Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Beginners. You've finished your web design, uploaded your files, and set up your blog, but you're still not getting as many ...
What SEO IsSearch Engine Optimization refers to the collection of techniques and practices that allowa site to get more traffic from search engines (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft). SEO can bedivided into two main areas: off-page SEO (work that takes place separate from thewebsite) and on-page SEO (website changes to make your website rank better). Thistutorial will cover both areas in detail! Remember, a website is not fully optimized forsearch engines unless it employs both on and off-page SEO.What SEO Is NotSEO is not purchasing the number #1 sponsored link through Google Adwords andproclaiming that you have a #1 ranking on Google. Purchasing paid placements on searchengines is a type of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and is not covered in this tutorial.SEO is not ranking #1 for your companys name. If youre reading this tutorial, youprobably already know that ranking for popular terms is darn near impossible, butspecific terms, such as a company name, is a freebie. The search engines usually aresmart enough to award you that rank by default (unless you are being penalized).Who Uses SEOIf a website is currently ranked #10 on Google for the search phrase, "how to make eggrolls," but wants to rise to #1, this websites needs to consider SEO. Because searchengines have become more and more popular on the web, nearly anyone trying to getseen on the web can benefit from a little SEO loving.Keyword ResearchBefore you can start optimizing your site for the search engines, you must first knowwhich terms you want to target. A good start would be to choose 3 or 4 keywords youwould like your website to rank well for. With these keywords in your mind you can thenset a goal to rank in the top 10 results on Google for each of them (we refer to Googlebecause if you can rank well there, youll rank well on the other search engines). Thesekeywords can be either broad or specific, but youll want to study our list of pros andcons of each before choosing.Broad KeywordsA broad keyword is one that many people search for, because they may only have avague idea of what theyre looking for. Broad keywords tend to be very short and arent
very specific (e.g. "shoes" or "sports"). These keywords are difficult to rank #1 forbecause so many other websites might have an article or two that mention shoes.However, if you can rank well for a broad keyword, you will be receiving a great deal oftraffic.Summary: Hard to rank for, but worth it in the long run. We recommend that beginnersonly choose a broad keyword if their industries are not very competitive.Specific KeywordsA specific keyword is something that contains many adjectives or words that make thesearch very targeted. The people doing these types of searches know exactly what theywant (e.g. "used black high heel shoes"). These keywords are much less competitive andare easier to rank for on search engines. The downside is that they receive a great dealless volume of searches per month. In terms of traffic, you will need to have several #1rankings for specific keywords to equal one #1 ranking broad keyword.Summary: Easier to rank for and its highly targeted traffic. The only downside is thatthe number of visitors you will receive is relatively low.Unique or Branded KeywordsThese are the words that are specific to only your company. They are one of the mosteasiest ways to get traffic. However, some companies will release a new product, with aunique name, and then forget to optimize for that keyword on their website. Their SEOsavvy competitors can then pick up the slack and take over the top rankings for theseterms. If you have a popular brand or product, make sure that you have optimized forthese freebie keywords.Keyword Research ToolsKeyword research tools are 2 parts voodoo magic and 1 part hard statistic. This is partlydue to Google not releasing actual numbers and partly due to overeager SEO Tooldevelopers trying to sell their products. Because there is such a sizable uncertainty in allkeyword research tools, it is best to use as many different sources as you can,. Even withmultiple sources, you should only take the information you gather as a recommendation,rather than a fact.Yahoo has been releasing their keyword search information for years, and many tools arebased off of this specific data. Weve collected a wide variety of helpful tools that willgive you a general idea of which keywords you should target when making andoptimizing your websites.
