Small Consistent Steps Lead To Big Changes
Search-Engine Optimization (SEO) is simply the process of streamlining your website for search-engines. The more relevant your site appears to the search-engine, the higher a ranking it will achieve on the result pages of a user’s returned search request. SEO is the first line of attack for internet marketing teams. In fact, from the techniques of search-engine optimization all other marketing strategies are derived. If your marketing team does not have a handle on SEO then your site is defenseless and all other campaigns are without substance.
Search-engine Optimization (SEO) is merely the practice of adapting your pages to the requirements of search-engines, helping both your company get exposure and the client get the relevant information they requested. The truth is that SEO helps search-engines provide their users with exactly the information they are looking for easily. And in turn, search-engines provide your site with targeted pre-sold traffic (potential customers looking for what you are providing).
Search-engine Optimization (SEO) by itself does not equal greater sales. All the traffic in the world could be directed to your site but if your design or copy cannot keep the customer involved, or make the sale, your site will be ineffective at converting potential visitors to actual, paying customers. And conversion is the name of the game for internet businesses.
For example, consider a restaurateur setting up a restaurant in the middle of Time Square, New York City – a great location that would surely bring in lots of traffic. If the restaurant patrons went inside and found a big heap of stinking garbage, they would walk out, just as fast as they walked in. The point is that all the traffic in the world will not make a difference if that traffic does not convert.
Search-engine Optimization is designed to get the attention of the search-engines, create credibility for your company (through links), a competitive ranking for your site (on a user’s search results), and all of this together creates a flow of targeted traffic ready to make your business dreams a reality. Add to this good design and great, expert copywriting (see the section devoted to copywriting) and you can pretty much take your site to the bank.
Search-engine Optimization (SEO) has two major divisions: On-Page Factors (dynamics that can be addressed on the actual website page) and Off-Page Factors (dynamics that are called into play off site).
Why Invest In SEO?
Investing in search-engine optimization is in effect marketing for your website. Links which lead interested buyers to your site including: articles that generate interest in your product, Press Releases that announce the latest news concerning your company or your products, and techniques which get your site noticed by the search-engines and therefore noticed by the internet user.
In fact you might as well ask a business why they invest in advertising, catalogues, or sales promotions. The simple fact of the matter is that when you start a business, that business needs to get noticed and promote its’ product or services to get the attention of customers and do business.
Considering that almost 80% of all website traffic comes via search-engines, and that 70% of users only peruse the first two pages of search results, then SEO is one of the most important elements to internet business success and is relevant not only to the marketing team, but to the designer, and copywriter as well.
It doesn’t matter how large or small your company is. It doesn’t matter how long your company has been in business. When you enter the world of the internet every company is treated the same and is required to follow the same rules. If your site disregards those rules your company will at best rank quite low or not at all and at worst be banned from the search-engines altogether. It is as simple as that.
SEO generates a high return on investment by selling your products and services, getting your company noticed, or simply by providing a flood of leads for your sales team to follow through with the sales.
Why don’t the Search-engines rank my company higher than my competitor since we are so much bigger and better than them?
Answer – It’s the search-engines playground and you have to play by their rules. If your site exemplifies all of their criteria then you will be honored; otherwise, you are wasting your time and money.
How Search-Engines Work
Search-engines are programs that search documents for particular keywords and criteria. When a search is requested a “spider” is sent out to indexed sites throughout the internet to find as many relevant documents as possible. Then another program called the “indexer” reads the documents returned by the spider and creates an index based on keyword content. Lastly then a proprietary algorithm creates the final listing of the most relevant to the least relevant sites based on on-page and off-page factors (creating the ranking for each site) and returns the search results to the client making the initial search.
The only goal of a search-engine is to provide the most relevant results for their users. They have absolutely no interest in your company. Search-engines rank different kinds of entries differently. The most attention is paid to the text that closest resembles the original search term and is bolder, larger, and highlighted.
There are only two ways for sites to rank highly in search-engines:
1) Naturally: These are the real search-engine results; lists of sites that have content related to the world search, have the most elements on and off page that the search-engine can read and understand, and links from other sites that act like votes toward your sites level of importance. (The more one-way links pointing to your site, the more important your site seems to the search-engines.)
