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The Four Facets of Search Engine Positioning

Jan 20, 2008
It's not just one facet of search engine optimization that creates a top 10 ranking for a website, it's a combination of dozens of factors that affect the relative outcome and ranking of a website.

How each element cultivates and culminates is directly responsible for your website taking on the persona of authoritative stature or just another website spiraling into digital obscurity on it's descent into parts unknown.

Websites that rise to the top of search engines touting relevance and traffic are the ones utilizing principles that give the spiders (the bots that search engines send to scour the web) what they want and are rewarded in kind with favorable search engine positioning.

The other percentage of sites that do not provide value, merit, or substance are engulfed in the clutches of a constant battle fighting it out for the remaining positions outside the visibility of the top 10.

For the sake of clarity we will touch lightly on the following subjects.

1. Competitive Research
2. Keyword Analysis
3. Authority and Link Building
4. Marketing & Promotion

1. Competitive Research

Do you think that world travelers set out on a quest with a bunch of assumptions and half witted impulses? I would hardly think so, in fact their quest began with a vision and then they had to develop a plan to execute it.

Much in the same way a search engine optimization expert needs to survey the territory to make an adequate summation of the obstacles and advantages to the course they plot.

This is where competitive analysis comes into play. Knowing who your competitors are (outside the ones you are aware of) is important.

This can all be accomplished to some extent through SEO tools. However, the tools are only as good as the ones using them, but the point is, SEO Tools are just a starting point for getting a grip on what's hot and what's not as far as the industry, the market potential and most importantly the keywords and trends that consumers are exhibiting when conducting searches.

Inevitably they allow you to zero in on key players in each industry who are at the top of their game (the category leaders).

How did they get there you might ask? By plotting the proper path. The web is based on words, choose the right ones to optimize and traffic is the result, choose the wrong keywords and something terrible happens, nothing.

2. Keyword Analysis and Choosing the Right Keywords

This step comes right after the competitive research phase.

Choosing the right keywords is essential for initiating a proper search engine optimization campaign. Organic SEO is a more involved process than PPC (pay-per-click marketing) which just allows you (for a fee of course) to rank for related or unrelated content.

Organic SEO however, involves ranking variables such as 1) the servers you use, the hosting environment.
2) are they clean (free of shared IP addresses from known offenders such as Gambling or Adult sites)
3) the programming language and the code used to program your pages (W3C validated & compliant?)
4) is the site static or does it use a content management system? and if so, is it optimized?
5) as well as architectural elements that comprise your websites content and design all contribute to how search engines interpret and rank your pages.

But just as the aforementioned components are an imperative quotient for superb rankings, choosing the right keywords when (a) creating content as well as (b) optimizing your site are the true secret formula for achieving top 10 placement.

Choosing the right keywords is the equivalent of making the first move in a chess game. By the very nature of design, certain choices eliminate other choices, in SEO this also is true.

Using the right strategy for the right circumstances wins the favor of search engines at the end of the day, the only trick is, what they favor changes daily, so you have to keep a constant vigil and look for indicators or islands of stability in the code.

Just like in the movie the matrix, over time you start to understand the ebb and flow of search engines and can arm your website with a plethora of tactics to stave off any unnecessary eruptions which could through your trajectory off course in your plight to reach the top. Call it a touch of prevention, or a more equip description would be strategic planning.

So in essence, you can determine the extent of an internet marketing strategy, based on (a) the medium it uses (b) the weakness or conditions it exposes or (c) the trail it leaves behind.

Whereas by comparison in SEO, it is easy to see where something is going, based on certain signposts that indicate where it has been. For example, if a site has 5 top 10 rankings, rest assured having 10 is not a stretch of the imagination, rather merely a matter of time.

What you cannot see, is how the strategies overlap, so just as in chess you make the first move, but are thinking four to six moves ahead, SEO works the same way.

The Process of Website Authority and Link Building

When you first analyze a website (after you have seen enough top 10 rankings to be proficient in your analysis) you start to develop a feel for what it takes to land a page in the coveted top 10 search results for competitive keywords.

Much like a weatherman, although you cannot surmise exactly with pin point accuracy, you can however predict certain behaviors by executing certain protocols or seeing tell tale signs which represent patterns you have deciphered in the past.

The first step is usually removing all of the things that obstruct search engines from getting to the real gist of the page, the content.

Search engine spiders follow passages from one website to the next, these are links. Links are responsible for connecting your content as well as connecting your site as a hub to and from the internet.

Based upon your use of links, internally in the site and externally referencing your site, you can create link popularity and relevance for your material.

We know for example that links are the basic fundamental building blocks that are responsible for how websites are ranked.

The higher quality the link, the more value the link passes. Get enough of them, and your website is the new authority on the block, and as such high rankings are a by product.

So, we know that instead of creating or building links from off topic sources (link farms or tacky free directories with low quality links) which have little value, that what we do have control over is the content and the types of industries we select to execute a link popularity program.

So, for example a new site or a website that has not really branched out and performed any type of website promotion is better off using article marketing (a controlled method that creates context and piques interest for visitors) to build quality inbound links.

Instead of linking to hundreds of low rate directories in an attempt to persuade the search engines to heighten your online credentials, instead we would suggest using articles and controlled distribution to inject new material (with links back to your site) intact in each article (like the one you are reading now).

In this way, it creates a linking buzz back to your site, which then gets indexed from search engines, but now instead of the new guy on the block, you are the new bona fide expert, as a result of the tactical press releases and content you published.

This tactic creates intrinsic value to the reader while providing enough link bait for your website to shake a stick at, enticing readers to investigate further if the merit of your content created an emotional hook. Although that is one example, there is one more important factor.

The Wild Card

The true wild cards of internet marketing are things like the emotional state of the reader, how sticky your sites content is (which changes based upon the emotional state of the reader), do they want to read more, click the back button, purchase your products, etc.

Some things are simply beyond your control and the mood of the person reading your message is one of them.

Based on their mood they will react to certain click triggers under Circumstance A and yet click another selection based on impulse under Circumstance B.

So the gist is, to put yourself in the position of the visitor and weave enough compelling copy into your titles, your pages and your sales pitch to capture a broader segment of traffic while using the back links strategically to position your pages higher in organic search.
About the Author
Jeffrey L. Smith is an seasoned SEO expert and founder of Seo Design Solutions Search Engine Optimization Services. Jeffrey offers fresh optimization methods and Search Engine Positioning for clients nationwide.
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