diversity of links that’s King. Quality means that credible and relevant websites are linking to your content as they see value in it for their users. Diversity means that it’s better to build a healthy matrix of links from diverse websites (web directories, article submissions, social bookmarking, social media and networking etc) all pointing back to your content, than build thousands of links from say only article sites, or only web directories.
What you need is a link strategy that actively encourages the creation of unique content, and then actively promoting and syndication of that content across relevant user, web and social communities. This is a weekly exercise. Other than this create a healthy mix of links from web directories, article sites, social bookmarking sites, education (.edu, .org) sites, PR releases, relevant sites/ blogs, industry sites, blog reviews etc.
The Traffic Myth
Is Traffic = Conversions? The answer is NO. There are various ways to get targeted traffic to your website, but to convert a visitor to a customer requires innovative design, content, services, products, rates, service and business sense. Did I just forget to put in SEO in the list?
All traffic is good? The answer is NO. Surprised! To target traffic means to target a keyword. To target a keyword means “time” and “effort” to focus on targeting that keyword. If you create highly targeted keywords then you get targeted traffic. So traffic from keywords that don’t synergize with your product, information or service is useless, so are keywords that don’t lead to a sale.
What you need is to identify keywords that will translate into customers. Each keyword had separate competition and traffic potential, and you have to build links to each of these keyword pages. Identify keywords will lesser competition yet higher traffic potential. Start with local keywords (local traffic), then country specific keywords before you try for global keywords. As you attain success with each keyword (on page #1 of search rankings) you will create a funnel of traffic to your website.
The Ranking Myth
I want # 1 ranking for my keywords? Good for you, but it’s not possible for anyone to guarantee #1 rankings unless they own the search engine. Set goals for Page #1 rankings for your keywords. It is wise to start with city centric keywords and after success, move to country specific keywords, and then capture the global keywords.
My new site will rank because I am ready to pay? The answer to this is NO. Search engines value sites that have been in business for long, and those that intend to be in business for long. A new site will take 6 months to start ranking well in search listings, but that does not mean you cannot start getting business for your new website via PPC, Adwords, and banner ads etc till then.
My SEO efforts and should translate into steady rise of my keywords in Search rankings? I agree it seems reasonable to expect that after 2 months of SEO effort you would see a steady rise in the search listings, but it does not work that way. Search engines update their listings every 2 – 3 months. What you will notice however is a quantum leap after you have been showing consistency in building user value, and building quality links.
What you need is to FOCUS on being consistent with creation of quality content, and syndication and promotion of that content, including other link building opportunities that may arise. Don’t worry about rankings, if you build a strong SEO strategy that’s implemented week to week, then your keywords will find way to page #1, and stay there …
This is one question from the clients that almost makes liars of most of us SEO experts. Why? Because we know that SEO takes time, patience and perseverance, and a client with a wallet full of Greens a business full of Dreams (pardon the poetry here) expects to see his money work for him immediately.
The pitch “In the next 6 months to a year we will build a strong foundation for your online business using on-page and natural link building strategies, create content and syndicate content that your users will love, cultivate a buzz about your brand, product and services, target keywords that will translate into conversions, and bring in new customers” is loved by most clients except the 6 months part.
The problem I feel lies in the misconception that SEO is an easy and fast, money making devise. If that were the case, all us SEO experts would be rich – now wouldn’t we? SEO is not about making money online. That is just the after-effect of executing a well planned and researched SEO/SEM strategy over a period of time. Consistency it seems is soon becoming the most valuable ace card up search engines sleeves.
Many clients come to us when they fail to create a successful online business, or are starting a new website, or want to grow their online business further and don’t know how to do it. SEO and SEM then becomes a beacon of hope for the future of their business. While that is good, it also becomes a cause for higher expectations from the clients in terms of time to deliver.
Here is how one conversation with an eager client went:
Client: It all sounds great, except the time you mentioned. I need results in 2 to 3 months. Can you not put in more efforts and reduce the time, or hire another 2 people to help you. I could even pay you more.
SEO expert: I understand your need for speed. But a successful SEO strategy shows results only after a few months of consistent effort, creating value for your users, and participation in relevant web, user and social communities. It’s the search engines way to deter websites that feel that they can walk right in, and become top dogs by using some secret SEO techniques, or spending a whole lot of money.