The older your site is on the internet and the more recent and up-to-date you have kept it by adding pages and altering and improving text, consistently over time, the more relevant and reliable your site appears. The more one-way links that lead to your site, increasing over time, the more important and popular you site appears. These factors: relevance, reliability, popular, and importance are all factors that give a site, any site, high search-engine ranking. Be warned, high ranking can become addictive and in order to maintain it takes consistent and dedicated effort.
2) Paid: Paid advertising in which the search-engine companies are paid to display your site whenever a search is conducted for your “keyword” or “keyword phrase”. These are normally labeled “sponsored links” and are presented at the top of a search with a shaded background or on the right hand column. Maintaining a presence in this manner can become quite costly over the long run and is better only to be used as you perfect your SEO techniques naturally.
Search-Engines Are Businesses
Search-engines were created to streamline the process of searching the internet for relevant information related to particular topics. It is the business of the search-engine to provide the user with the most accurate and up-to-date information that can be found and thereby create a list of the most valid information for the user, in the shortest amount of time possible.
Search-engines garner the attention and trust of their users by providing the most relevant information they can. In order to do this the search-engine’s method of searching, and the pages on which they search must contain common factors in order for one to recognize the other. The most common and important factor in all such searches is the “keyword”; the word or phrase which the user typed to initiate the search.
The search-engine engineers spend their time looking for ways to improve the speed and relevance of the returned results and for this they rely heavily on the website developer or marketing team to implement the required standards on their pages that search-engine programs use to rank a site as relevant to a search.
By the same token then the success of an internet business also depends on the search-engine sending relevant, targeted traffic to their site. Targeting your traffic means focusing only on people truly interested in your product or service. Obviously, there is no sense, and little value, in showing high search-engine ranking for keywords like “Miami Lawyer” if you are a Chiropractor in the UK.
Search-engines are free to use and a naturally high ranking is a valuable asset for any business, but the search-engine company are businesses and make their money via directory listings, sponsored links (paid advertising) known as Pay Per Click, website hosting, and paid email services. The appearance of paid advertisements (or sponsored links) are similar in appearance to those of natural listings, in order not to disturb the eye of the user from their task, but are different enough to be noticed; because on search-engines, the user, not the advertiser, comes first.
AltaVista, Google, Lycos, MSN, Ask, and Yahoo are only a handful of the most popular search-engines available on the web. Since 80% of all traffic reaches a website via the results of a search, and that the success of an internet business depends on high ranking on a user’s results page, then it only makes sense to follow the rules that will get your site noticed and ranked on search-engines.
Now you know how search-engines work and why search-engine optimization is an important key to internet success – then let’s get to it.
On-Page Factors simply refer to anything that a designer, copywriter, and marketing expert can do to improve the set up of a webpage or an entire site. Implementing on-page factors can improve the visibility of your site to search-engines and of course potential customers. On-page factors are elements you can take care of on your own web pages and are extremely important for improving the amount of traffic coming to your site and the conversion rate of that traffic.
One of the most important factors for SEO is your choice of keywords. In order to choose the right keywords for your content, you should consider how people might search for your web page.
Before doing anything else, sit down and simply consider your product or service and answer this question: “If you were searching for your product or service on the internet, what words would you type in to initiate the search?”
Keywords and keyword phrases are literally the words that users type into the search-engine in order to find something on the net.
For example: Computers
Used IBM Computers
Florida Used IBM Computers
As you can see from our example, our first keyword is rather broad, the rest are increasingly more narrowed and specific. The more words you add the more you narrow the search and the more specific your results will be; but by the same token, the narrower your potential traffic will be as well. Therefore, it is a good rule of thumb to keep your keyword phrases to two words minimum and four words maximum.
It is every business owner’s dream to open the doors of a new store and have customers lined up around the corner as the merchandise flies off the shelf, but it is not realistic. Remember the World Wide Web is, just that, world wide. Trying to optimize and compete for a broad term like “computer” you’re putting your site up against millions, if not billions of companies all vying for the same position. Chances of success are steep, not insurmountable, but rather unrealistic for a new company trying to make their presence known.
Keep In Mind! The more competitive the keyword, the longer and more expensive it will be to optimize for.
This is where your keyword research comes in.
The Important Task Of Keyword Research
At first, keyword research can seem like a daunting task, both time-consuming and complicated; but rest assured, over time you will become familiar with what you are looking for and the process will become second nature. Just follow our step-by-step process the first few times you tackle this task and it will not only become easier, it will become clear as to why this is one of the most important and necessary tasks in setting up your business for internet success.