Securing a high-ranking position on Google search is the Holy Grail of online marketing, and every SEO expert has their own strategy for getting to the top. One thing’s for sure though: it doesn’t happen overnight. So how long does it take then?
According to a comprehensive study carried out by SEO tools provider and marketing data company Ahrefs, the average Top 10 ranking page is 2+ years old, while those that rank at position #1 are almost 3 years old on average.
Only 22% of pages that currently rank in Top 10 were created within a year. In other words, almost 95% of newly published pages don’t get to the Top 10 within a year, while the “lucky” ones that do manage to get there, do so in about 2-6 months.
To find out more on what makes these top pages “lucky”, check out this useful infographic below by The Website Group.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become an essential weapon in the arsenal of every online business. Unfortunately, for most business owners and marketing managers (and even many webmasters), it’s also somewhat of an enigma. This is partly due to the fact that it’s such a new and rapidly changing field, and partly due to the fact that SEO practitioners tend to speak in a language all of their own which, without translation, is virtually impenetrable to the layperson. This glossary seeks to remedy that situation, explaining specialist SEO terms in plain English…
See ‘Sponsored Links’.
A complex mathematical formula used by search engines to assess the relevance and importance of websites and rank them accordingly in their search results. These algorithms are kept tightly under wraps as they are the key to the objectivity of search engines (i.e. the algorithm ensures relevant results, and relevant results bring more users, which in turn brings more advertising revenue).
The submitting of free reprint articles to many article submission sites and article distribution lists in order to increase your website’s search engine ranking and Google PageRank. (In this sense, the “PR” stands for PageRank.) Like traditional public relations, article PR also conveys a sense of authority because your articles are widely published. And because you’re proving your expertise and freely dispensing knowledge, your readers will trust you and will be more likely to remain loyal to you. (In this sense, the “PR” stands for Public Relations.)
article distribution lists
User groups (e.g. Yahoo, MSN, Google, Smartgroups, and Topica groups) which accept email submissions of articles in text format, and then distribute these articles via email to all of the members of the group. See also ‘article PR’.
article submission sites
Websites which act as repositories of free reprint articles. Authors visit these sites to submit their articles free of charge, and webmasters visit to find articles to use on their websites free of charge. Article submission sites generate revenue by selling advertising space on their websites. See also ‘article PR’.
A text link to your website from another website. See also ‘link’.
The words used on your website.
A professional writer who specializes in the writing of advertising copy (compelling, engaging words promoting a particular product or service). See also ‘SEO copywriter’ and ‘web copywriter’.
Google finds pages on the World Wide Web and records their details in its index by sending out ‘spiders’ or ‘robots’. These spiders make their way from page to page and site to site by following text links. To a spider, a text link is like a door.
The virtual address of your website (normally in the form www.yourbusinessname.com). This is what people will type when they want to visit your site. It is also what you will use as the address in any text links back to your site.
An electronic magazine. Most publishers of ezines are desperate for content and gladly publish well written, helpful articles and give you full credit as author, including a link to your website.
A technology used to create animated web pages (and page elements).
free reprint article
An article written by you and made freely available to other webmasters to publish on their websites. See also ‘article PR’.
The search engine with the greatest coverage of the World Wide Web, and which is responsible for most search engine-referred traffic. Of approximately 11.5 billion pages on the World Wide Web, it is estimated that Google has indexed around 8.8 billion. This is one reason why it takes so long to increase your ranking!
See ‘Sponsored Links’.
How Google scores a website’s importance. It gives all sites a mark out of 10. By downloading the Google Toolbar (from http://toolbar.google.com), you can view the PR of any site you visit.
A free tool you can download. It becomes part of your browser toolbar. It’s most useful features are it’s PageRank display (which allows you to view the PR of any site you visit) and it’s AutoFill function (when you’re filling out an online form, you can click AutoFill, and it enters all the standard information automatically, including Name, Address, Zip code/Postcode, Phone Number, Email Address, Business Name, Credit Card Number (password protected), etc.) Once you’ve downloaded and installed the toolbar, you may need to set up how you’d like it to look and work by clicking Options (setup is very easy). NOTE: Google does record some information (mostly regarding sites visited).
HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the coding language used to create much of the information on the World Wide Web. Web browsers read the HTML code and display the page that code describes.
An interconnected network of computers around the world.
A programming language used to create dynamic website pages (e.g. interactivity).
A word which your customers search for and which you use frequently on your site in order to be relevant to those searches. This use known as targeting a keyword. Most websites actually target ‘keyword phrases’ because single keywords are too generic and it is very difficult to rank highly for them.
A measure of the frequency of your keyword in relation to the total wordcount of the page. So if your page has 200 words, and your keyword phrase appears 10 times, its density is 5%.
A phrase which your customers search for and which you use frequently on your site in order to be relevant to those searches.
A word or image on a web page which the reader can click to visit another page. There are normally visual cues to indicate to the reader that the word or image is a link.
Using text links to connect a series of page (i.e. page 1 connects to page 2, page 2 connects to page 3, page 3 connects to page 4, and so on). Search engine ‘spiders’ and ‘robots’ use text links to jump from page to page as they gather information about it, so it’s a good idea to allow them traverse your entire site via text links. (See ‘Link paths’ on p.21. for further information.)
A webmaster who is willing to put a link to your website on their website. Quite often link partners engage in reciprocal linking.
The number of links to your website. Link popularity is the single most important factor in a high search engine ranking. Webmasters use a number of methods to increase their site’s link popularity including article PR, link exchange (link partners / reciprocal linking), link buying, and link directories.
The part of a text link that is visible to the reader. When generating links to your own site, they are most effective (in terms of ranking) if they include your keyword.
A short note within the header of the HTML of your web page which describes some aspect of that page. These meta tags are read by the search engines and used to help assess the relevance of a site to a particular search.
natural search results
The ‘real’ search results. The results that most users are looking for and which take up most of the window. For most searches, the search engine displays a long list of links to sites with content which is related to the word you searched for. These results are ranked according to how relevant and important they are.
organic search results
See ‘natural search results’.
