Do-It-Yourself Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is big business. If you rely on search engines to bring visitors to your business website, you need to rely on more than luck. Your business will lag far short of its potential unless your site is optimized and re-optimized for search engine results.

What is search engine optimization?

SEO is optimizing your website for search engines, acquiring inbound links, and monitoring your traffic and referring links to use them optimally. SEO is also studying and monitoring your competitors' techniques.

The goal of SEO is to bring in targeted traffic that is organic, i.e., from search results. When people type in a keyword or phrase that you've optimized your site for, you want your site to appear on the first page, preferably high on that page. Good SEO results in increased traffic without the cost and time spent on advertising.

The SEO industry

Where there's a need, there's an industry ready to help you spend money on that need. SEO firms charge from a few hundred dollars up to six-figure amounts to optimize your site for search engines.

If paying thousands of dollars to an SEO firm isn't in your budget, consider using SEO packages to optimize your site yourself.

A combination of SEO tools is needed to get the best results. The SEO packages described below offer a variety of tools to help you optimize your site for search engines.

SEO tools compared

While we've listed numerous features of each SEO tool, these comparisons are summaries only.

Internet Business Promoter (IBP)

Known for their link popularity tool ARELIS, IBP also produces a three-step suite of tools to help you promote your website:

1. Page optimization
? Generate, analyze, and edit keywords
? Optimize for the top 10 search engine rankings
? Optimize the title, link texts, and other parts of the web page
? Validate the HTML
? View the site via a spider simulator

2. Page promotion
? Submit your site to search engines and directories
? Search for sites that might add a link to your site

3. Results tracking
? Verify search engine positions automatically

Price: $179.95 or $349.95.

LinksManager

Links Manager is designed to help users manage reciprocal linking. It doesn't require any software downloads, and current links pages can be imported into it. Some of its features:

Link organization and formatting
? Organize your links into multiple categories, subcategories, and "most popular links" lists
? Store the links on your own server
? Highlight newly added and featured links

Link management and tracking
? Remove dead links temporarily via a dead link checker
? Check whether or not reciprocal links at other sites exist
? Rotate links automatically
? Deny link submissions according to the criteria you set via a blacklist
? View the most popular keywords on your links pages

Price: $19.95 a month.

SEO Administrator

SEO Administrator automates website promotion with tools that can do these tasks:

Keywords and site visitors
? Track your site's position for your keywords in over 30 search engines
? Report on the keyword weight and density of your site as well as of competitors' sites
? Suggest keywords that are relevant to each page
? Analyze your site logs to find out about site visitors, keywords used, referrers, and more

Search engines and directories
? Check which pages at your site have been indexed by various search engines
? Check Google PR, the number of inbound links, and whether or not the site is listed in the DMOZ and Yahoo directories
? Show the automated descriptions that search engines display for your pages

Price: from $70 to $150, depending on the version.

SEO Elite

With SEO Elite, you can find out exactly what your competitors are doing and copy their strategies. You can find out about your competitors' web pages:

? Keyword density and prominence
? Their and headings
? Their meta keywords
? Whether their site is listed in the Yahoo directory
? Which websites your competitors are advertising on

Concerning link partners and search engines, SEO Elite can:

? Find thousands of possible link partners
? Track details about pages with inbound links
? Check whether or not reciprocal links at other sites exist
? Indicate which of your pages search engines have indexed
? Keep a record of where your site is ranked for search terms

Price: $167.

SEOToolset

The focus of SEOToolset is to provide data to help with website promotion. The toolset includes:

Your website
? Keyword density analyzer
? Keyword selection tool
? Reports on rankings for keywords, page names, and indexed page counts
? Link partner finder

Search engines and directories
? Engine-specific keyword research
? Traffic checker for keywords
? DMOZ category selector
? Search engine submission tool
? Search engine ranking monitor

Your competition
? Keyword research summary
? Link analysis of inbound links to competitors' websites

Price: $90.00 per quarter per site.

Web CEO

The 10 tools in the Web CEO package are designed to help you promote and maintain your website, improve search engine results, and analyze site visitors. A summary of these tools:

At your website
? Keyword research
? Website optimization
? Inbound link tracking
? WYSIWYG website editing and file uploading
? Link checking
? Website monitoring
? Stats analysis to track visitors, ad campaigns, transactions, and more

Search engines and competition
? URL submission to search engines
? Search engine rank checking
? Tracking who links to the competition

Price: $295 for one person. A free version is also available.

WebPosition

WebPosition, one of the oldest and most popular SEO tools, offers a five-step SEO process:

1. Determine your position in search engines
? Create search engine ranking reports
? Monitor your site's placement in search engine results

2. Research and choose keywords
? Identify the most searched and least competitive keywords

3. Optimize your pages
? Compare your pages to those of top-performing sites and specific competitors
? Detect when your competitors' pages have changed
? Be alerted to changes that could affect your site rankings

4. Design and submit your pages
? Use Page Builder and Upload Manager to design and maintain your site
? Submit your site to search engines with the Submitter tool

5. Analyze your results
? Track the correlation between search rankings and revenue
? Import top-performing keywords

Price: $149 or $349.

How to hire an SEO firm

If you'd prefer to hire an SEO firm instead, do your research. You'll be spending a minimum of a few hundred dollars, more likely thousands of dollars for a medium-sized or larger website.

While many SEO firms are good at what they do, the field unfortunately has its share of scammers as well. They may tell you that a variety of tricks such as hidden text or cloaking will improve your site's position in search engines. In reality, these techniques may get your site banned from search engines. More information is at these pages at Google.com:

? Webmaster Guidelines
href="http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html

? Search Engine Optimizers
href="http://www.google.com/webmasters/seo.html

If you're considering an SEO firm, ask how they measure success. Will your site hits be organic? Look at the sites of SEO firms' clients and the site for the SEO firm itself. Do the sites rank well for keywords at these sites? The search engine results for relevant keywords will indicate how successful an SEO firm is.

Lois S. is a Technical Executive Writer for http://www.websitesource.com and http://www.lowpricedomains.com with experience in the website hosting industry.

In The News:

The right way to hire an SEO  Search Engine Land
Moving a Company to an SEO Focus  Search Engine Journal
10 SEO Myths Debunked  Business 2 Community
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SEO vs. PPC: Which Is Better for Your Business in 2020  99Signals - Tech News, Tech Hacks, & More
SpyFu review  TechRadar
SEO in 2020: Going Beyond Google  Search Engine Journal
SEO in 2020: What You Need to Know  Business 2 Community
Can SEO Be Made Predictable?  Search Engine Journal
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A Definitive Guide to Mobile SEO  Search Engine Journal

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