Taking it to Another Level
This overview of Search Engine Marketing 101 presents some options for taking your site to another level. Most sites come with a standard level of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and people can probably find your site in Google fairly easily if they know your business name. But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg, so let’s explore the possibilities together.
But first, the fancy terms:
Keywords: common phrases people search for (one to multiple-word phrases)
Keyword Research: analyzing search patterns and trends in Google
SEO: optimizing your site so it ranks higher (i.e. getting to the top of the list)
SEM: a marketing campaign designed to increase traffic
Longtail Keywords: usually three to even six word phrases that don’t get a lot of searches, but those that do can be hidden gold
Page Rank: Google’s ranking system that determines a website’s credibility
So now that we have some basic terminology down, we’re going to introduce a few paradigms, but don’t skip down the page – its better to read this in order.
Increasing Traffic for What You’re Already Doing
You’ve got a site and its got some basic keywords, people can find you in Google by searching for your name but maybe you want more. You’d like more traffic to either increase sales or simply have more people discover your work. To accomplish this, the first stage is Keyword Research to discover your untapped potential. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll assume you’re a photographer and that’s what your site is about. An example:
photographer for weddings
The two phrases seem pretty similar, right? Wrong! At first glance they seem identical, but often when we do Keyword Research for our clients, we find hidden gems of two or three word phrases that often surprise us. People sometimes use very strange wordings to find things and that’s what research reveals — hidden expressions that lots of people are searching for and are easy to exploit.
Common vs Obscure
Okay, now that we’ve got a sense of what Keyword Research will tell us, let’s break it down even further. It turns out that having the word “photographer”, while it’s a great keyword and it’s all throughout your site, is not actually getting you any traffic. Why is that? Because “photographer” by itself is a popular term. In the US, it gets about 15,000 searches a month! What’s more, the top 10 sites in Google have an average Page Rank of 5 and above which essentially means you have a snowball’s chance of getting anywhere NEAR the top ten in Google just for the keyword “photographer”.
So what phrases DO you have a chance of ranking in the Top 10 for? For a start, the phrase “engagement pictures” gets about 3000 searches per month. But that’s less, right? Yes, its a lower number but you have a MUCH better chance of getting in to the top 10 results in Google with that phrase, because there is a LOT less competition for it!
Yes, there are lots of gory technical details that would explain the nuances behind all of this, but for now, we’re sticking with the basics. Good Keyword Research will reveal your site’s hidden potential… those gems buried under the Mountain of Obvious that often obscures us from knowing where to grow.
So now all of this handy research results in some juicy Target Keywords. Next step is…
So let’s assume you’ve done some crafty Keyword Research and you have discovered a bunch of new phrases (Target Keywords) for you to exploit on your site, so what’s next? This is the Optimization part. Often this is called “on page” Optimization because it’s where your keywords go ON the page. There are Four Key Zones that Google tracks:
- Title Tag
- Body copy
The Title Tag is what appears at the very top of your browser. The Description is hidden from view when people are looking at your site, but it’s what shows up in Google when people search for you. Headings are phrases in the page that use what are called “H tags” — the word Implementation up above is an example. And of course, body copy is what you’re reading right now.
If you manage your own website (like with Joomla, WordPress, etc) then you will want to see our guide about On Page SEO.
The Really Important and Usually Over-Looked Stage
So to recap, you did your Keyword Research, added them throughout throughout your site, and boy does it feel like things are humming along. But there’s something missing — the other 80% of the elephant.
All of this great SEO work accounts for only about 20% of what Google factors when it comes to how they rank web pages. The other 80% is what really matters, because without it, chances are you’re still not gonna make it into the Top 10. So what’s missing? Backlinks.
Backlinks – AKA Links Back to Your Site
It cannot be overstated — backlinks account for 80% of what causes a webpage to reach the Top 10 in Google.
It means getting a link to your site virtually anywhere and everywhere you can. There are some specific strategies (covered in our separate Guide to Backlinks) but for now, one major misconception.
What’s the first thing most people do when they ask their friends, families, etc to give them a link to their site — they link their domain name! But a link like this — www.mydomain.com — is next to worthless in Google’s eyes because it doesn’t tell them anything about what the link is for, other than a website. A better link would be on the phrase photographer, but that’s still not as powerful as placing a link on your Target Keywords. Those are the links that are really going to increase the odds of ranking in the Top 10. And you need a LOT of them. Don’t forget to check the Guide to Backlinks for more details on this all-import part of your search engine strategy.
Conclusions, But Not An Ending
To sum up what we’ve learned so far, all of these strategies deal with improving your search engine results for what you’re already doing with your business or career. But what about the things you’ve never dreamed of?
- Are you an artist who has never created merchandise?
- An expert on beauty tips who says the same dozen things over and over to your clients?
- A skilled craftsman (in whatever field) who has a lot of knowledge to share, but no means?
If you cut out all outside distractions for a moment and reflect on your life experience, there may be some hidden gems lying deep within that have yet to be revealed. This is where we come in. ADS is moving into the fairly unexploited world of Search Engine Marketing – a realm where almost anything is possible. We look forward to brainstorming with you about hidden opportunities to take advantage of your unique skillset. Together we can build it and they will come!