Back to Basics in SEO
by Shawn Campbell
There has been a lot of talk about Google and MSN's new algorithms
and Yahoo's search engine changes. When these changes finally
do occur, it is always important to remember the number one
rule in SEO: DON'T PANIC!
If there is one guaranteed constant in this business it is
that there will always be changes in the search engines' rankings.
Our job, as search engine marketers, is to stay on top of
the changes and to monitor how the change affects our clients'
I am actually excited about any algorithm change, because
it means that the search engines should actually get better.
What follows is a "back to the basics" on getting
First things first: Always be sure to research the keyphrases
you intend on using. Find out what keyphrases Internet users
most often employ to find your product or service. There is
no point optimizing your site for "online web marketing"
if everyone types in "Internet marketing".
Once you have a list of potential keyphrases with a high amount
of Internet traffic, comb over that list and see which keyphrases
best describe your product or service. These are the ones
you should consider.
Here are some sites that can help you in your research:
* Wordtracker www.wordtracker.com
* Google AdWords https://adwords.google.com/select/ (Click
to sign up, it is free to do the keyphrase research)
* Snap www.snap.com
Research your competition with these questions in mind:
* What keyphrases are they using (take a peek at their keyword
* What are the titles of their sites?
* When you do a search for the keyphrases you are considering,
who comes up in the top five rankings?
* What is their title/keyphrases?
* Are the top ranking sites your competitors or are they industry
Use the keyword effectiveness index (KEI) tool at Wordtracker
to compare the effectiveness of your keyphrases. A higher
KEI signifies a better ratio of demand-to-competition for
Do a link search to see who is linking to your competition.
In a search engine, type in "link:" (without the
quotes) followed by the URL you want to verify. This will
allow you to see all the important links to the site that
the search engine tracks (I would recommend doing this in
both Google and Yahoo).
* Can you get links from the same sites as your competitors?
* Are there industry associations or organizations that are
linking to the top sites, but not to you?
Get your link campaign going!
(see the article about linking for search engines to learn
why links are important)
Optimizing Your Web Site
Now that you know what keyphrase you are optimizing for, here
is how to optimize your site: write good quality content that
focuses on your keyphrases.
Above all else, this is the single most important factor.
Sure there are other on-site factors such as:
* Getting the keyphrase into the title (this is the second
most important factor)
* Getting the keyphrase into the Meta description tag, the
Meta keyword tag, the headers and sub headers, the alt tags,
and into some link text (some of these factors are VERY minor)
* Having a good site map so that the search engine spiders
can easily navigate your site
* Having a robots.txt to include the pages that you want the
search engines to include
* Don't use frames
* Use flash wisely (not the WHOLE site in flash)
* Use external files for your java scripts
* Use cascading style sheets (a .css file)
* Use dynamic URL's wisely (Avoid using URL's with ? or &
Content is king
and did I mention that you need to write good quality
content that focuses on your keyphrases? All of the points
above are superfluous if you don't have good content. Content
is the food that the search engine spiders like to gobble
up with a voracious appetite. The items below are just the
side dishes. You need good content to get decent rankings,
but you need the side dishes to become a serious competitor
in your market.
* Write about your keyphrases.
* Write extra pages.
* Write about your industry.
* Write about your product or service's uses.
* How will your product/service improve the life of the consumer?
Find out, and then write about it.
* Why is your product/service better than your competitor's?
Think of a reason and write about it.
* What is the history of your product/service? Or your industry?
Write about it.
* Who are you? Everyone always enjoys "about us"
* And of course, be sure to serve the search engine spiders
with a tasty main dish full of keyphrases!
Whatever you do, be sure that you don't write junk or filler
copy and double check that everything reads well. Keep in
mind that writing about your keyphrase doesn't mean adding
the keyphrase unnaturally into the text. If you have any doubts,
employ the talents of an expert to do the writing for you!
Start soliciting links today! Get people in your industry
to link to you.
* Industry associations and organizations
* Web sites about your industry
* Sites related to your product or service
* Competitors who don't compete in the same region
* Sites that sell products/services that relate to your, but
don't compete directly
See my article on soliciting links for more information on
how to go about it:
Linking is Queen
Submit to all the directories you can find, so long as they
are related (e.g., don't submit to the Abba directory unless
your site is about Abba). Submitting to a directory should
not be a mindless activity. Read the directory's directions
on how to submit VERY CAREFULLY. Write your description very
well, and tailor it to each directory in order to follow their
guidelines. Make sure you submit (and get in) to www.dmoz.org
- it is probably the most important directory out there today.
Do research and find "vertical directories" that
focus on your industry, and submit to them. These directories
are very important because, for example, if you have a dodo
bird site, what better potential client than someone who found
you through a dodo bird directory!
Search engines and directories are different. Do not confuse
You can submit to all the search engines you can find, but
it usually won't do much because the good search engines will
find you anyway. Submitting to random search engines will
usually only increase your email spam. Don't waste your money
on search engine submission software for the same reasons.
Here is a partial list of the current important search engines:
* Build your web site for your customers, within the guidelines
that the search engines set out.
* Don't make the site awkward by over-conforming.
* The site's first focus should be on what your clients want.
* Create good content. Good, quality content that reads well
and flows seamlessly.
* Update it regularly. An active, living site is healthier
than a stagnant, dead one (the search engines spiders like
their food alive and full of life).
And remember: Content is King!
About the Author
Shawn Campbell is an enthusiastic player in the ecommerce
marketplace, and co-founded Red Carpet Web Promotion, Inc.
He has been researching and developing marketing strategies
to achieve more prominent listings in search engine results
since 1998. Shawn is one of the earliest pioneers in the search
engine optimization field.