In today’s world business owners have three main choices when it comes to SEO.
1. Hire a professional SEO company to do the work for you: This is an excellent option for companies that simple do not have the time to learn the ins and outs of SEO, and the time to recode your website to make it in compliance with the latest Google Algorithms.
2. Do nothing: Option number two seems simple, but it is surprising how many people do it incorrectly rather than taking their time and learning the proper techniques. Unfortunately when people attempt to do the SEO work on their own, and they do not study it first, they end up doing more harm than good. If you are unsure it is best to do nothing. Being banned on Google can last 6 months, and it is not worth the risk.
3. Do it yourself: SEO is a very straight forward process, with 4 main components. The key to doing it successful is to study the latest Google algorithm to ensure that you are in compliance. The main component you need to remember is a term called keyword density. “Keyword Density is the total amount of weight a keyword has compared to the total weight of the page”. A successful keyword density should be between 4-9%. This means if the total weight of the page is 100%, the keyword should make up 4-9% of that weight.
The 4 steps to SEO success are…..
Step 1, Research your Keywords
For this step you have to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, try and think what would your customer type to find you? This step is sometimes difficult for business owners because they are so accustomed to using technical industry related terms. Most of the time a customer will not speak the same terminology and will use more generic terms. For instance, let’s say you sell brakes for cars. As a mechanic you refer to them as pads or friction pads, but your customers will most likely search only for brakes. As you can see, being able to accurately determine what the customer will type is the key.
Knowing the correct words to go after is by far the most critical point to any successful SEO campaign. You want to be sure to find keywords that have a significant amount of traffic, that are very specific to your industry and that are not saturated with competitors.
One great tool to help with this is Google’s Keyword Tool.
Remember to consider adding the city and state to each term to get local traffic. If you own a pool company in Dallas, Texas having someone from New York contact you will usually not do you much good. You would want to look for terms such as Dallas pools, Dallas swimming Pool installation, Swimming Pools in Dallas, etc..
Step 2, Optimizing Your Website
Title: When optimizing a website you have to remember that the title tag sets the entire tone of the page. The keywords that you place in your title tag are the keywords that you are telling the search engines you wish to be ranked for. With that being said, pay special attention to this part. You should have no more than 3 keywords in this section.
Remember from above about the keyword density that you are trying to achieve, 4-9%, you can only do this according to Google if you have no more than three keywords that you are optimizing on the page. So this means that your title tag on each page should have a maximum of three keywords or phrase in them. Since the title tag starts the optimization, the search engines will now go on to check the rest of page looking for the three keywords that are in your title. It will check a few different areas that we will briefly discuss.
Meta Tags: After the title tag the next tag is your meta tags. The two main ones we will discuss is your meta keyword and meta description. Your meta keyword should be identical to your title tag. This is a hidden place to reinforce the words in your title and it adds to your total density. The meta description should also include your keywords and a brief 2 sentence description of the pages content.
Onpage text: This is what we call the visible text on the page. This part requires a little more finesse. You have to skillfully find a way to work your keywords into the pages text or content. Using the example above in which our key words were Dallas Pools, Dallas Swimming Pool Installation, and Swimming Pools in Dallas, and you might say” Aqua Pools proudly servers the Dallas community specializing in Swimming pools and custom installation.” Notice how in this one simple sentence we hit all three keywords? You do not need to bold the keywords to get the credit for them.
You want to try to incorporate the keywords as many times a possible without losing the integrity of the way it reads.
H1 headings. An H1 heading simply tells the search engine that this paragraph of text is the most important one and to give it more weight, thus increasing our keyword density. Always be sure to make your first paragraph of text an h1.
Alternative Text Tags: Back when the internet was young and we were all on dial up, and I mean 26k dial up, the speed was too slow to show all the photos. So the powers that be came up with a system to show text instead of the photo to move things along. Browsers still use these tags, however they are rarely used to not show photos. They are now used to add your keywords to the page and to increase your density. Be sure to add at least 3 alt text tags per page with the 3 keywords you selected all separated by comas. Search engines cannot read images or flash websites but the can read these tags, so be sure to incorporate them.
Step 3, Submitting the Site
Now that you have chosen the perfect keywords, you optimized the website and you have your 4-9% keyword density now what? Now you will want to send it out to Google and the other top search engines to ensure that it gets crawled, or indexed. There two extremely effective ways of doing this. The first one is by going to Google and submitting the website directly to them for inclusion. This process is very direct; however it is also extremely slow. Google receives thousands of new submissions every day and it can take months for it to be crawled and included. The second method is by creating an XML site map of your entire website. This mapping technology basically lists every possible entry point and file in your site. This acts like a road map and it tells the search engines spider exactly where to crawl. After your file is created, you will need to upload a copy to your server where your website resides. You will then need to create a Google Base account and Yahoo Site Explorer. Once created log in and submit the link to the sitemap. It should look something like www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml. I also highly recommend resubmitting the site every 30 days to ensure they are getting the most relevant content. By incorporating this into your submission plan you can decrease the time it takes to appear on the engines. Sometimes you can cut the wait time in half.
Step 4, Analyze the Data
This is a critical step, one that is often ignored or over looked. In the creation of your website your designer should have incorporated analytics. Analytics is a fancy word for a hit counter, but not just any counter, a very detailed one. A good analytics program should give you several bits of critical information. Things such as unique visitors, total visitors, time on site, bounce rate, flow patterns, Geo search pattern, keyword usages, entry pages, exit pages, page views, and much, much more. Learning how to interpret this data is extremely important. Let’s say you do the 3 steps above and you look
at your analytics and find that you have an 80% bounce rate. If you do not know what this is you would not be alarmed, however if I told you that a bounce is someone leaving your site without taking any action at all, you would not be happy. What that would tell you is that 8 of 10 visitors or potential customers were not happy with what they found. It would also show you that you are wasting your effort and time and that something urgently has to be fixed. In conclusion, D.I.Y. is possible if you take your time, study the latest standards and implement the above methods.