PPC (Pay-Per-Click advertising)
See ‘Sponsored Links’.
See ‘Google PageRank’.
Your position in the search results that display when someone searches for a particular word at a search engine.
A mutual agreement between two webmasters to exchange links (i.e. they both add a link to the other’s website on their own website). Most search engines (certainly Google) are sophisticated enough to detect reciprocal linking and they don’t view it very favorably because it is clearly a manufactured method of generating links. Websites with reciprocal links risk being penalized.
A file which is used to inform the search engine spider which pages on a site should not be indexed. This file sits in your site’s root directory on the web server. (Alternatively, you can do a similar thing by placing tags in the header section of your HTML for search engine robots/spiders to read. See ‘Optimizing your web ‘ on p.22. for more information.)
Many SEO experts believe that Google ‘sandboxes’ new websites. Whenever it detects a new website, it withholds its rightful ranking for a period while it determines whether your site is a genuine, credible, long term site. It does this to discourage the creation of SPAM websites (sites which serve no useful purpose other than to boost the ranking of some other site). Likewise, if Google detects a sudden increase (i.e. many hundreds or thousands) in the number of links back to your site, it may sandbox them for a period (or in fact penalize you by lowering your ranking or blacklisting your site altogether).
Search Engine Optimization. The art of making your website relevant and important so that it ranks high in the search results for a particular word.
A ‘copywriter’ who is not only proficient at web copy, but also experienced in writing copy which is optimized for search engines (and will therefore help you achieve a better search engine ranking for your website).
A search engine is an online tool which allows you to search for websites which contain a particular word or phrase. The most well known search engines are Google, Yahoo, and MSN.
A single page which contains a list of text links to every page in the site (and every page contains a text link back to the site map). Think of your site map as being at the center of a spider-web.
Generally refers to unwanted and unrequested email sent en-masse to private email addresses. Also used to refer to websites which appear high in search results without having any useful content. The creators of these sites set them up simply to cash in on their high ranking by selling advertising space, links to other sites, or by linking to other sites of their own and thereby increasing the ranking of those sites. The search engines are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and already have very efficient ways to detect SPAM websites and penalize them.
Google finds pages on the World Wide Web and records their details in its index by sending out ‘spiders’ or ‘robots’. These spiders make their way from page to page and site to site by following text links.
Paid advertising which displays next to the natural search results. Customers can click on the ad to visit the advertiser’s website. This is how the search engines make their money. Advertisers set their ads up to display whenever someone searches for a word which is related to their product or service. These ads look similar to the natural search results, but are normally labeled “Sponsored Links”, and normally take up a smaller portion of the window. These ads work on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) basis (i.e. the advertiser only pays when someone clicks on their ad).
You can submit your domain name to the search engines so that their ‘spiders’ or ‘robots’ will crawl your site. You can also submit articles to ‘article submission sites’ in order to have them published on the Internet.
A word on a web page which the reader can click to visit another page. Text links are normally blue and underlined. Text links are what ‘spiders’ or ‘robots’ use to jump from page to page and website to website.
Uniform Resource Locator. The address of a particular page published on the Internet. Normally in the form http://www.yourbusinessname.com/AWebPage.htm.
A ‘copywriter’ who understands the unique requirements of writing for an online medium.
A person responsible for the management of a particular website.
The number of words on a particular web page.
World Wide Web (WWW)
The vast array of documents published on the Internet. It is estimated that the World Wide Web now consists of approximately 11.5 billion pages.
What can you do right now, to increase your search engine ranking?
Well for starters, incoming links play a huge role when it comes to placing high in the search engines. The more links that point to your site from other websites the better. To the search engines, each incoming link counts as a vote for your ranking. The higher a site ranks, the more its vote is worth.
It’s also important that these sites that have a similar theme as yours. For example, if your site is built around photography software, you would want to get your link on sites that deal with camera equipment or photography tips.
There is a simple and free technique that you can start using this minute to get tons of incoming links to your site. After reading this article of course 🙂
Try this, open your favorite search engine and type in the following phrase with quotations marks: “fishing” “add URL”. Hit the search button and the results will turn up numerous sites that allow you to add your website link to their directory.
Some of these sites will add your link right away and some might require a reciprocal link which means you add their link to your site. Reciprocal links can also help your ranking by positioning you as an authority if you link to other quality, similarly themed sites.
Apply this technique to your own site by substituting the keyword “fishing” with whatever keyword applies to you niche. To find even more sites that allow link submission, play around with different combinations of keywords in between the first set of quotation marks.
“football” “add url”
“football gear” “add url”
“fishing gear” “add url”
“hockey equipment” “add url”
“weddings” “add url”
“wedding merchandise” “add url”
“golfing equipment” “add url”
“golfing secrets” “add url”
“fitness products” “add url”
“adventure tours” “add url”
Next, you can expand you search even more by replacing “add url” in between the second set of quotation marks with other phrases like “add link” or “submit a url”. Get creative and try every possible combination you can think of.
“add your link”
“add a link”
“add a site”
“submit a site”
“suggest a link”
“suggest a url”
“recommended a site”
“suggest your site”
As a side note, sometimes these link directory sites will have another text link that you must click to find the submission form. In cases like this, look for things like “click here to add your site” or “add your url” etc.
If you want to streamline the process of submitting your website link to hundreds of directories, significantly increase your link popularity and search engine ranking, then I highly recommend a hot new product called Link Directory Submitter http://www.GetDirectorySubmitter.com
This program has a very large, every increasing number of sites already built into it that you can submit your link to. Using this program is a great way to leverage your time by letting the program handle all the dirty work of finding these sites and manually submitting to them on your own.
