This is the eighth tutorial in the ‘Journey Into Internet Marketing’ series which is going to give you an insight into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of Search Engine Optimization or ‘SEO’.
If you have not done so, it is recommended you read over Part 7 – Article Marketing first.
As the phrase Search Engine Optimization probably suggests, SEO describes the ‘art’ of building your website and the network surrounding it in the way that most appeals to the search engines.
The more a page or pages of your site can ‘appeal’ to the search engines, the more prominence your page is likely to attain in the organic or natural search results on the left-hand side of the results page:
When Internet users are searching for information online, the majority do so using one of the major search engines. They use a specific search (keyword) term to produce a results page similar to the one highlighted in the above screenshot.
Nearly 90% of search engine users will look at the top 10 natural search results to find the information they are looking for. Consequently, if a page of your site features within the top 10 results, you’ll see lots of cost-free targeted visitors coming to your site.
You push your pages up the search rankings by utilizing SEO tactics.
This is the way it works. When a search engine ‘spider’ (a robot program that trawls the Internet for new materials to add to the engine database) finds new content, it wants information about it. The purpose of SEO is to make sure that it finds what it wants as easily as possible.
There are two forms of optimization that SEO experts practice. One is known as ‘on-site’ and the other is ‘off-site’ SEO. We will consider each in turn in the following two sections of this tutorial.
On-Site optimization refers to the practice of making sure that the internal workings of your site are search engine friendly. This ensures that the spider easily ‘understands’ what your page is all about.
How much work you need to do to ensure that your site is internally optimized will to a certain extent depend on the tools you use to build it.
For example, some content management systems (site building resources) handle some or all of the internal SEO work automatically.
However, to ensure that you understand on-site optimization, these are the essentials that you would need to handle manually if you were building a site yourself in HTML.
Within the HTML code of your page, you have a section that is the ‘header’. This is not the ‘header’ or ‘title’ that appears on the page when you look at it. Instead, it is code which is designed to make sure that the search engines know what is going on.
These are the three lines that you are concerned with:
<META NAME=”keywords” CONTENT=”web site promotion, web site, website, web site marketing, web site advertising, free advertising, banner advertising, seo, search engine optimization“>
<META NAME=”description” CONTENT=”Website promotion | web site“>
The title of your page should be your main keyword phrase, followed by a short list of keyword terms related to your subject. Generally speaking, there should be no more than 10 or 15 keywords in this list.
Finally, you have a meta-description wherein you can either include a sentence that describes your page (which should again include your keyword phrase) or you could use your two main keywords divided by a ‘pipe’ as I have done here.
Every page on your site should have a different title, keywords and meta- description. In every case, the information should relate to that page by using the keywords around which the page was constructed.
When an individual page from your site appears in the search results, the header title is shown at the top with the meta-description beneath it. Making certain that the title, keywords and description are all closely tied to the content of your page is therefore important.
Next, think about the content of each page of your site. All the content must be keyword targeted, with a page for each keyword phrase that you are targeting. Remember that your keyword term should make up around 2% of the written content on the page and you will not go far wrong.
Next, you need to have an internal linking structure that makes it easy for visitors to navigate from one page of your site to another. By following these links, your visitors should be able to find any page on your site from the homepage. They should also be able to get back to it in no more than two clicks.
These should be anchor text links that use the most important keyword phrase on the page to which the link points. For example, if your internal link points to your ‘Vintage wedding cars’ page, this is the term that should be used for linking.
One other way of highlighting your keyword phrase for each page of your site is to use an ‘alt. img’ tag with images on that page.
This is a text description of what can be seen in the image which is for search engine robots that only recognize text and not images. The tag would look like this:
<img src=”vwc.gif” alt=”Vintage wedding car” />
This is another opportunity to throw your keyword phrase at the search engine spider, so make sure you take advantage of it.
The effectiveness of your on-site optimization will have a differing degree of influence on how different search engines view your page.
