Saturday, January 27, 2007

23 FAQ'S on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

By Kath Dawson

1.What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)? Search Engine Optimisation is the process of preparing a web site in order to achieve search engine rankings that drive traffic to your site. SEO is an ongoing process beginning with the initial optimisation of the site, monthly maintenance of the site, regular evaluation of search results and adjustments to the site.

2. What good is having a web site if it is not being seen? 90% of Internet buyers are turning to search engines to find the products they want. Google alone conducts over 150 million searches a day. In fact, recent studies show that purchasers are about 12 times more likely to buy your products or services after finding your site through a search engine than all other traditional advertising methods combined (including trade shows, print ads, direct mail, radio, and even television)... at a fraction of the cost! Why? Simply put, when a consumer finds you through a search engine they are ready to buy. With traditional forms of media, you are broadcasting a message hoping to reach the right consumer at the right time.

As searchers generally only explore the first two pages in the search results, achieving high rankings on the search engines will make an enormous difference in the amount of visitor traffic your site receives.

3. Why doesn't my web site rank very well in the search engines? Having your web site rank high in the search engines is a science and the rules for search engine optimisation (SEO) are always changing.

Here are some reasons why you may be having poor ranking:

Incorrect usage of the TITLE tag or no TITLE tag content. Too many occurrences of the same word in a page (spamming). Missing H1 and H2 heading tag content. Missing ALT tag content in your graphic links. No meaningful content in the first 250 characters on each page. Less than 200 words per page. Very few pages on your website. No links from other web sites to your web site (link popularity).

4. How does the Search Engine find websites? There are two ways a search engine can find a website to add to its database. The first and most direct method is to accept submissions from web site designers and optimisers. Most search engines have a "submit your URL" section inviting submissions from Internet users.

The second, and least obvious method of finding websites is to send a "spider" to follow each and every link on, off, and through a website. New URLs encountered by the spider will be added to the database. In this way, some search engines will grow very rapidly.

5. How long does it take for SEO results to kick in? The amount of time required to see results of search engine optimisation work range anywhere from 2 weeks to a few months. This is dependent on how often search engines update their index and subsequently re-rank sites. The Google Dance for example is almost a spectator sport among the SEO community.

6. What is my site ranking dependent on? Site ranking tends to be "cumulative" and is dependent on the following factors:

The specific keyword phrases (search terms) that have been targeted The overall competitiveness of your industry - how many players are there Whether you are targeting a regional, national, or international market How well ranking is monitored and the site tweaked over time for SEO improvement The progress of your inbound linking campaign Number of competitor sites achieving new ranking themselves.

7. Why might I need to have extra elements added to my website? A search engine spider is an automated program that electronically probes every URL submitted to its database. As the spider is a computer program, it is designed to look for and rank very specific items on each page it probes. If those elements are present, the spider computes a higher ranking than it would if those elements were not present.

8. If these elements are so important, why didn't they get added when my site was originally designed? Most website designers haven't learned the importance of search engine friendly design. In almost every case we've encountered, the site designer is a highly skilled and creative person whose job is to put your ideas on the web. More often than not, the designers have not received any training in search engine optimisation and don't think about it while pursuing a cool looking design.

Search engines are also constantly changing their ranking criteria. They do this to prevent gross manipulation of their search tools. Often, website designers are not fully up to date with changes at search engines.

9. Does every page of my website really need to be optimised? In a word - yes. Every page of a website can be a potential entry point or 'landing page' for visitors. You can't predict which page or pages will be ranked the best for specific keywords. As such, each page must be individually optimised too for optimal ranking. Collectively, all pages of your web site reinforce the common "theme" of the site, which also can help boost ranking. Don't assume that your home page is the only important page on your site.

10. Isn't This Something We Can Do Ourselves? Large amounts of time, attention and expertise are needed to achieve the desired results in such a constantly changing niche industry. The expense of adding personnel and necessary resources alone would quickly outweigh the cost of hiring our company, which is why outsourcing SEO is by far the most popular method. Remember, an SEO company has already established strong, ongoing relationships with all the top search engines, and has experienced professionals who are constantly researching the changes and trends in this dynamic field.

11. Can you guarantee a number #1 position in the search engines? Nobody can guarantee a number #1 position or specific ranking for your site for a given keyword phrase in the organic search engine results. There are simply too many factors beyond anyone's control - the search engines changing their ranking algorithms, efforts made by competitors, and new sites being added to the Web.

Obtaining a specific ranking is analogous to managing a portfolio. Your financial advisor will do their best to monitor the stock market and other indicators and to make sure your portfolio is managed to the best of their abilities. However, your advisor cannot guarantee that your portfolio will be at a specific value or even that the amount will be up at all by a given date.

12. It's been several months and my website finally shows up in Google but it's ranked in the hundreds. Why is that? It's not always easy to get better search engine rankings. In fact, search engine optimisation is part science and part art. Search engines continually change their algorithms and tweak their rules for ranking. It is possible that Google does not fully read your page due to structural issues, your web site (or at least individual web pages) could be lacking in meaningful content, no significant web sites link to you, your web site is too small to be of any value to people searching for your topic, or any other range of problems.