Google, the best search engine ever built, has been famous for everything that it provides – free of course. It has even increased the size of the Email (G-mail) storage to 2.6 GB. Since then, it has started launching a huge variety of products & services, which contains 50 online services. It was in May 2005 that Google acquired a company named Urchin Software Corporation which provided a web service called ‘Urchin on Demand’. Henceforth, the service was renamed to Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is an excellent solution for all the website related needs, starting from the source which brought the visitors to your site to how they interacted with your website. Hence, it provides good results as to how the site should be designed/ modified so as to attract more visitors or how to do better marketing for your product online. Some of the features of Google Analytics are given below.
Firstly, it is much easier to use. With the special AdWords feature, Google provides more flexibility with the keywords and also provides you immediate ROI results. It also provides good suggestions as to which keywords can make the site or product more attractive. Nextly, it focuses on only those modifications (in your website) which will gain you profits. As the service is available in many languages (English, German, Spanish, Korean, etc.) there is a wider scope for improvement of the site along with the marketing campaign.
As Analytics is powered by the same server which runs Google, it can be reliably used for even top corporate projects. Also, it is very much easy to use. For e.g. instead of purchasing or downloading some software or script, just pasting the tracking code in the web pages directly begins the tracking. Google Analytics also provides Executive summaries of the conversions, traffic directly to you so that you don’t have to hunt for the reports. You can then comfortably compare keywords, revenue & basically, the performance of the website. It also provides you the comparative reports of the performance, for e.g. if you need to compare this weeks performance with last week’s you can very well get the entire tabular data. This service extends so much that you can tally this winter’s reports with last summer’s reports. Google Analytics can also be used for e-commerce websites, as you can compare revenues, arrange & modify campaigns & get a whole view of the metrics.
Another special feature of Google Analytics is the Funnel Visualization. Sometimes it so happens that a visitor starts exploring your site but quits in the middle. Mostly, it is due to puzzling or maze-like data or irrelevant information on the site that confuses the visitor. Google tracks the positions of the quitting & hence provides you the opportunity of modifying that particular area of the site. Google also provides you the segmented visitor report, which includes sorting of visitor information by location, by action, by new versus returning visitor, making it easier to compare the keywords and the traffic. Geotargeting helps in tracking the location of the visitor and also gives your information about markets in various areas & their potentials. Hence, it provides you a better option for the market analysis & gives you more options for setting up or modifying your campaign in order to increase the market value of your website.
What Is Organic SEO?
Put in the simplest manner possible, organic SEO is search engine optimization done manually using no black hat methods, no underhand methods, and no automated scripting. It is the purest form of optimizing your website for the benefit of search engines, while still retaining interest for your site visitors, and done well it is exactly the thing that search engines are looking for in a website. Once they find it they will reward your site with better rankings and improved positions within the search engine results pages. Throughout the course of this article, it will be referred to as simply SEO.
Understanding The Search Engines
Understanding Search Engines and their general concept is vital to the use of effective SEO methods. Search engines enable their visitors to enter a specific word or term, known as keywords. Once submitted, all pages containing those keywords that can be found in the search engine’s directory are listed on the search engine result pages. Each page is “ranked” according to relevancy, popularity and a few other factors. Therefore, in theory, the more relevant a page is to a given keyword the more likely it will appear at the top of the listings.
Introducing The Search Engine Spiders
Another important factor to remember about search engines is that they don’t use real people to crawl the billions of websites and judge how relevant they are. Instead, they use automated software called a “spider” or a “bot” that does this work much quicker. The calculations that the search engine uses to determine the ranking of a website are called algorithms and in the case of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN these algorithms are changed on a regular basis. The changes and the specifics of the algorithms are not released to the public in order to prevent black hat SEOs from manipulating their sites to reach the top of the pile despite containing to information relevant to the search query or keyword.
Optimizing For Search Engines – Optimizing For Visitors
Of course, to some extent, all of us reading this article are probably guilty of altering our web pages to meet the whims of search engines but it must be done in a positive and organic way. We understand that optimizing a page purely for the benefit of search engines spiders may massively detract from the actual value of the site to your visitors. Search engines understand this too, hence the evolution of the algorithms. With each new algorithm created and usually patented by search engines like Google, we are getting closer to a structure whereby sites are genuinely judged on their value to visitors. It may sound like an Isaac Asimov novel but the algorithms and the spiders are basically becoming more human-like.
Basic Components Of SEO
The actual methods of optimizing your website are saved for another article, but the basic components of an SEO campaign are broken down into on page and off page optimization techniques. On page, SEO includes factors like keyword inclusion, content optimization, page structure etc… whereas the main contributing factor of off page optimization is inbound links. There are many different factors to each of these areas and different SEOs will give you varying information on which factors are the most relevant to gain higher rankings. These extensive differences in opinion occur because nobody is certain of the algorithm criteria.
The Benefits Of SEO
SEO is probably the most beneficial way to conduct Internet promotion. It is highly cost effective, can yield long-term results and the leads it generates are opt-in and targeted. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider trying out alternative methods of advertising your site. For many, banner advertisements, press releases (can actually be used as part of an SEO campaign as well), PPC campaigns and sponsored listings prove to highly beneficial and including these will help your site’s popularity.
To Cost Effectiveness And To Life
The cost effectiveness is easily determined when you look at the potential of an SEO campaign compared to the method that many consider being the next best thing – PPC. A PPC campaign will usually cost you anywhere upward of 5 cents per visitor generated. This means that for every thousand visitors you receive you will have paid $50. Some fairly basic SEO work on a website containing ten pages will generate this kind of traffic on a monthly basis relatively quickly.
$50 doesn’t sound much but consider that you pay this in one month to receive the desired one thousand visitors. Over the space of a year you will have paid $600, and so on. Now consider that you are competing for a relatively competitive keyword and you find that you need to be paying a minimum of 50 cents per click to generate just the one thousand clicks in a month. All of a sudden you’re paying $6000 per year and you are still only getting one thousand clicks every month. $6000 will buy you an awful lot of SEO work and you should find that within a few months you are generating a lot more traffic using SEO.