Client: I see what you are saying, but still let’s get the time down to 4 months. Six months is too long a time, and who has seen what happens in six months. I could be out of business by then
SEO expert: That’s the same reason why search engines are valuing consistent effort, quality content, and websites that are going to be around for a long time. We need to build your online reputation, link reputation and social reputation, and not just speed through to the higher rankings bit.
Client: Ok, I get it. You tell me what all is possible in 4 months, and after that we can evaluate and take things further. I am sure there will some results to show for in 4 months.
SEO expert: Definitely there will be many measurable results. Let do it for 4 months, and then we can plan ahead…
Incidentally, this client is still one of my best customers over the years.
So did I lie about the 6 months in the first place, or did I just give-in to the clients demands for doing it in lesser time? It was neither.
What I did was start a relationship with the client, teach him about SEO along the way, assist him in creating value for his potential customers, and helped him build a successful ongoing weekly SEO strategy that constantly adds value for his users, increases brand awareness and recall, promotes his products and services, drives in new customers every day, and increases his business profits every quarter.
Hi friends, I run a successful SEO/SEM consultancy with clients across the globe, mentor and share my experiences with Internet marketing strategies in my Zen of SEO Blog, and assist individuals and companies run successful online businesses.
I have highlighted my rankings below, not as an example of what a top notch cool SEO guy I am, but rather, as a benchmark of a journey that took a year to accomplish, and the core lessons I learnt.
My website (www.seo-optimization-experts.com) ranks in Google:
# 1 for the keyword seo expert mumbai (No #1 spot for past 6 months)
#4 for the keyword seo experts in india (4 lac competing links)
# 7 for the keyword seo expert india (4.5 lac competing links from SEO’s and SEO companies in India)
My Blog (www.seo-optimization-experts.com/seoblog.html) ranks in Google:
# 2 for the keyword seo expert mumbai
It’s been an exciting journey since I started my SEO Expert Consultancy Company about a year ago. There were many lessons learnt and strategies that worked that I have been sharing with all my readers in my blog posts over the past year, and I thought I would compile all my posts into one not-too-long neat post which shares – What I have Learnt about SEO So Far.
Naturally I can’t cover everything in one blog post, but I have covered the most important aspects of my understanding of SEO.
Naming your business
Its best to include your primary keyword in your domain name, but if you have a built brand, or a well known business, you should use the domain for your brand or company.
Don’t have too many hyphens in your domain (it’s a mistake I had made by keeping a long domain www.seo-optimization-experts.com, and I guess I will have to live with it), it’s better to keep www.seooptimizationexperts.com, in case a smaller domain name was unavailable.
Keep away from using underscore ( _ ) in your domain name or page namesEg. www.xyz.com/seo_services_company.html
If you can’t have your keywords in your domain name, another technique is to include your keyword by creating sub domains. Eg. mumbai.seo-optimization-experts.com to target by location, or ppc.seo-optimization-experts.com to target a new pay-per-click service. Use sub domains for 3 – 4 important keywords you want to target, and don’t overdo it by creating sub domains for every keyword in your list.
In the beginning there was a word – it was called a Keyword.
Keywords are the foundation of your online business. It all begins with selecting the right keywords for your business. The on-page optimization, the content creation and all future link building campaigns will stem from the keywords you select.
There are various statistical and analytic tools available on the net for keyword suggestions, and many of them are free, so use them. Keywords discovery is based on hard facts, trends, and history of performance of the keyword; it’s not an estimated guess!
Don’t underestimate the competition. Analyzing your competition for keywords they use or don’t use is a step you don’t want to miss. If your competition is on page # 1, they must be doing something right.
Don’t fight the big boys. No matter how hard you are willing to work, or pay a SEO expert to do that work for you, it will take time, patience and money to go after the big keywords. Set optimistic goals and start with keywords that have lesser competition, and yet good traffic potential. These types of keywords can be researched into, also called long tail keywords; they can be identified once you understand how your potential customers search for information on a product or service like yours. Eg. Create keyword centric topics – articles, blog posts, how-to guides, FAQ’s etc.
Start with city centric keywords. It makes sense to start with keyword combinations that include your city of business Eg. Seo expert mumbai. Once your keywords are ranking well in your city, it’s time to expand your business with country specific keywords Eg. seo expert india. And finally you can go after the BIG global keywords!