For example, whilst on-site optimization is still very important for most search engines, it is far less so for Google which overwhelmingly relies on off-site optimization for ranking purposes.
Nevertheless, making sure that your site is internally optimized takes just a few minutes and it will have a positive effect on the way all of the search engines view your site. It is therefore something you must do.
As suggested, on-site optimization is still one of the most important aspects of the ranking process for the majority of search engines.
It is less so for Google, although it is not completely irrelevant as you will discover. Google primarily focus on off-site optimization rather than the on-site variety. In simple terms, this refers to the link structure surrounding your site.
If an external site features a link to your site but you do not link back to them, Google sees this as a strong vote in favor of your site. This is known as a one-way incoming link.
If the linking process goes both ways (they link to you and you reciprocate), the strength of the link is slightly weaker whereas an outgoing link from your site that is not reciprocated back to you is the least powerful form of link.
As far as Google is concerned, ‘one-way incoming links’ are undoubtedly the most powerful. However, even within this classification, some links have more relevance than others.
Google has a system whereby it rates the importance of individual web pages (not web sites) that is known as the Page Rank system.
Individual pages carry a Page Rank of between 0 and 10, with the most popular sites like Yahoo.com scoring 9/10.
Every page starts off at 0 from which point Page Rank is subsequently ‘earned’. This happens as a direct result of the number of links pointing to that page.
Whenever a link points to a specific page on your site, it adds just a little extra Page Rank to that page. The amount of additional Page Rank that is added depends on the Page Rank of the page from where the link comes.
For instance, if a web page that has no Page Rank sends a link to your page, it will do very little to boost your Rank, although it is not completely without merit. However, if you have an incoming link from a Page Rank 5 page, then the value of the incoming link is far more significant.
This happens because Google considers this page to be something of an authority (evidenced by their Page Rank) so if it links to a page on your site, the implication is that your page has value.
There are two elements that together make up what is known as keyword authority. The first element is part of the on-site optimization that we investigated earlier. You must ensure that the content on your web page features your keyword phrase prominently enough to be certain that the search engine robot recognizes your keyword for that page.
For instance, on your ‘Vintage wedding cars’ page, all of the ‘meta-information’ (title, keywords and description) feature this keyword term whilst it also appears approximately eight times in the 400 word article on the page.
The other element of keyword authority is the terms or phrases that are used to create links from other sites to yours. The more relevant the linking text is to the content on the page at which that link points, the more value the link will have.
Once again, we are talking about anchor text links here. Let’s consider a few examples to illustrate this point.
If a link on an external site that points to your ‘vintage wedding car’ page uses the phrase ‘vintage wedding cars‘, you have a spot-on perfect match for your page content. The fact that the link is a perfect match for your keyword phrase suggests to Google that this is an incoming link from a site that is an authority in your niche. The link is 100% relevant to your content as far as Google is concerned and therefore of the utmost value.
If the link text were ‘wedding day necessaries’, it’s still relevant, although less so. It will still be viewed as a relevant link that has a positive value for your page ranking because it comes from a wedding related site.
There will inevitably be some general links like ‘click here’ or ‘follow this link’ because this is the way some people will link to you. In this case, the link itself has value but the linking text adds nothing.
Finally, you might have a handful of incoming links where the link text used is completely inappropriate.
If for example someone sent a link to the ‘Vintage wedding car’ page using ‘spaghetti bolognese recipe’ as the link text, the value of the link is devalued. Google recognizes that this comes from a site that appears to have nothing to do with weddings or vintage cars.
Consequently, a link from this site – a ‘vote’ – means nothing and carries little value for you.
Both on-site and off-site optimization are important for pushing pages of your site up the organic, or ‘natural’, search results.
For the majority of search engines, on-site optimization is still extremely important, whereas it is less important as far as Google is concerned, particularly in regards to meta tags.
Google mainly rely on the quality of the linking structure surrounding your site when deciding how each individual webpage should be ranked.
It is now recommended you proceed on to Part 9 – PPC Explored.