Targeted leads are the best type of leads you can generate. It means that the visitors to your site are already predisposed to the basic topic of your site and are interested in what you have to say. It means that they will be more likely to purchase goods or services from your site, click on affiliate links or click Google ads to earn you revenue. Because SEO leads are physically searching for the topic that your site relates to you are guaranteed that they are interested in whatever you’re offering. First of all they search using keywords relevant to your site. They then read the description and name of your site and this further compounds their interest in the page in question and click on the link. Already they have become highly susceptible to the message of your web page.
SEO is a webmaster’s greatest tool but treated badly it can quickly blow up in your face. By ensuring you stick to the very letter of the law and do not use any underhand methods you should soon benefit from powerful leads that will frequent your site and earn you revenue.
In this article I will discuss page redirection techniques, what works and what to avoid.
What is page redirection and why would you want to use it?
Let’s say you rename a page on your website, for whatever reason. Perhaps you decided to revamp your entire naming convention, perhaps you decided to restructure your site and need to move pages into different folders, or you just realized that you are missing valuable keywords.
Let’s elaborate a bit on the keywords issue, since it is part of your search engine ranking success.
Let’s say the page in question is about customized USB drives and you named it page1.htm. Then you read some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) articles and you found out that some search engines use words in the actual file name as search keywords. Next time you do a Google search, take a look at the results, most will have words in the actual file name (in the URL section) bolded, denoting a keyword match. Your USB drives page will definitely benefit if named something like custom_usb_drives.htm instead.
Now that you renamed your page, you just created a symphony of issues for yourself, for your users and for your position in search engine results.
You will have to point every link on your site to the new page name. If your site is small, it should not be a big deal, but if your site is large, you will inevitably make mistakes, mainly forgetting a link or two. This will result in visitors getting the dreaded “404 page not found” error when clicking on your links, robots (also known as crawlers or spiders) avoiding you, etc. Also, if you are heavily relying on visitors from search engines, then again, people will get a “404 page not found error”.
Let’s use the previous example, for a long time your page1.htm was indexed by major search engines. If someone types “custom usb drives” in a search engine box, your page shows up on the first search results screen. That is fantastic, only if someone clicks on the link, they will be pointed to page1.htm, not to custom_usb_drives.htm, because the first page is the one in the search engine’s index. It will take time, sometimes months, before the search engines update their indexes with your new page name.
Lost Page Rank (PR) issues:
Google developed a proprietary algorithm that assigns a Page Rank (PR) to every page on the web. PR is a number from 1 to 10 (10 being the ideal) and is intended to be a representation of how useful and popular a given page is. PR is influenced by many factors, one of the crucial ones being Link Popularity. Link Popularity is a representation of how many “quality” or “relevant” sites link to your page. Without getting into too much detail, it is increasingly difficult and time-consuming to achieve a high PR for your pages, especially if you don’t have a really unique website with exceptional and highly sought after content. If you are merely operating a commercial site, in a competitive market (such as selling custom branded USB drives, as in our example), then it takes a lot of time and hard work to build a good page PR.
When you rename a page and discard the old page, you also discard the PR of the page. Your renamed page will be seen as a totally new page, with 0 PR.
What is the solution?
I will start by enumerating some of the methods used by the non-initiated.
Not recommended solution 1: Duplicate content.
The first thing that probably comes to your mind is: well, why can’t you just duplicate the page and let nature take its course. In other words, you will have two identical pages, one named page1.htm and one custom_usb_drives.htm. This gives you time to update all links and the search engines will eventually index the new page.
This solution is not viable because search engines will penalize you quite badly, ‘thinking’ that you are trying to scam them by using the ‘duplicate content’ technique.
Not recommended solution 2: Custom error message.
You could create a custom error page. However, you will lose rankings on the next search engine update as the file will appear to be non-existent. As discussed above, it could be some time before the page with the new name will be indexed and will appear in people’s searches. Also, your website visitors will be frustrated by the fact that they now have to dig through your site to find the desired information.
Not recommended solution 3: An HTML Meta redirect.
You could implement a so-called Meta refresh in a blank or customized page that has the name of the old page (in our example, page1.htm) that points to the new page. The redirect can be instant or delayed by a predetermined amount of time. The delayed redirect has the advantage that you can place an extra message, such as “please be aware that the page you are looking for changed location….. etc., etc…. you will be redirected automatically to the new location”
In the past, this was probably the most used technique.
What is bad about this is that this is a technique often used by spammers to trick search engines and it should be avoided, unless the page is in a section of your site that isn’t indexed (also known as spidered or crawled). Search engine spammers create a page that is optimized for certain keywords and phrases – it usually has no real content. The page is then picked up by some search engines, but when a visitor clicks on the search engine entry, they are redirected to another site, often unrelated. Most search engines have filters to detect this. Using this form of search engine deception will see a site eventually banned or penalized by major players such as Google.
The recommended redirect strategy – 301 Redirect
A 301 redirect is the most efficient, visitor friendly, robot (spider, crawler) friendly and search engine friendly solution around for websites that are hosted on servers running Apache. If you are not sure, check with your hosting provider.
A 301 redirect is just a set of commands you type into your .htaccess file.
When a visitor (whether human or robotic) requests a web page via any means, your web server checks for a .htaccess file. The .htaccess file contains specific instructions for certain requests, including security, redirection issues and how to handle certain errors.
The code “301” is interpreted as “moved permanently”. After the code, the URL of the missing or renamed page is noted, followed by a space, then followed by the new location or file name.
First of all, you’ll need to find the .htaccess file in the root directory of where all your web pages are stored. If there is no .htaccess file there, you can create one with Notepad or a similar application. Make sure when you name the file that you remember to put the “.” at the beginning of the file name. This file has no tail extension.
Some hosting providers offer redirect services through their “control panels”, so you don’t have to perform low-level changes on the .htaccess file itself. Instead, they provide a user-friendly interface for this. Check with your hosting provider to see what the optimal way to perform a 301 redirect is in your case. I will continue the article with the barebones solution.
If there is a .htaccess file already in existence with lines of code present, be very careful not to change any existing line unless you are familiar with the functions of the file.