Start with keywords that are local. General keywords (eg. seo expert) get a lot of traffic, but they are difficult to rank for, so start with your city (eg. seo expert mumbai), and work your way to country (eg. seo expert india). With time, consistency and patience, the bigger traffic pullers can get targeted.
Start with targeting easier keywords with good traffic potential. You will see faster results on your site and it becomes motivation to go after the more difficult keywords. Even an extra character like ‘a’ in your keyword will have different competition and rankings in search listings.
Test-drive your keywords. Run a PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaign for 15 days to a month and see which keywords are being searched for, their performance history, and titles and descriptions that work with your customers. This helps identify the winning keywords you should be targeting on your website, plus getting the extra traffic and business can be quite a high.
Each keyword or keyword phrase is a traffic funnel to your website, and keywords on page # 1 of search engine results have a higher chance of getting clicked. There are always “more keywords” you can target, you have just not looked deeply enough.
Meta-Tagging. When is it enough to say enough!
No matter what one says, it’s important to focus your pages i.e. page name, title, desc, other relevant Meta tags, and the body content around a specific keyword. What this means is that you create ONE PAGE of content themed AROUND one KEYWORD you want to target, and include the keyword in your page name, title, description, and other relevant Meta tags on that page.
Well that makes sense, considering that each keyword will need to be targeted separately, each keyword will have different competition, and links will have to build to target each keyword page.
In the body content of the page, write for the reader only and not for the search engines. If you are writing about a particular topic in focus, the keyword will be included naturally into your sentences in any case, if you can write well. The emphasis is on ‘natural’ writing, and NOT seo writing (if such a word exists). Don’t stuff your keyword in Meta tags and body content. It should all make sense to your potential customer when reading your title, description and body content.
Other than title, description, keyword, headings (hi, h2, h3) and link text, there are NO other Meta tags of relevance. Remove all irrelevant Meta tags. Keep title tag around 60 characters, and the description tag around 100 characters. Short and simple copy works best.
Creating Content that Attracts
There is content that’s created for your website – listing your services, products, infrastructure, contact details, post jobs etc. This is important to brand your company, sell your services/products, introduce the team, and give information to potential clients on how to get in touch with your company.
And then there is content for the purposes of educating and informing your users about developments in the industry/business you operate in, product tips, FAQ’s, How To guides etc . You can post the content in the form of articles, or blog posts, or new content pages on your site. This kind of content is informative, useful and is liked by users and search engines alike.
The content created should be focused around keyword phrases you want to target. Eg. How to hire a seo expert.
Use content for creating internal links and external links. Internal links should be used from within the content to point to (anchor text) another page of related information, and external links point out of your domain to other useful sites and resources. Internal linking also works well when you link from pages with good page rank to pages that don’t have page rank.
On average create 3 – 4 articles, or blog posts a week. This content should then be syndicated to selected article submission sites, and promoted across selected social bookmarking and networking sites to build quality natural links.
If you can create innovative and useful Video content and submit to sites like YouTube, you will have an edge over your competitors. Don’t make dull, poor quality, badly edited or lengthy videos! If your videos are not generating traffic, then rethink your content and presentation. Try one video at a time and learn from your mistakes.
The Link Building Matrix (Reloaded)
The search engines are becoming smarter by the hour. Link building was always an important parameter for search engines to understand the value of your content, and will always be. But, due to good reasons, search engines now give more value to those links that come from relevant, credible and popular sites, and links that are gained on the merit of your content.
No link exchanges, no reciprocal links (unless it’s between two mature and relevant sites), no paid links (unless they are part of pay-per-click campaign, or part of your advertising on other sites).
Get links from diverse and relevant web, user and social communities that you are participating actively in. A healthy matrix of quality and diverse links includes web directory submissions, article submissions, social bookmarking and networking, video submissions, PR submissions, blogs reviews and commenting, participating in forums, Yahoo answers, submitting how to guides etc.
Directory Submissions – To Pay or Not to Pay
When I first start link building for a new client, I always start with getting a few good quality links from selected web directories with high page rank (PR 3 above).
With many free high page rank directories on the web, you can create your business listing and submit to these directories for no cost. Expect little or no traffic from these sites, but the links they give you back are good for your rankings.
There are few good paid directories. If you have a budget of 400 $ (Yahoo directory included), then go for paid directories, otherwise focus on other link building techniques. You may get some traffic from paid directory sites especially Yahoo, but the link back is permanent.
