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Do-It-Yourself SEO: How to Get Started

Aug 17, 2007
Search engine optimization is the top way that visitors find websites today. So how do you optimize your website?

Selecting Keywords
Keywords are the terms that you expect targeted prospects will use in search engines to find your company.

Choose Keywords Associated with Your Company's Focus
When selecting keyword, start by selecting keywords that best describe your company's focus. For example, if your company sells athletic shoes, keywords like "athletic shoes" or "tennis shoes".Be sure to account for plural versus singular versions of keywords, such as "shoe" vs. "shoes" as Google currently treats plural and singular versions of keywords as two different words.

Avoid Broad Keywords
Don't choose terms that could be considered too broad in scope. For example, the keyword "shoes" would be too broad for an athletic shoe company. A searcher who enters the keyword "shoes" in a search engine query may be looking for a variety of shoe types, such as "horse shoes" or "nursing shoes" -- items which an athletic shoe company is not likely to carry.

Choose Keywords by Popularity
There are several useful tools available for selecting the right keywords, such as the Keyword Selector Tool from Yahoo! (http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/), which allows you to enter a keyword and see how many searches were performed the previous month on Yahoo!'s properties for that keyword and related keywords. A search for the keyword "shoes" using this tool may yield the following results:

Searches Keywords
715362 shoes
288926 new balance shoes

234565 womens shoes

131741 shoes store

97197 jordan shoes

95219 man shoes

70525 nike shoes

62668 prom shoes

58193 shoes repair

48386 puma shoes

From these results, an athletic shoe company might also select additional keywords that describe its products, such as "new balance shoes", "jordan shoes", "nike shoes" and "puma shoes".

Editing Your Website Content
Assign One Page on Your Website to One or Two Keywords
Once you've selected your keyword list, select one page per keyword on your website. For instance, on the website of an athletic shoe company that sells Nike brand shoes, the keyword "nike shoes" might be most appropriate on the website page that details the Nike shoes the company carries.

Proliferate the Keyword Throughout The Website Page
Search engines use website page content to determine a page's theme. In the example above, a page with the keyword "nike shoes" repeated often on the page would signal to the search engine that the website page is about "nike shoes". Therefore, repeat a keyword throughout its appropriate website page as often as possible without sounding repetitive. Aim for high "keyword density," the percentage of times a keyword phrase appears throughout all of your content on that page.

There are several free, online tools to help you determine your keyword density on a webpage. GoRank offers a free keyword density analyzer tool (http://www.gorank.com/seotools/). A generally desirable keyword density is 4-7%.

Sometimes, website owners go overboard when repeating a keyword on a page. Remember that your website page must also be comprehensible to your website's visitors. So don't repeat a keyword just in an attempt to have maximum keyword density. Carefully balance marketing message with keyword density when editing your website pages.

What To Do When an Appropriate Page Doesn't Exist
When you don't have a website page that seems appropriate for proliferating a keyword, ask yourself is, "Is this keyword appropriate?". If you don't already have a page on your website focused on that keyword, it may not be an appropriate keyword for your company.

There may situations where you have too many keywords that do in fact relate to your company's focus that do not currently have website pages. In that case, examine your website site map and organization and determine if there are appropriate ways to extend your website's content without being redundant.

Link Building
The quantity of third-party links, or links from other websites that point to yours, are the best way to be listed higher in search engines. Although, it is not just the sheer number of links that determines your search engine ranking but also the words within the linking text, also known as the "anchor text".

Create a Link Building Strategy
With the anchor text rule in mind, build a company link building strategy. Ideally, your link building strategy should include ways to naturally build links through viral marketing or partnership methods. In our example of the athletic shoe company, perhaps links from manufacturer sites would be helpful, or perhaps implementing a self-created affiliate program will help. Whatever your approach, be sure to define the words within the anchor text of the links.

In Conclusion
Track Your Progress
Search engine rankings are never permanent -- search engines are always updating their algorithms that index and rank websites. So it's important to track your progress on a regular, ongoing basis, to alert you if changes need to be made.

WebPosition (http://www.webposition.com) tracks and reports on search engine rankings based on keyword and search engine. WebPosition's scheduler function allows you to run reports automatically on a set schedule, so that you can keep track of your rankings and those of your competitors on an interval basis.
About the Author
Janet Driscoll Miller is the CEO of Search Mojo. With over 10 years of Internet marketing experience, Driscoll Miller is an expert in search engine optimization and pay per click advertising. She can be reached via Email at jmiller@search-mojo.com.
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