Search engine marketing is one of the most effective methods of promoting your Internet business. Through good search engine marketing, you get targeted website visitors from search engines on which your website has a good ranking – and optimization is your plan to get good rankings.
I have worked on hundreds of sites, helping to optimize content and structure for better search engine placement. Through this work, I’ve devised a series of two “phases” which break the work down into understandable pieces:
Phase One: Current Site Research
Phase Two: Relevant Keyword Research
This article will help you work out phase one on your own terms, performing a basic series of steps toward discovering your site’s current standings so that you can work towards optimizing them.
How Important Are Good Rankings?
In “business speak”, there is nothing more valuable than a motivated buyer. Search engine users are some of the most qualified and motivated buyers you will ever have on your website. After all, they’ve taken the time to hunt for a certain topic – and have chosen your site to learn more.
Getting listed in a search engine isn’t the end of the game, though. If you’re number 415 of 1,259,000 search results, what are your chances of ever being seen? Perhaps more surprisingly, even being listed number 11 won’t help much. Most search engines display 10 results on the first page, and few searchers actually click through to look at the second page of results.
Your goal, then, is to achieve top 10 rankings for the keywords you decide to target (which we’ll look at here in a minute).
Ethical Search Engine Marketing
Some webmasters try to “cheat” search engines with unethical marketing methods including “cloaking” and “doorway” pages. Search engines don’t just hate these tactics, but they will ban or “blacklist” websites that use them.
Marketing must be beneficial to all involved: for webmasters who get more visitors, for web surfers who find reliable websites, and for search engines that deliver better results to web surfers. If you use ethical methods, you’ll get better results and this love triangle will boost your sales in a big way.
Your Site’s Current Link Popularity
Link popularity can be defined in a couple of ways. For the purposes of optimization efforts, Link Popularity means the number of quality search engines offering a link to your website.
Surveys show that over 85% of Internet users find websites by using search engines. If your website isn’t in the top 10-20 results, Internet users aren’t likely to find your site. Link Popularity, then, helps you determine where you’re currently at – your exact position on search engines.
Find out how your site currently ranks with one of these free services – and remember to save your results or print them for referencing in the next 2 phases:
Link Popularity — http://www.linkpopularity.com/ — This free service allows you to query Google, Yahoo, and MSN and reports on link popularity. Just place your URL in the box and hit the “Tell me my popularity!” button for your results.
Mike’s Marketing Popularity Checker — http://www.mikes-marketing-tools.com/link-popularity/ — Link Popularity Checker offers instant, online reports of a webpage's link popularity rating in 4 major search engines; Google, Yahoo! Search, MSN, and Teoma (Ask Jeeves). Turn off your pop-up blocker, though, because this one opens in a new window.
Link Popularity Check — http://www.linkpopularitycheck.com/ — This checker takes a different look, tallying websites instead of search engines who link to you. The WebPosition Link Popularity Check will search Lycos/AllTheWeb, MSN, AltaVista to determine how many pages on the Internet contain links to your site (reciprocal links). You can then list other sites to compare your site to and see how you stack up!
Meta Tag Analysis
META tags are the home of keywords and all the other information that a search engine’s spidering program uses to understand what should be in your web page. Analyzing what spiders can see you will be able to find errors, missing components, and generally begin seeing a framework of what you will be working on.
When you analyze your meta tags, concentrate on the main pages within your website. Pages like your Index, About Us, and Products are important – the pages that break off from them aren’t as important in terms of keywords. Usually, the pages that break off of a main page will contain the same needs. Although it’s important to create keywords for specific pages, not the site as a whole, sub-pages will require the same kind of keywords, descriptions, etc.
Along the same vein, contact pages and search pages don’t need to be researched if they don’t contain unique content for a search engine to index.
Again, make sure that you save or print the reports you generate. You’ll become intimate with them by the time you’re done. Free services are offered at the following websites:
Submit Express — http://www.submitexpress.com/analyzer/ — This is a very informative tool that is provided free because they hope you’ll ask for help optimizing your pages. Make sure that you click “GoogleBot” where the Spider Robots option is, so that you can check what the most popular search engine sees on your web pages. Hit the back button after you’ve printed a report, and search the next major page in your site.
Widexl — http://www.widexl.com/remote/search-engines/metatag-analyzer.html — Widexl designed this Meta Tag analysis tool to help webmasters analyze their web pages. This script analyzes not only the Meta Tags, but tries to use the same spider technology as the search engine spiders use.
TEN — http://www.theemiratesnetwork.com/computers/webmaster/analyzer.htm — The meta tag analyzer will examine the meta tags found on a web page. In addition to checking the meta tags, it will also display how the web page would be listed on the popular search engine, Altavista.
Keyword Density Analysis
Keyword density is determined by the amount of times a particular word in your keywords meta-tag appears within the actual content of your web page. The more times that your keywords appear on the web page, then, the denser your keywords become. Recommended keyword density is between 2% and 7%.
Search engines use your keyword density, in part, to determine your search engine ranking. It’s important to tie your page text in with your keywords and description META tags. So, when we get to the point that we’re determining proper keywords for your pages, these are the words that should appear at least 3 times within the body of your web page.
By body, we’re talking about more than content – though that is still “king”. Instead, we’re talking about things like anchor tags, heading tags, image alt tags, and the like.
Some search engines (Google in particular), will penalize websites that use the same keyword over and over on their pages. If a keyword appears too often, the search engine will decide that you’re spamming them. This might happen by mistake if you overuse your most important phrases on your page.
The trick, then, is to have a good balance of several phrases that point to the same search words.
And once more, make sure that you print or save the reports you generate from the following free services:
Keyword Density — http://www.keyworddensity.com/ — This page is dedicated to providing a 100% free density checker. You can analyze more than one web page at a time, and choose the keywords you want to check for.
Search Engine World — http://www.searchengineworld.com/cgi-bin/kwda.cgi — This checker helps analyze what search engines see for your webpage's keyword density. It includes word filters and can ignore certain word lengths. If you use this option, don’t set the word length higher than 3 or 4 letters.
Keyword Density and Prominence — http://www.ranks.nl/tools/spider.html — One of the most feature-rich free analyzers on the web, make sure that you understand what’s being asked for when you use this tool. For best results, try experimenting with the options so that you have several reports to work with if you use this tool.
That’s it for phase one. This will take you at least a good hour to complete properly, but the reports that you generate are going to become invaluable. Already, by looking through your findings, you’ll be able to get a good idea of where your website is currently at and start generating ideas on where you want it to go.