SEO 101


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An introduction the the world of Search Engine Optimization, with a look at the strategies, trends and tactics for SEO circa 2012.

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  • As of Dec. 2011 there were an estimated 555 million websites on the web and 250 million in 2010The google index currently contains over 10 billion items
  • While the ranking formulas used are secret and include hundreds of components, controlled testing of different techniques reveals which factors matter most such as:
  • In other words, don’t play games trying to trick users by presenting misleading information. Provide text links with a clear hierarchy and a sitemap.Write great content that’s relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach and give clear titles and descriptions within your code.Make sure your page URL’s aren’t just a jumble of code, but instead something a child could read and comprehend.
  • Human quality testers rated thousands of websites based on measures of quality, including design, trustworthiness, speed and whether or not they would return to the website. and then used those results to “teach” it’s algorithm via machine learning to recognize those same qualities on its own. The reason so many sites were impacted by Panda was due to the fact that Search Experts had determined that Google’s previous algorithm used the quantity of inbound links as a key component. Thus this tactic was exploited to the extent of creating entire business dedicated to creating sites where you could pay to have links to your site added, hence the phrase “link farms”
  • (as far as we know there is know Google engineer with the last name “penguin”)What it really boils down to, is that if you think you can outsmart Google for very long, you are mistaken, they will find you, and punish you in the SERPS or as a worst case scenario, pull you out of their index.
  • Bottomline – consider your user’s behavior and reward them with appropriate content
  • Image file names in addition to ALT tags can be indexed by a search engineIndexed images are what Google uses to provide search results for images and they will reward your site for correctly associated tags with images. Those that have mislead user with this tactic have been punished just the same.
  • The bottom line is that search engine still welcome optimization techniques provided that they aren’t abused and lead to positive experiences for their users.
  • A Google Search for “Mainsail” returns a variety of sailing links but also a link to Mainsail Investments in the 5th position……While modifying the search to “Mainsail investments” returns the top 4 results as links to the firm.And the 5th-7th search results also relate to the firm based on external links and coverage of the firm further increasing visibility in the results.
  • Almost all click through traffic happens within the first 10 SERP positions across all search engines.
  • The outcome of this process is to determine a set of most relevant keywords with sufficient search volume and the lowest existing competition.
  • We’ll cover tools for this process a little later…
  • Long-tail individual search volume may be low compared to generic terms but they tend represent people who know what they’re looking for and are closer to a decision.
  • In addition spend time evaluating which content is most engaging to visitors based on time spent on specific pages and actions visitors took before and after arriving at those pages.
  • We’ll cover tools a little later…Note that competitive keywords may not always be based on your direct competitor. Others, not in your industry may be ranked for the search traffic you actually desire
  • Essentially the higher the score the more money and time it will require to achieve a top 10 SERP.
  • each page of your site should be assigned a targeted keyword phrase which the content, metadata and inbound links will all be optimized for.
  • each page of your site should be assigned a targeted keyword phrase which the content, metadata and inbound links will all be optimized for.
  • Great writing thatreflects the targeted search terms and is designed to appeal the human visitors who will arrive on your site will drive great results.
  • Meta Robots can be set to tell search engines whether a page should be indexed, followed or archived in addition to other options. For example a series of campaign landing pages with similar content should not be indexed by search engines to avoid being penalized for duplicate content.Search engines do not use the keywords or phrases in the description tag for rankings, but they are the primary source for the snippet of text displayed beneath a listing in the results.
  • Over the past few years, search engines have cracked down on "thin" and duplicate content through penalties and lower rankings. In addition if your CMS generates multiple URL’s for the same content you essentially dilute your own rankings.The canonical tag can also be used across different websites, from one URL on one domain to a different URL on a different domain.
  • There are a variety of paid and free tools to choose from, however most websites rely on the free tool Google Analytics.
  • When tracking traffic sources in Google Analytics you will see “not provided”. For privacy reasons Google does not include source/search results for web users who are logged into their Google accounts while surfing. The long term impact is unclear but most U.S. sites are seeing as much as 20% of their traffic accounted for this way.
