SEO Expert Guide - Sitewide Optimization (part 4/10)

In parts 1 and 2 you learnt how to develop your online business proposition and how to generate a list of key word ingredients for your site optimization activity. You were also introduced to our mythical Doug (who sells antique doors, door handles, knockers, door bells or pulls and fitting services) in Windsor in the UK.

Now it is time to start your optimization activities and I am going to start with a hard message. If you already have a site and this is the first time you have seriously looked at SEO, then I would recommend starting again from scratch! Build a new site from the top-down and - when you are done - migrate across from your old site to the new. Don't worry about losing custom or links from other sites - there are ways to avoid that I will show you in the (final) part 10.

(a) Domain name Optimization

A newsflash for you. By far the most effective way to optimize keywords is to have them in the full URL for your page. The highest value part of that URL is the domain name itself.

I know what you are thinking. All the good domain names have gone by now. Well, you might be surpised (as you will soon see with Doug). Your second concern might be that you would prefer to use your business name as your URL. We will deal with both these concerns (in reverse order).

Try typing "search" into Google and you might expect to see Google put themselves first in the results, or Yahoo. It is search.com that ranks highest however! I rest my case. Domain names matter (whatever nonsense you might read on SEO forums).

Try http://www.laserpointers.co.uk and see what you find. If you dig about a bit, you'll find that the company behind this site (and several others) is Blue Sky Marketing.

At http://www.blueskymarketing.co.uk you will find their company website, but guess which of the two sites gets a top five ranking at Google UK for a search on "laser pointers"?

The bottom line is that (after you have done every other piece of optimization right) your domain name selection is perhaps the only area where you can further differentiate yourself from your competitors. As such, it may be your only realisatic chance (in this every more mature market) to achieve a top 10 ranking for some of your key search terms and - believe me - the traffic (and business) impact this has is literally amazing.

Now for the "all the good domain names have gone" issue. Doug makes a visit (as should you) to the excellent Keyword Domain Name Search Tool and, although plurals are out (pity), he finds the following two options are both still available for his top-selling product and biggest possible traffic draw:

http://www.antiquedoorknocker.com; and
http://www.antique-door-knocker.com

If you use your top three keywords as a combination, you too are likely to find a decent available domain (unless you are operating in a highly competitive area like real estate).

So which of these two should Doug choose? To hyphenate domain name or not? There is more disagreement on this amongst web masters than almost any other issue in SEO. In practice, this means that there is evidence supporting both options.. and, as such, you choice isn't critical. However, on balance (and without boring you with the details), I would suggest you do hyphenate in the domain name if you have a choice (if only to help with your page titles; more on this later).

(b) URL name Optimization

You'll remember I suggested a separate page for each product, service or key piece of information. Well, I would also have a seperate directory for each product or service category (limiting the directory name to two, hyphenated key words). As such, Doug settles on three directories, covering his three main categories:

http://www.antique-door-knocker.com/door-hardware/
http://www.antique-door-knocker.com/antique-doors/
http://www.antique-door-knocker.com/door-fitting/

I wouldn't go down to sub-dirctories below this unless you have a particularly large number of products in your catalogue (and therefore recognisable sub-categories). Too many key words will reduce the overall density of any one word within the whole URL.

(c) File extension Optimization

For your (page) file name, I would use up to three key words, again hyphenated. For the file extension I would always opt for static .html file extensions where possible. Dynamiclly generated file extensions (that include "?" or "%" in the query string) have been shown to confuse search engines.

Extending Doug's example, he comes up with 45 different pages under hardware, of which the following five are examples:

../door-hardware/brass-door-knobs.html
../door-hardware/iron-door-knobs.html
../door-hardware/door-bell-pulls.html
../door-hardware/door-bell-chimes.html
../door-hardware/brass-door-knockers.html

In some cases, he has duplicate products on different pages. For example, everything on the door chimes page also appears on the door pull page. Doug disdcovered during his key word analysis phase that Americans tended to search on chimes, whilst brits used pulls. Thus he needs both covered at this level.

(d) Navigation, Internal Links and Site Map Optimization

It may be a shock to some (particularly those who focus on Page Rank too much), but your home - or "index" - page has very little SEO value. A well ranking root index page is the exception rather than the rule. My advice is to treat the homepage as a pretty site map - pretty becuase it should impress human directory reviewers and a site map so that it directs search engine robots quickly to your sub content.

