Search Engine Optimization for the Rest of Us

When you have launched your website, whether it is an eCommerce store or a corporate promotional site, you must have set certain goals regarding the quantity of traffic you are expecting to have on your site. If you did not pursue your goal with specific web promotional marketing strategies, chances are there you are not very happy with the results you have achieved so far. Although, there are numerous web promotional methods available to your disposal, optimizing your web pages for search engines is the uncontested leader in this field. If you sell products or services through your website, it is even more so for you.

Consider this. Out of various possibilities which include: going to a shop, calling a shop, etc. the prospective buyer decided to search for the product online. Then she used certain key-phrase to make a query on a search engine and then among other sites, she chose yours to click in. As a seller this is the kind of visitors you need for your site! Search engines have more than twice the e-commerce conversion rate of other traffic acquisition sources. You can get these results for your site with the help of search engine optimization.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

SEO is a set of actions carried out with a webpage to improve visibility of that webpage in search engines. The goal is to ensure top places in the search engine results for a specific query.

How important are the search engines? Data show 81 percent of Internet users find the sites they’re looking for through search engines. Over 57% of Internet users search the Internet everyday. Up to 500 Million searches take place in a day. 55% of all Internet purchases originate at a search engine as oppose to 9 percent from banners. These statistics are pretty convincing, but surprisingly, according to StatMarket.com only 7 percent of websites are visible by search engines.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can really bring amazing results. Our page http://trade-leads.rusbiz.com recently started to show on the first page of Google for the search phrase “trade leads”. Within the last month we have noticed almost 30 percent increase of traffic to this page which is pretty much inline with the available statistics. If your optimization efforts started to bear fruits and you ended up on the second or third page of Google search, you can expect a dramatic increase of almost 5 times more traffic than before and after two months it can be over 9 times! An upward move from 2nd and 3rd pages to the much coveted first page will bring an increase of around 30 percent. Along with the traffic the conversion rate – the quantity of actual purchases – also goes up significantly.

Your position within the first page also makes a lot of difference. The top positioned web page in the sponsored – paid advertisement – receives 50 percent of all clicks and first three top ranked web pages garner 60 percent of all clicks.

Once you have decided to go for search engine optimization, you next step is to figure out for which search engine you should work on optimizing your site. After all there are so many search engines out there!

If you look at the latest statistics available for the month of November, 2005 compiled by Nielsen/NetRatings it, probably, won’t be any surprise to you that Google at present has most search market share. There were 5.1 billion searches done in November. Out of 60 search engines monitored, Google had a share of 46.3 percent, Yahoo – 23.4 percent, MSN -11.4 percent, AOL – 6.9 percent, Ask Jeeves with its other affiliations MyWay, Teoma, Iwon and search sites of Excite Network has a combined share of around 6 percent, etc. This clearly shows that Google is the undisputed leader among search engines at this moment. That’s why in your quest of getting more traffic to your site, you have to emphasize on Google. Other key indicators which favor Google as well are:

  • Google is most favored by business people – 82.9 percent of all business users make their queries through Google.
  • The Google users are more educated. They are more likely to have a college degree.
  • The Google users are from higher income group.

As mentioned earlier search engine optimization is a set of actions that you have to take surrounding your web pages. Here are the key steps of the process:

Select keywords for search engine ranking

  1. Make a list of keywords that you think buyers might use to search for products and services you sell.

  2. Use a Thesaurus to check synonyms of the words and phrases that you have chosen. You may come up with additional keywords.
  3. Eliminate all single words from the list!
  4. Go to several of your competitors’ websites and check out what keywords they are focusing on by viewing the HTML source of the pages.
  5. Now go to Yahoo! pay per click search marketing site
    Overture, which has an excellent keyword selection tool. Google also has a similar tool located at

    https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordSandbox.

  6. Get the search phrases or terms that are popular enough and fall into your criteria from above mentioned lists.
  7. Check where you stand with these keywords or key phrases in main search engines. Find the needed tool for this here.

    http://www.marketleap.com/verify/default.htm

  8. Now try to find whether you should use your keyword in singular or plural, or which one of the two similar search terms or phrases are more desirable by going to the following page:

    http://www.onfocus.com/googlesmack/down.asp Remember, studies show that conversion rate for plural words are in general higher than singular!

  9. Now that you have a number of keywords, cluster two to three of them for one single page. Remember, every page of your site should be built surrounding one single theme and focused on maximum two to three keywords.

Optimize the pages for keywords

Place keywords in Title tag, Meta description, Alt tags, Heading tags, Comment tags.

Create content

Now develop informative content using these keywords. Use your key words in headlines and alt tag of the pictures. Make sure that you don’t over do it! If you stuff keywords more than necessary for a normal text, search engine can ban your site for keywords spamming. Here is a tool for checking density of keywords on a page. Maximum preferable density is 3-5 percent.

Submit to search tools

Effective promotion of a website starts with submission of the site to various search tools available on the Internet. There are two different types of search tools – search engines and directories. Search engines index their listings based on the information retrieved by their spiders which crawl through the hyper links constantly looking for new websites. The directory listings are compiled by human editors from the URLs submitted to the directory. If your website is listed in the directories you can be sure that the spiders of different search engines sooner or later will index your site. That’s why you should start submitting your website to the directories. The major directories are GMOZ, Yahoo!, LookSmart, etc.

Link popularity

The quantity of links in different websites pointing to your sites is called link popularity of your website. The more popular is your site the more links you get from other websites and vice versa.

Link popularity is one of the key factors that search engines consider in their search algorithm while indexing a website. What would be the rank of a website in a search result depends on its link popularity in a very big way. Work on getting as many backward links as possible, preferably from the web pages with higher page ranking than yours.

Track ranking

Search engine optimization requires constant monitoring and updating. Don’t forget that the competitors are working relentlessly on achieving high positions. The search algorithms are also constantly changing and improving. That’s why every now and then you should check out how your site is doing.

Track traffic

If your work started to bring good results and you are getting more traffic, but the visitors are not taking expected actions, this means, you probably have selected wrong keywords. Start all over again with keywords analysis.

Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing web pages for natural or organic – as they are also called – searches. Once you are certain that you have done everything possible to achieve maximum results in this sphere, you should consider pay per click marketing with Google, Yahoo and MSN. Effective web promotion requires a combination of both of these two search engine marketing strategies.

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