For those fortunate enough to have attended the
Search Engine Strategies 2001
Conference in San Francisco, the evolution of search engine marketing
couldn't be clearer.
Whereas a few years ago, when participants would have been
drilled on the "all important" META tags and keyword density requirements,
participants at the latest conference learned strategies for writing search
engine friendly content, researching search terms, and building link
The importance of directories and pay engines was also stressed,
as well as advanced search engine optimization strategies such as cloaking and
tracking the conversion to sales.
So, to answer the question of what's important today when
working on your sites, keep these points in mind.
1. Don't forget the basics! Though META tags alone won't carry
you to a top 10 ranking, it's still crucial to create effective title,
description, keyword, and other tags as well as remembering the importance of
keyword prominence in your tags and body text. Tip: To help you remember what's
important on your pages, use handy Search
Engine Optimizer (SEO) software, which will make your search engine
optimization work much easier.
2. Don't spend countless hours trying to arrive at the
"perfect" keyword weight. If you'll search for top ranking sites at any of the
engines for your most important keyword phrase, you'll more than likely find
keyword weights that range from virtually nonexistent to rather high, even 8%.
For general optimization purposes, aim for a good average of between 3-5% for
the body text, and be prepared to raise or lower it as needed.
3. Research your search terms! Don't assume that you know how
your customers will search. Instead, use a service like
WordTracker and find out how people
are really searching.
4. Good, solid content is definitely the way to go with your
pages. Create your pages as if you're writing a focused article about one
particular keyword phrase. Keep your word count in the neighborhood of 200 to
600 words in the body text, and use your keyword phrase prominently on the
5. Keep it simple! Remember that the engines like simplicity,
and so do Web users. Don't use technology that makes it difficult for either
the engines or users. Stay away from frames, Flash, heavy graphics and image
6. Work hard on building link popularity with other related
sites. Remember that it's not sheer numbers that are important here. Rather,
it's having links pointing to and from your site from other related and
7. Monitor your search engine rankings carefully, and be
prepared to do further tweaking if those rankings slip. A really sharp new
Web-based ranking service was introduced at the conference, and I'm in the
process of trying it out myself as a beta tester. It's called WebRank, and
rather than running a hefty software program and using my own resources,
WebRank checks my rankings for me, then notifies me by e-mail of those rankings
and when the rankings slip, etc. While they're in the pre-launch mode,
membership is still free, so now's the time to try out this brand new service
8. Track your traffic and pay attention to the conversion of
traffic to sales. Another new service that was announced at the conference was
WebPosition Gold's new Traffic Analyzer service that's included in version
1.60. The service is available for a free 30-day trial at
Gold customers, however, get an additional 90 days of free service as well as
substantially discounted pricing over regular HitsLink.com customers.
9. Don't forget the importance of the major directories like
Yahoo!, the Open Directory Project, and LookSmart, and be sure to submit your
site to them. Also, look for other "vertical" directories in your focus area by
visiting a site like Beaucoup, which
lists over 2,000 search engines and directories.
10. If you want visibility fast, consider the pay engines like
FindWhat. With so many of the major
engines now using the top results from the pay engines, if you're having a
difficult time achieving top rankings using standard optimization efforts,
paying for keywords will get you where you want to be much faster.
In Conclusion . . .
The search engine industry continues to evolve at an alarming
rate, and if you aren't willing to keep up, you'll be left behind.
How can you keep up?
Planet Ocean Communications publishes an excellent
monthly newsletter. You can also
sign up for a couple of free monthly newsletters, such as
Subscribe to Beyond-SEO,
which offers excellent information for those who want to reach beyond standard
search engine optimization strategies.
Finally, consider attending the next
Search Engine Strategies Conference
yourself, and learn the latest happenings in this dynamic industry.
Robin Nobles teaches 2-, 3-, and 5-day hands-on search engine marketing workshops in locations across the globe (SearchEngineWorkshops.com) as well as online SEO training courses (OnlineWebTraining.com). They have recently launched localized SEO training centers through SearchEngineAcademy.com, and they have expanded their workshops to Europe with Search Engine Workshops UK. They have also opened the first networking community for SEOs, the Workshop Resource Center (WRC).
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