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Online Marketing 1
How to Boost Your Search Engine Ranking
Author: John Gaffney
If you want more visitors to your site, boosting your site's search engine ranking can really help.
By search engine ranking, we mean your site's position (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) in the list of sites displayed on a search results page.
And it's good to be number one. Or even two through ten. The reality is that sites listed at the top of the page always get far more visits than those listed below.
The reason is simple - most people won't scroll down or click to the next search page if they can avoid it. They usually click the top links first, and often find what they want there.
So, if you're serious about increasing site visits, you have a simple goal: become one of the top ten sites listed on the first search results page. And you want to achieve this ranking for each of the search terms and phrases relevant to your site.
This may seem like a daunting task. The good news is that there is a straightforward process - search engine optimization - that will help you win the ranking game.
Search engine optimization, or "SEO", in conducted in three major steps: Keyword Analysis, Website Modification and Search Engine Submission.
In this article, we'll describe each of the first of these three SEO steps and their major components. Where more detail is needed, we'll provide links to additional resources to help you with the detail work. Other articles discuss Website Modification and Search Engine Submission.
We'll also be discussing the details in the Search Engine Optimization forum in the Marketing Your Website category of the Web Studio online forum. Please join us there!
Step 1 - Keyword Analysis
The first step in the SEO process is Keyword Analysis, which should take you three to four hours to complete. You can do the work in small increments as time allows.
During Keyword Analysis, you'll create several lists of keywords from different sources and then distill them for use in your site.
Category Keywords List. Use at least one major online directory, such as the Open Directory Project, to determine which content categories best fit your site. Within the categories you select, carefully examine both the category titles and the descriptive text of the sites listed in the categories. Make a list of the top ten keywords (both single words and two- or three-word phrases) that seem most relevant to your site. Save these as your Category Keywords list. Also during this process, bookmark any sites which are competitive with or highly similar to your own (used below).
Current Keywords List. Use an online tool to discover the top ten keywords search engines "see" when they visit your site as it is today. Save these as your Current Keywords list. (These keywords will be helpful when determining how much work is needed during Website Modification.)
Competitive Keywords List . Use the same online tool to analyze the competitive sites you bookmarked above - and any others you already know of - for their top ten most visible keywords. Combine and save the results as your Competitive Keywords list.
Search Stream Keywords List. Use Overture's Search Term Suggestion Tool to research which keywords people use to search for sites like yours. Enter each of the Category Keywords and Competitive Keywords, one by one, and copy and paste the resulting lists of related search terms and counts (number of searches in the last month for each term) into a word processor or spreadsheet. When you are done, sort the whole list alphabetically to remove duplicates and unrelated terms, and then by count to bring the most-searched-for terms to the top. Save the whole list for future reference, and use the top ten terms in the list as your Search Stream Keywords.
Ideal Keywords List. Finally, use a word processor or spreadsheet to combine the Category, Competitive and Search Stream keywords. Sort and remove duplicates to produce a master list - your Ideal Keywords. You will use this list to give your site a unique and powerful keyword fingerprint, which in turn will generate high site rankings.
That's it for Keyword Analysis. You now have the ammunition you need to tackle the next SEO step, Website Modification, which we'll cover in Online Marketing Part 2.
In the meantime, please join us in the Search Engine Optimization forum with your questions, comments and suggestions.
Author: John Gaffney
John was the president of J. Gaffney Associates, a marketing firm that provided online direct marketing services with a focus on pay-per-click advertising and website search engine optimization.