Scroll down past all the existing code, leave a line space, then create a new line that follows this example:
redirect 301 /folder/page1.htm http://www.you.com/folder/custom_usb_drives.htm
It’s as easy as that. Save the file, upload it back into your web and test it out by typing in the old address to the page you’ve changed. You should be instantly and seamlessly transported to the new location.
Notes: Be sure not to add “http://www” to the first part of the statement – just put the path from the top level of your site to the page. Also, ensure that you leave a single space between these elements:
redirect 301 (the instruction that the page has moved)
/folder/page1.htm (the original folder path and file name)
http://www.you.com/folder/custom_usb_drives.htm (new path and file name)
The same format applies not only to renamed files but also to files moved to a different location.
The 301 redirect is the safest way to preserve your rankings. On the next indexing (crawling, spidering), the search engine robot will obey the rule indicated in your .htaccess file and index the new page name every time a link or its internal database tries to access the old page. In the next update (again, this could take months), the old file name and path will be dropped and replaced with the new one. Sometimes you may see alternating old/new file names during the transition period, along with some possible fluctuations in rankings as things settle. Don’t panic, this is normal.
What if your site is hosted on a Microsoft IIS server instead?
If you have access to the server, do this: In internet services manager, right click on the file or folder you wish to redirect. Select the radio titled “a redirection to a URL”. Enter the redirection page, check “The exact URL entered above” and the “A permanent redirection for this resource”. Click “Apply”.
If you do not have access to the server, ask your host to point you in the right direction.
In conclusion, the best and the most transparent way (to both human and robotic users) to rename and move files on your website, while preserving your search engine ranks is the 301 redirect.
Studies show that over 90% of all online users use search engines to find what they are looking for, whether products/services or just plain old information.
The following twelve points will, I hope, summarize a philosophy, approach, and methodology to the SEO question which is both sound and effective, along with giving some helpful insight into the industry itself.
1. Content. Content. Content.
Effective, professional, optimized Copywriting is the single, most important factor in any SEO campaign. Search engines index websites based on the content found on each page of the site. With a thorough understanding of the language and grammatical conventions combined with intensive research, to find and exploit the market focus, one can move a website to the upper echelon of the “SERP’s” (Search Engine Results Page) in a methodical as well as ethical manner.
2. Analyze Web Logs.
Measure everything, at least twice, and then check again. While I would be the first to say that many of the procedures that make up website optimization are more art than science, one needs to take a very scientific approach to the results of the effort. This is done by methodically keeping a record of, and making an analysis of the sites web logs. There is a number of specialized software which makes the job easier but at the bare minimum, one needs to keep a close eye on the site visitors and their activity while on the site. No matter how well planned the strategy, it is largely theoretical until proven by the results, which can only be measured by the logs, and a thorough analysis of their content.
3. No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google, or any other search engine.
Those who promise such feats will either optimize for such vague search term phrases (such as, “green stunted widgets with purple Polka-dots and icing”) that no one will ever likely look for, or they are making a false claim, which they have no intention of keeping, or they have an inside edge at Google, something which they will loose, quickly, when the honest folks at Google find out about it. The other option, that they will take the money and run, is worth mentioning here but I’ll be polite.
4. Some things are just plain silly.
You don’t need to submit your site to 50,000 search engines. Businesses which offer this service are suspect, at best. 85% of the search results on the Internet come from one search engine, which, if you have one link from an established website, or better yet, a directory, will find your site just fine, on its own. Four (4) search engines account for over 90% of the traffic on the web. As for any supposed benefit which may accrue from being listed in an obscure search engine in Botswana which specializes in safaris to the Kalahari Desert and receives 7 hits per day; well, you figure it out.
5. SEO is not Pay-per-Click.
While no one would argue the effectiveness of getting increased traffic and sales, through a well planned, pay-per-click campaign, the fact remains that the conversion rates are generally low and they cease the moment the “pay” stops. With a well planned and executed SEO campaign, while results may take a bit longer, they continue to produce, and in fact grow, long after the work is done and paid for. Quite often we have found that after a thorough optimization of a site, only minor adjustments are needed on an ongoing basis, primarily related to new content and/or new items of sale or service.
6. SEO is not witchcraft, Druidism, shamanism.
Neither does it require any special chants, ceremonial fires, or vestments, though some of us do like to howl at the full moon, on occasion. There are no “Top Secret” practices which a reputable SEO can not tell a client, a judge, or his mother, for that matter. The very nature of the Internet has always been cooperative and there is nothing about SEO that can’t be learned, with a heavy dose of time and money. A reputable SEO firm will give you an item per item breakdown of just where the money goes. Be wary if you sense a secretive atmosphere or any unwillingness to answer questions. While there are technical points which might take some background to fully understand, if one has a solid overview of the entire situation, a simple explanation should be easy enough to come up with.
7. Do-it-yourself SEO.
Yes, you can execute your own SEO campaign and find a reputable SEO firm to help plan and organize it for you. About one half of my own clientele do some part of the actual work themselves, or have their in-house dedicated personnel do it, after discussion of the goals and aims of the business/website, a thorough website analysis, comprehensive search phrase research, and focused instruction on the ways and means of achieving high SERPs. These preliminaries are followed up with a detailed program of suggestions and methods which the client can then implement themselves or hire others to perform. Average savings; 30-40%.
8. Phased Implementation.
While many companies spend thousands of dollars per month on Search Engine Optimization, an alternative is available which will pay dividends to you in increased sales and leads without the high initial investment. The most important consideration is to have a reputable firm handle the initial evaluation and suggested optimization planning first. The trial and error method will cost much more, in the long run, with or without the desired result. After studying the plan and establishing a workable budget you may implement the plan as finances allow.
9. Remember the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Never was this truer than in the realm of SEO. While concrete and measurable gains will always come from a well thought out and executed optimization strategy, the Internet is a competitive media and we all want to be number one. Accept that a steady upward movement, over time, will place you worlds ahead of a flash followed by a crash.