For opimizing the site map, imagine a droopy banana sat at the top of your page (drooping down the left hand side). This banana zone is where both human eyeballs and search engines will look most. Make sure your links use key words only for anchor text and link directly to your second and third levels. A truncated example version (for Doug) would sit in the top left corner of his home page - and look like this:

Door Hardwares Brass Door Knobs Iron Door Knobs Door Bell Pulls Door Bell Chimes Brass Door Knockers Antique Doors Edwardian Doors Victorian Doors Door Fitting Surrey Door Fitters Middlesex Door Fitters

More value is ascribed to internal links (with good anchor text) than many people seem to realize. I am often surprised at how many people spend ages trying to secure inbound links from other sites (more on this later) but have no decent, keyword-rich navigation within their own site (where, after all, everything is under their own control).

Search engines uses the anchor text on inbound links to determine the relevance of the target page. In fact Google even has a special operator: 'allinanchor:keyword', which picks up text only from within the anchor text of indexed pages. Try comparing any straight search in Google with it's allinanchor equivalent. For example, "swimming pools" versus "allinanchor:swimming pools".

You'll probably notice that the top-ranked straight search site is invariably the top-ranked allinanchor site (whilst others further down the list may vary substantially). Don't neglect to focus on this area in your SEO strategy!

Next we turn our attention to page optmization...

Navigate the guide

Previous : SEO Expert Guide - Keyword Analysis (part 3/10)

Next: SEO Expert Guide - Page Optimization (part 5/10)

About the author:

David Viney ([email protected]) is the author of the Intranet Portal Guide; 31 pages of advice, tools and downloads covering the period before, during and after an Intranet Portal implementation.

Read the guide at http://www.viney.com/DFV/intranet_portal_guide or the Intranet Watch Blog at http://www.viney.com/intranet_watch.

In The News:

A New Twist In SEO  Business 2 Community
How to make data driven SEO decisions  Business MattersBusiness Matters
Surprising Facts About E-A-T  Search Engine Journal
Top SEO Sydney  WhaTech
How to Evaluate Link Opportunities  Search Engine Journal
JumpFly SEO Director to Speak at SMX West 2020  JumpFly PPC Advertising News

A Simple 4 Step Approach To Have Google Crawl Your Site Today Guaranteed!

Extra, Extra Google Now Gives you feedback. By Creating a... Read More

The Best 7 Steps To Get A Top Google Ranking Guaranteed

Google returns more search results then any other search engine.... Read More

Forget SEO ? It?s All About Conversion!

Which SEO hat do you wear? Is it white or... Read More

Search Engine Marketing: 20 Nitty-Gritty Strategies To Compel People To Link To Your Website

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know... Read More

Its All in the Title

Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. You may... Read More

SEO for CEOs ? Search Engine Optimization Unmasked for CEOs

If you're like most other CEOs, the term "search engine... Read More

Tread Towards A Successful ?Internet Research?

Internet is a terrific resource containing billions of web pages... Read More

Search Engine Optimization Tip: Dont Buy Anything Before You Learn More!

Thinking about purchasing that premium SEO software that will hyper-optimize... Read More

Learn about the Google Search Engine Tools

Think you know everything about searching with Google? Think again.... Read More

Search Engine Traffic Domination - How to Turn the Search Engines into Your 24/7 Salesmen

Getting your website returned by the search engines as a... Read More

A Link From An Ugly Duckling Website With A PR=1 Could Give You 10 to 80 Times More PageRank

Whether you want to start a business and sell on... Read More

Google Search Algorithm Patent Application Creates Spring Buzz!

Google applied for a patent on their ranking algorithm as... Read More

Five FAQ About Google PageRank

Five FAQ about Google PageRank1. What is PageRank and why... Read More

List Building vs. Search Engine Optimization

It seems the excitement about search engine optimization fades in... Read More

How To Stay One Step Ahead of the Google Dance

It's taken you 6-months of hard work, constant changes, reading... Read More

10 Ways To Indirectly Get To The Top Of Search

There are millions of web sites trying to get listed... Read More

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) - Houses on Sand

Do you depend on free search engine traffic for your... Read More

Why Optimize Your Site For Search Engines?

Sometimes a search engine optimization company will miss that glaring... Read More

SEO Expert Guide - Sitewide Optimization (part 4/10)

In parts 1 and 2 you learnt how to develop... Read More

Increase Web Site Sales with a SEO Proposal - Part 1

You can easily get confused by all the search engine... Read More

Ten Steps To A Well Optimized Website - Step 1: Keyword Selection

This is part one of ten in this search engine... Read More

The Modern Day Search Engine

The first task most netizens do when they log on... Read More

The Importance of Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is a key to any successful internet... Read More

Internet Marketing and SEO

Have you ever seen any email offers of getting you... Read More

Feed me - Satisfy the Search Engines and Your Sites Visitors With Keyword-Rich Content

Search engines love content. Graphics may make your site look... Read More