Search engines may be flooded with web sites on a given topic, making it more difficult to achieve higher rankings. As such, a good search engine optimiser will look for a niche to exploit. For example, consider whether your web site has greater appeal to a local, national, or international region.

13. My web site did not get accepted last time I submitted to the search engines... why? Search Engine listings are not guaranteed to everyone who posts a web site to the Internet. Search engines are for-profit businesses and have the right to refuse to list any site for virtually any reason. We ensure all bases are covered and all necessary elements are present before submitting the finalised site to the search engines or directories.

14. Why Should I Choose to Outsource SEO? To achieve a high ranking web site, you have to know exactly the most effective META tag design formula, best web copy writing techniques, keep track of current search engine ranking algorithms, know what format to submit the site in to every engine and how often to resubmit the site. You also need to know whether your site is technically compatible with search engine robots, what types of pages the engines will accept and which will be barriers to ranking, plus what sort of overall "relevancy score" your site will receive from each engine you submit to.

Not only that, but once you're ranking highly, you have to monitor your progress and adjust your tags every now and then to ensure you stay up above your competitors on all engines for your major search phrases. These are all crucial steps to a high ranking, but very time consuming and not your core business!

15. How Do You Choose the Best Keywords? The first step in our SEO campaign is to develop your Keyword Profile. Based on your initial input, we will use a combination of experience and software programs to generate a list of the most effective and well-searched keywords in your industry. We then work together to refine this list and compile the list of keywords and phrases that will be most beneficial to your product or services. You know your business and we know ours. We know how important it is to work together to generate the most effective Keyword Profile possible.

16. Will You Need to Access Our Web Server? Yes, we will need access to your web server in order to upload and periodically update pages. We do our best to keep you informed every time we do an upload or make a change. It is vital that anyone else who may be making changes to your site stays current with the optimised pages we provide.

17. Do You Have to Make Changes to Our Site? While many of the changes made to your site are done behind the scenes in the source code, it may be necessary to make certain minor changes to your site's copy or layout. In most cases, these changes are minimal. We post all changes made to the front end of your site to our test server for your approval before we go live with the changes.

18. I found other services that do what you do much more cheaply: how do I choose? Some companies take advantage of the uninitiated web site owner promising top rankings for �G9.95 or something similar. Beware of such promises - if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. That �G9.95 will typically buy an automated submission to 10,000 "engines" that nobody ever visits or possibly even result in a domain ban for over submitting. Once the �G9.95 campaign is finished, so is your domain. There is no such thing as #1 rankings in all search engines or "it only takes 2 weeks and �G9.95".

More importantly, most of these services only include submission, not optimisation, as a part of their deal. Submitting an un-optimised site to the engines simply will not improve your rankings. If you don't plan on optimising your site before submission then you shouldn't bother submitting it at all.

19. What should I look for when choosing a SEO consultant? The ideal Consultant is one that understands the dynamics of marketing, business, and technology - and employs the highest levels of integrity in their work. There are a number of unethical practices or short cuts that can be used in search engine optimisation, but the search engines themselves often times will not accept these questionable or "tricky" practices.

You should choose a company that doesn't promote these practices to achieve short-term results for its clients. You should also expect to benefit from the research expertise, customised approached, management expertise, and on-going consultative process from a SEO firm.

20. What's the right time for me to start a search engine marketing campaign and how long it last? No time like the present! We usually establish 12-month campaigns. There is an enormous amount of education, research, analysis, technical programming, and testing performed in the first 3 months in particular.

21. How often will I receive search engine ranking reports? We send out search engine ranking reports monthly to our clients.

22. How often do you resubmit my site to search engines? If your site is search engine compatible and optimised correctly, regular resubmission to engines is generally unnecessary although we find that monthly submissions to some search engines assists in maintaining rankings. Our ranking reports and maintenance checks keep track of your site every four weeks. If your site is already ranking highly, there is no need to resubmit it. However if any engines have lowered or dropped your site altogether (as can happen from time to time), it will be resubmitted to those engines.

If an engine has dropped your rankings considerably since last report, it is time to tweak your META tags or check the optimised pages for any problems. This is included as part of your Monthly Site Ranking Management Service. Search engines will generally pick up the changes during their next edit and re-rank the site accordingly. Resubmission is usually only necessary if your site has undergone major content changes.

23. How will I know if my business increases as a result of top rankings? There are numerous Web Analytics tools available in the market that can help you to track the effectiveness of your campaign. By the end of the first twelve months, you will get an analysis of your activity at the end of the campaign as compared to the baseline established at the beginning of the campaign.

Kath Dawson is head of the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) team at Strategy Consulting Limited. We have a wealth of experience in delivering effective SEO to a wide range of clients. Contact us today to find out how our services could improve the results of your online business.

Article Source:

SEO Short Cut |



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