Keyword SEO - What is Organic Search Engine Optimization
and How Does It Really Work?

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Keyword SEO is all about Organic Search Engine Optimization which is the art and science of getting a website higher placement in the top search engines. Right now, the top search engines are Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, and the Open Source Directory.

No, the Open Source Directory is not a search engine but it is the most important directory and helps feed results for some of the search engines. Ergo, you need to keep it in mind when you do SEO.

What you can do, what you should know

This is a general article on what needs to be done to improve your placement in the search engines and not entirely a “how to” article. There are a lot of tricks and helpful information that you can use on your own for your website. But the really complicated stuff will require an SEO expert.

In other words, after reading this you will be able to discuss SEO intelligently with your web designer to find out if they know anything about SEO and how to at least do the basics. You’ll also be able to know if your SEO person really knows what they are doing.

Meta tags are just the beginning

When a search engine is looking for websites pertaining to the search terms someone typed in, say “pet store Minneapolis Minnesota,” the search engine starts looking for sites that use those terms on their web pages (in a certain ratio to total words). They also look for those terms in the sites HTML. Namely, the <title> meta tag, the <keywords> meta tag, and the <description> meta tag. It will also look in the <alt> text of all the images of your site for those words.

However, when looking through the website’s content, the search engine will also look for those terms used in different order (in a certain ratio to total words) and used with different words (in a certain ratio to total words).

By now, you’re probably asking yourself what’s with the “in a certain ratio to total words”? That’s where the guesswork, Mojo, Voodoo or whatever else you want to call it of search engine optimization comes in.

Search engine algorithms

The search engines use proprietary algorithms to calculate how many times the words should show up in ratio to the number of total words on the page. I have a friend who is an expert in search engine optimization and comes pretty close to figuring that out. He charges a monthly fee to monitor the websites he SEOs because the search engine algorithms change. Therefore, the websites he SEOs must be monitored and modified to keep up with the changes.

Of course, there’s more to SEO than just keywords. The two other huge parts of search engine optimization are things you can do: “relevant content” and “relevant links.”

Relevant content

Relevant content is extremely important. In fact, I’ve seen sites that don’t even have meta tags place higher than sites that do because of the quantity of relevant content on the site. Relevant content is any kind of content, be it newsletters, articles, blogs, podcasts or video that are relevant to the subject matter of your site.

In other words, if you’re a photographer in Minneapolis Minnesota, you would want lots of articles on photography, such as, how to find the best photographer for the type of photographs you need, how to dress for different types of photographs, when sepia tone is better than color or black and white. And you need to be adding new articles as often as possible.

Relevant links (incoming)

You need links coming into your site from other sites that have content related to yours. One quick way to do so is to contact photographers all over the country and ask to swap links with them. At first blush, that might sound crazy. However, those people are not your competitors.

No one in Minneapolis is looking for a photographer in Newark, New Jersey. So if you have a link to a photographer in Newark, you won’t loose business to them. But you can list them as a source of more articles and information.

And a link coming in from another photography site or a camera manufacturer or photo gallery will be powerful to the search engines because it comes from a site with “relevant content.” In other words, content related to the subject matter of your own. A link coming in from a pet store will be almost worthless unless the pet store link is from an article on the pet store website about photographing pets.

Relevant links (outgoing)

Each of your pages, articles and other content should have outgoing links to “relevant content”. Today, people expect if your site is truly helpful, you will have plenty of links to other useful content. If not, they assume the article is just a sales pitch and not very useful. Just make certain that those out-going links are “blank” links so when your visitor closes out of the article or site you’ve sent them to, they are still on your site.

Relevant links (internal)

See the link “blank” above? It leads to a definition of a “blank” link on another page of my site. That’s an internal link to relevant content. The search engines and visitors both like that. It helps visitors to learn more and it tells the search engines that the content on your site is inter-related and helpful.

The only people you care about are in Minneapolis, Minnesota

And as important as those articles and helpful content are, you must remember that you aren’t trying to attract the attention of people in Newark, New Jersey. You only care about people in your local geographical area. So make certain that Minneapolis, Minnesota or Tulsa, Oklahoma or wherever you consider the majority of your customers come from, is mentioned in every one of your articles, in your keywords, your descriptions, and your page titles.

UPDATE - 6-9-2010 - If you're looking for tools to help you simplify or automate your online marketing, I recommend you read these reviews of Website Marketing tools.

Don’t use generic search terms

This relates to the above paragraph. Never use just the word photography or even business photography or graduation photography. You must always put a geographical area with your keywords. Let’s take a quick look at the difference this can make.

I just Googled “photography”. This is the results I got:

Results 1 - 10 of about 271,000,000 for photography

How on earth could you possibly place anywhere near the top of that listing? However, I next Google “graduation photography Minneapolis Minnesota”. This is the results:

Results 1 - 10 of about 1,200,000 for graduation photography Minneapolis Minnesota

While going from going from 271 million down to 1.2 million results may not sound like much of an improvement, that’s when all the other search engine optimization methods you’ve used start to kick in and raise you towards the top of the list.

Download our FREE 38 page Online Marketing Primer to learn about the most effective online marketing methods available today. Then Contact me for an Online Marketing quote or to discuss creating a cost effective online marketing program to drive customers or clients to your website.

 

Every page must be unique

And finally, never use the same <title>, <description> or <keywords> on any two pages. The search engines are looking for “unique” content and if they see the same < title>, <description> or <keywords> on a second page, they will assume that there is nothing new on that page and discount it.

Treat every page like it is totally unique when you are optimizing the title, keywords and description. However, treat it like a part of the whole when you are placing links within the content. And always think about it’s relevance to other website’s content when placing links within the text to outside sources.

Whenever you run across another site that has information your visitors might find interesting or useful, try to find articles on your site that are related and look for words you can make into links to that content. (Remember, “blank” links!)

One final caveat about search engine optimization

There is no one size fits all. There is also no such thing as “your site has been search engine optimized and you’ll rocket to the top right now”. SEO is an ongoing process. Sites move up or down over a period of weeks, months and years.

Unless you are Best Buy or Yahoo, your site will be moving up or down constantly and requires the regular addition of relevant content, relevant links and SEO monitoring. Not to mention all the other methods of Internet marketing.

Other useful SEO software reviews, SEO tools, SEO tricks and SEO books:

If you'd like to have my experience and knowledge and “all my SEO tricks” applied to your website, don't hesitate to call me at 612-226-7667 or send me an email at [email protected] .

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Download our FREE 38 page Online Marketing Primer to learn about the most effective online marketing methods available today. Then Contact me for an Online Marketing quote or to discuss creating a cost effective online marketing program to drive customers or clients to your website.


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