10. A thought to ponder.
At stake, in the race for the top, is the very existence of your website, your business, and quite possibly your reputation. Beware of any “shortcuts” or less than ethical schemes that anyone might suggest to further your business goals. When it’s all said and done it is you, the business owner, who bears the responsibility for any company or individual you hire. Insist on knowing exactly what the strategy is and what steps are being performed to implement it. If it seems, in the least, suspicious, ask for and get an explanation. In this case, not only is Ignorance not bliss, it could very well be the beginning of the end for your business.
11. All incoming links are not created equal.
Both the relevance to your line of business and website subject matter and the PR value of the incoming link determine how valuable they are to your own PR ranking. With Google starting the trend, nothing new there, and most of the others following close behind, the days of grabbing all the inbound links, in any way possible, are gone. Not only will low ranked and/or irrelevant inbound links not help, they will, in fact, cause a penalty. Link farms, free-for-all link schemes, automated link accumulation software, or any other fad that doesn’t carefully screen the links and websites they are coming from the will, in the long run, do more harm than good.
12. It’s more than just facts and figures.
The relationship between an online business and SEO is, perhaps, one of the closest of business relationships. In order to be effective, an SEO must know not only the facts and figures pertaining to the endeavor but s/he must know something of the dreams and aspirations of the business principals. Things which don’t normally come out in a prospectus are often invaluable information when searching for the “right fit” into the complex world of the Internet. My own clients sometimes ask, due to the frequency of my calls and email in the early phases, “Am I your only client?” I usually laugh and say something to the effect that until I know your business almost as well as you do, yes, you are the only one that counts.
From the perspective of a business owner, webmaster, or marketing manager, the change exhibited by the Internet is profoundly exciting, yet profoundly disturbing. The information (and misinformation and disinformation) it offers, the business benefits it promises, and the rules it is governed by the change at such a rapid rate that it’s almost impossible to keep up.
These changes have led to a growing appreciation of the value of quality web copy. This appreciation has, in turn, led to an influx of opportunistic ‘copywriters’ promoting themselves as website copywriters or SEO copywriters. Don’t get me wrong, there are quite a few excellent SEO copywriters out there, and you should definitely shop around. The purpose of this article isn’t to scare you; it’s to help you find the SEO copywriter who’ll deliver honest service and excellent results.
So with that in mind, take a look at the following ten tips. These are the things you have a right to expect from anyone wearing a name badge that reads “website copywriter”, “SEO copywriter”, “internet copywriter”, or “web copywriter”… (See also 10 Things to Expect From Your Website Copywriter and How to Make the Most of Your Website Copywriter.)
1) An understanding of SEO
Obviously, your SEO copywriter must have a solid understanding of the essentials of Search Engine Optimization. They must know that ranking is essentially the result of a website’s relevance (i.e. keywords) and importance (i.e. inbound links). There are a whole lot of other factors involved, but if your SEO copywriter doesn’t understand these two basics, you should look elsewhere. If you’d like to ensure your SEO copywriter knows a little more than just the basics, take a look at SEO for CEOs, Writing SEO Copy, SEO Trade Secrets, Web Copy – How Much is Enough?, and How to Top Google by Writing Articles for some clues as to what you might like to ask in order to assess their knowledge.
2) Proven experience
The proof is, as they say, in the pudding. It’s not enough that your SEO copywriter can talk the talk; they must also be able to walk the walk. Ask to see some examples of websites for which they’ve obtained some good rankings. Note that it may be very difficult to find an SEO copywriter who has actually worked on both keywords and link generation, so if you find one who has, and they write well, snap ’em up! They’ll have a very broad and useful working knowledge of search engines.
3) An understanding of how many keywords to use
You don’t want to fill every page up with every keyword you’re targeting. This simply dilutes your site’s relevance and reduces readability. Ask your SEO copywriter how many keywords they would recommend targeting on each page. Hopefully, they’ll suggest no more than 3, preferably 2. By targeting 2 keyword phrases per page, you can use them a lot without impacting readability.
4) Clear agreement on who will provide keywords
Someone needs to perform a keyword analysis in order to figure out what words you should be trying to rank highly for. Your SEO copywriter should be able to do this for you, but it’s quite often more cost-effective if someone a little closer to the business does it. Either way, make sure your agreement with your SEO copywriter makes it very clear who is performing this task. Don’t assume the SEO copywriter is going to do it, because they may assume you’re going to do it, and then you’ll blow your budget.
5) Keywords or keyword phrases
Expect your SEO copywriter to offer some advice regarding how specific you should be with your keywords. In most industries, the competition for keywords is so fierce that you’ll be forced to target very specific keywords in order to rank – at least at the outset. For instance, if you’re in IT, you probably wouldn’t start out by targeting the keyword “IT”. The competition is immense (at the time of writing, there were approx 3,240,000,000 results for this search in Google.com) and the IT giants already dominate the search engines for this keyword. Instead, try using a more specific keyword phrase like “IT infrastructure consulting new york” (at the time of writing, there were only around 4,000,000 results for this search in Google.com). The other benefit to targeting more specific keyword phrases is that you’ll generate more relevant leads.
6) Agree on word count per page
Always make sure your SEO copywriter gives you an indication of the number of words they expect to write per web page. While it’s necessary to have a decent body of words on most of your web pages, you certainly shouldn’t have too many. What “too many” is all depends on your industry, the objective of the page, and the needs of your audience. It’s always a delicate balance, but it’s certainly possible to rank highly with only 100-200 words per page. So don’t be fooled into paying for the copy you don’t need!
7) Density targets & measure
SEO of a web page is NOT guess-work. A good SEO copywriter will talk about density measures. This is a measure of the number of time the keyword phrase appears on the page. It’s expressed as a percentage of the total word count of the page. So if your page has 200 words, and your keyword phrase appears 10 times, its density is 5%. As a rule of thumb, your SEO copywriter should be aiming for a density of approximately 5% for your primary keyword phrase and 3-5% for your secondary keyword phrase. If your density measures are much higher than this, readability will be reduced, and you’ll risk being perceived as spam by the search engines. Make sure your SEO copywriter understands keyword density, is prepared to state the target density for each keyword phrase and is also happy to be measured by that standard (should you decide to measure).
