Getting Your Website Seen on Search Engines

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When people search for you on Google, does your site show up on page 1 — or on page 20 — of the search engine results?

Since 84% of internet traffic goes through search engines, being ranked highly by search engines will send you a huge number of prospective customers.

Are search engines sending you enough traffic to build your business?

For instance, for the phrase “mastermind group” (which I rank #1), Google sends me 34,000 visitors per year. For the phrase “small business coaching” (which I also rank #1), Google sends me over 10,000 visitors per year. Just those two search phrases alone send 44,000 NEW visitors to my site each year. Well worth the work of SEO!

What if you could do the same for the keywords you want to target?

Optimizing your site to get it ranked highly on the search engines can be a complicated subject.  To simplify things, it’s helpful to first understand how search engines add sites to their database. Then we’ll cover some tips that you can put on your own website that will help you to get listed on search engines and get a higher ranking.

The Major Search Players

Let’s start off with the major search engines, the ones that most people use.  Google is the most widely used search engine, getting between 55-65% of all searches.  Yahoo Search and Microsoft Bing lag far behind with a total of 10-15% each. Bing just recently outranked Yahoo and became the #2 search engine after Google.

While there are thousands of search engines, it’s always a good idea to start with submitting your website to the three largest.  Why? Because 95% of all searches go through either Google, Yahoo or Bing.

And now that Yahoo is using Bing’s search engine for their results, there are really only two major players: Google and the combo Yahoo/Bing. As of April 2012, Google processes 66% of all searches, followed by Bing at 15% and Yahoo at 13%.

How Search Engines Read Your Site

Search engines send out crawlers to index your site’s contents. Crawlers follow the links found on your site and enter your site into their search database based on text they find on your pages.  This text is either found on your public pages, or the text keywords found in behind-the-scenes meta tags.

The amount of your keywords found on your page, the more weight it has with the search engines and the higher your ranking.  But in case you think you can load your page with keywords in order to fool the search engine, think again.  Search engines are smart and you can be penalized for keyword stuffing on your website.

How Search Engines Index and Rank Your Site

Search engines use several techniques to determine which category your site belongs in and which keywords people will use to find your site when using the search engine. Google says they use over 200 parameters (“signals” they call them) to categorize and rank a website.

When submitting your site to search engines, they will ask you for your URL (website address). Then they will crawl your site, checking to see which keywords and ideas are most important from your site.  And remember, you will be penalized for spamming your keywords and rank LOWER because of it.  Also it’s important to note that search engines can not read the text in graphics, so if you are using a graphic-based navigation or have your keywords on a graphic next to your logo, the search engine will not notice it unless you use ALT meta tags.

Some search engines will rank your site based on your title, description and keywords that are supplied behind-the-scenes in special coding called “meta tags.”  While not every search engine will read meta tags, it certainly can’t hurt to use them.  Again, there are rules: your Title meta tag can’t be more than 100 characters, and your Description meta tag can’t be more than 250 characters. Google only reads the first 60 characters of your Title meta tag, and the first 160 of your Description meta tag. Google says that they don’t read Keyword meta tags at all. Google’s Matt Cutts says that Google definitely reads your Description tag as well. (Matt Cutts also says that Google does NOT use the keyword meta tag to help determine rank in the same video above.)

Submitting Your Site to Search Engines

Once your site is primed and ready for the search engines, then you have to submit it to them.

For Google, you can submit it here:

http://www.google.com/submityourcontent/#

For Bing, you can submit it here:

https://ssl.bing.com/webmaster/legacy/submitsitepage.aspx

Because Yahoo uses Bing’s search engine, you don’t need to submit it separately to Yahoo.

Use Google’s Webmaster Tools and Bing’s Webmaster Tools to see the status of your submission, any errors the search engines found when crawling your site, and some great statistics about the speed of your site.

Preparing your site for submission to search engines can feel like a daunting task.  With these tips in mind, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration when it comes time to submitting your site and rank higher in search results.

See you on the Internet!

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Kate Nasser’s SEO Success Story – Getting Seen on Search Engines

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Getting a Top 10 listing on Google take a bit of doing…getting a Top 3 listing is a real accomplishment! So we offer huge congratulations to Kate Nasser, who implemented our SEO suggestions on her website after we did an SEO Review of her site, and now lists as #3 on Google for the keyword phrase Professional Soft Skills, and #9 on Google for Professional Soft Skills Training!