  • Optimized PR is a great tool to get inbound links from popular sitesIndustry directories or publications or associations are a good example
  • Be careful about which directories you list your site on. As many as 20% have low domain scores and are frowned upon by the engines. Research them first with a link building tool
  • SEO Quake too…
  • SEO 101

    1. 1. A behind the sceneslook at the world of SEOAaron Lee, PresidentIlluminati Studios
    2. 2. A quick check of the facts… #1 Google position receives 20.3 Average U.S. 18.2% of all Billion searches per month click- throughs Google People using properties search engines to find local 76% drive 67.7% of businesses: all searches 59% of Annual Projected adults use a growth of $77 interactive search engine search: billion marketing spending daily 20% by 2016 (compared to 61% for email)
    3. 3. First let’s address some fundamentals Just what is SEO? SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” and it’s the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors a site receives from search engines. SEO is not a form of web “dark magic” performed by “gurus” The practice is simply the combination of search traffic research & planning strategies with specific web content & coding techniques. Effective SEO experts develop strategies and tactics that continue to evolve in response to advancements of the major search engines and the internet in general.
    4. 4. Why is SEO so important?The internet has become a massively largeset of data and is growing at exponentialrates. Google consistently dominates the search traffic market andIn response, search engine services were it’s share continues to grow.developed to help users discover contentrelevant to their immediate interest. Current Usage breaks down as:As search technology has continued todeliver better results, users have begun Googleadapting their behavior to begin their web 66%experience on a search engine more oftenthan not. Yahoo Bing 15% 14%As brilliant as search engines are, they aren’t AOLperfect. They benefit from sites that 2%structure their content in a way that makes it ASKeasier to discover and rank. 3% Comscore report as of April 2012
    5. 5. Core Google search algorithm components include: Popularity of the overall website andwebpage based on how many and which sites link to your site & page Specific use of keywords on the webpage, URL and throughout the website How popular your site is on social media networks Website level brand popularity Non-keyword specific factors such a speed, link usage, word count, etc. The physical location of the user
    6. 6. So what makes Google happy? In a word… “Quality”Remember that Google wants to make …So Google invests vast amounts ofit’s users happy and it’s effort to make their engine as smart asusers want to quickly discover possible by trying to detect the bestand experience the most relevant “quality” result. And they want to helpcontent based on their search… you provide them with better results to make their job easier.
    7. 7. What’s the big deal about Panda?Google hired a guy named Navneet Panda to help make it’s algorithm“think” more like a human through “Machine Learning”.The updated Google algorithm, named “Panda” was released in February2011 and caused an uproar in the SEO community.
    8. 8. ...And now there’s a Google Penguin?In April of 2012 introduced yet another significant update to their searchalgorithm named “Penguin” that affected about 3% of their index.The focus of penguin was to further police websites using “SEO spam”tactics to drive traffic. You will get slapped by Penguin if you:  …have inbound links from questionable sites that Google suspects as being link farms or spam based content.  …have overly optimized pages, with stuffed or hidden keywords  …try to cloak your site by optimizing for one version of content and then showing users a different version
    9. 9. What does Google see when they visit your site?
    10. 10. What do search engines still struggle with? Determining Difficulty indexing Matching content popularity based on your content with searches content alone• Poor linking structures make it • Content that doesn’t match the • Search engines are effective at difficult for engines to find all terms people use to search with determining the relevancy of content won’t be ranked high the content on a site but need external help with assigning• CMS tools often present • As geography has become a how much of an authority the duplicate pages to search more important factor, sites page or site is on the keyword. engines. often lack or misrepresent this critical content • Search engines assign a quality• Content protected behind forms value based on how popular a won’t be found • Misaligned content terms can site is based on how many attract the wrong traffic causing “quality” sites link to them.• Content within rich media such the site to be ranked lower as Flash, images, video can’t be easily indexed if at all
    11. 11. Now it’s time to walkthrough the process ofsearch optimizationand the secrets ofthe SEO wizards…
    12. 12. The Almighty Keyword Search engines organize their relational databases around keywords Keywords form the basis of how engines translate users intentions into results You must determine which relevant keywords are used by your target audience After researching & analyzing potential keywords, select the best set to optimize for Develop relevant content around your targeted keywords and optimize your siteExecute a complete inbound marketing strategy by integrating your targeted keywords into offsite marketing channels like social media & PR
    13. 13. A quick keyword example… A Google Search for “Mainsail” Search for “Mainsail investments” 1st position 2nd position 3rd position 4th position 5th position5th position 6th position 7th position
    14. 14. 3 Phases of Search Engine OptimizationPhase 1:Keyword Research & Analysis Phase 2: Content Development & Onsite Implementation Phase 3: Monitoring, Maintenance & Offsite Implementation
    15. 15. Phase 1 |Which keywords Loware the “right” Audienceones? Relevancy HighThe first step in asuccessful search SWEEToptimization SPOT High Lowprogram is toconduct research Search Competitiveinto which search Volumes Difficultyterms should be Low Hightargeted.
