Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Do It Yourself SEO with a Foolproof Twist

As the founder of an independent SEO firm I am asked almost daily "What is the easiest way to optimize a web site?" It is harder to answer than you might think. It depends on who is asking and what their knowledge or experience level is. But last week I read an article written by the person who taught me search engine optimization ten years ago, and I now have an answer... Learn the secret recipe, then use it.

There is no magic bullet that works on every web page like so many SEO 'miracle' books and programs would have us believe. Each page has its own unique 'secret recipe' that has to be discovered and then applied because every single page it is trying to outrank, is unique. If this seems confusing, just remember my new favorite quote that I borrowed from that author's website: "Think about it. Anyone could bake Mrs. Fields famous cookies - possibly better than Mrs. Fields herself - with the secret recipe. And that's all SEO is; knowing the secret recipe for any given web page."

And it really is that simple. We will look at how to discover the secret recipe in a moment, but first there is one crucial thing to understand about search engine optimization before you go any further:

SEO means making a web page as highly visible as possible to search engines... for a given keyword.

Just about everybody knows the first part; but too many people forget the second.

Remember that your soon to be visitor types in very specific keywords (search terms) on search engines like Google, because they are looking for something very specific.

If you know your most important keyword that is great! If not, do not waste your money on expensive keyword software that SEO professionals use. Use a free keyword tool like Google's, found at:

Just enter in the keywords that you think people are searching for to find your product or service and then check the search numbers for those and related keyword suggestions.

So what about the secret recipe? Once you know your main keyword or keywords you need to see how well your site is optimized for that term already. This is called getting your SEO Quality Score.

What you do is make a list of the most important optimization aspects of a webpage, for the search engine of your choice (because Google looks for different things than Yahoo or Bing.)

Here are ten critical factors for Google, but there are nearly 140 to be aware of...

• Keyword use in document title
• Keyword use in body text
• Link texts of inbound links
• Global link popularity of web site
• Keyword density
• Keyword position and proximity
• Number of words
• Readability level of web page
• Keyword use in H1 headline texts
• HTML validation of web page to W3C standards

Once you have all of this information for your webpage, you need to get it for the pages currently occupying the top ten positions for that keyword and then see how your page compares.
You can buy software that does a lot of this for you but it generally costs $500 to $2,500 for the ones that really work and even then you might need to buy an hour of an SEO consultant's time to help you really understand it.

Doing it yourself is very educational. You will be an SEO pro after a couple of these. So if you have the time, I would not hesitate.

In my case I did not have the time - or let's be honest, the patience - to invest what would be 20 plus hours doing this manually and not really understanding what I was looking for. At the time I was a lawn sprinkler installer looking to optimize my company webpage and knew nothing about SEO, except that it was too expensive for me to hire someone else to do it they called their SEO To Go package that reviewed my site for all 140 SEO factors and provided plain English instructions to fix every aspect of it. I did most of them and hit number two on Google.

Here's my dirty little secret... Realizing this was much easier than breaking my back in irrigation, I picked up a couple local shops as SEO customers, ordered reports for those sites, followed the directions and my SEO business was born. I no longer need their help, but it made for some easy success when I needed it most.

Knowing the secret recipe is the foolproof answer to DIY SEO. Once you have the secret recipe it's easier than you ever thought possible and you'll be laughing all the way to the bank with the money you saved.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

On Page SEO Mistakes

This section refers to SEO mistakes made on your actual website.

1. Not Targeting 1 Keyword Per Page
This is the most important facet of on page SEO yet so many people are either unaware of its importance or forget to do it. It's heaps easier to target a single keyword per page than to target 10 keywords per page. At the very maximum, you can target 2 keywords, but you should try to keep it to just one. Focusing your efforts on 1 keyword per page will get greater results quicker.

2. No Keyword In URL
The URL of each page should have the keyword you are targeting for that page. If it doesn't, then it's just going to be harder for you to get that page ranking for that target keyword. Fix up your URL if you have to because this is crucial to SEO success.

