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There is quite possibly no more equal a playing field in business than the Internet. It's because of this fact that millionaires have been made from paupers. The money that can be made depends on your trade and your products and/or services though certainly, if it can be sold in any way, it can be sold online.
There are tons of ways out there to build a lucrative website, things from banner ads to email campaigns. However, by far the most cost effective and result filled over time has proven repeatedly to be search engine rankings.
The major benefit search engine placement has over other methods of producing income online is search engines are how most people will find your company. Banner ads can be ignored, emails deleted, but when a potential customer wants to find a something they will start with a search engine. Search engines can essentially hold and provide targeted traffic for any type of business. Though search algorithms will change and your site will rise and fall your site rankings may fluctuate but you will not disappear.
As with anything important there are several tips that will help. With search engine traffic there are some indispensable rules that, if followed, will assure that over time your company will do well and hold solid and rewarding positions in the major search engines.
Here are the 10 steps for better search engine ranking:
Step One - Choosing Keywords
First you need to pick your keywords. This is conceivably the most vital part of the process because incorrectly targeting phrases can result in poor traffic or people who are not interested in what you are selling. Targeted and valid traffic leads to more sales. Having keywords that are relevant is the way to get targeted traffic. There are a few useful tools that I use to help single out the most suitable keywords:
Overture's Search Term Suggestion Tool
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 new content 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 blog or reviews for example). If you already have a site, perhaps simply sit on your back deck, sip on a coffee and imagine 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
Structure can make or break a site, a solid site structure is extremely important. Crafting a website that is easily spidered by the search engines yet eye-catching to visitors can be a overwhelming and yet entirely rewarding venture. To effectively structure your website you must "think like a spider" which is not as tricky as it may sound. A search engine spider reads your web page like you. 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 your page.
Step Four - Optimization
Once you have your targeted keywords, your content created and your site structure established it is time to move on to the most obvious step; the optimization of your content.
As noted above, search engine spiders place higher importance on what it reads highest on the page and so opening with a sentence that includes your targeted phrase is good practice. That said, padding in keywords hoping that it will add weight to your page doesn't work and can in fact get your site banned. The term "keyword density" refers to the proportion of your content that is made up of your targeted keywords compared to other words. There are optimum densities according to many reputable SEO's, and the search engine companies; though precisely what they are is arguable. Estimates range anywhere from 4 or 5% to 10 to 12% (quite a big gap isn't it).
When it comes to keyword density I recommend sticking to one key rule: put in your keywords as often as you can while keeping it comfortably and easily readable to a human visitor. That is add keywords where appropriate making your content perfectly readable.
Some people do it first, some do it last, but despite when it is done you must choose your websites heading. At the beginning of your websites content there is the chance to use the <h1> tag to identify the heading of your content. This tag is given extra weight and is also an indicator to the search engine of where your content actually starts. It is a good idea to use your keywords in the heading but don't shy away from also adding supplementary words (though not too many).
Step Five - Internal Linking
To help make sure your website gets completely indexed you have to make sure that the spiders have a trouble-free path through your website. There are many options when creating internal links. Text links are the best option as the anchor text (the words used to link to a particular page) add relevancy to that page for the words used to link to it. For example, if I ran a website for facial creams and had a Day Creams Page page I could link to it with an image, with text reading "Click for more information on our skin products" or simply "Day Creams". When a search engine spider hits that image it has no idea what the image is and, while it will follow the internal 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 basically providing the search engine with the same lack of relevancy as with an image, but if you use the phrase "Facial Day Creams" to link to your day cream 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 techniques have advantages and disadvantages , as will be discussed in future articles.
Step Six - Human Testing
So now you have your company website, it's optimized and your navigation is in place. The next step is to run it by someone who hasn't seen your site (also, if at all possible who doesn't know how much effort you've put in and will tell you it's terrific even if it really isn't).
Ask this person to find specific information to see how much time it takes them to find it and how they get there. Ask a second person to just surf your website and watch which links they click and find out why they picked those ones. After that you need to evaluate and ask yourself did they search the way you expected or do you need to do some more optimizing.
Most significantly, find out how the website content reads to them; does it make sense, does it flow nicely, ask for opinions. You've spent many tiring hours working through your content at this point and you are probably not the least biased of its readers. See how it reads to someone who has no invested interest in the site and fix any issues they may bring up.
Step Seven - Submissions
I submit to both general and topic-specific directories, a few contemporary search engines as well as to the major search engines: Google, Yahoo!, MSN. The major search engines are spidering search engines, meaning they will follow web links anywhere they go. Basically put this means that by linking to sites that are already spidered by the major search engines you will get your site found. However, it is best to get your site submitted rather than depend on sites that you are linked to.
Step Eight - Link Building
The chief search engines give recognition to sites that have quality links going to them. How many quality links are enough depends on your business and targeted phrases. Doing a search on Google the reads "link:www.yourcompetition.com" will disclose approximately how many links your competition has built on their website.
Initially the place to look for links is in directories both general and topic-specific. Following that you may decide to try reciprocal link building, which is the trade of links between two websites. Some sites will quickly link to any website that will give a link back to their website. I highly advocate being more scrupulous than that.
The best thing to do is find websites that you think your site visitors would actually be interested in and you've likely found a good link partner. Sites that are related to yours make excellent links. Make sure the site is relevant to your company and will benefit your customers.
There are clearly many more methods to building links than directories and reciprocal link building. Though, this is a whole article (or more) in itself.
Step Nine - Monitoring
Whether you decide to use a program or just run searches manually you will have to watch the search engines for your targeted phrases. Additionally, you should review your stats to find out where your traffic is coming from and what specific terms are being used to discover your site.
A concrete search engine ranking strategy involves continuously adding content, building on links, and insuring that your site visitors are getting the information they want to have and finding it as quickly and easily as possible.
Step Ten - Reward Yourself
So you've done it. It's taken lots or work and long hours but you're rankings are improving. What you've begun to build is a solid position that will stand the tests of time and changing algorithms; provided you frequently revisit the above steps to make sure that your business website is always one step ahead of your competitors (who have, of course, noticed you climbing your way to the top and succeeding just as you would notice them climbing up around your ranking).
Now it's time to turn off the computer, take your partner or a friend out (you haven't spent hardly any time with them lately) and have a fantastic week(end). There's still much more work to do to sustain and build on these search rankings but the hardest part is over. Congratulations!
If you have any questions about SEO or your website please feel free to contact us for further information.