8) Where to place keywords
The question of keyword placement has been the subject of much debate amongst SEO copywriters. While it is still unclear how much impact placement has, there is a general consensus that it has SOME impact. Be sure that your copywriter is aware of this impact. Popular opinion has it that keywords are more effective if they appear in headings, bolded text, links, and generally toward the beginning of the page.
9) Some comment on structure & links
Websites are generally better indexed by search engines if their spiders can traverse the entire site using text links. This means your SEO copywriter should be linking each page to every other page using text links. If your site is complex, this may be impractical, so your SEO copywriter will need to create a hierarchical structure for your site. First, they should break your subject material down into categories. Then for each category, they should write a summary page. These summary pages should be accessible from higher level pages via text links. They should also be accessible from each other. Each summary page should link – using text links – to a number of pages discussing the finer details of the category. And each detail page in a particular category should link to every other detail page in that category (once again, using text links). This way the spiders are able to travel from the top of your hierarchy to the bottom, and from left to right across any level.
10) Don’t believe grand promises
SEO copywriters can play a significant role in increasing your search engine ranking. But they can’t do it overnight. By optimizing your site for your target keyword phrases, an SEO copywriter is simply declaring the relevance of your site. If you engage an SEO copywriter to write helpful articles containing a byline with a link back to your site, you can then submit these articles for publication on the Internet, and this will steadily increase your ranking. But if an SEO copywriter tells you they can dramatically increase your ranking in a matter of hours or days, be wary. NOTE: Your SEO copywriter should be able to submit your articles to various submit sites on the Internet. These sites are closely watched by hundreds of thousands of publishers of e-newsletters and article pages from all around the world. High-quality articles are quickly snapped up and published prolifically. And each time your article is published, you’ve got another link back to your site, thus increasing the importance of your site (to the search engines). If you’d like to submit your own articles, your SEO copywriter should be able to sell you a list of 50 or more submit sites for as little as USD$99.
An SEO copywriter is a valuable addition to your marketing function. But you need to make sure you choose wisely. When you know what questions to ask, the battle is half won.
If you have a website then you already know the importance of traffic. Traffic is to Internet marketing as the location is to real estate. It’s the only thing that really matters. If you cannot generate targeted visitors to your site, you will not make any sales.
Usually the owner or designer of the website is the person designated to drive traffic to the site. The chief ingredient in generating traffic is the search engine. Of course, you can use advertising, but it’s going to cost you. Using the search engines to generate targeted (interested in your product) traffic is the least expensive method known.
Unfortunately, many website owners do not understand the importance of search engine visibility, which leads to traffic. They place more importance on producing a “pretty” website. Not that this is bad, but it is really secondary to search engine placement. Hopefully, the following list of common mistakes, made by many website owners, will help you generate more targeted traffic to your site…after all, isn’t that what you want.
1. Not using keywords effectively.
This is probably one of the most critical areas of site design. Choose the right keywords and potential customers will find your site. Use the wrong ones and your site will see little if any, traffic.
2. Repeating the same keywords.
When you use the same keywords over and over again (called keyword stacking) the search engines may downgrade (or skip) the page or site.
3. Robbing pages from other websites.
How many times have you heard or read that “this is the Internet and it’s ok” to steal icons and text from websites to use on your site? Don’t do it. It’s one thing to learn from others who have been there and another to outright copy their work. The search engines are very smart and usually detect page duplication. They may even prevent you from ever being listed by them.
4. Using keywords that are not related to your website.
Many unethical website owners try to gain search engine visibility by using keywords that have nothing at all to do with their website. They place unrelated keywords on a page (such as “sex”, the name of a known celebrity, the hot search topic of the day, etc.) inside a meta tag for a page. The keyword doesn’t have anything to do with the page topic. However, since the keyword is popular, they think this will boost their visibility. This technique is considered spam by the search engines and may cause the page (or sometimes the whole site) to be removed from the search engine listing.
5. Keyword stuffing.
Somewhat like keyword stacking listed above, this means to assign multiple keywords to the description of a graphic or layer that appears on your website by using the “alt=” HTML parameter. If the search engines find that this text does not really describe the graphic or layer it will be considered spam.
6. Relying on hidden text.
You might be inclined to think that if you cannot see it, it doesn’t hurt. Wrong…. Do not try to hide your keywords or keyword phrases by making them invisible. For example, some unethical designers may set the keywords to the same color as the background of the web page; thereby, making it invisible.
7. Relying on the tiny text.
This is another version of the item above (relying on hidden text). Do not try to hide your keywords or keyword phrases by making them tiny. Setting the text size of the keywords so small that it can barely be seen does this.
8. Assuming all search engines are the same.
Many people assume that each search engine plays by the same rules. This is not so. Each has their own rule base and is subject to change anytime they so desire. Make it a point to learn what each major search engine requires for high visibility.
9. Using free web hosting.
Do not use free web hosting if you are really serious about increasing site traffic via search engine visibility. Many times the search engines will eliminate content from these free hosts.
10. Forgetting to check for missing web page elements.
Make sure to check every page in your website for completeness, like missing links, graphics, etc. There are sites on the web that will do this for free.
This is just a few of the methods and techniques that you should avoid. Do not give in to the temptation that these methods will work for you. They will do more harm than good for your website.
Not only will you spend weeks of wasted effort, you may have your site banned from the search engines forever. Invest a little time to learn the proper techniques for increasing search engine visibility and your net traffic will increase.
Link building, in a nutshell, is the process of getting other websites and web pages to link to your website. These links will not only drive direct targeted traffic to your pages; but more importantly will increase your overall search engine visibility and rankings. Building a solid incoming linking structure for your site is one of the most effective techniques used by search engine optimization professionals to improve your search engine rankings and boost the overall amount of traffic any given web page receives. However the process of building incoming links to your site can be a daunting and tedious task when just getting started. The purpose of this essay is to outline the importance of building a strong linking profile for your site as well as offer a handful of key strategies that any webmaster regardless of marketing budget can employ to climb to the top of the search engine ladder.
