SEO Strategies for High Search Engine Positioning

What is SEO?

With more and more consumers using the internet to research and get products and services, it is almost necessary for every business to have a visible online presence. The key word here is visible. Often businesses naively design a website, publish it on the web , and just hope that their potential customers will discover them. Unfortunately, with too many web pages on the web for search engines to sort through, it requires proactive, strategic techniques to achieve high search engine positioning these days .

SEO is the buzz term when it comes to ranking high for your target keywords in Google or other search engines, like Yahoo and Bing. For those who aren’t familiar with this term , SEO means search engine optimization. According to Wikipedia, SEO is “the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a website… from search engines via ‘natural’ or un-paid… search results.” There are two main categories of SEO techniques : on-site optimization and off-site optimization. On-site refers to techniques you employ on the web page itself. Off-site refers to techniques that are implemented online, but not on the web page, like obtaining keyword-rich back links to your site from a variety of online sources. Good SEO does generate “free” traffic from the search engine’s point of view , but usually it does require a significant investment of time and money to get done . So what is required to land on the top page of Google search results for your target keyword phrases? Read on.

Start with Keyword Research

The foundation to high search engine positioning is doing niche market keyword research preferably BEFORE you create your website. Useful tools like Google Insights for Search and the Google Adwords Keyword Tool can help you find what keyword phrases are consumers using to find your kind of products and services online . Build your website structure around related broad keywords (1 to 2 words in length). Write your website content around long tail keywords (2 to 4 words in length), given that the keywords generate enough interest online to satisfy your needs. Be sure to attach very specific geographic terms to your keywords, like “Nashville cleaning service”, if you offer a local service or have a local retail location.

Be sure to check how competitive your long tail keyword phrases are, meaning are there many websites targeting your phrase through keyword optimization and anchor-text backlinking? If so, you need to make a decision that you are committed to the race for the long haul , as keyword phrases that are very competitive will demand a greater investment of time, both initially and on a monthly basis . This is because other businesses are actively doing the SEO work needed to compete for that phrase.

Build Your SEO Campaign Around Competition Analysis

The next step to high search engine positioning is to analyze the SEO strategies of your current competition . Just type in your target long tail keyword phrase in Google and discover who comes up on the first page results. Niche Watch and Keyword Spy are both tools that can be used to extract some of the necessary SEO information from your competitors , namely , the number of back links they have and what is their overall page rank. You can visit your competitor’s web page and discover if your target keyword is found in their page title and how often that keyword appears in their page relative to the total number of words on that page. Additionally , on their page, you can check out their page source code through your browser to see if they have your target keyword in their meta tags and site description. The last element I’ll mention in competition research is to use Yahoo’s Site Explorer to find out how many back links your competition has with your target keyword phrase in the anchor text of the link. If you want to do some serious competition research, you may want to invest in some fancy software, as this information can be difficult for some to assemble and organize.

When you gather the necessary information together on your competitors that appear on the first page of search results, you now have an action plan of what you must to do to achieve first page search engine ranking . This is a critical point to remember. The key to high search engine positioning is just beating out your competition in the SEO war . Your job is to convince Google and other search engines that your web page is more relevant and popular than your competitor’s web page for your target keyword phrase.

It’s honestly comparable to a chess game that takes place over months of time. You are competing with other businesses that are obviously savvy about SEO’s importance and investing the time and money into what’s needed to keep their high position . It’s also a ton of work if you are in a competitive niche, and unless you have a lot of time on your hands, you will need the help of expensive software services if you want to do it yourself efficiently. Otherwise, I recommend outsourcing all or part of your SEO needs to an SEO firm or consultant, like The Self Promoter.

Track Your Progress in the SEO Game

Before ending , I’d like to mention an important part of SEO that is not really SEO, specifically , evaluating your starting position if you have a website already and tracking your progress as you play the SEO game. One basic tool for quickly checking your rank in the search results of the main search engines for your target keyword phase is Rank Checker. Check your rank periodically and maintain a record of how you are ranking along with a log of what SEO steps you have done between rank checkings. An additional tool that you should install on your site is some type of visitor statistics tracker, like Google Analytics. It will tell you in real time how many visitors you have received to your site, through what keywords they arrived on your site, and the length of their visitation . This information will help you to determine whether your on-site content and structure are working for or against your SEO campaign and whether visitors enjoy your site .

The last aspect I’d like to bring up in keeping track of your progress is conversion checking. Conversion refers to the percentage of your website visitors that take action, whether that be a purchase , contacting you by phone or contacting you by email . In the end , conversion will help you evaluate whether your whole SEO campaign and on-site sales copy are effective or not. In general , normal online conversion rates can fall anywhere between 1 and 10% depending on your industry.

The Self Promoter website has a helpful resource list of links to the free tools mentioned in this article and offers reasonably priced consulting services for small businesses who strive for high search engine positioning.

Inga Goodwin conducts SEO research and online marketing campaigns for small businesses, especially the hood cleaning industry. She is dedicated to helping small businesses achieve high search engine positioning and making sure their website is designed to convert visitors into sales leads.