The SEO Game - Do You Play It?

Most people do not think of SEO as a game. Let me take 5 minutes of your time and explain how SEO is simply a game of Chess.

I remember as a teenager learning how to play Chess for the first time. Man it was complicated. Each piece moved different ways. You couldn't take shortcuts and get the game over with. You had to really think about your moves and watch your opponents moves as well. With each move they made, you had to analyze your next move and even the best plans of attack had to be readjusted constantly. The game was always changing depending on who you played against. But once you understood the game, once you understood all the components of the game, you were hooked.

The same goes for SEO.

The First Step to playing the SEO Game is understanding the game.

Read the rules of the game. Understand what is allowed, what is not allowed, and things you must avoid. Research how people will find you. Know what your keyword/keyword phrases are. Who will be coming into your website? Who will you be marketing to?

Google Rules and Guidelines can be found at http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html

Yahoo Guidelines can be found at http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/deletions/deletions-05.html

MSN Guidelines can be found at http://search.msn.com/docs/siteowner.aspx?t=
SEARCH_WEBMASTER_REF_GuidelinesforOptimizingSite.htm

Setting Up Your Chessboard (or website)

Set up your website correctly from the start. Make sure all the pieces of your website are were they belong. For instance, place your Title tags and Meta tags into your headtags. Create clean style web pages from the start. Move your javascripting and css off the page and into their own file so that the search engines can get to what is important right away.

Playing The Game

In Chess, the rook and the bishop do not move the same way on your chessboard. Understand how each piece of the game moves and works and use them to help you win the game.

The same is true for your SEO. For example, many people do not use their head tags correctly. They try to stuff as many keywords as they can think of into the Meta Keywords tag. This will not get you far in the game. Try to be focused in your keywords. Use 3-5 keyword/keyword phrases at most and never use the same word more then 3 times.

Make sure you are using all the pieces of the game. Title tags, Meta Tags, H1 Tags, Content, Links, Relevancy, etc. Some people think when playing chess that the pawns are really of no use. You can lose them, you can keep them, no big deal. The same can be said about Meta Tags. However when playing against Yahoo or MSN, they will take advantage of your pawns. More so then when playing with Google. But why would you not use these pieces in a game? Why would you not take advantage of every single piece and make each one as important as the others. Would you have a better chance of winning if you used each piece of the game instead of only a few?

Know who you are playing against.

The more information your have about your opponent and how they play can greatly increase your chance of beating them. The same can be said about search engines. Understand how they work and how they find sites. Knowing your opponent can help you to win. But also keep in mind that as time moves on, your opponent is getting stronger. They are constantly changing their game to keep up with the new breed of chess players. You may be able to beat them today, but in 6 months, they may have a new strategy. Keep a close eye on them and change your game to adjust to theirs.

Keep in mind that your opponent will never tell you how they are going to play the game. There are secret strategies that only they know. Many will guess as to what those are, but nobody will ever know their strategy 100%.

Do Not Take Shortcuts Just To Get The Game Over With

The same can be said about using spam techniques to get your site listed quickly and to the top. Spam techniques may work for a short time but once you get caught, you are banned from playing the game. Google states this about spam, "Trying to deceive (spam) our web crawler by means of hidden text, deceptive cloaking or doorway pages compromises the quality of our results and degrades the search experience for everyone. We think that's a bad thing."

Basically spamming is a way of cheating the game to win faster. Remember chess is not a quick game. It takes time and patience. No one wants to play with a cheater....NO ONE.

Capturing the King - CHECKMATE

Content is King. Content is the way to win the game. Without capturing the content, you will lose the game. Each of the search engines look for relevancy within your page. If you state that your page is about red dogs with hats, and you have a page written about blue cats with shoes, it does not work. Keep your pages focused. If you are writing about red dogs with hats, write about those red dogs with hats only. If you also have red dogs with boots, then give them their own page and write about them boots separately.

Keep the pages focused and on track. The title tag would be about the red dogs with hats. The meta tag keyword would be about the red dogs with hats. The meta tag description is a nice 250 character description about the red dogs with hats. Use a H1 tag high on the page that has red dogs with hats. You can use css tags to make the h1 tag match your site. Then write clear, focused, original content about the red dogs with hats. Start out with 3 paragraphs and mention the red dog with hats once in each paragraph. Watch your rankings. Add additional content if necessary but do it slowly. Make notes of all the changes that you make. If something does not work, go back and undo it. Keep adding fresh and unique content to your site.

Do not let your site go into stalemate.

Once you look at SEO as simply a game, it makes it that much more exciting to play. And it's even more fun TO WIN!

Shawna Fennell is the owner of 1 Choice 4 YStore. A company dedicated to helping Online Stores. Please visit http://store.1choice4ystore.com for free advice and tips on SEO, Marketing, Design, and much more. You can also sign up for daily tips at http://blog.1choice4ystore.com

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