1.) Purchasing Links & Sponsored Reviews
Paying other webmasters to place a link on their site back to yours is probably the easiest and most straightforward way to generate links to your site. However, the downside of purchasing or renting links from other webmasters is that it can become a very expensive venture, not to mention you need to pick and choose your potential candidates to varying carefully. There are many services out there to help connect you with other webmasters that are interested in selling links from their web pages, however, you will save yourself a lot of time, and money by working directly with other webmasters as opposed to paying a middleman to act as a link broker. Unfortunately, there is no set standard for determining what any given link is worth: however you should pay careful attention to a few key factors before cracking open your wallet and spending your hard earned money on a paid link. These things include but are not limited to the number of incoming links the candidate site itself has, it’s overall page rank, the age of the site and finally the search engine saturation (number of pages indexed in the major search engines) of the site. When approaching a webmaster to purchase links from make your goals as clear as day – and ensure that he or she knows you’re interested in purchasing a link for Search Engine Optimization reasons. You need to ensure the link will not be cloaked (hidden from search engine spiders) or nofollowed (marked to inform search engines not to follow the link with the rel=”nofollow” attribute) as either of these conditions will make the link relatively worthless from an SEO standpoint.
2.) Comment and Post on Related Blogs & Message Boards
Even a web novice can find a litany of blogs and message boards for any given niche or market to post comments and feedback. I strongly encourage you to register on message boards related to your topic or subject and include links within the signature of your posts and messages. The same goes for blogs and commenting. There are many blogs that will allow you to include a link back to your site either within the content of your message or make your username a clickable link back to your site. However, there is a fine line between spamming and offering valid comments, posts, and responses to community-based websites and blogs. Making obvious spam posts such as “Cool site, check my site out at …” will likely get your IP address banned from the website or network, and can negatively impact the reputation of your brand or website. If you don’t have a valuable viewpoint, or comment to offer other readers of the site you’re posting on, you’re better off not commenting at all.
3.) Write User Testimonials & Product Reviews
Writing user reviews or testimonials is an under appreciated technique to create a wealth of backlinks to your site. Most often when you write a review for a product or service you’ve had success with, the webmaster will include a link back to your site in the signature of the review. This technique is simple and straight forward; if you’ve purchased a product or service write up a short 100 – 300-word review for the product outlining its strengths and your positive experiences and include your full name, and website address in the signature of the review. Nine out of ten times the webmaster of the site you’ve written the testimonial for will be more than happy to include and activate the link when they post the review onto their website.
4.) Develop a Free Online Service or Software Application
5.) Write Articles and Distribute Them Online
Assuming this isn’t the first essay you’ve read on improving a number of links to your website, you should be well aware that writing articles and submitting your articles to the popular article directories is a fantastic way to generate many backlinks to your website. The premise is simple yet effective; Write a handful of articles geared toward your topic and subject matter and distribute them to the many article directories on the Internet. Often times when your article is posted on these article directory sites they will include an author’s bio or resource box. Within the author’s bio area you want to include a little information about your company or product(s) as well as a link back to your site. Whenever your article is picked up by other webmasters or syndicated across other popular websites you will receive a free one-way link back to your site. Repeat these steps over and over to build several 1,000 links back to your website. This is an amazing technique as your only investment is a little time to write and submit an article.
6.) Submit Your Site to Directories
Over the past few years links from directories or web indexes has become less and less valuable. However there are still a handful of well trusted and high quality directories that you should consider submitting your site to. This will boost both your linking profile, as well as your page and trust rank. Some of the most notable directories to submit your website to in no particular order are DMOZ, The Yahoo! Business Directory, JoeAnt, Gimpsy, GoGuides, Linkopedia and Uncoverthenet. Though most of the directories I’ve mentioned here are not free to submit to, the cost of submission is well worth the price as the links you’ll receive from this investment are quality one-way links that carry a good amount of page trust and rank. When submitting your site to any of these directories, pay special attention to the category you are submitting your web address too, make sure that you are submitting your site to the most relevant, and related topic to the subject of your own website. As this will ensure that your submission is not denied, or skipped by the directory editors once it gets reviewed.
7.) Exchange Links and Build Partnerships
Link exchanges or trading links with other webmasters is another technique that has lost a little of its gusto over the years, however, this method of generating backlinks does still hold a bit of value and should not be overlooked. Many webmasters dedicate a page of their site titled references or resources and use this page to link out to other web pages that have agreed to link back to their site. As mentioned above this technique is not as effective as it once was; however picking and choosing websites that are well trusted and ranked by the search engines and that are related to the topic and subject matter of your own site promise to be well worth the effort. Finding other websites that are prime candidates to exchange links with are those that are linking out to other relevant sites in your field or niche. Once you’ve found a website that you’d be interested in swapping links with, contact the webmaster via email with your offer. When soliciting another webmaster for a link you want to write a personal email message and refer to specific content and aspects of his or her website. Doing so will show the prospective linking partner that you’ve actually taken the time to give their site the once over before sending your solicitation; as a result you will be far more likely to receive a positive reply. As with purchasing paid links you want to ensure that the site you are requesting to exchange links with doesn’t end up cloaking it’s outbound links (hidden from search engine spiders) or nofollowed (marked to inform search engines not to follow the link with the rel=”nofollow” attribute) as either of these conditions will make your link relatively worthless from an SEO standpoint.
In this article, we’ve discussed 7 of the most effective, and commonly used methods to generate a massive amount of incoming links to your website. With any luck, after reading this article you should have a handful of ideas and techniques in your toolbox that you can employ to kick-start your web site’s model for success. Building links to your website is by no means a <i>set-it and forget-it</i> facet of web marketing and requires time, dedication and ongoing analysis. You can never have too many quality incoming links to your site and once you’ve had a small taste of success with link building I’m confident you’ll be hungry for more.