Picking a Short ListTo put the optimizing tactics that we teach to good use, we recommend that you try totarget no more than 2 or 3 keyword phrases per page. A common mistake by many SEObeginners is to stuff 500 different keywords on one page and wait for the #1 rankings toroll in. That might have worked 10 years ago, but the algorithms that search engines usethese days are much more sophisticated and are not tricked by this. Thats why its best tostart small, and be concise with the keywords that you choose. New sites in particularwill find it nearly impossible to rank well for many keyword phrases upon first startingout.What is PageRank?PageRank is a ranking system that previously was the foundation of the infamous searchengine, Google. When search engines were first developed, they ranked all websitesequally and would return results based only on the content and meta tags the pagescontained. At the time, however, the PageRank system would revolutionize search enginerankings by including one key factor: a sites authority.To determine how important, or authoritative, a site was Google chose several big sites,such as cnn.com, dmoz.org, and espn.com. These sites were clear authorities, and Googlefigured that if these websites chose to link to another site (lets say site B), then site Bwould receive a piece of that sites authority. If site B were to link to another site (howabout C), then site C would also receive a piece of authority, though much smaller.Using this system of passing authority, Google would then count up how much authoritya site had and give it a PageRank from 0 to 10. The PageRank system has become morecomplicated since then, but this is how it all started.Whats my PageRank?If you would like to see what PageRank your site has or other sites have, install GooglesToolbar. Google has made a small green bar that starts at 0 page rank (a blank bar) all theway up to 10 (a full green bar, which is 100% authoritative). It should be noted that thePageRank shown in the toolbar is an estimate released by Google, and it is only updatedevery 3 months or so.Who Uses PageRank?When PageRank first came out, only Google was using the technology, but as othersearch engines have seen how much it improved Googles accuracy, nearly every searchengine has added the PageRank system in to be at least part of their algorithm. In the
past, while many of the search engines were still working on adding PageRank to theirsearch algorithm, some couldnt wait to make their own and instead signed deals withGoogle to have them power their results (Yahoo did this for quite some time).Apart from search engines, SEOs (Search Engine Optimization specialists), link buyers,webmasters, marketers, and anyone interested in a sites value will often look to theGoogle PageRank when trying to quickly determine the importance of a site.How Important is PageRank?When Google was in its childhood, PageRank was the single most important factor forranking well. However, as soon as the SEO community caught on to this, there was agreat deal of people who found ways to artificially boost their clients PageRank. Thosesites became more authoritative than Google thought they should be. Since then, Googleand other search engines have constantly refined how important PageRank is, and itsimportance has definitely declined through the years.One tactic Google uses is to update Google Toolbar PageRank values four times a yearinstead of every week, making it difficult for SEOs to know a sites real PageRank.Another tactic is to prevent a site that has been known to sell links from passing any of itsPageRank (authority) on to sites that it links to. However, Google cant use that tactic toomuch because then they run the risk of preventing good sites from being ranked as theyshould be.This is a battle between Google and SEOs that will not be ending anytime soon!Where do I Get PageRank for my Site?Now weve come to the part where you actually have to do work! Its tough, but getting ahigh PageRank for your site should definitely be part of your longterm SEO strategy.The only way to get PageRank is to get a link from a site that already has PageRank. Thismeans that getting a ton of links from PageRank 0 sites will not help your score.However, a single link from a site with a PageRank 6 can immediately boost your site toa PageRank 5 if the site is trusted by Google and is not linking to a massive amount ofother sites.The process of increasing your PageRank is directly tied to link acquisition. Linkacquisition is getting links from other sites, be it via natural or through link purchasing.We cover both of these topics in greater detail, and you should read each lesson to learnmore about the benefits and drawbacks of each.Final Thoughts: PageRank
Although not nearly as important as it used to be, PageRank can still be the decidingfactor that bumps your site to the top of the search engines. Not only that, but it is also agood indicator of which sites you should spend your most time trying to get links from.Sites with a PageRank 0 are either being punished by Google, or just have an authority ofzero, nada, zilch, bupkis, and generally not worth your time.SEO Title TagThe first and most important part of your on-page SEO is the title tag (<title></title>).Many people who outsource or create a site in a WYSIWYG editor completely forgetabout the last of the meta tags that still gives some quality ranking love from searchengines.The benefits of using optimized title tags are three fold: 1. A user searching for your keyword will see your sites link highlighted in the search engines if your pages title is the same as the phrase they searched for. This drastically increases click through and can even give you more traffic than those who rank above you if their title tags are not optimized. 2. Increase your rankings on the search engines. 3. Help the engines distinguish between pages that might look similar.Higher Clickthrough RatesSearch engine optimization isnt just about showing up number one on search engines.Rather, its about getting the all the traffic that you deserve from the search engines. Ifyou rank #6 for "free hats" and you and your competitors forget to include that in thepages title tag, chances are, the person doing the search wont see much differencebetween your site and the others.However, if you were to change your websites title text to target your most importantkeyword phrase "free hats", then when someone completes the search for "free hats",theyd see your site show up in bold. This technique will greatly increase the users desireto view your site first, as your site looks much more relevant and targeted.Better RankingsAll too often, people believe that the title tag is a place to list the business and domainname of the website. This is wrong and is wasting one of the easiest ways you can tell thesearch engines what the a page is about and how they should categorize it. While humansmight not notice the title tag, search engines certainly do.
