By Intergage Search Marketing Consultant Roan Fair, a Qualified Google AdWords Professional.
Ever played a sport and lost to a weaker opponent you know you could – and should – have beaten?
Maybe your team was overconfident…or maybe your opponents were just really good at getting the basics right.
Getting beaten like this can be very frustrating for companies, especially when it’s on Google or the other major search engines.
You want to be number one but for some reason you’re below some minnow you know isn’t as good as you. Why? How did that happen?
Simple. They got the basics right. They did some fundamental Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and they did it well.
Getting the SEO fundamentals right is vital but it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
Beat 90 Per Cent Of Your Rivals Easily
Ninety per cent companies have not optimised their Web pages. So even a little basic SEO will put you ahead.
Most of it is common sense. Search engines like and reward relevance. The more closely a page matches the searcher’s original search query, the more likely it is to be found.
So when you can include the searcher’s original search keyword in the right places on a page, the higher Google is likely to rank that page.
Finding The Right Keywords
First, you need to find the right keywords. This is absolutely critical.
You need keywords with good search volume – ones your competitors are not using.
Use Google’s Keyword Research Tool to find keywords with high search volume – then search Google for that term.
How many Web pages did that keyword bring up? If the answer is “more than 1 million”, then that’s a search battle you’re unlikely to win. You need a more niche – or ‘longtail’ – keyword.
Compile a list of good, relevant, high search volume, low competition keywords.
This is a basic job you must do well. Your SEO success will depend on it.
Where To Use Your Keywords/Keyphrases
It’s a myth that you need to stuff page with hundreds of keywords. Don’t – it only confuses the search engines.
Instead use one main keyword per page in the following places…
1. Domain name
3. Meta Title
4. Meta Description
5. H1 and H2 tags (headlines and sub-headlines)
6. Main text
7. Alt Tags (image captions)
A powerful place to use a keyword. But what if you sell 1,000 products? You can’t have 1,000 different domain names/Web sites, one for each product, can you?
Well, actually, in a way you can – by using the user’s search term in the Filename – the unique address that search engines use to find pages…
By including the name of your product in the Filename – ie www.example.co.uk/yourproduct.html – then you are giving Google the right address for the information.
Meta Title & Description
Don’t be put off by jargon like ‘Meta’. Every Google listing comprises three main text elements – the Title, the Description and the Filename.
Your search query must be in the Title, the Description below it and in the aforementioned Filename below that.
H1 and H2
H1 and H2 are simply the headings on each page. Make sure your keyword appears in them.
Use your keyword several times in the page text – ideally in the first paragraph, in the middle and at the end. But not in ways that look gratuitous or over-repetitive.
Make your content compelling, give searchers the information they want. It’s only common sense.
This is effectively a type of image caption. Search engines can’t see images. All they see is a black hole on the page. So you have to describe the image with a keyword in the Alt Tag.
These are ultra-important. Google judges pages – giving them what it calls ‘PageRank’ – based on how popular they are.
A good indication of a page’s popularity is how many other Web pages link to it (and how important/popular those pages are).
Google will reward you with better rankings if it sees good one-way links from other Web pages that have higher PageRank than your page.
Do not be tempted to buy links. Search engines can penalise this. Good content and online PR are two good ways to build inbound links from external sites.
Also, you can create internal links yourself from other pages on your Web site. For maximum effect, use the name of the page involved (ie the keyword).
When Will I See Results?
Be patient. It can take up to nine months for search engines to rank a new Web site’s pages. This is known as the ‘Sandbox’ effect.
One answer is to use an existing domain name with proven volume.
Another is to supplement your SEO with Pay Per Click (PPC) online advertising. This can not only get your page to the top of Google’s sponsored rankings immediately, it can also provide valuable SEO data.
After all, you can effectively get free clicks by writing pages based on keywords known to generate plenty of PPC traffic and conversions.
Used together, SEO and PPC are a very powerful combination – but you must get the basics right.
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