How to Increase Your Search Engine Ranking – Part I

1.  Quality Content

Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines rank a website based on the relevance of its content, and also the frequency that content is updated. The length of time a visitor spends on a page is also taken into account; a long stay indicates that the content is of interest to your visitor. There are many components of a search engine’s search algorithm, and these algorithms are adapted constantly to keep up with the changing face of the internet. The correct use of keywords and the quality of content are the two most important components of on-site optimization.

There are three main things search engine “bots” or “spiders” look for to get their information:

  • Relevance of Site Title and Description
  • Headings and frequency of keywords
  • The Quality and relevance of the Content

The bots index all the words that are relevant within your website, and when a term is entered into a search box, results are returned accordingly. This doesn’t mean that you can throw keywords around indiscriminately – there is an optimum “density” for keywords. The use of too many keywords on a webpage is called “keyword spamming” and Google will penalize you for it. The goal of search engine optimization is to get your website placed on the first page of Google, when someone enters a relevant search into the Google search engine. It’s a bit like getting your advertisement on the front of a newspaper – everyone sees it. Very few people will take the trouble of scrolling through hundreds of pages on Google to find what they need. The aim is to be number one, two or three on that list, then you will reap the financial benefits of optimization. This is referred to as “organic” placement as it occurs “naturally” by Google checking the quality of your content and keywords.

2.  Popularity

The process that makes your website popular in the eyes of the search engine bots is called off-site optimization. This is more difficult than creating quality, keyword rich content. It mainly involves linking to other websites that have similar content. Don’t ever consider using companies that offer hundreds of links for a fee. The bots know where these links come from.  They are commonly referred to as “link farms” and Google will penalize your site for using these links.

Step 1: Keyword Research – the Most Important Process of All

Your keyword research should start even before you have registered your domain name.  The bots look kindly at a domain name that contains a relevant keyword to your site.

Without the right keywords, your site will not rank highly and although the process can be time consuming, the time you put in will be returned as profits down the road.  It can be fun too, to do this research, it is surprising the number of keywords and keyword phrases that people find to use websites. First of all:

A. Write Down Your Keyword List

Think of words that are relevant to your product or service.  It’s best to sit back and imagine you are someone else, searching for your product. What might they put into a search box to find your product?

There are plenty of free tools on the internet you can use to find keywords. Some of them allow you to delve deeper and deeper into keywords and keyword phrases. You will be surprised what you find that you hadn’t even thought of! Many of these tools list words that are frequently spelled wrong too. It can sometimes be useful!

– Google Adwords Keyword Tool
– Wordtracker Free Keyword Suggestion Tool
– Trellian

If you run out of ideas, or want to get some more good keywords, you can spy on your competition!  Don’t worry, although it seems a little unethical, it’s done all the time on the internet, especially by savvy marketers.

Find some of your major online competitors, three to five is good, and download a free Firefox tool bar extension called KGen. When you visit your competitors website, all of his keywords will be highlighted and the frequency they are used on any given page. Google also has a program that does this, and there are many more useful tools out there, a lot of which are free. If you are only going to build one website, then you should probably just go with a free program.

The next step is optimizing your site with your chosen keywords. You will have found the most frequently used keywords with your program of choice, and most of these programs will tell you how many times that particular word or phrase was used in a search in the period of  one month. It is usually advisable not to choose the searches with the highest volume, sort the list and choose keywords from a little further down the list. The competition for the words at the top will be fierce.

B. Find more details about the keywords.

So, you have your list of keywords. Now go back to Google Adwords Keyword Tool and look at the monthly volume of each word you chose. Make an Excel spreadsheet and categorize your keywords in three columns, High, Medium and Low.

If you need more information about your keywords, here are some more suggested tools:

Google Insights for Search

Google Insights allows you to find seasonal patterns for a particular keyword, and also an insight into more targeted search engine optimization, by specific area.

Google Trends

Google Trends allows you to look at multiple keyword trends, you can check and see how ‘hot’ a particular keyword is at the present time.

C. “Long-tail” keywords.

When you have organized your keywords into categories, you can now create what are called “long-tail” keywords.  What the heck does that mean? Long-tail keywords are just phrases comprising a number of words, such as “vacation in the Florida Keys”, “hair styles for short hair”, or “how to stop a nagging wife”, etc.

Long-tail keywords will get you in the rankings much easier, and because the phrase is precisely what has been entered, your competition will be lower and you have a good chance of converting.

For example: “make money online” is a highly popular long tail keyword, so instead of using that exact phrase you may find that “make money with my home computer” is not as highly used but is much more likely to get results. You will base all of your choices on the extensive research you have already done.  Don’t feel you are going to miss traffic because you are not using “make money online”, there are millions of daily searches for that phrase.  Target your audience better by using a lesser-used long-tail keyword.

to be continued …

Gabriele Cramer-Knebel
Internet Marketing Training

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