It never fails to amaze me how much bad information is out there about search engine optimization. Some SEO companies and specialists really want you to believe that it is WAY too complicated for you to handle on your own and that the technology changes too fast for you to keep on top of it. Well, I am here to tell you it is not that complicated; And if you keep these 10 key points in mind, you can do it. If after reading this you still need a professional, Grapevine can help.

1) Search engines use complex math to analyze, categorize, score and rank websites. It may be complicated math, but it is still just math. While the formulas change often, they use the same key factors. If you can fill in the blanks, you can get listed and achieve good placement. So make sure you cover all the key areas in your pages. The following are some examples using a website for cookie cookbooks:

  • Domain Name - is better than when trying to sell cookie cookbooks.
  • Page Title - Used by search engines as text links to your website.
  • Page Name - cookies.html should be about cookies.
  • Headlines - H1 and H2 tags are best.
  • Link Text - Link words like cookies to cookies.html
  • Image Names - Name images based on what they show, like cookie.jpg.
  • ALT Text - Is the text hidden behind graphics and read by vision-impaired web page readers.
  • TEXT - Use your keywords in the text of your pages.

2) Have reasonable expectations and a way to measure results. Everyone wants to be #1 on Google. Face it, you may have to make due just making it to page #1. If you are in a highly competitive industry, your site may literally be one in a million or more. Focus on your brand first, then on your local market-related keywords. Once you know what keywords you are targeting, get a search engine placement monitoring tool and use it.

3) Know when to optimize and when to pay for placement. It is a simple thing that many companies overlook: paid placement can sometimes be cheaper than search engine optimization. Use Google's AdWords Keyword tool and Traffic Estimator to get a handle on how much traffic, competition and PPC costs are involved with each of your target keywords. You may find that you can spend a few dollars a month to get top paid placement instead of spending hours a month optimizing web pages.

4) Search engine optimization takes time and effort. If you don't have the time and patience to do it right, pay someone who will. There is no quick and easy fix or magic bullet. It is all about creating good quality content and building your website like you built your business. Search engines take time to find, download, process and post information they find. Don't expect things to happen overnight, and don't re-optimize before you know how your last set of changes affected your placement.

5) Just like high school students, search engines focus on popularity. In this case, it is link popularity. Get as many sites to link to yours as you can. If you can get a major portal or popular website to link to yours, even better. The best thing to get is a text link using your target keywords from a site with very high link popularity.

6) Domain names matter. The text in the name of your domain name has a major impact on your search engine placement, but that is not the end of the story. When will your domain name expire? Recently, major search engines have added domain age and time to expiration to the list of key factors they evaluate. Older domains that have more than two years before they expire will get extra points. So, renew your domain for more than two years.

7) Page names carry weight. It is common for people to link "About Us" to about-us.html. When looking at sub-pages on your website, think about creating subject specific pages that target one important keyword phrase and use that keyword as the page name.

8) Titles and headlines are very important. Since a search engine is going to display your page title in their search results, often with the search phrase highlighted, you should take particular care to craft the page titles to include your keywords. Once people get to your page, it will help tremendously if the first headline on the page matches or is close to the same as your page title. Use a combination of H1 and H2 tags to focus readers and search engines attention on your page.

9) Content, content, content. I can't say it enough.  Make sure that the META description of you page and the first paragraph of text on the page are related and have your keywords. If there is no text on your page, there is nothing for a search engine to evaluate. While nice photos may be attractive to visitors, it is not going to win you any placement on the search engines. Write good, relevant and interesting content for your pages. The recomended word count varies, but 150 to 500 words of text is a good size range.

10) Link text and menus are very important to both search engines and visitors. A practical example: link the word "marketing" to the page marketing.html. Seems simple because it is. It makes sense to your visitors and to search engines. If your page is about "marketing" then provide links to lots of other pages that are related to "marketing," and you instantly become a hub of information about marketing. That makes you a good source of information, and that is want search engines are expected to provide to their customers.

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Reports can take up-to 48 hours to produce and deliver.

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