How Real SEO Analysis Works

If you're serious about SEO, you need to know how to analyze the information you uncover.

A decade ago, businesses were wondering whether they need to be part of the Internet. By the late 1990s, plenty signed up and did the basics like placing keywords in the META data.

Unfortunately, that's all some companies do ? pick out keywords that may or may not be appropriate and pack them into the META keyword data set that search engines pretty much ignore.

Proper analysis requires sound thinking and judgment in many areas. We'll focus on two major ones ? Top 300 and page caching.

Top 300
What's the Top 300? It doesn't sound too valuable unless your biggest customer of the last 10 years actually traveled that deep into the depths of search engine information overload.

Actually, any number will do depending on your interest. Start with your 10 favorite search terms (or carefully targeted search terms). To track your growth, think big. If you're ranking No. 292 one week and then a week later, you're No. 154, you know you're on the right track.

Too many SEO managers make the mistake of tracking the Top 30 results and miss out on the wonderful fact that they're already No. 31. Don't be poorly informed.

Page Caching
Google is the best for this because of how fast it continues to reindex pages. Create your own Google Cache Calendar ? a Word or Excel document will do. List your strategic pages ? say about 10 for starters. Apply the Top 300 rule, check your rankings and record the cache dates. Over time, those dates form patterns that can help you determine when Google will return next ? enabling you to time your next set of SEO updates.

If you're not in the Top 300, you can still get some perspective from the page cache analysis if you're still planning to optimize a given page. It's easy to find the page ? if it's in Google's index. Just enter the URL as your search phrase or find some unique text from the page and search for that string of words with quotes on each end. Either will result in a top SEO ranking and you can grab the cache date.

The bottom line is that you need to track you're progress before making changes to the strategic SEO pages.

Michael Murray is vice president of Fathom SEO, a SEO firm. He authored the "U.S. Manufacturers Resist Natural Search Engine Optimization and Online Sales Leads" study and a white paper, "Search Engine Marketing: Get in the Game." [email protected]

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