By following these steps you will see that most closely
guarded secret-- the search algorithm. Remember the
movie "The Matrix?" The Matrix is there, you
just can't see it. So is the search algorithm.
It's easy to pay a Search Engine Optimizer to give
your pages some ranking power. Unfortunately, given
the inherent time factor involved in climbing the ranks,
your money may be long gone before you know if you've
spent your money well.
THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL
Forget any advertisement you see for instant number
one search results or automated this or that. Most are
scams, and the ones that aren't might get you positioned,
but it will be very short lived.
Search engine optimization is an ongoing process. Achieving
and maintaining a high rank, especially on highly competitive
keywords, requires constant maintenance. If you do find
a legitimate SEO firm, it is well worth the money to
pay their monthly maintenance fee and let them continue
to help you after the initial project. At least for
6 months or a year as you establish yourself.
In this article we'll look at some of the intricate
and complex tasks of optimizing a page for long term
ranking power. You will learn how to read between the
code and the content to find what is necessary to bring
you to the top. Being number one is easy to say, but
is quickly overwhelming when you stare at tens of thousands
of pages you want to out rank. So how do you begin?
The starting line on the road to that first page SERP
(search engine results page) ranking is not as blurry
as you might think. In fact, you can uncover the starting
line, the route, and all the scenery along the way to
the finish line without knowing the search engine algorithm.
STEP 1- YOUR KEYWORDS ARE THE CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT
OF GRUELLING DAYS OF WORK
If you have investments in the stock market you know
how much research and thought goes into choosing those
securities. Now take that same effort and multiply it
by three. That's how much planning and revision your
keywords should take.
A simple, broad key phrase like "shoes" could
hypothetically bring you up in a countless stream of
different searches. Women's shoes, baby shoes, sneakers,
high heels, etc. If somehow you manage to settle into
a good ranking (which would be difficult) you would
have more traffic on your site than you could handle.
But traffic is worthless is it doesn't get to it's destination.
Chances are, you weren't that destination.
Your keywords must be focused and precise, specific
to what you are selling. Using a key phrase like "Gucci
mens black leather loafer" will bring a targeted
lead to your site. You may not reach as many people
as the more generalized keyword, but the people that
do come to you have a much deeper interest in the specific
product you are selling.
Therefore you have much greater chance of converting
that targeted lead to a sale. Your keywords are your
magic beans, your winning lotto numbers, your energizer
bunnies, your sales force, whatever you want to call
them. They must be perfect.
STEP 2- WANT TO BE NUMBER ONE? LOOK AT WHO ALREADY
Competition Analysis- no SEO book can give you this
Now take your keyword list and type them into a search
engine. Who comes up in the first ten results? That
company that is number one is because they have most
closely matched what the search engine algorithm says
should be number one. You can learn a great deal from
A. INTERNAL FACTORS
Take that number one page, and the other top 9 pages
and study them, look at the code, break them down. You
are looking at the first half of what is needed to rank
in the top 10 pages for your key phrases on that particular
search engine. The list of what to look for is enormous.
Studying the Internal Factors on a page is taking it
apart to see how it's put together. Not how it works,
but statistical research into the precise construct
and layout of keywords and phrases in relation to each
other within the page.
Start with these areas:
URL address, Page Title, Meta description, Meta Keywords,
First sentence on the page, Body copy, Bold or Emphasized
Phrases, H1 or other tags, Alt Tags, Navigation system
In each of those sections, look at:
Keyword densities- the number of times your phrase
and each word in your phrase appears compared to the
text around it
Where and in how many times the same phrase and words
appear in different sections
The word and character position of each phrase in each
The total number of characters
The total number of words
The quality and thought of the content
Beginning with these comparisons should keep you quite
busy for a while. A spreadsheet is quite useful. Some
commercial products are also available that can make
this daunting task much more feasible. Keep looking
for other patterns and differences. You want to duplicate
them in your own page. NOT copy and steal. You want
to mimic the patterns that are bringing that page to
the position it is. Then move onto to examining the
external factors of these pages.
B. EXTERNAL FACTORS
External factors of a web page deal with the links
to, from and within a web page, both inside the same
site, and out into the web. This analysis usually takes
more time because it involves more dissection of pages
beyond the one you're trying to optimize.
In this analysis as with Internal Factors, you want
to compare and contrast your page versus the top 10
competitors, find similarities and differences. Here
is a list of criteria to get you started.
Number of internal (to the same site) on that page
Number of external links
Number of links pointing TO that page* (see below for
The link/anchor text- which keywords are used and where
Google Page Rank value of incoming links
Alexa Rank of incoming links
*To get a listing of the links that point to a site,
type the following into Google, MSN and Yahoo searches:
"link:www.domainname.com". Google tends to
only show a small portion of the links back, but MSN
and Yahoo will give you much more pertinent data.
Now you want to compare the content on each of these
pages to the one they point to. Is it of similar theme,
in what context does the link back appear and where.
Subject of much debate, the consensus is that Google
Page Rank does not mean what it used to. However, if
it is in some fashion a measure of how significant or
"important" a site is, it is worth looking
more closely at the sites that link back that are of
high page rank.
EVEN A SURGEON USES TOOLS
Now, this is definitely a ton of work to do all by
hand. There are software programs that can help do some
of the digging and mathematical computations for you,
figuring out densities and organizing information.
Tools like this are definitely ones a professional
SEO will have in their arsenal. But remember, these
are tools, not miracle workers. It takes a human being
to evaluate and realize connections, similarities, draw
conclusions and interpret the data. Then, you have to
extrapolate this data.
Remember, you want to do one better than every site
you just examined. To do that you have to draw some
conclusions and make some educated guesses and link
to even better sites.
You have access to the inner workings of every page
that you want to beat. Learn from them and do one better.
This process is not a one-time shot. It is ongoing.
Check your key phrases every week. Do the same people
still rank in the top ten?
Some have probably moved. Remember too that they're
going to adapt to maintain their positions too. If you
want the ranks, you have to spend the time, and not
just once, or pay someone to do it for you.
Don't ever believe anyone who says they can guarantee
any kind of results. And ask them how they will optimize
your pages. If they explain to you something like the
above, then you've probably got yourself someone experienced
and honest. You money will be well spent and you'll
quickly recover it.
About the author:
John Krycek is the owner and creative director of http://www.theMouseworks.ca
web design in Toronto. Learn more about search engine
optimization and internet marketing in easy, non-technical,
up front English!