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Breaking down organic search engine optimization

In last month's article we looked at two marketing channels used to drive Website traffic: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This time, we'll break down organic optimization and look at the best way to approach a project.

In last month's article we looked at two marketing channels used to drive qualified visitors to a Web site: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

This time, we'll break down the latter and look at the best way to approach a project.

Let's get started...

1. Compile a preliminary search term list

Start by compiling a list of all search terms you "think" potential customers will use to find your products and services online. There are basically three ways to do this: Brainstorm internally, poll existing customers, and/or review the meta data of competing Web sites.

I recommend doing all three.

Sure, you'll be stuck managing a large list, but you'll also minimize the risk of missing a great term. Simply dump 'em to a spreadsheet and move on.

2. Test the accuracy of the list

If you take anything away from this article, let it be this...

Testing list accuracy directly impacts your Web site traffic volume, conversion rates, and overall revenue streams. I cannot stress this enough. I've seen companies spend thousands of dollars optimizing a Web site around search terms no one really uses. The result: low traffic volume and money down the drain.

That said, use Google's Keyword Tool to quantify the popularity of each preliminary term.

Again, this step is absolutely critical. The terms you "thought" were good, may not be.

3. Select the best 5-7 terms

This step is fairly straightforward. If your terms are in a spreadsheet, sort and select the terms with the highest demand level. Be sure to include words that have "highly-qualified" and "purchase-intent" written all over them.

Don't make the mistake of optimizing your Web site around terms used by "tire-kickers" -- regardless of demand. For example, if you sell high-priced widgets, don't choose the keywords 'free widgets' or 'low-cost widgets.'

If you do, your conversion rates will suffer.

4. Review the competition

Once you've selected your terms, it's time to determine how easy (or difficult) it will be to achieve a high search engine position. Assess the competition for each target term. Again, I recommend keeping track with a spreadsheet.

Record and analyze each competitor's search engine position, title tag, page name, PageRank, and keyword density.

Keyword density is loosely defined as the ratio of keywords compared to total "indexable" words. For example, if a Web page that contains 100 indexable words uses the same keyword or phrase 7 times, the page has a density of 7% (for that keyword or phrase).

Based on your findings, your goal is to determine whether or not (and how) to outrank each competing Web site. Sometimes, based solely on PageRank, it's impossible. (See last week's article for a breakdown and the importance of PageRank).

When the competition is fierce (read: when all Web sites want to be found for the same search term), it's much wiser to achieve a top spot for a less popular word instead of a low position for the most popular.

After the assessment, refine your list of keywords. Remember to select "highly-qualified" and "purchase-intent" words. I recommend 1-2 keywords per Web page for optimization.

5. Optimize each page

Instead of throwing a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo and boring procedural documentation at you, know this...

Your short-order goals (or the goals of your vendor) for optimizing a Web page is to create keyword-laden title tags, (occasionally) the same for the page name, work towards a PageRank over 4, and tweak copy to gain a 6% or higher keyword density.

Achieving these goals will position your Web site for superior search engine positions.

6. Submit to Engines and Directories

Once your Web page has been optimized, it's time to submit. But to which ones you ask? Stay tuned.

Next article we'll look at the best places (high-traffic engines and directories) to submit, a recommended submission orderComputer Technology Articles, and the associated

Article Tags: Organic Search Engine, Search Engine Optimization, Organic Search, Search Engine, Engine Optimization

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Rick Costello, The Web Site Profit Doctor is a Chicago Area Web Designer and Internet Marketing Consultant whose help with website results in increased eCommerce revenue and more captured sales leads. Services range from basic website building help to complex Web Analytics & Search Engine Marketing.

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