Use this opportunity to choose the most important keyword that you want to go after andget the free ranking boost that so many websites are missing out on. If you still want toinclude your domain or name of the company, do it after your keyword, followed by adash (e.g. "free hats - hatsemporium.com") to show that your keyword is the mostimportant.Help the Engines Distinguish your PagesIts not easy being a search engine. They crawl the web day and night, taking theinformation from the web and trying to categorize it in a useful manner so that users canfind what theyre looking for. Make their job easier. Post clearly what the topic of eachpage is, using title tags, and help the search engine to distinguish one page from another.You may have two pages that are quite similar and it may require a little thought to pointout how they different. Dont make the search engines figure out for themselves becausethey might make a mistake. Instead, make the decision for them. Spell the differences outfor them and help your rankings in the process. This is just one strategy in avoiding theduplicate content penalty, which well be getting into greater depth later.SEO Header and Bold TagsAlthough the internet has changed a great deal in the last ten years, one thing that hasremained status quo is the way that webmasters designate topics and things ofimportance. Topics of a page are often set with header tags <h1> though <h6>, whileimportant items are put in bold to make sure that the user noticed them. However, not justthe user notices these attention-grabbing tags. Search engines also use these as primaryindicators of what a page is about and what content its creator thought was mostimportant.Header Tags - <h1> through <h6>Header tags are a great way to help boost your search engine rankings. If youre creatinga page about "free hats" and would like to rank for it, theres nothing shady at all aboutincluding a nice big <h1>Free Hats</h1> at the top of the page to make sure your usersand the search engines know what your pages subject is. However, as with other searchengine strategies, it is important not to stuff too many keywords into these tags. A goodrule of thumb is to include no more than 3 or 4 <h1> tags per page, and always have atleast a paragraph or two of text between your header tags.A page that consists entirely of header tags looks pretty spammy to search engines, and itisnt very useful to your visitors.
Bold, Italic, and EmphasisWhen youve used up your quota of header tags on the page, dont stress out. There arestill plenty of tools to target your keywords with. When mentioning your keywordsthroughout the page, its helpful to put them into italics, bold, or emphasis (<em>) tomake sure the search engines know that these words are important. Often people use a lotof flash animations and CSS <span> tags to format text, but search engines dont have aneasy way of determining either of these. Why make the search eSEO Keyword UseSo youve researched which keywords you want to target, but just putting the keywords inyour <title> and <h1> tags is not enough. If you stop there, youre not going to be able tocover all the bases or pull in as much search traffic as you could. When doing on-pageoptimization for your selected keywords, there are three things to take into consideration:ngines work harder than they need to? Use these basic HTML tags and help yourself (andthe engines) out! 1. Keywords Density - How many times is your keyword mentioned on your site? If its too much, youll look like a spammer; if its too little, you wont look like a relevant match and the search engines wont consider your site. 2. Keyword Variation - Altering versions of your keywords will help you capture hidden search engine traffic. 3. Similar Keywords - These are closely related topics to your keywords that will aide the search engines in correctly categorizing your traffic.Keyword DensityAlthough some SEOs will talk about aiming for an exact proportion (e.g. the number oftimes your keyword appears divided by the total number of words on the page), its a littletoo much work for something that will take care of itself as long as you know how towrite well! Use your keyword frequently on your site, but not so much that it makes thepage look weird or a sentence sound awkward. If you just use the keyword once at the topof the page and then reference the keyword as "it", for the rest of the article, youlldefinitely be using it too little.If you want some numbers, you should use your keyword at least three times on the page.This does not include keyword variations.Keyword VariationsYou may have found a couple of high traffic keywords using a keyword research tool, butthose estimates often group similar keywords, alternate spellings, and plurals into a single
word. Valuable traffic is hidden when using those tools. This hidden traffic lies in all thesubtle variations of your keyword that someone may search for. Plurals - The easiest way to optimize your site is to include the plural version of your keyword at least a couple of times on your page. Nearly every keyword can do this (instead of "free hat", try "free hats"). Misspellings - Although it may make your site look a little unprofessional, including a very common misspelling of your keywrod is one of the easiest ways to rank #1 for that exact spelling and get some free traffic. This is one of the fun things to experiment with after youve optimized the rest of your site. Acronyms - If your keyword is an acronym like SEO, write out the words completely (Search Engine Optimization) so that you can target those people who do not know the acronym.Similar KeywordsIf youre making a page to target "big hats," consider changing up the adjective "big" toits synonyms, like "huge," "giant," "large," "humongous," or "oversized." You can alsouse the names of specific words that relate to "big hats," like "cowboy hat" and"sombrero." By using this tactic, you give yourself a chance to rank for those similarkeywords, plus you let the search engines know more about your page and what itsabout. The more a search engine knows about your page, the better off youre going tobe!SEO Internal Linking StructureThe honest fact is, if company owners knew how important that the internal linkingstructure of a site was to a sites performance on the search engines, theyd have multiplededicated staff working just to make sure they had it optimized 100%. This topic is alittle advanced, but its helpful to break the inner linking structure down into three parts: 1. Page depth 2. Quantity of Internal Links 3. Quality of Internal LinksPage DepthPage depth refers to the number of required clicks to get to a page from the homepage.Pages that are available in one click are deemed more important than those that are nearlyhidden and require more than 3 clicks to reach. It might seem a little strange, but if youcan visualize your website in a tree graph, you will easily notice why certain pages areperforming poorly in the search engines.
