Search Engine Optimisation - Getting Targeted Traffic

Getting SEO right is an art and it's based on theory and best practice. The search engines don't publish their algorithms so getting it right is like finding the exact formula for Coca Cola.

SEO is about getting free TARGETED traffic. That is folks who are looking for what you've got and finding your site (or eBay store) high in the SE listings, ideally in the top 10.

Here are some basic principles that apply today (they might not apply tomorrow because the SE's don't announce what algorithm they are currently using).

TARGET

Choose it wisely. Think this through before doing anything else. There are 4.7 million results delivered by Google for the word "scrapbook" but only 1.7 million for "scrapbooking" so the latter term has less competition. It's tempting to try to optimise for the big one, "scrapbook" but there are two good reasons not to. Firstly, if you do work hard on that word against fierce competition for some years you might get to the top (might). But how many customers do you want? You might create a monster that you can't handle. Secondly all those currently targeting that word haven't done their homework. "Scrapbooking" has fewer results (less competition) but is searched on more than "scrapbook". The smart operators are targeting "scrapbooking".

That's just an example. Consider too that many people search with phrases, not just single words, so you might target "scrapbooking tutorials". You might get into the top 10 for such a phrase and get solid, targeted traffic that wants what you've got. How about getting to the top for the term "post extenders" or "Sue Dreamer"? Your traffic will be buyers and you want sales, not just traffic for the sake of traffic. So where to get the best keyword data. Thankfully there is one simple answer, www.wordtracker.com. Best in the world and a must when choosing keywords.

PAGES NOT SITES

Search engines index web pages, not web sites. You might like to think that your visitors will all come through your home page. This is not the case. Every single page of your site is an SEO opportunity. You can, and should, therefore have a different title, description, keywords and target content for every page to maximise your traffic. Optimise every page of your site where possible. Some dynamic sites make it impossible so if this is the case add standard pages that you can optimise.

SEARCH ENGINE SPAMMING

Don't. You can get penalised or banned by the SE's. Things like keyword stuffing, white on white text, doorway pages etc., otherwise known as "Black Hat" techniques are for the highly skilled and dodgy operators only. Some make it work short term and usually have multiple sites so when one gets dropped they have others. Unless you want to build and run 10 or 20 sites and work 25 hours a day on them stay away from black hat techniques. All the search engines want to do is deliver the best and most relevant sites to their users. Be the best and most relevant and you'll crack it.

META TAGS

If you don't know what meta tags are click view >> source on any site and you'll see the meta tags near the top of the site code.

TITLE

The most important thing you do is the page title. Similar principle to titles when selling on eBay, your title is critical to your search relevance. It must also be attractive to your audience. It should be between 6 and 12 words. Don't simply repeat your keyword 12 times, it doesn't work and can get you penalised.

DESCRIPTION

I believe this is almost as important as you title. Google uses it. It must contain your keyword(s) or phrases and it must read well and be attractive to users. Optimum length is between 12 and 24 words. It should contain the keyword or phrase that you have targeted in the title.

KEYWORDS

Of little use these days but do it anyway. There should be 7 to 48 words and again included the keyword(s) or phrases that you have in title and description.

HEADER TAGS

In page content coding tags are used to create larger, bolder headings. These are in the form

Header Text

They are numbered 1 to 4 usually and H1 tags carry the most weight. These tags help the SE spiders to further determine relevance so should include your target keyword(s) or phrases for that page corresponding to title, description, keyword meta tags above. Bold text also carries weight but don't overdo it. Your site still has to attractive to visitors.

CONTENT

This should be good, honest, relevant content, well written. There are many theories about keyword density percentages etc. but the fact is if you write good relevant content about say, post extenders then you will be using those words and phrases and if you are writing well for the human user that will be good enough. Make sure that there is plenty of it too. For content pages around 500 to 600 words is good. If you have more than that break it down into more pages and more SE opportunities.

VALID CODE

Search engines like well built sites that are easy to navigate. The SE spiders will be using your internal links to get around your site so simple and easy navigation is important. Also check your code is good by going here http://validator.w3.org/ and here http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/

BACKLINKS

I wish this wasn't important but it is. I've seen some very poor sites do very, very well by virtue of the number of backlinks that they have. So, what is a backlink, what makes a good one and how do you get them? A backlink is when another site links to you. Google sees this as a "vote" for your site, it counts these votes and this figure forms an important part of your search engine ranking.

A link for the sake of a link is of little value. A link from a relevant and highly ranked site however is gold dust. A link from www.ampalian.com to a scrapbooking site is of little value but a link from www.scrapbookstashers.com to a scrapbooking site is fantastic. A good reason to be a sponsor on such a site!

Getting links from relevant sites is often a case of just asking nicely. If you're serious about seo you need to be asking 5 or 10 relevant sites per day to link to you. They'll no doubt want a link from you in return, that's OK. I can't emphasise too much how important this is. Backlinks are a must. In addition you need to be listed in as many directories as you can find. Then you must submit your site to the open directory project. Follow the instructions to the letter, submit and forget it. It can take many months to get approved and listed. http://dmoz.org/

There are lots of other directories to submit your site to. Here's another:

http://www.greatstuff.co.uk

Submit articles and tutorials etc. containing your web address to sites that will take them. Lots of content hungry sites will. Start off with these:

http://ezinearticles.com/
http://www.buzzle.com/

And remember. Ask other relevant sites to exchange links with you. IT'S CRITICAL.

If you don't already use the Google Toolbar you should. This will tell you how many backlinks Google sees to you. There may well be more than it says at any given time because it only updates every six weeks or so but it is an essential guide to how you are doing with your linking campaign. Click the "I" button on the toolbar. Make sure the page rank indicator is enabled too. This will give you some idea who you want to get links from, the longer the green bar shows on relevant sites the better. It's not perfect and it's always way out of date so just use as an indication.

http://toolbar.google.com/

DOMAIN

When choosing a domain it's worth trying to get your main keyword in it. It's not the be all and end all but it helps a little so you may as well if you can.

For domain purchase I strongly recommend

http://www.123-reg.co.uk/affiliate.cgi?id=AF109422

If you have an eBay shop you can buy a nice and simple domain name here and direct it to your eBay store. This will make link building and directory submission easier as well as passing the name around verbally and in advertising and on stationery.

Don't submit your site to the search engines, it's a pointless waste of time. If you do everything else here they'll all find you very quickly anyway.

Do however use Google Site Maps here https://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/login and do use Froogle: https://www.google.com/froogle/merchants/uk/

PATIENCE

Keep doing all of the above. It's a continuous process. Then apply the one element of SEO that can't be influenced. PATIENCE. It will all take time and it will take longer than you want it to but it will work. Just keep at it.

TOOLS

http://www.instantposition.com/seodoctor/home.cfm
http://sitereportcard.com/

I hope this all help and wish you success.

Malcolm Cooper is a UK web designer based in Gloucestershire. Malcolm also owns and operates one of the largest online jewellry stores in the UK and applies that knowledge and experience in providing web services to other small and medium sized businesses.

malcolmcooper.com
ampalian.com

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