Thursday, January 12, 2012

5 Steps To Higher Search Engine Rankings

Search Engine Optimization can seem like a monumental, multi-faceted, and seemingly impossible task for the website owner. With so many "SEO professionals", "SEO products" and others online peddling their wares, it can be very confusing to the layperson. Many people ask? Is my site optimized? Where do I begin? How can I tell where I currently stand on the search engines?

One thing to remember about Search Engine Optimization is that the rules are always changing. Why? Because Google and their peers are constantly fighting a battle. It is their goal to provide searchers with the most relevant results and the best search experience. With billions of websites competing for position and rank, many employ trickery in an attempt to beat the competition. The search engines are constantly evolving to address this problem, and in so doing, are getting better and better at sorting the "online diamonds" from the zirconia. Your job, as a website owner, is to show Google that your site is a diamond.

If you think of things this way, then it becomes fairly obvious what the job of SEO is all about: SHOWING GOOGLE THAT YOUR WEBSITE IS A QUALITY ONLINE RESOURCE.

In Search Engine Optimization "La La Land", there are many "catch phrases", "lingo", and "terminology" that the pros love to throw around. Like in any industry, to some it's just second nature to spew industry jargon, for others, it may just be a way to convince you that SEO is a mystical and highly technical job that only they can do for you.

So I'm going to do my best to make darned sure to use PLAIN ENGLISH while discussing my 5 Steps to Higher Search Engine Rankings. In doing so, I'll bet dollars to donuts that you'll have a much better understanding of the entire process, and see that it's something you can do all by yourself.

Step 1: Keyword Research

If you were a potential customer, who had no prior knowledge that your business existed, what do you think you would type into the Google search box when looking for your services? Keyword research simply means finding out EXACTLY what people are typing in to the search engines, so that you can make sure your website includes these keywords. There are a few steps involved in this process, which we will go through in detail later. For now, just know that this is an easy and free task, and one that will yield almost instant results.

Step 2: Check "Under The Hood" On Your Website

Are your website pages loading quickly? Is your hosting company up to snuff? Are there any small things that might be preventing the search engines from finding your site and listing it on their pages?

These are very important matters, and can make even the best website fail to gain ground when it comes to search engine position. We'll talk about these things in detail, and how you can make sure your website is loading lightning-fast shortly.

Step 3: On-Page Search Engine Optimization

Step 3 is actually a whole bunch of steps, but all of them amount to making sure that every page in your website is carefully crafted to tell the search engines what it's all about. This is done through the words on the page, where they appear (ie at the top, middle and bottom), images or pictures on the page, and how the pages are named and stacked. We'll go into this in much more detail shortly, but for now, think of "website structure" like one of those frozen "hungry man" dinner trays. Peas go in one slot, meat and gravy in another, mashed potatoes in another, and dessert in yet another. Gravy goes on top of meat, etc. Each type of food is separated from the rest by a ridge of tin foil. While a rather simplistic way to think of website structure, it's a heck of a lot less confusing than trying to understand "siloing" or "themeing", or any of the other rather obscure ideology being promoted by SEO professionals.

Step 4: Off Page SEO

This little item has spawned an entire industry unto itself, and in my opinion, it's an industry that's "living on borrowed time". Google's webmaster guidelines tell us that they reward "Websites that behave in a natural way", and yet countless services are out there offering to "build incoming links" for you. What many of these services actually do for you is send out "crap" to be added to what Google has referred to as an online "cess pool". The last thing I would want is any of this detritus associated with my website.

For a website to behave in a "natural way", you need to acquire incoming links slowly, from websites that are related to the subject area of your own site, and which are considered by Google to be "quality online resources". We'll talk about this in detail later, but for now, be aware that, according to what Google tells us, "back link building services" are probably NOT a good idea.

Step 5: Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and other "social media" websites are no longer just for "people who have nothing better to do with their time" (as I always figured!). Apparently, these sites are the "way of the future" for internet marketing. If you have a website for your business, you need to have a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, and a Google Plus page.

This is where you put a personal face on your business, have a little fun, promote new things, gain "following" and interact with both current and potential clients and customers. Your social media pages and accounts need to link to your website, and your website should have a portal to your social media accounts displayed prominently on each page. It's not difficult to do any of these things. You can even assign your company's "social butterfly" or "clown" to look after this for you. We'll go into greater detail on how to do all this shortly.

So there you have 5 important and "do-able" things that can take your website from zero to hero in a relatively short amount of time. Certainly you can hire an SEO expert (hint: call me toll free at 1-888-541-6650 for effective AND affordable SEO services), BUT - you can also do this yourself. So stay tuned, my friends, and I'll go into much greater detail about each of these steps in future articles on this blog.

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