Aly reviewed Kate’s sight and found lots of SEO ideas that could boost Kate’s search engine rankings. After producing a written report for her, we got on the phone with Kate and her web designer and brainstormed an implementation plan, which they undertook immediately. (I just love Kate’s “can do” attitude…she jumped in and made the changes even though the holidays were upon us!) That phone call was on December 21, and by January 10 Kate had emailed us with the good news – she was on Page 1 of the search results for her chosen keywords!

If you ever doubt that you can achieve high search engine rankings, or think it’s going to take six months for your site to crawl to the top of the listings, Kate’s success shows you that you can do it, too. (I’ve had situations where I’ve done a major SEO edit on a site on Friday, and by Monday I was on Page 1 of the Google results for my chosen keyword….zoom, zoom, zoom!)

Check out Kate’s website at  www.katenasser.com (and don’t forget to go to Google and type in her keywords, so you can see her rankings!).

Need more information about our Website and SEO Reviews, and how we can help you get the marketing results you want from your website? 

Visit our site:
http://www.passionforbusiness.com/website-review.htm

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SEO Plugins for WordPress

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I think SEO, along with email marketing, are two of the hottest and most quickly rewarding internet marketing techniques in 2009.

I saw a great article from Mashable today, 20 Best SEO Plugins for WordPress.

You often have full control over implementing SEO for your website, but if you have a WordPress blog, you’re left with the way WordPress “thinks” SEO should be done.

These plugins can help you revv up your SEO on your blog today!

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Ethical SEO: What the Experts Have Seen

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I saw a great article today called Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves: Ethical SEOs and Search Engineers Narc Out SEO Fraud. It is sooo wonderful to see real-life examples from experts on what devious tactics are out there in the SEO world.

The funniest one has to be from Matt Cutts, a long-time search engineer at Google. He says, “My favorite is always the one where someone emails Google and asks to exchange links, or email-blasts me and says that they can guarantee a No. 1 ranking or wants to buy links on my site.” Imagine emailing Google to say you can get them high SEO rankings! 

Educate yourself so that you know the real deal in SEO when you see it. (Hint: no one can guarantee you No. 1 ranking.)

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Ethical SEO

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If you’re new the world of search engine optimization (SEO), you may ask, “Is there really a difference between ethical SEO and unethical SEO?”

Since the beginning of SEO we’ve divided SEO techniques into two camps: White Hat SEO (the good techniques) and Black Hat SEO (the bad techniques). Remember in old Western movies, the sheriff always wore a white hat and the bad guys always wore black hats? You get the picture.

White hat techniques are those that don’t try to trick the search engines (or the visitors) into believing your website is about a specific topic when it’s not.

While no one is 100% certain of the exact algorithms that search engines like Google use to rank your site, we’ve been able to do a fairly thorough dissection of search engine ranking results and have an educated guess about which techniques do work and which techniques don’t work. Along the way, that dissection has lead some people to figure out that they can trick the search engines into giving higher SEO rankings to sites that don’t deserve them.

Search engines are fighting back by testing for those Black Hat unethical SEO techniques and either reducing the site’s ranking or removing them from the search engine database completely. Think about it: Google has millions of dollars and millions of technicians to throw at this problem. You will be caught if you don’t follow the rules.

Google makes it clear in their article on ethcial SEO what is acceptable and what is not. For example, they say:

  1. No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
  2. Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.
  3. Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.

I might add for #3: “…and they explain things to you in a clear, easy-to-understand, non-technical way so that you have a good chance of actually understanding their techno talk.”

Good, ethical SEO works through a proven path of techniques to assist you in getting higher search rankings for your site. And good, ethical SEO will also tell you when a search phrase/keyword is too competitive and you don’t stand a chance of a listing on page 1 of the search results. When we do SEO work for our clients, we tell them that there’s no use in wasting time and money going after a keyword that you can’t win with.

Bruce Clay says that ethical SEO should always include the motto “do no harm.” When you hire someone to do SEO work for you, they should be looking out for YOUR best interests. Shoddy practices that get your site banned from the search engines reduces your chance of a successful internet marketing campaign.

