For information or product driven websites, one of the most vital parts of your web marketing strategy will need to be SEO: Search Engine Optimization.
Although traffic from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can be substantial, very often it’s not made up of the kind of visitor that clicks an ad or buys a product. This is especially true with Twitter, where your link is often just a tiny morsel in a larger link-clicking frenzy.
Compare that type of traffic with users coming to your site from somewhere like Google. Those users are actively searching for specific information, a price comparison or a product review. When they find your page – which is naturally full of up to date & useful information – they’ll be glad to have found you, be in a positive mood and much more likely click on a related ad or a product link to find out even more about the subject.
What this means is that getting a good stream of traffic from search engines has a direct impact on the money you make online.
A Basic SEO Plan That Works
Search engine optimization is an in-depth subject – entire books have been written about it – not surprising given it’s such an important subject.
But for this tutorial we’ll break it down to the two basic parts.
First, you need to make sure that search engines (and real users) can easily understand what your site is about and where to find key pages.
Second, you need to get as many links as possible from sites and blogs that relate to the subject of your site.
At this stage there’s no need to get more complicated than that. Yes, there are many other strategies and methods you can use but these two things combined will do 90% of your SEO for you.
Step 1 – Site Optimization
Let’s start with the single most important SEO element on a page, the page title.
Put your keyword phrase once – and only once – in the title. Because it’s going to be grouped with lots of other page titles in search engine results, it’s a good idea to follow your keywords with a snappy phrase that will make the user want to click your link rather someone else’s.
So rather than just plain Paris Hotels a stronger title would be:
Paris Hotels – 7 Romantic Breaks for Less
Paris Hotels – From $70 a Night, Save 75%
These titles work because the first part (Paris Hotels) confirms to the user that the page is relevant to their search, while the second part promises some intriguing extra information.
Just make sure the title doesn’t get too long. Aim for a maximum of 50-60 characters.
It’s also important to have natural variations in your titles, so don’t use the same or very similar titles throughout your site. Mix things up a bit.
Keywords in the Content Text
Make sure you mention your chosen keywords once or twice in your content but don’t go overboard. Just be natural.
Using the same phrases over and over again in your text won’t make your site appear higher in search engine rankings. If anything it’s likely to get you penalized (it’s called keyword stuffing).
Less important, but still helpful, are things like giving your images titles and alt tags that relate to your keywords. Again, just write a short description a real user will find useful and don’t try to keyword stuff.
Step 2 – Link Building
Now that your pages are optimized for search engines it’s time to get some links.
For search engines every link from another site to yours counts as a thumbs up for your content. Not only will you get extra visitors via the link but Google and other search engines will count it as a “vote”. The more votes you have the better, especially if the sites you get links from are well-established and popular.
Link Building Ideas
Directories – as well as the big guys like Yahoo, Business.com and Dmoz.org find the niche directories that relate to your site. Google something like “keyword links” or “keyword resources” and take a look at the sites that come up.
Some sites, especially the larger ones that can send a lot of traffic your way charge for listings, others will be free.
If you come across a page of links with no clear way to submit a suggestion, try contacting the owner via the contact form or email address on the website. Often a nicely worded request with a Please and a Thank You will get results.
Forums & Message Boards
Search for online communities in your market. Check the homepage of the forums. If it looks busy, sign up and get posting. Most communities allow you to add a link to your profile page and forum signature.
This can be a great way to get traffic – but only if you keep your forum posts relevant, useful and informative. Don’t just write about you and your website. Instead, aim to get a reputation for good answers and you’ll find people will click your forum signature to read more of your great advice.
As with forums, leaving an inspired comment on a popular blog can pull in extra visits and since most blog comments are moderated it’ll probably bring you to the attention of the site owner. If they like your stuff, they may well add your site to their blogroll or link to you within a post. Which means more traffic coming your way.
Many blog comment forms have an option to add your web address, so make sure you fill that in. You can also link directly to a post on your site within your comment. Just make sure it’s relevant to the discussion you’re commenting on and don’t do it in every single comment you post. Nobody likes a PITA.