By organizing your site in this format, you can see which pages are getting a lot of pagedepth love and which are hurting. If you have a lot of worthless pages and few importantproduct pages, you might take this opportunity to restructure your site.Quantity of Internal LinksThis point is simple; the more internal links you have that point to a certain page, themore important search engines believe that page to be. A common page that ranks wellon almost every site is the homepage. This point will continue to be true for many yearsbecause nearly every webmaster programs their site so that every page has a link back tothe homepage.So how do make your other pages benefit from this? Does that mean you should haveevery page on your site include a link to EVERY SINGLE PAGE in your site? No. Thatsan obvious red flag to search engines, and youll be seen as a spammer if your site has acouple of paragraphs and then 500 links to every other page on your site.A better strategy would to have a "Top Products" section that includes a link to pages youwant to receive the most link love. Another strategy is to have a link for each of the majorareas of your site. This will help give those areas a lot of link love, and in turn, theyll beable to get more link love to the pages contained within them.Quality of Internal LinksJust including a bunch of internal links to an important page is not enough; they also needto be high quality links. For your most important pages, make sure the links they receivehave as many of the following criterion as possible: 1. Anchor Text - If youre targeting a certain keyword(or keywords) make sure the internal links have the keyword in the anchor text. Also, bonus points for using slightly altered anchor text throughout your site. 2. Link Position - The higher a link occurs in the HTML, the better. If you link to "cowboy hats" at the top of the page, but "sombreros" towards the bottom of the page, search engines are going to view the link to "cowboy hats" as more valuable than the link to "sombreros." 3. Link Zone - The best scenario for link love is to link from one page to a highly- related page. The closer the subjects of each are in topic, the higher the amount of link love that will be transferred. For example, it is better to link form a page about "cowboy boots" to a page about "cowboy hats" than it is to link from a page about "tacos" to a page about "cowboy hats." This doesnt mean you shouldnt include links on pages that are different, but just keep in mind that the link love will not be as strong as it could be.
Anchor TextSimply getting links from many other websites is not enough for your website to rankwell in the search engines. The quality of your anchor text will play a huge factor inranking your pages for specific keywords, especially competitive ones.What is Anchor Text?Anchor text refers to the words that make up a link; they are the words that turn yourmouse cursor into a finger-pointing hand. For example, in the sentence, "I really like togo to this store," "this store" is anchor text for the link.Why is Anchor Text Important?Search engines gather data by traveling around the web via links, jumping from page topage. Links are the lifeblood of a search engine and are used as key indicators foridentifying the topics of the pages theyre about to go to. If 100 sites link to a site with thelink "Texas Architect" or similar words, the search engine can be fairly confident that thesite is about an architect in Texas.Targeted KeywordsIf you want a page to rank for a keyword that is particularly difficult, be sure to focus ongetting the keyword in your anchor text. Many newbies will request links to the pagetheyre trying to boost and forget about the anchor text. While getting links to the page ismost certainly going to help, you should try to get at least part of your keyword into theanchor text whenever you get the chance.Varying Anchor Text SlightlyImagine this scenario: you know which keyword you want to target, and youre starting toget links with the desired keyword. Thats great, but you should be careful about gettingtoo many links that look exactly the same. If you have 99% of the links that are pointingto your page with "Rocky Mountain Oysters," that will send up a red flag at Google thatthese links probably are not normal links. This is bad! You dont want to make Googlesuspicious.Instead, when you request other people to link to your page, ask for variations of thatkeyword, such as: "Rocky Mountain Oyster", "Alternative Oysters," "Rocky MountainFestivals," "Rocky Mountain Foods," and so on. It is because people have exploitedanchor text in the past that you have to be careful about the way you do it today.
