Traffic: Search Engine Optimization – SEO

Wed, Apr 15, 2009

Testing / Optimization, Traffic

Today’s article is about search engine optimization (SEO), which is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.

As with linkbuilding, strong content is the best place to begin with SEO. However, one of the biggest challenges with the SEO approach is finding a content balance that satisfies both the visitors to the Web Page and the search engine spiders. It is generally considered best to start with good content and then tweak it to be more spider-attractive, rather than starting with a spiderbaiting spamtrap and trying to make it look more human-attractive.

Optimize text for search rankings

The following basic rules apply to optimizing on-page text for search rankings:

• Make the primary term/phrase prominent in the document
Measurements like keyword density are useless, but general frequency can help rankings.

• Make the text on-topic and high quality
Search engines use sophisticated lexical analysis to help find quality pages, as well as teams of researchers identifying common elements in high quality writing. Thus, great writing can provide benefits to rankings, as well as visitors.

• Use an optimized document structure
Best practice is generally to follow a journalistic format wherein the document starts with a description of the content, then flows from broad discussion of the subject to narrow.In addition to increasing the SEO value of your document, this approach will provide a readable and engaging informational document.

• Keep text together
Many folks in the SEO world recommend using CSS rather than table layouts in order to keep the text flow of the document together and prevent the breaking up of text via coding. This can also be achieved with tables – simply make sure that text sections (content, ads, navigation, etc.) flow together inside a single table or row and don’t have too many “nested” tables that might result in the breaking up of sentences and paragraphs.

• Research keywords relating to your content
Keyword research is critical to the process of SEO. Without this component, your efforts to rank well in the major search engines may be misdirected to the wrong terms and phrases, resulting in rankings that no one will ever see.

Researching keywords involves several phases:

a. Brainstorming
Thinking of what your customers/potential visitors would be likely to type in to search engines in an attempt to find the information/services your site offers (including alternate spellings, wordings, synonyms, etc).

b. Surveying Customers
Surveying past or potential customers is a great way to expand your keyword list to include as many terms and phrases as possible. It can also give you a good idea of what’s likely to be the biggest traffic drivers and produce the highest conversion rates. If you’re already receiving search engine traffic, you can examine your log files to determine which terms people are currently using to find your site.

c. Applying Data from Keyword Research Tools
Several tools online (including Wordtracker & the Google Keyword Tool) offer information about the number of times users perform specific searches, or estimates of how often they might be likely to. Using these tools along with ones like Google Trends can offer concrete data about trends in keyword selection.

d. Term Selection
The next step is to create a matrix or chart that analyzes the terms you believe are valuable and compares traffic, relevancy, and the likelihood of conversions for each. This will allow you to make the best informed decisions about which terms to target. SEOmoz’s KW Difficulty Tool can also aid in choosing terms that will be achievable for the site.

• Performance Testing and Analytics
It’s very important to test your SEO ideas and changes. See our e-Book on Optimizing for more information.

• Title & H1 are the most important tags.
Also be sure to include keywords in the title, meta tags, headers, alt tags, and text of your Web pages.

• Use important keywords throughout the Web page
Particularly at the top. However, don’t use any given keyword too many times, lest some search engine spiders think you are simply keyword stuffing, and flag your page as spam.

• Links are helpful, but it is important to concentrate on relevant links.

• Link farming and keyword stuffing are not strategies for long-term success.


Make links easy for the spiders to read/follow.

Spiders can have problems with:

• URLs with 2+ dynamic parameters
i.e. http://www.url.com/page.php?id=4&CK=34rr&User=%Tom%
Spiders may be reluctant to crawl complex URLs like this because they often result in errors with non-human visitors.

• Pages with more than 100 unique links to other pages on the site (spiders may not follow each one)

• Pages buried more than 3 clicks/links from the home page of a website

• Pages requiring a “Session ID” or Cookie to enable navigation
Spiders may not be able to retain these elements as a browser user can.

• Pages that are split into “frames” can hinder crawling and cause confusion about which pages to rank in the results.

• Use an SEO “cheat sheet” when developing websites. This one is good.

• If you get overwhelmed you always have the option of bringing in experts to assist you.

Hope you enjoyed our introduction to Search Engine Optimization, do you have any experiences with SEO that you’d like to share? Please do!

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15 Responses to “Traffic: Search Engine Optimization – SEO”

  1. Meeting rooms Says:

    Great tips, I have found using complex URL can be really bad for the spiders to crawl. Thanks

    Reply

  2. Tom9 Says:

    yeah I found with blogs you have to make sure you always do permalinks and make sure you have a sitemap too…

    Reply

  3. Ships Says:

    Good tips really. I had never thought about some of the things you wrote – URLs with 2+ dynamic parameters and some others. I just not use them, but the best SEO tip is unique content and updates of your content. Google likes websites, which are giving information and have some purpose.
    Google bot became too clever, they may kill us somewhen.

    Reply

  4. lippylou Says:

    that would explain why google only indexed 100 pages of my site… annoying

    Reply

  5. Melody Says:

    There are also some nifty wordpress plugins that help you to streamline and optimize the seo process

    Melody’s last blog post..Logo Design Process for Trudy Thomas

    Reply

  6. Salwa Says:

    Great tips, thanks for the share. I like these types of posts because it can give you a nice refresher course on the basics of getting your content to be well-read and successful.

    Salwa’s last blog post..Traffic Monday: Ways to Increase Traffic

    Reply

  7. Freelance graphic designers Says:

    Wordze is also useful for keyword research – they give you the ability to pull up some stats on the top 10 competitors for a phrase. Oh, and check out the tools on SEOMoz too…

    Reply

  8. Jerry Okorie Says:

    Also great to read your blog. keep it coming.

    Reply

  9. How I Lost Thirty Pounds in Thirty Days Says:

    Hi, interesting post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting. I will definitely be coming back to your site.

    Reply

  10. ANGELA Says:

    I can see that you are putting a lot of time and effort into your blog and detailed articles! I am deeply in love with every single piece of information you post here. Will be back often to read more updates!I just launch a new site Idaho Business Directory and want to learn more about SEO.

    Reply

  11. RichSon Says:

    Thank you. I am Beginner from Thailand.

    I’ll follow your blog every time.

    RichSon’s last blog post..Finger Pulse Oximeter Octive Tech 300C with Easy-Carry Soft Case

    Reply

  12. Daughtry Says:

    If your website is being used to promote and sell products or services, SEO can help by improving a site’s ability to sell more. Thanks for the informative post. I’ve learned from it.

    Reply

  13. conners Says:

    this is a very in depth post and it has taught me a lot on how i can improve my site/blog, thanks i hope to read more posts in time
    .-= conners´s last blog ..SERP – Trust Me its Way More then Kewords =-.

    Reply

  14. Noah | Internet Marketing Blog Says:

    I’d think most people these days, both in SEO and out of it would recommend using CSS for pretty much everything, not just table layouts. ;)
    .-= Noah | Internet Marketing Blog´s last blog ..How To Grow Your Cash Flow Leveraging the Internet, Part Six. =-.

    Reply

  15. south florida seo Says:

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