Thursday, May 8, 2008

3 Steps SEO

SEO is really divided into three main phases:
* Identifying the best keyphrases to optimize a page for (Phase I)
* Inserting the keyphrases in places in the page that the engines use to determine what your pages are focused on (Phase II)
* Getting incoming links from other sites. The links must use the keyphrase for which your page is optimized (Phase III)

Engines rank a page by looking through their database and returning all the pages that match a searchers query. In order to do that the engine needs to work out what keyphrase each page of your site is focused on. That's what Phase II does. Then the engines (especially Google) look at all the pages that are focused on a searchers query and sort (or rank) them according to which of the matching pages have the most incoming links. Phase III works on this aspect of optimization.
What follows is a detailed description of each phase.

Phase 1:

The trick in Phase 1 SEO is to cast as wide a net (number of keyphrases) as possible in order to capture the maximum amount of traffic. In order to do that a site has to be built whose structure and pages use all the keywords/phrases possible whilst retaining usability and intuitive/logical navigation paths. So a big part of the Keyword analysis phase of SEO involves
identifying all the possible keyphrases and working out the navigation of the site so that they are are leveraged without impacting usability. Every navigation level (category/sub-category) you create in a site is an opportunity to create another page that you can optimize to target another keyword and therefore get more traffic. The way we do this is to collect every keyphrase we can find that is ACTUALLY used by a potential customer looking for your services. The next step is to map the identified keyphrases against the existing (or desired) navigation structure of your site. If we build brand new navigation for your site then we begin to look for logical groupings which then start to form the navigation categories and sub-categories of your site. If we must retain the navigation you already have then our job is to match the actual navigation and pages of you existing site with some of the keyphrases we have identified. Where no match is possible, we either create additional navigational structures that allow you to leverage the keyphrases, or we build things like a glossary or other devices that give us an excuse to build and optimize a page for those keywords.

Phase 2:

Phase II is where we actually get to work and build/modify the pages in your site to include the keyphrases we have identified. These keyphrases are inserted in strategic places within each page, such as Title (most important), H1 tags, Visible link text (all other pages in your site should link to each other using the keyphrases the target page is optimized for). It is important to note that the content created for each page in this phase should be of high enough quality that visitors to the page would feel they were gaining useful knowledge. In other words writing a few junk paragraphs is not probably not going to cut it. This is because if you have much competition the only way you can compete is to have more incoming links to your site than the completion...and the only reason for anyone to link to you is if they think your content is valuable to their visitors
Phase III also includes building pages with Style Sheets to get all the formatting out of the HTML. This means when a search engine sends its spider to "suck" up your content it gets mostly content instead of miles of formatting code and JavaScript.

Phase 3:

About 1 month after the site is built/optimized and the engines have indexed all your new pages we can start to see where you are ranking for each keyphrase. This is where we decide whether or not you need to get incoming links to your site in order to compete, and this is where the
quality of your content really counts. If you do need incoming links, WorkingTraffic will identify directories that cater to your market. These directories will include a link to your site sometimes for free but usually for a nominal fee. Only reputable directories that are really providing a good service to their customers will be selected. Getting links from rubbish sites is no help at all and getting links from "dodgy" sites will actually reduce your ranking with the search engines. It is the quantity and quality of all inbound links that Google and other major search sites use to judge how useful your site is, and therefore how high to rank it in comparison to other competing sites optimized for the same keywords.

Remember, you can never have too many incoming links as each one either increases your ranking, makes your existing positions safer and less likely to fluctuate (as competitors work on their sites and new players enter the market) and of course each link is yet another potential stream of targeted traffic from the source site. One caveat though is that you CAN have too many links created too quickly, Google appears to penalize you very serverely if your site suddenly gets 100 links from a bunch of dodgey directories.


As you can see SEO done thoroughly is not a "quick fix" kind of job but rather an ongoing process, especially if you have strong enough competition (which means enough sites optimized well enough for the same keyphrases as you). However if you are ranking well at the end of Phase II you may not need Phase III. The best way to look at SEO is that it WILL increase your traffic, how much it will increase is dependant upon all the factors discussed above and how well each phase is performed. The really great thing about SEO is that every web page that is optimized for a specific keyphrase is actually a trickle, stream or flood of traffic depending upon how many searches are done and how many other sites are competing for that keyphrase. Once you build the page you will continue to get traffic for it as long as that page remains online, this makes SEO one of the most cost effective means of generating new business that is available to business today. So there it is in an oversimplified nutshell. However you now probably have a better understanding of the ground work behind SEO than most, which should be a help whatever course of action you decide on, even if it is evaluating another SEO or Online
Marketing Service Provider.

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