Keywords and URL AlignmentWhen getting all of these links with the desired anchor text, make sure that youre linkingto the correct page, as a very common mistake to simply link to the homepage(www.example.com) instead of the page that should be getting the link(www.example.com/rocky-mountains/oysters.php).Researching CompetitorsThe internet is a great place for someone to make their fortune, but the secret is out. It isnow unlikely that you will be able to get to the top of the search engines without firstclawing your way through a crowd of competitors. The trick to making this journeyeasier to educate yourself on your competitors and taking advantage of any opportunitiesyou uncover.Known CompetitorsIf your website isnt a unique idea, you probably already know of a couple othercompanies that are doing what youre doing. For example, if you are starting a webdesign company, you can do a quick Google search and see that there are easily over amillion sites, but that doesnt mean its impossible for you to rank well. If you refine thesearch down to the city you live in, the number of sites is a great deal smaller and fromthere you can begin to develop a strategy. Write down your top competitors, and letsfurther research how youre going to beat them.Who Ranks Well for Your Keywords?Do a Google search for your most desired keywords, and pay attention to who is showingup in the top 10 results for each. Is there one company that is dominating the searchlistings? Are there certain sites that seem to rank well for one topic, but poorly for others?On your competitor list, make a note next to the companies that are the strongest. Just byattempting to compete with the big boys, you will find you will get a great deal of searchengine traffic that you never had before.What is the PageRank and Alexa Rank?What PageRanks do your competitors homepage have? If your site is a PageRank 1 andyour competitors are a PageRank 9, theres no way in hell youre going to be rankingabove them in the foreseeable future. However, if youre a PageRank 4 and theyre a
PageRank 6, with a little dedication, youll be able to chip away at that gap andeventually pass them with a long-term plan.Alexa ranks are a completely different beast. A site may rank 100,000, and yours mayrank 800,000, but your site may very well receive more traffic that the other does. This isbecause Alexa gathers data from users who have decided to install the Alexa toolbar ontheir browser. So, if a site has a group of Alexa users that happen to frequent their site,their site will be artificially inflated. If the Alexa rank is in the top 100,000 there is a fairamount of data gathered and you can be more confident in Alexas results.How Many Links do They Have?Now that you know which of your competitors are strongest, you need to find out howthey got so strong. Do a Google search for the websites name (make sure you do thesearch in the form "domain.com" and not just "domain," to eliminate a lot of falseresults). The results will show a rough number of how many links your competitor has. Ifits a huge number, sit down, take a breath, and lets see how youre going to compete.You can also use the link: command (search Google using the form "link: domain.com")and the link popularity checker to see how big a site is on the engines. None of thesetools are exact, but if you use a few sources, youll have a pretty good idea of acompetitors web presence.Decide to Fight or FlightNow that youve seen some rough estimates of the strength of your key competitors, itstime to take a real look at the work ahead of you. Do you have a chance to compete withthe big boys? Are there no big boys and all you need are just a few links to overpoweryour rivals with?Consider the data and think about whether youre OK working long hours to slowly workyour way up to your competitors, or if youd rather do SEO as an afterthought and justcontinue to have fun making your website. You might also decide that youve chosen thewrong industry and start looking for a new industry to compete in!If you want to run, then come back when youve got a new idea. However, if youre readyto fight, read on!Targeting SitesIf you want to rank well for a specific keyword, especially a competitive keyword, youcan go about it the old-fashioned way and try to get links from anyone you can and
slowly move up the rankings ladder. Or, you can use these high-powered techniques toquickly gain authority in the eyes of Google. Research your competitors, and get a link from the top 100 sites that link to them. Search Google for your keywords, and do your best to secure links from those sites in the top 100 for your keywords. Get links from your competitors!Copy Your CompetitorsWhen you do a search for your rivals website, competitor.com, youll find out the mostauthoritative sites that mention your competitor. Visit these sites and decide if it would bepossible for you to get a link from those sites. If its a review site, it may be as easy assending a free product for review to the owner. If its a forum or wiki, it may be just aseasy as adding your link.Dont do this all at once! Make a note of all the sites you would like to get a link from,and slowly acquire links over an extended amount of time. There is no set time period,but try to spread it over at least a 6 month period.Searching for SEOOften, the best way of finding a solid place to get links from is as simple as going over toGoogle and typing in your exact keyword. You may think this is crazy and that theres noway youd be able to get a link from someone who is ranking well for your desiredkeyword, but youd be surprised just how many website owners care nothing for SEO andwill be more than happy to link to your site (as long as your site is valuable to theirvisitors).Obviously, the higher a site ranks for the keyword, the better it is to get a link from them.And if you can somehow pull it off, getting a link from their page, the one thats rankingwell on Google for that keyword, would be priceless.Get a Link from CompetitorsGet a link from a competitor using your nicest greeting and biggest smile! Manycompetitors will be up for a link exchange, but if you have some unique pieces of contentthat your competitors dont, you may be able to get one of those precious one-way links!Diagnosing a Sites Health
