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January 30, 2009

Build Authority Before Links

Rome was not built in a day, neither was a top ranking using SEO. Each keyword has a threshold that search engines and the competition have set, finding it and surpassing that mark is the true objective of search engine optimization.

Just like climbing Mount Everest (conquering a competitive keyword), takes planning, preparation and execution. One of the common misconceptions about search engine optimization is that once you acquire the most competitive keyword in your industry the floodgates will open and your job marketing your product or service is done.

Nothing is farther from the truth, sure SEO can generate hordes of traffic, but unless the fundamental click-triggers are in place, a strong value proposition exists or if your presentation just doesn’t make the grade, there is no loyalty from would be visitors perusing your content, only the back button.

The premise is simple, appear for as many relevant keywords as possible that funnel visitors to the underlying conversion objective.

The Solution, Focus on Market Share, Not Keywords.

Instead of assuming that traffic will use a specific phrase, why waste time and energy targeting the most competitive phrases out of the gate. Sure, you can build relevance toward them by focusing on less competitive keywords to cut your teeth, but in reality putting your eggs in one basket is never the best idea for business.

Let’s face it, traffic is fickle, what is great for one user is rubbish to another, since search behavior is often determined by the mood of the individual, I think therefore I am (hence communicate their queries differently).

If your content is somber and they are playful, if your pages are bold and daring and they are searching for direct and to-the-point information then ultimately you will lose the opportunity to connect with your visitor right then and there.

Through carefully sculpting the peaks and valleys of your content, you can essentially acquire unintentional optimization from the way you structure your website. Instead of deliberately trying to force a point, just acquire an authoritative position through paying your dues (one page at a time) until you cross the tipping point.

Manage this using keywords within your reach and you can add a stable base of traffic to your website while building the most valuable asset possible (website authority).

Create Topical Content to Promote Keyword Stemming

For those unfamiliar with the term, keyword stemming is a phenomenon where enough synonyms and related phrases are detected on your page or your site (which is essentially a bag of words to search engines).

Then based on those relationships between words, pages, links, the proximity and context of link prominence, topical link weight, and shingle analysis in addition to off page factors; search engines then assess and grade the degree of relevance your page has for a specific range of queries.

Would You Rather Set the Trend or Try to Follow it?

You can put the same content on two different sites and one will rank distinctly different than the other based on less obvious factors. So, what is that factor? The value of trust rank and authority, the site with more trust will overpower the lesser site as well as rank for more of the key terms with less effort. Trust is based on exposure, engagement, chronology and reputation.

Would you rather be the site that creates rankings merely by simply choosing to write about a topic or the site chasing after rankings attempting to leverage links, social media and any means necessary to eek your way to the top of search engines? Obviously the first option is more appealing and should be the goal.

In this instance, the logical thing to do is to focus on a topical content development strategy engaged over time (blogging about your topic).

Develop Topical Relevance

Instead of just talking about random topics, straying off topic for weeks on end or just using the occasional blurb to spurt out something on your RSS feed. Really consider the power of leveraging your content for every word its worth.

A well written post can accomplish more than 100 links from mediocre sites, just as one link from a site with authority or ranking in the top 10 can pull your page right next to it. Realize that each word can support another page in addition to itself to accomplish similar ranking goals.

You always hear people talking about optimizing this and optimizing that, but what does it really mean?
Take away the fluff and quite simply it means:

  1. Start with a topic you love or can write freely about (or pay others to if you can’t).
  2. Optimize a template/theme so that the title integrates the keyword (short and sweet works better that 10 word titles), the template should integrate the title the H1 tag with keywords (like a blog) and you have the ability to tag the content.
  3. Then try to repeat the keyword or key phrase at least 2-3 times in “exact match” form throughout the page. Ideally, the keyword should appear in the first 25 words, in the middle of the document and also near the end (to create continuity for search engines).
  4. If an opportunity exists to link to (a) the homepage with keyword rich anchor text (b) to another page with the keyword it is optimized for (such as what is in its title or tags or (c) or link out to a valuable resource (to score you points with search engines for being a hub site), then do so.
  5. From there, it’s all about timing, volume and frequency. The more content you write about a topic, the more website authority you acquire for those respective keywords.

If you don’t have years for your site to age and gain authority the old fashioned way (one page and one link at a time). How you link to yourself, what keyword you use, how frequently and how others link to you are what sculpt the signals of search and why your content ranks, but you still have to have enough content to be a contender against the other 999 pages duking it out behind the scenes for each keyword.

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.