3. No Keyword in Title Tag
I cannot count the number of pages I've seen that don't have their target keyword in the title tag. Just in case you're not aware, the title tag is what appears at the top of your browser when you're on a webpage. This is the one mistake I see the most because it is so obvious when I visit a webpage. It's surprising how many home pages of websites have the word "Home" in their title tags. You MUST have the target keyword in your title tag because it will make a huge difference to your SEO efforts. This is certainly one of the top 10 SEO mistakes out there today.

4. Bad Use of Meta Description and Meta Keywords
The most common mistake regarding meta description is people not using it at all. Just in case you weren't aware, the meta description is a short description which is used to describe your website in search engine result listings. You should use it to encourage people to visit your website when they find you on the search engines. It also doesn't hurt to have your target keyword there.

Regarding meta keywords, the most common mistake people commit is putting too many keywords there. You should limit yourself to a maximum of 5 to 8 keywords because putting more will only get you punished by the search engines for keyword spamming.

5. Bad Keyword Density
Unfortunately, many people are still committing this grave SEO mistake. Some are mentioning their target keyword as much as possible on their webpage to try and get it to rank highly. It used to work in the early days on the Web when engines were not intelligent, but these days it can only result in your websites getting penalized or even banned.

On the other hand, there are also people who do not use their keyword enough on their webpages. This is equally bad because it means that the search engines have no idea as to what keyword your webpage is trying to rank highly for.

The goal should be a keyword density of 3% which is not too much and just enough for good SEO.

Off Page SEO Mistakes

This section refers to SEO mistakes made outside your website, but which hamper your website's ability to rank highly on the search engines.

6. Bad Keyword Research

Keyword research is the basis for SEO success. If you target keywords with a high level of competition, then your ability to rank highly and get traffic will be diminished in the short term. On the other hand, you should not simply target keywords because of low competition because there may not be enough people searching for that keyword. It's all about finding a balance between the number of searches and the number of websites competing for that keyword. Using tools such as the Google Keyword Tool can help you achieve that objective.

7. No Keyword in Anchor Text

Off page SEO is all about building backlinks aka links back to your website. Nevertheless, while doing that, most people forget to put their keywords in the anchor text of the backlink. For example, if "computer repairs" was the primary keyword of your website, then you want to be sure that computer repairs is in the anchor text, just like in the following:

"Visit the best computer repairs service in town."

Please note that the above is just an example.

This must be one of the most simple top 10 SEO mistakes committed today.

8. No Anchor Text Variety
While it's great to use your target keyword in the anchor text of your backlinks, you must also mix and match with other keywords. In other words, if you use the same keywords in the anchor text of 100 links, then the search engines will regard this as suspicious and will penalize your website. For this reason, you should find about 5 other related keywords and use them in your anchor text too. The greater the variety, the better your SEO results will be.

9. No Link Source Variety
There are plenty of ways to get backlinks. One of the top 10 SEO mistakes committed, however, is using only a minimal number of link sources. For example, some people simply use article marketing to get their backlinks. Others just use social media. You need to be using a variety of sources to get your backlinks. The reason why this is the case is that the more sources you utilize, the more natural the backlinks will appear to the search engines, and the higher your site will rank.

10. No Natural Build Up of Links
Building on the previous mistake, you have to make sure that the number of backlinks your website gets takes place in a natural, human-like manner. For instance, getting 300 links in just a single week will certainly grab the attention of the search engines and as a result, they will punish your website accordingly. However, if you get 300 links over the course of a month, then that will appear to be more natural and they will more likely than not reward you.

Fix Them and Then Avoid Them

I suggest that you go through all of your websites and see whether they are committing the SEO mistakes covered in this post. After correcting them, it's all about avoiding these common SEO mistakes so that your websites get the rankings and traffic they deserve.
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