    16. 16. Phase 1 | Finding Relevant KeywordsThis first step is to draft a set ofinitial search term assumptionsbased onindustry, audience, businessobjectives and if possible anyhistorical traffic analytics.The pool of keywords is thenevaluated using software todevelop additional relatedsuggestions.
    17. 17. Phase 1 | Wagging the “Long Tail”People don’t usually just searchfor a single generic keyword.“shoes” vs. “cheapest patentleather men’s shoes”These multi-keywordsearches are known as“Long Tail” terms andthey make up 70% of allweb searches.
    18. 18. Phase 1 | Assess the pastperformanceEven if there has been no concerted effort tooptimize a site already, a review of the historicalweb traffic analytics is in order.Analytics tools will reveal howpeople are currently arriving atyour site and what searchterms people are already usingto find your site and can revealunexpected opportunities.
    19. 19. Phase 1 | Evaluating Volume &Competitiveness Search Term Search Term Volume Competition• Once the pool of targeted • Next a keyword competitive or keywords has developed, the “difficulty” analysis is conducted second step is to perform an via a software tool. analysis to determine the estimated number of monthly • These tools evaluate a variety of searches happening for each term. weighted factors based on predicted search engine ranking• Generally the higher the volume patterns to determine how difficult the better but make sure you are it will be to obtain a top 10 looking at U.S. vs. global ranking for the term.• Keep in mind relevant “long tail” opportunities.
    20. 20. Phase 1 | Additional thoughtson SEO competitiveness…Your keyword difficulty score is areflection of how much work will berequired to achieve a top 10 searchengine ranking.Typically a difficulty scoreof 50 or less (on a scale of0-100) is easily worthpursuing. A score above 80will present seriouschallenges to obtain.
    21. 21. Phase 1 | How many keywordsshould you have? Each unique page of your website should be optimized for one primary search phrase. Some pages might share some common keywords, for example if you manufacture shoes you may have many pages with “shoe” as a keyword but you would have unique pages for “men’s leather shoe”, “women’s designer shoe”, “infant shoes” etc.
    22. 22. Phase 1 |Rememberyour geographyduring analysisIncluding geographicconsiderations in yourkeyword research willallow you to focus yourSERP’s on localopportunities.Search engines arecontinuously includinggeo-targeted based factorsin their indexes
    23. 23. Phase 2 | Content Creation & Onsite Implementation There are several key components required to effectively implement the results of your SEO research and analysis: ONE TWO THREE FOUR Update or Implement Review Implement or Develop Site Keyword Existing Configure Web Content that Targeted On Indexed Site Traffic reflects the Page, URL’s & Pages and Analytics Toolstargeted search Metadata Update Search to Measure terms for each Content Behavior Code Effectiveness page. (Robots code)
    24. 24. Phase 2 | Content is KingThis subject simply can not beemphasized enough.
    25. 25. Phase 2 | Page Titles, the lowhanging fruit of SEOThe page title serves as a primary and concise summary of the page.The page title is currently one of the single most important SEOfunctions and is frequently misused or forgotten.Best practices for Be mindful of Place importantoptimizing page titles length – don’t keywords close toinclude: exceed 75 the front of the characters title Leverage Consider branding, at the readability and end of the title – emotional impact not the front when writing titles
    26. 26. Phase 2 | Metadata, an invisibleSEO treasure box. Meta Robots Tags The Meta Robots tag can be used to control search engine spider activity (for all of the major engines) on a page level. Meta Description The meta description tag exists as a short description of a pages content. Meta Keywords Although it would seem obvious to place page keywords in this field, search engines has stopped considering anything in here due to spam abuse in the past.