While any link is a good link, not all links are created equal. Here are a few of the keyfactors that go into deciding how healthy a site is, and in turn, how powerful a link fromthem will be for your SEO needs.What is the PageRank?Whats the PageRank of the page that is linking to you? What are the PageRanks of someof its subpages that link to other sites? Install the Google Toolbar to find out. While somewebsites may have very high PageRanks for their homepage, the other pages on their sitemay have a much lower PageRank. Pay attention to the specific page that will be linkingto you when considering how good a sites PageRank actually is.Cache StatusDoes the site have an up-to-date entry inside of Googles cache? You can check bysearching Google with the command "cache:example.com". A site that doesnt have anup-to-date cache is often a red flag that there is something wrong with a search enginesability to crawl that site.Link PopularityHow many entries does the site have? What is its link popularity? Use Marketleaps LinkPopularity Checker to get some quick and dirty facts about a sites web presence.Number of Outbound LinksDoes their links page already have a ton of links on it? The more links they have, the lesslink love your site will receive. Also, are there a lot of sponsored links to unrelated siteslike sites about gambling, pharmacies, or adult content? These can also devalue a sitesability to pass on link value.Age of SiteHow long has a site been registered for? Usually, its best to get links from sites that havebeen around for more than two years, as search engines tend to be a little less trusting ofbrand new domains. You can check how long a website has been around by going to theWaybackMachine and seeing when the earliest entry for the domain was.Link Building
The most important part of any SEO campaign is getting more links to point to your site.Links really are the measure of power on the internet, as a site with bad content but a lotof links will outrank a beautiful, relevant, site with great content but no links...everytime.So, you know you want links, but whats the best way to go about getting them? Get links from sites in your industry Have links point to deep URLs on your site Dont do it all at once; do it over time Consider paid links and organic linksGet Links from Related SitesWhen building your sites authority on the web, you should always be striving to get linksfrom sites that are in the same industry as you. Google tends to give more weight to linksthat are in the same industry, especially when the link is from a site that Google views asan authority (a Pagerank over 6).Dont worry about only getting links from sites that are in your vertical, but if you have achoice between a link from a general blog and a blog that specializes in your industry,always go with the industry related site first!Get Deep LinksWhen acquiring links from other sites, dont just have the link point to your homepage(http://www.example.com). Instead have them point to the content pages that you wouldlike to have rank better in the search engines. By getting a link that points directly to acontent page, you are showing the engines: This site contains useful content This exact content page is seen as important by someone else on the internetThe more links you get pointing to a specific content page, the more the search enginesare going to believe that the content page is something special and should be ranked atthe top of the results.Pace Yourself!Although any link is a good link, getting 10,000 links in a week is not as beneficial asgetting 10,000 links over the span of 6 months. When a site suddenly gets a ton of links,this throws up a red flag at the search engines that the site may be trying to cheat its wayto the top. There are exceptions, but it is best to take a long-term approach when
acquiring links for your site, especially if your site is less than two years old (another redflag).Have a plan of how many links you want to get and then work on that plan a few hours aweek for several months. This way you can show the search engines that your site isgradually growing in popularity and is regularly receiving new backlinks (the bestindicator of a good site!).Consider Paid LinksGetting someone to link to you for free can sometimes be hard, especially if youre in acompetitive industry where people have so many other choices of sites to link to. If this isthe case, you may consider buying a certain amount of links every month. To read moreon this, check out our paid links lesson to see the latest ways to go about this.SEO - Paid LinksDebating about whether purchasing links, reviews, considerations, etc. is ethical or not issomething well leave up the individual. Search engines would prefer that all links arenatural, but the fact of the matter is that a substantial number of the links on the internethave been paid for in