Post to around 100 good web directories every two months. Build a portfolio of good quality web directory links over time. All submissions are to be made manually to web directories managed by human editors. A good web directory takes 10 to 15 days to verify a submission, though its not the only factor to concider.
Don’t try and complete your directory submissions quota in one sitting (i.e. 600 directories at one time). It’s not about reaching a number or completing a target, but building quality links consistently over time.
Article Submissions – The power of Syndication
Articles submission sites are my favorite for increased traffic, reputation and for building quality links to a website I am working on. Generally once you write content for the web, you cannot use that content any place else on the web, else it will be caught by the duplicate content filter of search engines. But submitting your content to article sites is not treated as duplicate content.
Write once and syndicate to 10 to 15 popular and relevant article sites with high page rank. This number works best as you can build your personal reputation as an expert author, increase traffic to your website (I get good traffic and referrals from Ezines), and build links from these sites.
First submit the article (3 – 4 a week works best) or blog post to your own website. Then consistently submit your articles to top and relevant article submission sites over a period of time, and building your credibility as an author on the topics or industry you are writing about.
Blogging – Start Talking
If you can’t write, don’t have anything interesting and unique to talk about, and don’t want to learn what your readers like, then hire someone who can!
Start a blog only if you plan to continue writing and building content. Working hard to write great content and promoting your blog is going to be hard work. If you plan to stop creating informative, unique and entertaining content after 6 months, don’t bother starting (especially with SEO in mind).
Blogs and blog posts (your content) get ranked much faster by search engines. It’s a proven fact. But unless your content is good enough to excite webmasters (who actively search blogs, RSS feeds, article sites and social sites for the latest buzz) to link back to your content, the ranking won’t be maintained.
Make each blog post count. Once you post on your blog, syndicate that content to article sites and promote across social bookmarking and networking sites for maximum leverage of your content.
Innovative corporate blogs are doing better at generating traffic than their websites. But don’t expect your blog to generate business for you in the short term. It takes time and patience to develop a voice that can sell your ideas to your readers.
Social Media – Start Listening & Bookmarking
People are talking right now about your brand, your services and your products online, whether you are listening or not does not matter. Either you can participate in this conversation, or hope that ignorance is really bliss.
“I need information now” is the new mantra of people, and the popularity of sites like Twitter, Yahoo Answers, Facebook is backed by the fact that these social platforms allow users to communicate, share and receive information faster.
You create content (articles or blog posts) and post it on your website. Then you syndicate that content to selected article sites. The next step is to promote your content across social bookmarking and networking sites.
Select 10 – 15 social bookmarking sites and consistently submit your content each week to these selected sites. Participation is the key here. It’s not good enough to post your content or link and hope for the best, you have get reviews or “thumbs up” for your content. Get atleast 3 – 4 thumbs up or reviews for all your postings for maximum leverage.
If you feel I have missed out on anything important then do send in your comments.
Top SEO ARTICLES
SEO for the CEO | Why most SEO strategies fail to deliver?
Is your competition beating you with SEO?
Why does the SEO process take so long? Expert SEO speaks out
What NOT to expect from your SEO Expert
Separating SEO Myths from Reality
SEO Expert Training
Learn SEO for FREE
Certified SEO Training Mumbai
The Corporate SEO Strategy Workshop Mumbai
SEO Expert Authors
Complete SEO/SMM Solution
- October 2013 (2)
- September 2013 (5)
- August 2013 (3)
- June 2013 (3)
- April 2013 (1)
- March 2013 (3)
- January 2013 (2)
- October 2012 (5)
- August 2012 (1)
- January 2012 (10)
- December 2011 (4)
- November 2011 (5)
- October 2011 (3)
- September 2011 (4)
- August 2011 (5)
- July 2011 (3)
- June 2011 (1)
- May 2011 (2)
- April 2011 (4)
- March 2011 (2)
- February 2011 (2)
- October 2010 (1)
- July 2010 (2)
- June 2010 (7)
- May 2010 (4)
- April 2010 (10)
- March 2010 (7)
- February 2010 (6)
- January 2010 (1)
- September 2009 (1)
- August 2009 (2)
- July 2009 (7)
- June 2009 (2)
- May 2009 (4)
- March 2009 (2)
- February 2009 (6)
- January 2009 (15)
- December 2008 (3)
- November 2008 (11)
- October 2008 (17)
- September 2008 (5)