    27. 27. Phase 2 | URL – The Universal Record Locator (or another place for a keyword) Since search engines display URLs in the results, they can impact click-through and visibility. Best practices for optimizing page URL’s include: Include the Use hyphens toMake URL’s easy Shorter is primary keyword separate wordsto understand by better here. but don’t cram instead of other a human more in characters
    28. 28. Phase 2 | Know what’s working withWeb Traffic AnalyticsIf you don’t measure it,you can’t manage it. Implementing a professional web analytics tool prior to launching the new site changes is a critical resource that needs to be in place. If possible, integrate with CRM tools to track lead conversions Decide what actions and content is most meaningful and establish conversion goals around these calls to action
    29. 29. Phase 2 | Avoiding SEOparalysis by analysis.
    30. 30. Phase 2 | Additional suggestions to be search engine friendly… Present a site design and  Consider that people tend content that users want to to search with three return to and even better different intents, make sure want to recommend to your content is aligned. others.  Image names & ALT tags Provide search engines give search engine more with a easy shortcut to context about your content index your site with a  Remember that some SEF sitemap. Learn more content may be best served at: “off site” via social Include your brand at the networks such as end of your title tags YouTube, flickr, etc.
    31. 31. Phase 3 | Now let the search worldknow you’re online…1. Establish Webmaster accounts with Google & 2. Submit XML sitemaps to Bing the search engines via Major search engines provide webmaster Webmaster accounts services that allow you to review and submit Using either a CMS based plugin or a third- information about your website for their party tool build a dynamic sitemap that is index. submitted to the major search engines. This will allow your full site to be quickly and repeatedly indexed.
    32. 32. Phase 3 | Keeping tabs on whatmatters most.• Setup monthly reporting to monitor effectiveness and opportunities• The web is not a “set it and forget environment”. You’ve got to track your SEO KPI’s and monitor for opportunities and threats in the data.
    33. 33. Phase 3 | So you’ve got some goodresults, now how to keep it going?Ongoing Content Optimization• Develop strategies & resources to continuously generate new “optimizable” quality content: Blogs, PR, Social Media, Presentations, White Papers, expanding on existing content…• Evaluate search rankings to determine opportunities for new content or to monitor for new competition• Make sure content, search and development teams are in communication early and often to improve optimization efficiency• Establish regular optimization reviews to measure progress and implement new content
    34. 34. Phase 3 | Google loves links that love your site. Here’s how to create them… • The more traffic a link source site has the better. Basically it’s Global Popularity means of saying that someone popular thinks your interesting. • An inbound link from a site that is closely related by topic toTopic Specific Popularity your site will be valued higher than a generic one • Having a referring site include your search terms in the actual Anchor Text link will be valued more than a generic “Read more” inbound link Trust Rank & • Considering that as much as 60% of webpages are spam, before listing your site on a directory or domain carefully evaluate their Link Neighborhood Trust Score & Domain Authority • The more recent the link the more weight the search engines will Freshness place on it. Therefore an ongoing link campaign will ensure that fresh links are being created • Although the exact weight of inbound links from Social Social Sharing Networks is unclear, they are still a rising factor in the search algorithms.
    35. 35. Phase 3 | Getting on the right list.• Research free & paid directories and determine their value based on domain trust and cost.• Submit site to select free industry or web directories • • Industry Associations• Consider submitting site to paid web & industry directories
    36. 36. Phase 3 | The art and science of link building. • These links are generated through PR, Social and “Natural” Viral sharing of good content. The more inspiring Editorial or meaningful the content the further these links will spread. • These links are generated through direct requests Manual from customers, vendors and other website “Outreach” owners. Directory listings would also fall in this category. • Many websites offer any visitor the opportunity toSelf-created, create links through guest book signings, forumNon-editorial signatures, blog comments, or user profiles. While lower in value they can be helpful in aggregate.
    37. 37. Phase 3 | Does SEO “like”Social Media? Oh yes.Social Media can play an importantrole in your link building strategyFacebook, Twitter, Go Social Shares vs. Rich content, image ogle+ Links galleries and more.• Google has begun to • Although there is • Publishing optimized incorporate a huge evidence that social images, videos, etc. to number of social signals shares such as content networks such into its search results. Tweets, Likes, and as This involves serving Plusses effect YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr personalized results to rankings, at this time and others can create logged-in users that links are considered a additional inbound links include content shared far superior and more to your site and extend by the searcher’s social lasting way to promote the network effect of circle (Facebook, the popularity of your your online brand. Twitter and others). content than any other method.