one way or another. Be sure to check out Googles official policy onpaid links.That aside, lets talk about the different kinds of paid links you have access to and somestrategies for getting the best bang for your buck.Permanent Vs. Temporary LinksThe most temporary a link can be is a paid placement on a search engine. When you signup with Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google to pay for an advertisement spot for a givenkeyword, you are not buying a link; you are buying a paid listing in the search results thatis not guaranteed to even show up. Search engines do not index these links, and they arecompletely ignored when they are determining how much of an authority your site is.This is a common misconception among newbies, and you should be glad that you wontbe wasting any money on your SEO efforts purchasing paid placements on the big searchengines.Moving away from search engines, however, most websites allow you to purchase amonthly text link or banner placement in a designated "sponsor" section. While this typeof temporary link might give you some good click through traffic, the benefit in terms ofSEO is limited. Search engines can take months before they credit your site with the newlink, so if you only purchase a one month placement, youll probably not see a change in
your rankings. For SEO purposes, try to keep a link for at least three months beforedeciding if its worth keeping.On the flip side, a permanent link might be a placement in a websites link section, areview on a blog, or even a new topic posted on a forum. These links are typicallyforever, unless a site is taken offline (happens more than youll like) or the site is sold andredone. These nearly-permanent links are the best for SEO and are key to building upyour sites authority with the search engines in the long-term.Where to Buy LinksThere are several places to buy links. Some types of purchasable links have been aroundfor years, and others are quite new. Expect to see this list change in the future, as its oneof the more volatile parts of SEO there is. Directories Forum Signatures Text Link Ads Blog Reviews Directly Contacting a WebmasterDirectoriesThere are literally millions of directories that you can submit your website to. Not onlythat, but there are services out there that will automatically submit your site to hundredsof directories, for a fee. These directories and services are, for the most part, worthless.The search engines caught on long ago to the people mass-submitting to directories, andnow, only a select few directories pass on the link love they used to.It should be noted that directories which are easy to get into are most likely going tocontain a great deal of poor-quality sites. When the search engines figure out that adirectory is not filtering submissions, the value of the link will be worth next to nothing.This is why we recommend that you focus on the three directories listed below (or nichedirectories for your industry). Avoid low quality general directories!DMOZViewed as the golden child of Google, the dmoz directory has often been the source ofmuch anger and frustration from webmasters trying to get their site listed in this king ofdirectories. Although the value of a link has decreased over the years, a link fromdmoz.org can still significantly affect your search rankings. To be listed on dmoz all, youneed to do is navigate to a category related to your site and submit a free submission.
However, dont expect an immediate response. dmoz is notorious for being slow to addlinks (and sometimes never) for a variety of reasons they probably wont tell you. Also, ifyou resubmit your site to a category you are often placed at the end of the queue, so dontsubmit more than once a year and hope for the best!Best of the WebOne of the oldest sites on the net, Best of the Web has been around since 1994 and ispretty strict about who they let into their directory. To be considered for a listing youmust pay a fee. They also have two different types of payment plans: annual or lifetime.If youre serious about your site being successful on the search engines, pay the lifetimefee, as it will pay for itself soon enough.YahooYahoos directory is similar to Best of the Web, but the quality is a little less. However,all search engines still consider this a valuable directory and a listing here will definitelyboost your rankings.Forum SignaturesForums are a great source of traffic and link love for sites that are just starting out. Firstyou need to find a forum that supports links in the signature, then you simply have to poston the forums to get links. Another option is to sponsor a member of that forum inexchange for them including a link to your website. However, it should be noted thatsome forums do not allow this, and you should research this issue before investing anymoney.Important note: Some forums have a system where links are automatically marked withthe attribute "nofollow", which means that they are marking the links as untrusted. Readup on our no follow lesson to see how this will affect the link love you receive from thatsite.Text Link AdsAlthough this isnt exactly a permanent form of advertising, these types of links tend tobe a bit more below the radar than a typical site sponsorship deal. There are several textlink ad brokers that have a network of sites that are willing to put text links on theirwebsite in return for a monthly fee. At some of these sites you can even get placed on asingle page on the site, rather than on every page (this is good because then your linkdoesnt look like a normal sponsored link!).
