10 Steps To Higher Search Engine Positioning
There is perhaps no more level playing field in business than the Internet. It is this fact that has created millionaires from paupers.
by Dave Davies
The amount of money that can be made depends of course on your industry
and your products and/or services but to be sure, if it can be sold
at all, it can be sold online.
While there are many methods out there for building a profitable
website, from banner ads to email campaigns, by far the most cost
effective over time has proven repeatedly to be search engine positioning.
That major advantage search engine positioning has over other methods
of producing revenue online is that once high rankings are attained
and provided that the tactics used were ethical and that continued
efforts are made to keep them, they can essentially hold and provide
targeted traffic indefinitely. Your site will rise and your site
may sometimes fall in the rankings but a solid and complete optimization
of your site will insure that through algorithm changes you may
fluctuate but you will not disappear.
I have been ranking websites highly on the Internet for quite a
few years now and there are some essential rules that, if followed,
will insure that over time your website does well and holds solid
and profitable positions on the major search engines.
Here are the 10 steps to higher search engine positioning:
Step One - Choosing Keywords
You first must choose your keywords. This is perhaps the most important
step of the process as incorrectly targeting phrases can result
in traffic that is not interested in your product. There are three
tools that I use virtually every day to help pick the most appropriate
Search Term Suggestion Tool
- A Brain
The last in the list is the most important. Look through the potential
keyword phrases and think, "Who would be searching using that phrase?"
If the answer is, "a student looking for information" then chances
are it won't result in a sale. If the answer is "Someone who is
looking specifically for a product I offer," then obviously this
is a prime candidate as a targeted keyword phrase.
Step Two - Site Content
Even before I optimize websites I like to get a good deal of new
content down in order to insure that I know exactly where I'm going
and exactly what I need to do to get there. Creating some of the
new content before starting the optimization process can be doubly
helpful in that it can reveal potential additions to your website
that you may not have considered (a forum or blog for example).
If you already have a site, perhaps simply sit on your back deck,
sip on a coffee and image what you would do if your whole site was
lost and you had to start again (other than launch into a very colorful
discussion with your hosting company).
Step Three - Site Structure
A solid site structure is very important. Creating a site that is
easily spidered by the search engines yet attractive to visitors
can be a daunting and yet entirely rewarding endeavor. To adequately
structure your website you must "think like a spider" which is not
as difficult as it may sound. A search engine spider reads your
web page like you would read a book. It starts at the top left,
reads across, and then moves down.
Priority must be given then, to what you place near the top of
Step Four - Optimization
Once you have your keyword targets, your content created and your
site structure established you must now move on to the most obvious
step, the optimization of your content.
As noted above, a spider places importance on what it reads highest
on the page and so beginning with a sentence that includes your
targeted phrase only makes sense. That said, stuffing in keywords
in hopes that it will add weight to your page generally doesn't
work. The term "keyword density" refers to the percentage of your
content that is made up of your targeted keywords. There are optimum
densities according to many reputable SEO's though exactly what
they are is debata ble. Estimates seem to range anywhere from 4
or 5% to 10 to 12% (quite a gap isn't it).
Personally, when it comes to keyword density I prescribe to one
rule: put your keywords in the content as much as you can while
keeping it comfortably readable to a human visitor.
Some do it first, I do it last, regardless of when you do it you
must choose your heading. At the beginning of your content you have
the opportunity to use the h1 tag to specify the heading
of your content. This tag is given extra weight and is also an indicator
to the search engine of where your actual content starts. Make sure
to use your keywords in the heading but don't shy away from also
adding additional words (though not too many).
Step Five - Internal Linking
To insure that your website gets fully indexed you have to make
sure that the spiders have an easy path through your website. Text
links make the best choice as the anchor text (the actual words
used to link to a specific page) add relevancy to that page for
the words used to link to it. For example, if I ran a website on
acne and had a treatments page I could link to it with an image,
with text reading "Click for more information on how to treat this
skin condition" or simply "Acne Treatments". When a search engine
spider hits an image it has no idea what the image is and, while
it will follow the link, it will not give any weight to the page
it hits. If you use text that does not contain the keywords you
are targeting you are essentially supplying the engine with the
same lack of relevancy as with an image, but if you use the phrase
"Acne Treatments" to link to your acne treatments page you are attaching
relevancy to that page for those keywords.
There are two main ways to insure that your site gets well spidered
AND that the relevancy is added. The first is to place text links
on the bottom of your homepage to your main internal pages (not
EVERY page, that just looks odd). The second is to create a sitemap
to all your internal pages and link to it from your homepage. Both
methods have advantages and disadvantages but that's a whole article
Step Six - Human Testing
So now you have your site, it's optimized and you have your navigation
in place. The next step is to put it past someone who has never
seen your site (and preferably who won't know how much work you've
put in and tell you it's great even if it's not).
Ask them to find specific information and see how long it takes.
Ask someone else to just surf your site and watch which links they
click and ask them why they chose those ones.
Most importantly, find out how the content reads to them. You've
spent hours working through the content at this point and are probably
not the least biased on its readers. Find out how it reads to someone
who has no invested interest in the site and correct any issues
they may bring up.
Step Seven - Submissions
I take a different philosophy than most when it cones to search
engine submissions. I submit to directories (both general and topic-specific)
and to a few topical search engines but for the most part I've found
submitting to Google, Yahoo, MSN and the other major engines has
proven to be a bit of a waste of time. The major search engines
are spidering search engines, which means they will follow links
to wherever they go. Simply having sites that are spidered by the
major search engines linking to you will get your site found.
When I have spent time submitting my sites I have found they get
picked up in about a week. When I have simply skipped this step
and sought out reputable directories and other sites to get links
from I have found that at least the homepage of the site gets indexed
in as little as two days.
Neither will hurt your rankings but simply to make the best use
of your time, seek our directories and other websites to get links
from and leave the spiders to find you on their own.
Step Eight - Link Building
All of the major search engines give credit to sites that have quality
links pointing to them. How many is enough depends on your industry
and targeted phrases. Running a search on Google the reads "link:www.yourcompetition.com"
will reveal approximately how many links a competitor has.
The first place to seek links is with general and topic-specific
directories. After that you may want to move into reciprocal link
building. Reciprocal link building is the exchange of links between
two websites. Some webmasters will simply link to any website that
links back to them. I highly recommend being more particular than
Find websites that you believe your site visitors would genuinely
be interested in and you've probably found a good link partner.
You want to find links from sites that are related to yours.
There are obviously many more methods to building links than directories
and reciprocal link building. Again though, this is a whole article
(or more) in itself.
Step Nine - Monitoring
Whether you use WebPosition
Gold or just run searches manually by hand you will have to
monitor the major search engines for your targeted phrases. Also,
you will need to review your stats to see where your traffic is
coming from and what search terms are being used to find you.
If a month passes and you don't see any changes then more work
needs to be done. I'm certainly not stating that you should take
a month off, a solid search engine positioning strategy involves
constantly adding content, building links, and insuring that your
visitors are getting the information they want to have and finding
it as easily as possible.
Step Ten - Reward Yourself
So you've done it. It's taken many many hours of work but you're
rankings are doing well. What you've created is a solid position
that will stand the tests of time provided that you continually
revisit the above noted steps and insure that your website is always
one step ahead of your competition (who have noticed you climbing
and succeeding as you would notice others climbing up around your
Now it's time to turn off your computer, take your partner out
(you haven't had much time for them lately) and have a great week(end).
You've got a lot of work to do to maintain and build on these rankings
but the hardest part is over. Congratulations!