Search engine optimization (SEO) is a popular word floating around the online community at the time. What is SEO you might ask? In essence SEO is the process by which you can get your website ranked high in the listings on different search engines. Today in the search engine world, Google is getting about 40% of the searches, Yahoo! is getting 30%, and MSN is getting 10%, with the remaining going to various other search engines.
So what are the benefits of SEO? Imagine being able to reach customers all across the country and possibly the world. If you can get your site to show up in the top five listings in Google, the amount of traffic that will come to your site each day will be astounding. More hits to your website mean more business and more profits. Even if you have to pay a couple grand for the process, the results could be worth it, if your site can convert hits to customers.
When we go to a search engine, we want relevant results for what we are looking for, so search engines have gotten smarter to deliver the results that we want. Because of the increased complexity of the search engines, it has gotten much harder for sites to appear in the top couple pages for a given keyword. No longer can you make a website and just assume that it will appear to everyone like you would hope. You have to go out of the way to drive traffic to your websites. So this problem leaves you with a few solutions:
- Do nothing and hope that your site will be found by Google
- Hire someone to optimize your site for you
- Optimize your site yourself
Well there you have it; those are your three solutions. The solution that is best for you depends on both your time and your abilities. In time, most sites will be found by Google, and if your content is relevant and useful, your site will naturally build links. Many people, however, do not want to wait years until visitors will actually find their site. At the time a majority of people are hiring companies to optimize their sites for them. This solution is quick and can come with guaranteed results, but if your budget is small, you may run into a problem. SEO in most cases will cost you over $1000 because of the amount of time required to produce desired results. So if you are adventurous and not afraid to try something new, you can optimize your page yourself.
Essentially there are three steps to the SEO process, but once you start, the job does not stop. In order the steps are:
Keyword analysis is the first as possibly most important step. This step you build the foundation for your marketing campaign. If you are selling shoes for example, at first thought you would think that you want your site to show up in listings under the term “shoes.” The problem here is that there are 195 million pages competing in Google for the term shoes. The chance of your site being listed on the first page under the keyword shoes is very unlikely. Instead you need to bring very targeted visitors to your website. Not only will this help you convert more hits to customers, but it will also be easier to get a high listing in Google. You want to target your keywords to exactly your business. Let’s say your company sells running shoes; instead of 195 million competitors, there are only 10 million. The idea is to find keywords that are specific to your market and have a competition level that you can match. A useful tool to help you find keywords is the Overture keyword suggestion tool. This tool will generate a large list of keywords related to the keyword you input. If you do not analyze keywords and choose the correct ones, you will never have a chance at being getting a high rank and driving traffic to your website.
The next step of the process is onpage optimization. Onpage optimization is the actual content of your pages that you have written. Once you have found the keywords you want to target, you need to incorporate those words into the text of you page naturally. Keywords should appear at least once for every 1 to 2 paragraphs of text. The big issue here is making it natural. Search engines are smart, and they can pick up on “keyword stuffers,” and your site can be banned for doing this. While onpage optimization is important and a requirement, it is the offpage optimization that will really draw traffic to your website.
Offpage optimization is the heart of the search engine optimization process. This part is commonly referred to as link building. Getting listed high in search engines is mainly due to the number and quality of inbound links coming to your site. Let’s say we have three sites, Site A, B, and C. If sites A and B link to site C, they are in essence saying that page C is a credible site. So the more sites that link to you, the more credibility you establish. Offpage optimization is an ongoing process. As your competition builds more links, you have to build more links yourself to out do your competition. While this is very basic overview of offpage optimization, there is much more to it.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how SEO works, you can make the decision of whether it is worth the money or the time. There are hundreds of different SEO companies you can go to, and hundreds of different SEO tutorials that you can read, but all of them will lead you to the same conclusion. If you really want to drive free traffic to your website, it is going to cost you some time and or some money.