Optimizing to improve search engine ranking is one of the most critical ways to increase website traffic and expose your content, product or service to people who might be interested in what you have to offer.

The major search engines utilize an algorithm to determine where a web page ranks. The search engines look at specific criteria that a page must meet to get to the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). It boils down to the type and amount of content provided on a given page, the level of optimization done on the page and the popularity/authority of the website (link popularity/PageRank). Tailoring your site/pages for improved search engine rankings is also known widely as search engine optimization, or SEO. Here are some first steps to follow:

 

1) Research your keywords. Decide what search queries you want to show up for. I use various SEO tools to estimate the amount of search traffic for various keywords related to a particular niche market. This is an absolutely critical first step, as search engines do NOT create searchers, they route them onto the most relevant pages for a given search term. If your keywords are only searched on 100 times per day on a particular search engine, you can only expect about 40 visitors a day once you have achieved the top spot on page 1 of that SERP. If your business model requires 400 searchers a day, you need to consider supplementing organic traffic with other sources i.e. Adwords, offline advertising, etc.

2) Think outside of the box. Don't just focus on your main keywords. The first thing to realize when targeting keywords is that it is not all about ranking for the most popular keyword. The most successful search engine marketing and optimization campaigns target the most relevant keywords for your niche that you stand a chance on getting onto page 1 for. In competitive niches this will mean initially targeting "long tail" keywords i.e. "Brownsville Texas Mortgage Broker" vs "mortgage broker".

3) Focus on the end user when writing your content. Think about what your target market needs to accomplish their goals and then put it on your site so that they can find it. If you want to be relevant for specific keywords, then you need superior or at least highly competitive content. Write about 225-300 words of copy for each page. In less competitive niches, one can target between 3-5 like keyword phrases per page. For competitive markets, I like to reduce this to one or two key phrases per page.

4) Make sure that the critical or "money" pages of the site have unique title, meta description and meta keyword tags. On less important pages I typically only specify a unique title and don't bother with the description and keyword metas at all. If your site is using the same tags for all the pages, you are losing an opportunity to tell the search engines which pages are important for particular search terms.

5) Keep the structure, navigation and URL structure of your site simple enough for search engines to follow. Remember that search engines cannot parse your navigation if it's using flash or javascript. So try to stay close to standard HTML when it comes to Navigation. This rule of thumb is slowly changing but why take a chance when CSS menus provide interesting functionality while retaining the advantages of a text link?

6) Create a site map that tells people where everything is on your site and register your site on Google Webmaster tools. This won't help your site get indexed but it does provide valuable information on issues that crop up with linking, missing pages, etc once the site HAS been indexed.

7) Build up your popularity. So now you have determined the right keywords on the right pages, you've created all of the necessary content, and you've optimized all of the content to the best of your capabilities. Congratulations - you're now in the top 80th percentile (from an optimization standpoint) of the websites listed for the keywords you're trying to target. As always, the last 20% of the progress to an objective takes 80% of the work. Once you have arrived at this point, in order to get all the way to your goal, which should be the top spot on page 1 of Google, you need to shift your focus onto building links into your "money" pages. There are numerous ways of accomplishing this but the bad news is that they all involve effort, money and consistent activity for as long as you want to rank #1 for a particular keyword phrase on a particular SERP. Google in particular rewards consistent link building over time, so if you start off building 1 link a day, in order to achieve the best positioning, you need to continue building 1 link a day indefinitely. The good news is that you can pay companies to do this for you and I suggest you pick us. Click the big orange button below if interested.

 

If you are interested in understanding what things need to change on your site to attract more visitors, simply click on the button below to request a free site evaluation.

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