Blog ReviewsWith the rise of blogging popularity, it was obvious that something was going to comealong to allow the massive amount of bloggers to make an extra buck. Well, there is anew option for bloggers to make money using ReviewMe, SponsoredReview,PayPerPost, and V7NContextual. All of these sites have a network of bloggers that arewaiting to make a post for your company if youre willing to pay a fee. These posts canrange from a full review of your product to a simple mention of your website in a postthats about the industry you work in.These links are forever, but make sure you dont purchase links from blogs that have toomany paid posts. The search engines are getting better at sniffing these sites out and willoften penalize these blogs, preventing them from giving out link love if all they do is postsponsored reviews.Directly Contacting a WebmasterOften, the best way to get a nice link on a website is to talk to the owner of the websitedirectly. By doing this, you can select sites that do not have a great deal of paid linksalready, and you can get a whole bunch of value at a reasonable price. The downside tothis approach is that it takes more time and effort than it does going through anothercompany that has streamlined the process for you.SEO ToolsThere are a lot of repetitive tasks to be done when optimizing your site for the searchengines. To make your life easier, weve compiled a list of the most popular SEO Tools(nearly all 100% free) and categorized them into the following: Keyword Discovery - Find popular keywords that your site should be targeting. Keyword Volume - Estimate how much search traffic a specific keyword receives each month. Keyword Density - Analyze how well a specific webpage is targeting a keyword. Backlink Trackers - Keep track of how many sites are linking to you. Site Popularity - Determine how popular your site is on the internet. Keyword Rankings - Track of your sites rankings for a keyword in the search engines. Firefox Addons - Install these addons to turn your browser into an SEO research powerhouse.Keyword Discovery
Before you can begin to optimize your site for search engines, you must first know whichkeywords you are going after. Use these tools to find which things people are searchingfor in your industry! Google Adwords - Googles tool is probably the easiest to use and maybe the best if you think about the fact that Google is the most used search engine in the world (meaning they have access to the most data). AdCenter Keyword Group Detection - Microsofts unique tool that will analyze a word or phrase that you give it and determine related phrases. Term Extractor - This tool will take a URL that you give it and return the relevant keywords from that page. It might be smart to insert an article about your industry and see what keywords theyre using. KeyCompete - This program finds out what terms a site is advertising on with their Pay Per Click campaigns. Let them continue to pay for those keywords while you work on ranking #1 in the search engines and getting all your traffic for free! Popular Searches - If you have no idea what you want to have your site be about, consider using this tool which keeps track of the most popular search terms overall.Keyword VolumeAlmost as important as knowing what people are searching for is determining how manypeople are searching for it. Use these tools to get a rough estimate of the number ofpeople searching for a keyword or phrase. Google Adwords External Tool - This has become a lot more helpful, as it now displays the actual volume of searches in a month. SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool - This tool uses wordtrackers API to get the estimated number of searches a keyword receives on each search engine (Google, Microsft, Yahoo).Keyword Density Term Target - This tool takes a URL and the keyword youre attempting to target and returns a letter score (A-F) on how well you have done. Fun, but its hard to determine exactly how accurate it is as the search engines have not released their formulas for dterming how relevant pages are for a given keyword.Backlink Tracker Site Explorer - Yahoos extensive backlink tracker tool. It has become the first choice of many who like to keep an eye on whos linking to them and how many links they have.
Keyword Ranking - Digitalpoints keyword tracking tool also has an option for you to look at how many backlinks your site has. Its a little hard to find, but its there. Google "link:" query prepend - By typing "link:" followed by a domain name like espn.com, you can see a sample of backlinks that Google knows link to that site. It should be noted that this is only a sample, not a complete list. Domain Stats - Looks at the top three search engines to see how many backlinks to your site are showing up in for each. Backlink Analyzer - Currently in beta, this is something that you have to install on your computer. It is a computer application that does not run through a website and you can feel safer that no one is spying on your data.Site Popularity Alexa - Using toolbars installed on peoples browsers, Alexa measures how popular your site is compared to every other site on the web. It tends to be accurate only for sites in the top 100,000. Trifecta - Determines how strong your page is based on several factors, such as: age of domain, page rank, backlinks and a few more metrics.Keyword Rankings Rank Checker - Keeps track of your ranks in the search engines without sharing it with anyone but yourself. However, you do have to download it and install it to your computer. Keyword Rankings - One of the first popular keyword trackers out there. It will tell you your daily, weekly, and monthly changes for each term that you enter. It also has a nice graph feature so you can see your progress graphically! Rank Checker - A very unique name, and it does what it says.Firefox Addons SEO for FireFox - An extension for your browser that changes your Google search results into MIT dissertation. Well maybe not that awesome, but it really does give you a lot of information relevant to why certain sites are showing up in the top 10 results of Google and what kind of competition youd experience trying to get into those ranks. Also a nice way to find sites that are using the nofollow attribute. Greasemonkey - Used by more advanced users who would like to create their own scripts or use other Greasemonkey scripts for SEO purposes.Other
Google Analytics - Although this isnt really related to SEO, Google Analytics has a section that displays all the search terms that your visitors used to get to your site. Advanced Google Searches - A bunch of advanced Google searches that are done automatically with this nifty little tool. Crawl Test - Looks at a given URL to check for any common problems that might prevent your site being crawled properly by a search engine. Google Webmaster Tools - A decent collection of tools from Google that also will notify you if your website is being penalized (if you verify yourself as the site owner). SEOToolbox - A bunch of random tools from Seomoz.