June 22, 2010
The internet seems to be abuzz with new buzzwords and catch phrases every day. Initially, it was all about chat, IRC and newsgroups; then came Google; and now, we hear of the term Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) almost everywhere. To the uninitiated, this seems to be a mere online epidemic. Magazines talk of websites using the best SEO techniques, and so many businesses have sprung up to offer professional SEO. It is generally agreed that without SEO, your website has far less chance of being discovered.
But what does all this mean? What is SEO, and why should it affect anyone in any way at all? How can it benefit real estate investors and small business owners? And if it works, how can it benefit you, even if you have very little technical knowledge?
These are all excellent questions to ask, and that is why this article will serve as a quick and short introduction to the world of SEO.
As we have already discussed, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and in basic terminology, consists of techniques and practices to improve the website in such a way that it ends up having a higher internet ranking and gets seen and visited more often. But of course web site is not the only factor. Another factor is external to the site, such as the number of quality links from other sites to yours. Surely, this definition doesn’t do a lot to help understand SEO, but it will all become clear in the subsequent sections.
Need for SEO
SEO came to be because of search engines. Since search engines are now a raging phenomenon, the need for SEO has become more pronounced. The turning point was Google’s revolutionary ‘page rank algorithm’ into the searching matrix, and the world was never the same again. To view your own web site’s page rank score, visit this useful site from PRChecker. Websites had to compete not only in terms of relevance, but also in terms of what other important websites were saying about them. All this led to immense competition, and someone finally came up with a solution everyone was happy with– SEO.
What exactly is SEO?
Now that we have understood the need for SEO, let’s turn our attention to the process of SEO, and how it actually accomplishes the task of improving page rankings.
SEO depends on several factors such as:
- Search engines – If you want to improve your website ranking, it is very important that you understand how various search engines work. Contrary to what meets the eye, search engines are not just web pages with text boxes and dandy buttons; rather, they are enormously complicated pieces of software that use algorithms so complex that we mortals would take months to understand the same. At the same time, no two search engines work in a similar manner, and optimization for Google would be very different from, let’s say, Bing.com. The most important search engines are Google, Yahoo, Bing, AOL, and Ask.com. Among these major search engines, Google dominates with over 70% of searches worldwide (2010 figure).
- Keywords – A keyword is the most important element in any online search. Most keywords tend to be nouns, and by focusing on common keywords and including them in your web page, you improve your chances of high visibility. However, one needs to be careful about using them: if your keyword usage is too sparse, it will be ineffective; if your usage is too dense, it may produce content that is hard to distinguish from the crowd. The placement of your keywords is also of great importance; note that keywords placed in links or files will have more value. To get some ideas about the use of keywords, visit Google AdWords site and then select “Get keyword ideas”.
- Links – Almost all search engines pay attention to the linking, and you can benefit greatly by being selective in this area. It is important to gauge how many websites refer to you, and also how popular these websites tend to be. Your usage of links and anchor text can then be rightly exploited. However, be informed that this is not the silver bullet of SEO – search engines keep track of link farming, and punish too many link exchanges heavily. Therefore, one has to be very smart and selective in this regard. You should also be careful to maintain a balance between your inbound and outbound links, as this is scrutinized very heavily by search engines. To find out how many sites link to your site, check the tool at Alexa.
- Content – Hiring the best SEO expert in the world will take you nowhere if your content is not engaging, so make sure your website is not lacking in quality. Most people will return back to your site only if your content is of highest quality. Similarly, most people will refer others to your site if your site has a useful content for your prospects.
Let me give you an example. One of my many sites is Harvard Hosting. It has been ranked very good using some keywords and not so great using others. My focus therefore is to pay attention to only those keywords that are searched for by my targeted audience. This could be a local audience (e.g. Los Angeles) or global. Also it could be based on attracting only certain people from certain demographics. The question I usually ask myself is – am I trying to attract an attorney, a doctor, an established business or a new start-up venture. Then I choose keywords that help me with ranking for that niche audience.
To get started, you should focus on Google, Yahoo and Bing, even though there are many others. Also remember that based on your niche, you can take advantage of more specialized search sites such as business.com that tend to cater to business-to-business audience.
Then focus on these important steps:
- Find the targeted phrases and keywords
- Make sure search engines know about your site
- Hire a great copywriter who knows SEO
- Attract quality inbound links from other relevant sites
- Add the right metadata to your site (e.g. title tag)
- See what is working and what is not! Check the site statistics.
- Never stop working on search engine optimization
To learn more about SEO, visit these legitimate sites:
Understand that SEO is not about advertising; it is serious work that demands persistence and application. Only then are the rewards yours for keeping. If you are an investor or small business owner, you owe it to yourself to do what is needed to rank high when your prospects look for your products or services online.
Koz Khosravani is an Internet expert, an Information Technology lecturer, and a national speaker who has shared the stage with The President of the United States, Donald Trump, Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield and many other top speakers. Koz is the president of the firm, Web 2.0 Marketing Systems LLC with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He is available to offer IT consulting and training. http://www.Web2MarketingSystems.com