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July 3, 2008

How Do You Know Your SEO Is Working?

How do you know if your SEO is working? Here are five stages outlined below to give you a better idea and measure the results.

It doesn’t matter if you call it Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or any other fancy acronym, what matters are results. Fortunately results are quantitative and measurable so you can deduce which tactics are effective and which are a waste of time.Relevance is a moving target, it is completely molded by the individual referencing the query, which means that positioning relies a great deal on your ability to read the market and forecast trends and buzzwords with traffic attached. Aside from picking keywords, writing content and building links, you need to know which guideposts to assess to determine if your optimization is falling on deaf ears or in fact pulling its own weight.

The bottom line, how do you know your SEO is working?

Stage 1 Post relevance “Exact Match”: Rankings make their debut.

In this stage, your site goes from unknown and starts creeping up in various “exact match” searches for very specific keywords. This is the foundation that denotes that you have in fact done something right to qualify your content for consideration and may “if managed properly” elevate your pages for competitive placement in the future as things settle in.

Stage 2 Search engine result page leverage “The Double Listing”: More than one page appears in the rankings for a search.

The next stage when a double listing is returned in search engines for a particular query indicates that the topical theme of your content has more than one page in available as a relevant result. There is something visually stunning about seeing this phenomenon, not to mention you can increase conversion by 200%.

This can also be toggled through using similar title tags or linking two or more pages together with anchor text / keywords that support the main keywords in the title.

Stage 3 Site Wide Relevance “Keyword Stemming”:

This stage occurs after the initial pages have had a chance to ferment and age and the links and collective link weight of the site start to make their presence known. As page rank becomes more buoyant and starts to move up and throughout the site it finds pages to pool itself for expression (based on link popularity, user engagement). As a result, the page or related pages may start to appear for “broad match” search terms in addition to the more standard narrow search results it was originally intended for.

Instead of appearing in a search result for (keyword) consulting, your site also appears for consultant, service and services, company or companies. The next step is when semantic correlations also make their debut and you start ranking for any variation of the main keywords and modifiers. More on that in the last stage (authority).

Stage 4 The Long Tail Dominates and any keyword can become a returned search result:

This is referred to as unintentional optimization and is usually a matter of off page link building and which terms are in the anchor text pointing at the page. You can easily create this affect by varying your anchor text and linking to specific pages in your site with semantically related keywords in the links. Then they look for on page relevance and the continuity of on page and off page factors produce this effect.

The long-tail of search simply implies broad search terms combined to zero in on relevance instead of a general less specific search. For example 2001 Suzuki TL 1000R for Sale in “my town and state” for example is a long tail search vs. “buy motorcycle” which is a general search query.

The flip side of relevance is, no matter what, there is always someone looking for something, so this can be a pivotal strategy for conversion if wielded properly. Would you rather have 10,000 searches a month from the long tail or 1000 for your main keywords, ideally both together are the goal.

Stage 5 Website Authority – Ranks on its own accord and reinforces itself: A mention of a keyword is enough to create a top 10 ranking.

This is the goal of SEO, website authority, authority goes a long way and can do wonders for traffic, engagement and sales. Authority sites are just sites people enjoy frequenting due to the exchange or fulfillment they receive from the transaction. Not to mention, at this point, other authority sites link to you and vice versa, the old birds of a feather thing.

Example of an authority site, CNN, Oprah, ESPN, you get the drift. Focus on quality and people link to you, when your still trying to figure out ways to get links, go back to basics and shore up your own content and create a worthy resource worth linking to. Then you become less dependent on others for your rankings and can weather the storm if your pages fall out of favor with algorithms due to off page links losing their impact.

Jeffrey Smith is an active internet marketing optimization strategist, consultant and the founder of Seo Design Solutions Seo Company He has actively been involved in internet marketing since 1995 and brings a wealth of collective experiences and fresh marketing strategies to individuals involved in online business.