In addition to Black Hat techniques, there are some “gray” areas that you should be aware of. SEO is a series of techniques that looks something like this:

  1. Keyword gathering
  2. Keyword selection
  3. Adding keywords to website page text
  4. Adding keywords to website page headings
  5. Adding keywords to behind-the-scenes coding
  6. Garnering incoming links from a variety of legitimate sources
  7. Creating an ongoing strategy for continued SEO success

I’ve seen some people offer to do steps 1 and 3 and call it “SEO”. While doing these two steps won’t harm you or your website, they’re not going to help very much either. It’s like saying, “I’ll put shampoo in your hair, but I won’t rinse it, cut it, or blow dry it.” What’s the point?

Another gray area is choosing unpopular and off-topic keywords to go after, then saying, “Gee, look, we’ve gotten you a #1 ranking for the phrase Clown Publishing!”

When you’re looking to hire an ethical SEO consultant, make sure that they are willing to step you through their process, that they explain WHY they choose the keywords they choose, and why the discarded ones that you thought were really important. Tell them clearly that they must follow all published search engine guidelines from Google, Yahoo and MSN. And if something doesn’t “feel right” to you, you have to bring it up to them immediately.

Here are the guidelines that are published:

Google’s Guidelines on SEO

Yahoo’s Guidelines on SEO

MSN’s Guidelines on SEO

Our commitment to you: we ONLY use ethical SEO techniques and we communicate with you every step of the way.

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How to Choose the Right Keywords

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man drowing in keyword choicesI was emailing with a colleague the other day, and she asked, “How do you pick keywords that will help, without drowning against the 40 billion other people who are using those same keywords? And, if you pick ones with less competition, then no one is actually searching them, right?”

Great questions! Here’s how I answered her:

When I teach my 16-hour SEO workshop, we spend about 4 hours on this very topic. It’s an art and a science.

Using some of the SEO tools is helpful, and deeply dissecting your competition’s website is helpful as well (it will tell you whether they’re an “accidental SEO success” or if they’re really skilled at it). Many websites will rank well for a short time, but if they don’t do SEO as a long-term maintenance task, you can jump ahead of them after their rankings start to slip. Learning all the SEO techniques helps you to determine if your arsenal will get you anywhere. Then it’s a stab in the dark.  🙂

I rarely go after “long tail” keywords on my main selling pages. But if the keyword is long tail AND somewhat popular, I’ve been known to write a specific page about that specific topic to draw attention. For instance, if you type in “mastermind group” in Google, my one-page article comes up #1.

But since my main service is small business coaching, I really go after that phrase with wild abandon on my main selling pages. When you type “small business coach” into Google, I come up #1 for that. (I’ve been #1 for that phrase for several years now.)

When we do SEO work for clients, the vast majority of our billable hours is in picking the right keywords. I’d say we typically spend 6-8 hours just picking the correct keywords.

If you ever have a grand passion for learning SEO in a hands-on class, I do teach a 4-week teleclass called SEO For Everyone.

There are so many great SEO techniques, when you use the right combination of them, you can rank high for nearly any keyword except the really, really competitive ones. And even for those, with the right domain name (and other factors that you can’t control…nice to know it’s not 100% in your control, eh?), you can still rank on the first page of results. Part of the problem is knowing whether your competition is beatable or not. Some sites, like the Wall Street Journal, you will never rank above, no matter how hard you try.

Do you use WordTracker or Keyword Discovery (the paid versions) when picking keywords? WT is a dog to use, but both tools can help you wade through a stack of keywords to find out which ones have the best chance of success.

I’d love to tell you there is one, perfect, tried-and-true method for getting it right every single time, but there’s not. There are just a bunch of tools and a bunch of techniques to help sift through the massive information…and then you have to trust your gut instinct, your experience, and your intellect to make final choices and implement them correctly. It’s interesting to note that I find that small business owners usually do quite well in choosing keywords; it’s the implementation part they fail at.

A lot of the skill comes with practice, over and over again, picking keywords. With more experience you get better at the “pattern matching” necessary to make it all work. Consider doing an SEO experiment on a topic that you aren’t emotionally connected with, just to practice without needing to get it perfect. If you like detective work and putting together puzzles, you’ll love SEO!

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