Some Top Tips from the Best SEO's...

by Michael Biehn

Know what you want to be found for. You should know the top two or three terms that are most important to your Web site and have incorporated them into a 25-word description that doesn't use marketing hype, which can then be submitted to human powered directories.

You should also know a list of the top 10 to 100 terms you'd like to be found for and ensure that you have pages within your Web site with good, solid content for these terms to please the crawlers.

Don't make the mistake of picking the wrong keywords. Nothing is more disappointing than taking the time to achieve top rankings and then seeing no increase in traffic from all your efforts.

Also, don't pick keywords that are too popular or broad like "games" or "entertainment." You'll not only get visitors that are far less likely to buy your product, but the amount of work needed to gain that ranking will not be worth the trouble.

Research your search phrases. If you can, also check your referrer logs or other traffic tracking program to help you. If you don't have referrer logs, install a traffic tracking program such as Web Trends Live on your site and let it gather stats for you for a couple of months before you decide on your search phrases.

Check your rankings for the search phrases that you researched from WordTracker, or other search phrase research tools, as well as those from your traffic tracking program or referrer logs. I suggest this because you may find that you are already doing fairly well with some phrases and you may not want to mess with those.

Build focused pages around "real world" queries. Use phrases exactly how they are typed into a search engine, such as "How can I" and "Where can I." You will notice that sites with FAQ pages like this can end up garnering an awful lot of top placements and traffic.

Searching for the key phrase in Yahoo and noting the Yahoo Categories returned can suggest key themes and words useful to the site for optimization as well as showing the quantity and quality of the competition.

I like to thoroughly explore all possibilities when researching keyword phrases. I like to think of keyword phrases as "fuel" for specific topics. After much study using a resource like WordTracker, I like to identify several "high performance" keyword phrases.

Learn to develop topical content with a unique spin on it, always keeping the visitors in mind. Focus should not just be on how to get tons of general traffic to a page.

Use page optimization strategies to create useful pages with content that is "in demand" by a target audience. When you start thinking this way, it has a wonderful compound effect on making actual sales or achieving your site objectives.

Isn't this why you started a Web site in the first place? Check log files for user country location and most often used keywords in search engine search.

This may demonstrate the need to offer the site in another language (or to provide a link to Alta Vista's Babelfish or the Lycos equivalent) if there are a lot of hits from another country.

Knowing the keywords used to arrive at the site helps to decide on variations and changes to the site theme.

Did you know that the KEI Factor used in WordTracker is an excellent guideline to follow? According to WordTracker, an excellent keyword phrase has a KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index) of 400+.

Are you having trouble finding appropriate phrases with high KEI factors? Try using one single word (appropriate for your site) in the "comprehensive search" feature.

I very often extract excellent phrases with a KEI level well into the thousands or even into the hundreds of thousands. Always ensure that the search phrases you select are solidly related to site content.

Link Popularity

Submit to link popularity-based engines LAST after you have had a chance to build your inbound and outbound links up. Examine your internal link structure carefully.

Even for large Web sites, to the extent that it is possible, you want every Web page linking to every other page. Complex linking structures will work to your disadvantage.

Build links. Search for the top terms you want to be found for. Review the sites that come up. Visit those sites and ask the non-competitive ones if they'll swap links with you.

These sites are important because the search engines themselves are telling you they are important, by ranking them highly. That means links from them can help you in link analysis systems. It also means that if these sites get visitors, you may get visitors who follow links out of them.

Develop your inbound link popularity the old fashioned way, one link at a time. An investment of just 10 minutes per day to this with a personalized e-mail to Web site owners of similar and significant sites will produce immediate results. And you will never have to worry about the risk associated with link popularity programs.

Online Marketing

Generate lots of fresh, useful content. Keep your blatant marketing activities on economy drive (pardon the pun), be subtle about your promotion. People will notice, and will favor, less dumb hysteria, more openness, and honesty.

Admit to mistakes if you make them (as you're bound to), but don't cringe and don't give the impression of reacting self-assertive or self-deprecating for the heck of it.

If you can, issue a newsletter of your own. Never mind if you only have yourself, your wife and your stepmother for subscribers - put it on site and submit it to the engines. They simply adore that sort of all-text stuff!

I hope this helps in your future marketing decisions.