    38. 38. Phase 3 | Things every good SEO’er needs to know but may not…• Does Paid Search • SEO SPAM doesn’t Actually Improve pay in the long run and SERP’s? Not literally but does add to the can cost you dearly J.C. clickable real estate on a results Penny learned the hard way page • If you try• The useless “keyword” metatag cloaking, you’re going Search engines don’t even bother to get a dagger reading them due to abuse and just give your competition access to Don’t optimize for one set of search easy research terms and then try to present different content to the visitor.• Keyword density stuffing Stop loading your • How to tell if you’ve pages with keywords and just make your page read well to humans and upset Google… include your keywords in copy as Site index check, domain/brand it’s relevant. check, top title tag terms = check Webmaster tools
    39. 39. Whether you’re a SEO pro, acurious DIY’er or justlooking for a completeintegrated inboundmarketing platform we’vegot some options for you.
    40. 40. Tools of the Trade: Research & Analysis There are countless tools available to research keywords, competition & traffic. Here are some of our favorites depending on your needs and budget. Tools Comments Cost Google’s PPC planning tools provide valuable insight into Free KeywordToolExternal traffic demand and volumes Compare Google search volume patterns across specific Free earch regions, categories, time frames and properties. Explore macro search trends on Google Free A Bing based keyword research tool that allows you to build Free all-business/adcenter- and expand on your keyword list in an excel interface. downloads/microsoft- advertising-intelligence Keyword research & discovery tools $69mo. Huge keyword database and research tools including on-page Free/$499mo. recommendations and browser toolbar Integrated SEO, PPC & Social research, implementation & $99mo. management tools combining multiple sources of data Combined SEO tool platform including research Free - $799 Fully Integrated inbound marketing platform (SEO, Email, $200mo. - $5,000mo. CMS, CRM) with research tools for SEO keyword discovery, based on email accts. competition
    41. 41. Tools of the Trade: ImplementationTo assist with implementation there are several tools available to improve search indexing andkeyword integration. In many cases a modern CMS will provide admin users with the ability toadd meta/SEO content directly or your developer can assist with specific code edits.Tools Comments “Get data, tools and diagnostics for a healthy, Google-friendly site.” View how Bing sees your site, submit site info for indexing & Free optimize for SEOMOZ based tool to evaluate domain & page ranking Free/$ Integrated SEO, PPC & Social research, implementation & $99mo. management tools combining multiple sources of Combined SEO tool platform Free - $ Fully Integrated inbound marketing platform (SEO, Email, CMS, $200mo. - CRM) with implementation tools for SEO optimized site, blog & $5,000mo. landing page content based on email XML based sitemap generator (Note most CMS tools have custom Free extensions for this as well)
    42. 42. Tools of the Trade: Web AnalyticsTools to monitor site traffic are widely available but some are better for SEO than others. Inaddition we’ve included the best options for managing link building and social signal trackingTools Comments Hard to argue with great and free, but has a bit of learning Free curve for the Formerly IndexTools, Yahoo! Web Analytic is an integrated Free web analytics tool & Yahoo PPC Site Analytics tool & SEO focused features Free/$ Integrated SEO, PPC & Social research, implementation & $99mo. management tools combining multiple sources of Formerly Omniture, Adobe acquired this enterprise web, $1,000mo. - mobile and social analytics platform and their SiteCatalyst $? based on analytics tools are among the best web Multi-channel enterprise analytics, testing and optimization $1,500mo. -lytics platform $? based on traffic Fully Integrated inbound marketing platform (SEO, Email, $200mo. - CMS, CRM) with integrated analytics reporting based on $5,000mo. source to customer tracking based on email accts.
    43. 43. Tools of the Trade: Link BuildingWhile quality link building is still best done with some TLC, there are tools to makethe process more informed and intentional through research and investigationTools Comments Inbound link research, planning and management tool $ SEOMoz publishes a MozTrust domain score via the free Free/$499mo. or as part of the pro MozBar Provides back link research and management tools $ Link research, management and directory generation software $ Fully Integrated inbound marketing platform (SEO, Email, $200mo. - CMS, CRM) with inbound link tracking with competitor $5,000mo. comparisons based on email accts.
    44. 44. If you are interested inlearning how we can helpyou please give us a shout:Call 305-851-8112 or