Are profitable, top search ranks possible without the help of an experienced search engine optimization company?
Can a software package or online miracle site touting testimonials and grandeur guarantees of success elevate your online presence enough to really increase sales?
Unfortunately, unless the software or miracle website were able to research your market, find hidden niches within it, author intriguing, creative, relevant and keyword laden content, house it in a framework that meshes precisely with that content, dissect and analyze your ranking competition and apply that statistical data within the afore mentioned tasks, you'll be using that money back guarantee.
The same goes of number one rank promises for a keyword for $49. Now I'm not suggesting a claim like that is bogus or false advertising. But, ask if that keyword or phrase has actually had more than one search somewhere in the world in the past month. Or to shake them, insist your keyword phrase they must bring to the number one spot is "online casino.
IS THERE INEXPENSIVE HELP THAT WORKS?
Is there a working alternative for smaller businesses and sites that can't budget pro SEO right now? There are techniques that would give your site a chance of rising higher in the ranks. You'll find countless articles and instructions online and in bookstores about general things you can do to your site to improve it's online presence.
While helpful and usually accurate, blindly applying techniques to your site without some further knowledge of your own site, your competition, and your online market will hinder your efforts.
With some real world, current analysis of YOUR individual situation at your disposal, you can greatly improve your efforts with even the smallest copy, title or content adjustment. It is going to require some work on your part, no matter what do-it-yourself tactics you employ.
HOWEVER, there are tools and analysis reports available to you that can give you a towering leap for the do-it-yourselfer. Some plain English comparisons of your page vs. the top 10 ranking pages in a particular engine for a particular keyword phrase will define dozens of parameters to begin your do - it -yourself optimization.
How many links do you need, are there better keywords you should choose, and then what do you do with all this information once you have it? Comparisons and analysis of your site and your competitors are usually presented in an easy to understand format and reveal patterns and collected intelligence that can help you re-write and revise your content and page layout and begin your SEO efforts a lap ahead of everyone else.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
You must remember, legitimate, professional search engine optimizers are immersed in their field and are educated with experience. The time, knowledge, talent and effort that you get with a pro is worth every penny.
A professional SEO's approach involves research of your market, competition and many times a significant renovation of your existing site from code to content. The in-depth detail and deep analysis, content development, link and page structure requires a significant amount of time, experience, and a lot of hand work.
In other words, if you want to feel better and improve your self image, you don't have to pay a doctor to tell you that eating healthy, taking a vitamin and regular exercise will make a marked improvement in your well being.
If you want the large scale, lasting and radical change a facelift can give you, you must pay a plastic surgeon for his education, experience and talent.
Don't forget to use some common sense when looking at your market. If you think you're going to rank for a highly competitive keyword that has several well known companies at the top without the aid of a professional, you'll probably end up disheartened.
Achieving first page ranks for competitive keywords in a saturated market is a mammoth task, and at the very least would require a full time effort by an experienced firm with resources to take on such a challenge. Don't be discouraged; with some brainstorming you can think of some related, less competitive keywords and niche markets to target.
HOW A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE CAN GO A LONG WAY
Some very simple copy adjustments in the right place can go a long way on less competitive sites. Let's look at a few easy changes anyone can make.
The page title, the words that display in the top of your web window, is one of the most crucial elements on the page as far as the search engines go. When you do a search for something what do you type in the search field? Unless it's a company's specific name, you type in a keyword or key phrase like "mens cross training air sneakers".
A very common mistake is to put your company name in the page title. Sometimes it's appropriate, but for ranking purposes, use a concise description of your page with a prime keyword from that page.
Bonus Hint- Start your first sentence with that same keyword!
You'll surely find as many opinions about content as there are about politics. Take away the extremes and you'll find the meat is the same. To increase your rank, you have to have searchable content, and it must be quality. What is quality? More importantly, what do the search engines think is quality?
The answers depend on your site and position on the internet. However, all quality content shares some characteristics.
It's useful information about your products or service. Don't throw random free, generic, carbon copied stuff from the web onto your site. Use some thought and creativity. Build copy around different aspects of your target.
LOOK FROM A NEW PERSPECTIVE
If you have a site about restoring classic cars, make a page about the evolution of headlights over the decades. Add another page about how and where to find hard to find classic parts.
Content should be:
Easy to follow- and well written for a human reader, not a search engine.
Unique- write it yourself or hire a writer.
Varied- Don't fill your page with the same keyword repeatedly or you risk being considered spam. Examine the keyword densities of your keyword in the top 10 listings it returns in a particular engine. Stay within that number.
Take a few more evenings or weekends and improve your ranks by doing some research and digging, and applying that invaluable knowledge strategically to your web site.
KINDS OF SEO RESEARCH you can do to win
There are SEO companies online who offer various reports that can save you a lot of the legwork. Even the simplest of tasks can be too time consuming when you need to focus on editing your pages. For example, finding your current rank, if any, in all of the major engines for all of the keywords you want to rank could take a day on your own. Some other types of reports available are:
A list of keywords you or I might make sitting down with a pencil and paper is a good start. The important word here is "start". That list is dozens of revisions away from completion. It will expand and contract many times as further information is gathered.
Are your words focused and targeted enough so you'll attract qualified leads? Are there related words and phrases that you haven't thought of? What words does your competition have throughout their pages? And most importantly, are the words you've chosen actually being typed into search engines?
You can find many different levels of keyword services from simple analysis of your existing pages to research and development of an entire list ready for use in your pages, Adwords or PPC campaigns.
Who is ranking now? Who is in the positions where you want to be? Examine your competition's pages with a microscope. An Understanding of those you want to outrank gives you a working outline to revise your own. (Do NOT copy their content.) Focus on trends, keywords, densities, titles, page elements... their pages, structures and their links.
On Page Optimization-
A report like this analyzes the words in the elements on your page like titles and boldface or headings as well as your body copy, and link text. It also tells you information about keyword density. Earlier I mentioned that using a keyword too many times on a page could be considered spam. An analysis like this will show how many times each word, word pairs and groups of words were used on a page and what percentage of all the words they are.
A report on a high ranking competitor's site will give you some insight into a page that is successfully ranking for keywords you want.
Off Page or Link Reports-
As soon as you start learning about search engine optimization, you'll understand what a key role good quality links play in determining rank. These types of analysis will show who is linking to you, or even better, who is linking to a ranking competitor. You can get some ideas of sites to list with and an approximate number of links of a particular quality that you'll need to rank.
TAKE SOME ACTION- a few well researched changes can give you a boost
If ranking and online presence are crucial, then find a respected, recommended and experienced search engine optimization professional. The same logic that tells you to go to the doctor when aspirin doesn't do the applies to this situation.
If budget is constricting, your keywords have little competition, or you'd like to improve your presence to the best it can be without employing a professional then you'd be surprised what a little knowledge and time can do for your ranking. Applying the same techniques every few weeks and keeping your site fresh will put you a level even higher above the rest.
Remember, many variables and factors are considered and given varying weights by different engines to determine where you rank. A brand new site, no matter how optimized it is usually doesn't show any rank in Google until it miraculously appears about a year later. Older sites of more than a few years often take the top ranks for competitive words.
Don't be discouraged. The simple SEO methods you read about online or in publications can give your site a stronger presence, but will achieve far better results for you if you employ some smaller, budget based intelligence and research.
About The Author
John Krycek is a SEO and Creative Director at theMouseworks.ca. Learn more about SEO reports available to you, search engine optimization, internet marketing, web development and graphic design in easy, non-technical, up front English at www.themouseworks.ca.