supercharge your search engine marketing
In the early days on the Internet, you could easily trick a search engine into giving you top positions for search results â€“ it was as simple as stuffing keywords and key terms into your web pages source code, and you immediately shot up in your rankings. Nowadays, achieving top rankings is nothing less than rocket science, and a little voodoo.
Globally, search engine optimization (SEO) companies specialize in delivering high rankings on search engines for their clients, in the process becoming a highly sought after and elite bunch. They are treasured by many Fortune 500 companies for their expertise in generating lots of internet traffic, resulting in explosive online sales. As a result, a top ranking on the leading search engines such as Google, Yahoo! Search, and MSN Search is becoming a quest that companies are willing to invest millions in SEO services to achieve.
I donâ€™t have all the answers for SEO success but I do have ten basic steps that if used effectively will radically improve your web siteâ€™s search engine rankings and overall internet marketing success. Hereâ€™s how:
- Site Links – Probably the most important thing you can do to improve your search engine ranking is having as many credible web sites as possible pointing to your web site. The assumption that search engines make is that if you have lots of quality sites linking back to your site, you must be important, and deserve a top ranking. In Kenya, for instance, having a link or banner ad on top web sites such as the Daily Nation (http://www.nationmedia.com) or the East African Standard (http://www.eastandard.net) would ensure your search engine rankings improve. Internationally, you can also try to create a homepage on free high search traffic sites like MySpace (http://www.myspace.com) and then direct traffic from there to your web site.
- Directory Listings â€“ In the surge of search engines, the two most prominent search directories today are the Open Directory (http://www.dmoz.org) and the Yahoo! Directory (http://dir.yahoo.com). Being listed in these directories ensures that you get found on lots of sites. It also means that search engines will give you a higher position for search results if you are listed in these directories. The Open Directory is completely free and even plugs into Googleâ€™s search results. The Yahoo! Directory requires an annual fee to be paid for listing. Its also a great idea to get listed on domestic, regional or industry-specific directories.
- Content â€“ content is king for search engines. Instead of just having keywords and key terms stuffed in your source code, what you need to do is ensure that the content on your web siteâ€™s pages is directly related to the keywords and key terms you may use. Search engines index the content of web sites, determining to a large extent how you will be ranked in search results.
- Meta Tags â€“ In the early days of search engines, meta tags were the holy grail. People stuffed keywords and key terms into their meta tags and voila! high rankings. Meta tags are specifically located in the source code of web pages and are normally not visible when you browse a web page. Although meta tags are not as important as they used to be, its important to ensure that your web pages have them and that the keywords and key terms used in them relate to actual the content on the web pages. You can find more information on how to use meta tags at http://www.searchenginewatch.com.
- Page Titles – There is also the page title tag which is the one you normally see at the top of your web browser when viewing a web page. This is an extremely important tag for search engines since they use it to index and place your web site. If you have keyword rich title tags on your homepage and secondary web pages they can massively improve your search engine rankings.
- Paid Search â€“ Paid search engine listings is another excellent way of improving your rankings. Examples of these are Google Adwords (http://adwords.google.com/select/Login), Yahoo! Sponsored listings (http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/marketing/sponsorlist.php), and MSN Advertising (http://advertising.microsoft.com/home/home). In this scenario, you actually pay for keywords and terms on search engines to be linked to your site in search results. However, by using paid search, you also improve your overall search engine rankings â€“ itâ€™s as simple as that!
- Submitting â€“ Itâ€™s always a good idea to manually submit your web site address to search engines and NOT use automated submission software. This means going manually to the search engines and submitting your web site address and specific content web pages as well. Once this is done, it normally takes anywhere from a few hours or as long as two months to get listed on some search engines â€“ be patient!
- Enter the BIG 3 â€“ On the Internet, there are literally thousands of search engines on all sorts of genres. However, the only ones that really matter are the big three â€“ Google (http://www.google.co.ke), Yahoo! Search (http://search.yahoo.com) and MSN Search (http://search.msn.com). These three engines attract in excess of 90% of all the search traffic to be found online today. If your site is well listed on them, you will be found. If you are listed on Google, which is the biggest of them all, letâ€™s just say you should start seeing some serious traffic coming to your web site.
- Get Blogged â€“ Blogging is emerging as one of the most exciting and fastest growing trends on the internet. Individuals and companies alike are using Blogs as a powerful tool of self expression. It also so happens that having a blog is one of the ways you can supercharge your search engine rankings. Its easy to start a blog that can be linked to your web site, and in the process improve your search engine traffic. Two free and great blog services you can use are WordPress (http://www.wordpress.com) and Blogger (http://www.blogger.com).
- Check rankings â€“ Finally, once your site has been submitted to search engines, check every couple of weeks to see if you are being found for keywords and key terms that relate to your web site. This is a continuous process of checking and improving your search engine rankings accordingly. One of the best free services you can use to do this is Google Analytics (http://www.googleanalytics.com).
This article was first published in the August 2007 edition of Marketing Africa Magazine.
About the Writer:
Moses Kemibaro is an internet marketing professional and founder of Dotsavvy Limited (www.dotsavvyafrica.com ). He can be reached on [email protected]