Initial Search Engine Optimization Steps

Keyword research can simply be considered doing your homework before starting your business. Keywords are the particular words or phrases that people are typing into the search engines to find the information that they are looking for. Thus, you need to know what people are searching for in order to target your potential customers.

Let’s say you have just developed a website that will be selling door knobs. Do you know what people are typing into the search engines to find websites selling door knobs? You probably have a good idea, but lets do a little research on the keywords for door knobs.

I know there are several websites on the internet which offer keyword tools, but for this article we will be using the free keyword tool offered by WordTracker. Lets open a new window and pull up the WordTracker keyword tool page. You can do that by clicking HERE.

Now in the keyword box, lets type in our obvious keyword “door knob” and click the Hit me button. Right off the bat you will notice that there are almost 3 times the number of people searching for the keyword “door knobs” over the singular version which we typed in as shown in “Figure 1″ below.

Figure 1
Door Knob on WordTracker

Now lets jump over to Google and see how many results we get for these top two keywords. You can open a new window by typing “Ctrl”+”N” at the same time. If we type in the # 1 keyword “Door Knobs” you will see that there are at the time of this writing 1,520,000 results for this keyword. Now let’s type in the keyword “Door Knob” singular. Wow… surprisingly enough there are actually more results for the singular version than the plural with 1,850,000 pages.

Ok.. by targeting the plural version “Door Knobs” we’ve just taken 330,000 competing pages out of the equation. Now granted 1.5 million results for a keyword far from makes it a niche’ market, but hey, 330,000 pages is 330,000 pages, right?

Now what about similar keywords for the same item such as “Door Hardware”. Well if you follow the same steps that we performed above, you will see that WordTracker reports at the time of this writing a search result of 311 which is double of how many people searched for door knobs. You might be tempted to use this keyword instead, but let’s look a little farther down in the results. You will notice that very few people are actually looking for door knobs but what appears to be actual hardware (ie: hinges, etc.). Thus, even if you ranked # 1 on Google for the keyword, it’s not going to convert to sales on a website selling door knobs if the people visiting your site are looking to buy hinges.

Well by now you should be getting the picture on how to do keyword research to find out what your potential customers are searching for, and now you have an idea of what keywords to target in the following section.

 

Domain Name Selection

 

When selecting your domain name for your online store, try to find names that also include your keyword in the name. Though this isn’t neccessary, it does offer a couple of benefits. First, it gives one more keyword that will display in the search engine results. Secondly, when performing backlink or reciprocal linking, there will always be those websites that will not use your chosen anchor text as your link text, but will prefer to just list your websites name as the anchor text. Thus, if you have your keyword in your websites domain name (ie: FranksDoorKnobs.com), you still get the benefit of having your actual keyword in your anchor text. You can read more about anchor text in our “Using Anchor Text in Backlinks” page.

 

Page Title

 

A title tag is a snipet of code that is placed in the section of a websites code along with the meta tags. In my opinion, it is one of the primary things search engines will use to determine your websites content. The title of a website is the bolded text which is displayed on a search engine when searching for something. The non-bolded text below the title is generally what you place in the meta description section of your website. Well… most of the time that is.

Ask anyone about page titles and you will get a million different ideas on how they should be written. Personally, I prefer to keep my individual page titles clean and descriptive of what the page content is actually about. By clean I mean I don’t believe in keyword stuffing a pages title. Much like trying to stuff too many keywords in an anchor text when linking, I believe it dilutes down the main keyword that you are actually targeting.

Thus, instead of having your title resembling something like this:

Try making it look something more like this:

Not only does it look much cleaner, it also hits on your major keyword two separate times. Plus without all the door hardware and exterior door knobs thrown in there, your not having to compete with these other keywords for your page as well. This will help in focusing your site towards the term “Door Knobs”. Which is a good thing if you happen to be selling door knobs.

Ok.. I know this was kinda brief, but I could write a whole book on just title tags alone.

 

Meta Tags

 

Since you’ve probably been dying to throw in the keyword door hardware, you’re fixing to get your chance, because along with the title tag in the section of a websites code, there are also meta tags such as “Keywords” and “Description”. This is where you get to insert those other keywords that you’ve been dying to use.

The meta keywords are just that, additional keywords that search engines see that may offer some insight as to what your websites content is about. Though not so much in Google any more, there are some search engines that still pay attention to the meta keywords.

Here is an example of some meta tags for our door knob website:

The meta keywords are just used by search engines, thus you don’t have to worry about making it overly readable. The meta description on the other hand needs to be not only readable, but also something that will entice your potential customers to visit your site.

 

Website Content

 

The content on your website which includes not only your best sales pitch, but also your product descriptions as well, needs to be well written and littered with your relavent keywords. Don’t misinterpret this to mean you need to keyword stuff your pages content because this can have the opposite effect of what you are trying to accomplish. We will discuss keyword density in another article.

If you are not the writer type, then there are a number of different places where you can enlist the help of professional content writers to assist you in developing your websites content. Do a Google search for “Website Freelancers”.

 

Site Maps

 

A sitemap is a term used to describe a page which list all the important pages on your website. Look at a sitemap as sort of an index of a website. There are two basic types of sitemaps that I will discuss here, the HTML version and the XML version.

 

HTML Sitemaps 

  • An HTML sitemaps is a page which is easily readable by a human which lists all the relavent pages on your website. This page can be pretty basic in design but should offer clickable links to the pages it has listed.

 

XML Sitemaps 

  • An XML sitemap is a structured way of delivering your sitemap to the search engines. Though at this point in time, if you pulled it up an XML sitemap in a browser or Word Document, it would resemble something more along the lines of programming code. XML sitemaps specify neither semantics nor a tag set, thus making it confusing to attempt to read by a human, but ideally suited for use by a search engine.

There are a number of websites which offer Free XML Sitemap creation. One that I have used quite a bit is the free sitemap creator at AuditMyPC.com. It’s pretty straight forward and offers plenty of settings to be able to customize your sitemap to fit your particular needs.

When publishing a website, I always create both HTML and XML sitemaps. The HTML version of the sitemap is generally reachable from a link placed on the websites home page. The XML sitemap does not have a link to it from the website, but is instead submitted to Google manually or automatically if your software is capable of it. By submitting your XML sitemap to Google, your basically telling Google where all the important pages of your website are located at.

 

Back Links

 

Simply put, backlinks are links residing on other websites which link back to a particular page on your own site. Search engines, especially Google, look at backlinks as sort of a way to guage a websites importance. By that I mean, the more websites that link to a particular website, the more important that website must be, right? Well… not so much! There was once a time when backlinks were the way to reach the first page in Google. Back then it was a competition on who could get the most backlinks from basically anyone who would link to your site.

Now days, Google has realized that people were abusing this and is much smarter now in how it regards backlinks and a sites importance. My personal preference is to have a mixture of backlinks from genre’s related websites, as well as links to your site from more authoritative websites.

Article posting is one way to pick up backlinks as well as possibly increase your websites traffic. A well written article posted on some of the dominant article sites such as EZineArticles.com with an anchor text written into the content of the article linking back to your website is an excellent way of gaining good quality backlinks.

Though not impossible, it is much harder to rank for competitive keywords if your website has little or no external links pointing to it.


 

I appologize for not being able to go into more details on each particular subject, but unless you want this article to be a mile long I was forced to just touch on each one of the topics. As always, if you have a specific question you would like us to answer, please feel free to contact us.

Posted by admin on Oct 13th, 2009 and filed under Search Engine Optimization Tips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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